Living in Expanded Times
We are living in unprecedented times. The arrival of the novel corona virus global pandemic in the early months of 2020 has essentially re-written how we live our daily lives – to say it lightly. There have been profound changes at every level of life. Firstly and most tragically is the loss of life. As of today’s writing, which is roughly 120 days into the US experience of Covid-19, over 460,000 deaths world wide. The world is on the cusp of the deepest and most prolonged depression in modern times and the fabric of human life in many places, the ability to gather, to learn to play with others, has been suspended. And as I write this outdoors among the piloti of the Brockman Hall for Physics at Rice University, the sounds of life-flight helicopters landing and taking off from The Med Center are a consistent reminder of Houston’s escalating case-count.
But, interestingly and encouraging there has been some silver-lining – the bulk of which appears to be centered around the state and general well being of global ecosystems. Upbeat, reassuring and sometimes humorous reports of the world without human activity have been nearly constant amid the flood of otherwise gloomy news. Reports of wild-life running rampant in vacant cities, the smog over cities dissipating to nearly pre-industrial levels, and even simply the return of quietness to otherwise constantly buzzing parts of the world all inadvertently illustrate our interconnections – and insignificance – within the general milieu and progression of life. Humans have created significant change to the planet – there’s no doubt. But there was life here before us (lots of it!). And likely, there will be life after.
During the next few weeks the Expanded Environment team will deliver a series of posts around the topic of life through the lens of the virus. We will of course take a particularly, pan-species perspective and attempt to be as anthro-eccentric as possible. We will attempt to address themes such as:
- 1) the intersection between biodiversity and the spread of viral contagions;
- 2) The built environment’s agency in the spread of disease and control of animal life and
- 3) strategies for possible futures on the “other side” of the pandemic.
We hope you follow along with us. We hope you are safe, healthy and finding productive ways to redefine old ways of living.
-ExEn Editorial Team