Elon Musk’s SpaceX programme is launching 42,000 satellites in the coming years. I saw the opening salvo deployed last November. There is nothing – unless you are North Korea – anyone can do to stop it. Planning laws, apparently, do not have a remit for outer space:
Familiarity breeds understanding. All I had to do was open my eyes.
I’ve learned, quite accidentally, that by retracing the same route once, twice, three times daily, the senses become attuned to changes. As a result I’ve learnt to track the whereabouts of the otters in the river which has brought me great joy. It might be time to invest in a camera. I feel bad that my awakening coincides with other people’s grief, but I neither asked for nor expected a renewed peace in nature.
Over the years, many well-meaning people had tried telling me how healing the Great Outdoors is, but I’d stopped feeling anything good. Everywhere I went, I saw the detritus, flotsam and faeces of humans, even in the wildest of spots. I didn’t care if it was chemtrails or contrails – all I saw was a beautiful blue sky corrupted by Man. Sapiens had wrecked everywhere I looked; what was supposed to inspire me about that?
I’m not alone in these notions. On this morning’s walk I met a local man riding a bike. He pulled the brakes and skidded to a halt on the gravel track. A hard-working and community minded volunteer who coaches sports to kids and reads poetry to the public. I had always presumed I wasn’t cool enough for his time. Before social distancing no-one wanted to talk to me; now I need a big stick to keep them at suitable length.
He seemed nervous, almost shaking, he couldn’t look me in the eye, a sign I recognised, of a brother in pain.
“What’s that?” he pointed at some white froth in the river, “pollution.” He answered himself.
“It gets pretty bad,” I agree, “Sometimes it’s like an Ibiza foam party.”
He showed me photos on his tablet of fertilizer run-off. He didn’t carry a phone, he didn’t like to be permanently connected.
Inevitably the conversation turned to Covid: “It’s 5g you know.”
“Er, Ok.” I wasn’t going to go there.
I’d disengaged from the Facebook arguments a while back, because all sides of the argument had become expert ‘Radiologic Technologists’, but nobody, except me, seemed concerned with what Cambridge Analytica would do with access to our washing machines? The 47th president will probably be called Daz.
“It’s making us all sick. We are going to do something about it. Will you help us?” he said.
“Who’s us?” I replied
“Well me….and you.”
I took his phone number out of politeness despite it being unfashionable to protest against telecommunications masts since 2005. Although I did not agree on this subject I could certainly empathise with his torment.
Here was a man whose mental health was visibly affected by the powerlessness of living in a rapidly changing world. To rub in salt, that change wasn’t natural, inevitable or even accidental. It was a change that was forced by very large corporate and government players who didn’t think to ask him what he wanted the world to look like for his two young children. It was hurting him badly and I had been wrestling with my own internal quarrels over enforced connectivity this week.
Two nights previously I was admiring the moon with a lit menthol cigarette in hand. I saw a satellite gliding through the stars, which sounds almost graceful reading it back, but in reality it’s just more human flotsam, ruining a stellar view. At first I thought it was the International Space Station – then I saw another one and another, then another, until I’d counted thirteen, bloody hell! 2020 was turning out to be quite the year – raging fires, pestilence and now aliens.
I knew nobody on Facebook would believe me so I asked Reddit. It turned out I wasn’t mad: Elon Musk’s SpaceX programme, its own website unashamedly proclaimed, was launching, “thousands of Starlink satellites in the coming years and hundreds this year.”
42,000 to be precise. What I saw was the opening salvo, deployed last November. It is happening fast and there is nothing – unless you are North Korea – anyone can do to stop it. Planning laws, apparently, do not have a remit for outer space.
So that’s it, within months the night sky will be ruined. Never again will an artist paint an unspoilt milky way. Van Gogh is officially obsolete. The Orion Nebula has caught crabs. I really feel for the 100 or so uncontacted tribes of the world who must be thinking all kinds of end-time prophecies when they see hundreds of man-made piles of space-crap ploughing their flight paths through the morning dusk. They might not realise but it’s the ultimate colonial f*** you.
Or maybe they do realise and have unleashed ancient magick against Elon’s imperial sky demons – because a map of the nations most affected by Covid is eerily similar to a map of the most conquest inclined nations of the last five hundred years: the Grand nations of Europe — Spain, Italy, France, Germany and Britain — the USA, and oddly, the Ottoman Empire. Why is that? Arrogance maybe?
Friends have suggested reasons including increased testing, increased mobility, and pollution in the densely populated industrialised lands. My two cents is that developed nations can support a population of people who are the most vulnerable to Covid. The median age of fatalities, we are told nightly by RTE is up around 80, which according to the World Health Organisation is 20 years higher than the life expectancy in Africa.
When you live in one of the African nations south of Sahara – where 1 million people, most under five years old, die of malaria in a year (Source: WHO) – I imagine Covid might not be the most anxiety inducing thought of the day.
Or at least it wouldn’t be, only the anti-malarial medication that so many desperate parents can’t afford is being touted (mainly by Trump) without overwhelming evidence, for effectiveness against the virus. Not that evidence matters anymore, because the rabbit is out of the bag and the ensuing scramble for hydroxychloroquine will lead to greater shortages for their children as adults from rich nations claw each other’s eyes out for supplies. Either that or suddenly the world is going to miraculously discover the hitherto lacking, capacity to produce enough for all. Or maybe we can all nobly agree not to take medicine off babies? Yeah, didn’t think so either…