Nature thrives in our distancing during the lockdown

I was a bit distracted earlier in the week, while trying to clatter away at the keyboard, by two birds fighting over a dull, pink seed left on the peach tree in the backyard.

The tree takes up most of the yard. It’s yellow leaves, brittle and snapped off by the chilly autumn breeze that’s swirling about the highveld, are starting to build up a crunchy bed on the ground.

Last week, the birds were agitated by a curious mongoose. Luckily for them it was more interested in my presence; this other being that it’s not used to seeing during the day.

Our homes — if we are lucky enough to have a garden of sorts — are a habitat. A home for entire ecosystems that thrive while we are away.

Nature, much like us, expands into whatever spaces it can. We do it by tearing down what’s there and slapping cement on top of it. We’re very good at this. We’re so good that one of the byproducts of our existence is the rapid heating of the entire planet to the point where even our own success is in danger of being reversed.

In the past few weeks, nature has expanded into the spaces we have ceded by going into isolation. Social media is packed with videos of animals thriving. In Llandudno, in Wales, goats have moved into town, nibbling at spring flowers. In Barcelona, in Spain, wild boars have taken to wandering the streets.

The human cost that has allowed this is horrendous. People are dying. And the economic effect, in the debt governments are racking up to deal with the health crisis, will be carried by the working class for decades, if not generations.

Covid-19 has exposed so many of our abuses, from the way we destroy nature to how that destruction has still only benefited a select, rich few around the world.

There’s increasing talk, and hope, that this might be a moment where we rethink how the world works.

Right now our poor investment in healthcare and basic services means people are dying. Right now, our polluting industries are also heating the planet to the point where global heating is threatening floods, drought, wildfires, plagues of locust and all the other biblical cataclysms.

We probably won’t change how things work. Those benefiting now have a great deal of power. But just imagine if we do use this crisis to rethink how the world works. We could expand those ecosystems where birds can fight over seeds and where a mongoose doesn’t have to eke out an existence in people’s yards.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Sipho Kings
Sipho is the Mail & Guardian's News Editor. He also does investigative environment journalism.

ConCourt settles the law on the public protector and interim...

The Constitutional Court said it welcomed robust debate but criticised the populist rhetoric in the battle between Busisiwe Mkhwebane and Minister Pravin Gordhan

Small towns not ready for level 3

Officials in Beaufort West, which is on a route that links the Cape with the rest of the country, are worried relaxed lockdown regulations mean residents are now at risk of contracting Covid-19

Press Releases

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

Wills, Estate Administration and Succession Planning Webinar

Capital Legacy has had no slowdown in lockdown regarding turnaround with clients, in storing or retrieving wills and in answering their questions

Call for Expression of Interest: Training supply and needs assessment to support the energy transition in South Africa

GIZ invites eligible and professional companies with local presence in South Africa to participate in this tender to support the energy transition

Obituary: Mohammed Tikly

His legacy will live on in the vision he shared for a brighter more socially just future, in which racism and discrimination are things of the past

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday