Earth and the Pandemic

Planet Earth is indifferent to the covid-19 breakout. Wildlife has noticed, though. After many generations of human development pushing animals further into the brush, the pandemic-caused sheltering-in-place is giving the animals a chance to creep back into territory that once was theirs. Coyotes have been spotted checking out the Golden Gate Bridge and wandering along Chicago’s storied Michigan Avenue. Monkeys in India have entered homes, opening refrigerators to look for food.

Griffith Park, home of the Los Angeles Zoo, now has opossums, skunks, deer, bobcats and even a lone mountain lion running around unmolested outside its gates. The absence of automobile traffic has reduced the squirrel, rabbit, snake and toad roadkill in the park to near zero.

The world-wide reduction in vehicle use and factory production has cleared the skies. Air pollution has reduced by half in Paris and a third in Los Angeles. Carbon dioxide levels are still rising, but not as fast as last year. If you believe in unicorns, you may even fantasize a world not being suffocated by burning fossil fuels.

Wild animals aren’t alone in taking advantage of now-deserted streets. Police are seeing an increase in drivers traveling at extremely high speeds. A Washington state trooper ticketed one at 122 mph and one at 133 mph in a day. “So driving 127 mph or 120 mph in a 60 mph zone will definitely get our attention and we will be able to introduce ourselves to you!”

And in Orange County California, city officials, fed up with skateboarders ignoring the “Closed” signs at the skateboard park, dumped thirty-seven tons of sand into the troughs. It worked. Skateboarders were unable to use it. So dirt bikers showed up to replace skateboards with motorcycles.

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