by Annette McGee Rasch
Poor ‘ole 2020. As your clock ran out, everyone was going on like you’d come upon the world determined to mess us all up: “2020’s the worst year ever!” “2020 was a dumpster fire!”
You’d think 2020 happened to us: Covid-19, wildfires, hurricanes, racial strife, riots, economic chaos …
Yet the truth is, 2020 wasn’t bad luck. It was simply a reaping of what humanity’s sown – and until we take collective and cooperative responsibility for our treatment of each other, our fellow creatures, and critically, our actions upon environment and climate, well, 2020 was just a foreshadow.
We’ve been barely teased by the truth.
Imagine a pandemic that’s as contagious as Covid-19 and as deadly as Ebola. Imagine super-storm cycles that never really stop, regularly producing Class 5 tornadoes and immense floods. Or how about hurricanes rearranging America’s entire Eastern Seaboard?! Countless climate scientists warn that warming oceans fueled by climate change are driving these big storms – and say we need new meteorological terminology because ‘100-year’ storm events are becoming rather commonplace.
And out West? The hotter, drier climate is creating epic droughts – and that, combined with the brushy mess left behind by historically bad logging practices has produced ever-larger wildfires. Even the Arctic now copes with annual wildfires! Worldwide, more than ever before in recorded history, increasing numbers of people and wildlife are displaced – and dying – from out-of-control mega-fires and mega-storms.
Species are disappearing. It’s all changing too fast for many to adapt. Scientists fear parts of the Amazon rainforest will soon turn to savannah; and ‘Glacier National Monument’ will need a new name as the great ice fields melt away. (Of 150 glaciers, only 26 remain.)
Earth is Talking. Dishing out some tough love. But when will humans actually LISTEN?
How soon millions forgot about the Bird Flu epidemics of 1997, 2005, and the H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic of 2009 – all of which were nothing if not shots across the bow. We infringe further and further into wildlife habitat – then wonder why the world is taken down by a pandemic. Yet note how quickly the conversation turns away from root causes like factory farms, wet markets and global deforestation. No one wants to spend much time lurking around the barnyard of humanity’s chronic mistreatment of both domestic and wild animals. Still, these creatures’ silent screams have come audible as Covid-19 rings the bell.
So. Let’s work together and re-cast 2020 as a useful year – the year humanity woke up! If those fateful days finally force us to make crucial choices – big and small – to treasure our precious biosphere and protect it from humanity’s folly, then maybe the pain of 2020 had some value.
Let 2021 mark the moment when critical numbers of us – from blue-collar workers to CEO’s – started taking meaningful responsibility, getting on board with humane food sourcing and local organic agriculture, renewable energy and all manner of green technology, and heavens be, more planet-wide birth-control!
Mother Earth & Father Time are giving us this slim chance to hang onto our beautiful world. Our Only Earth.
Annette McGee Rasch is a freelance writer living in Southern Oregon who manages our Green Dream Jobs service. She’s also an animal advocate, grassroots organizer, nature lover, science nerd and musician.