It’s fortuitous for Mother Earth that Covid’s initial assault coincides with springtime and early summer in the Northern hemisphere. We can expect wildlife to bloom.

April Fool’s day.

O, what a beautiful morning. Nature is really beginning to bloom. The sun is caressing creation with its warming rays here on the western edge of Europe. Dandelions are springing up in lengthening grass of the town’s public spaces, already a cut behind.

Last year, there was a movement towards letting things rewild and I quit a job with tidy towns, in part because I didn’t want to be the one responsible for strimming the verges and spaces that were a haven for wildlife. Covid has sorted out that dilemma this year. I look forward to seeing an overgrown locality.

The birds seem to be louder; maybe the lessened traffic makes them more audible?

I prefer to believe they are celebrating humankind’s retreat with a victorious chorus.

Despite the vomiting, I’m glad that the dog is around to drag me out of bed in the morning forcing me to walk and appreciate the natural world. It’s lovely to appreciate the lessened activity. Life had started to get a bit silly in town from a traffic perspective. I never really saw the point of economic success if the net result was asthma and a semi-permanent migraine.

Although we are officially on lock-down until mid-April, the Government provision of social welfare for 12 weeks indicates how long we might expect to dig in for. It’s fortuitous for Mother Earth that Covid’s initial assault coincides with springtime and early summer in the Northern hemisphere. In the meantime we can expect wildlife to bloom. If municipal spaces remain untended for much longer, all kinds of animal populations will explode which could be something to behold.

In England, there are oak trees that sprouted during the ‘Black Death’ and, by the time the human population had recovered enough to need the land, they had grown too big to cut down. You recognise them by their random placements in the middle of fields. It seems plagues are a boon for the natural world.

On an international scale the ‘Financial Times’ reports that “Wall Street calls Time on Fracking,” as Covid hammers home the final death knell for the artificially supported industry. That could be brilliant news for the climate.

For the uninitiated, the methane released by leakage from fracking infrastructure is up to 80 times more potent a greenhouse gas than Carbon Dioxide. Fortunately it stays in the atmosphere for only a fraction of the time, meaning that any reduction will have almost immediate effects.

Temporary benefits of the pause in capitalism may have lingering positive legacies. Covid may have done more to keep LNG* out of Ireland than all the tenacious and brave actions of the growing environmental movement. Look what happens when we stay out of our cars for a few weeks!

This leads me to thoughts of sacrifice.

Is the self-denial we are experiencing right now really that bad against the context of a recovering environment. In times not so long past people in this country were willing to give up their lives for a fairer world for the children of the isle. Colleagues I have spoken to in more reflective moments have already thought through serious questions regarding self- sacrifice. In this job you need that kind of decision made in advance.

What about the sacrifice we could make if ICUs ran out of ventilators? I would like to hope there is a percentage of the population that would give up theirs if a child needed it. I hope to think I would, women and children on the lifeboats and all that. I think all of us should be thinking about that question in good time.

When we have thought about it, can we think about a different question? One that doesn’t involve death for us but might for our children. Is it that inconceivable that, once Covid has left us, we stay in this space of self-denial and allow the planet of our descendants to heal? Is that really such a sacrifice or are our former lives so invaluable that we pursue them at all costs? Are we really that willing to leverage our bloodlines for gratification today?

We don’t have to make the ultimate sacrifice; Covid is showing us the way. All it really requires is a minor inconvenience. I was having a conversation with someone earlier about this – we now know what jobs are pointless: He conceded his own in tourism wasn’t essential for survival.

Imagine if all the people who weren’t needed for anything other than propping up a growth oriented economy refused to go back, instead choosing to sow the fields, plant the crops and build the houses for a post Covid pastoral utopia. Could we do that? Or I am naively day-dreaming on this day for fools?


*LNG = Liquefied natural gas.