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  • Writer's pictureSiria Contreras

"What a Wonderful World:2020", the Mother Earth Remix

photos by: Kenya Mansal Mara and Kristin Withers I see trees of green Red roses too I see them bloom For me and you And I think to myself What a wonderful world I see skies of blue And clouds of white The bright blessed day The dark sacred night And I think to myself What a wonderful world The colors of the rainbow So pretty in the sky Are also on the faces Of people going by I see friends shaking hands Saying, "How do you do?" They're really saying "I love you" I hear babies cry I watch them grow They'll learn much more Than I'll never know And I think to myself What a wonderful world Yes, I think to myself What a wonderful world —Bob Thiele, George David Weiss (as performed by Louis Armstrong)

I had a much longer post already drafted in my mind for today, but as end of day approaches I figured the shorter the better, plus you can read Genta’s deeper dive on this unusual Earth Day, “An Earth Day Unlike Any Other: 50 Years of History and One Coronavirus” or go watch any of the Earth Day Live 2020 live streams featuring everyone from our friend Jason Mraz to Pope Francis, Al Gore, Elizabeth Warren, Aloe Blacc and many others for more.

There’s been no shortage of photos of nature in our daily social feeds and of articles around how Mother Earth is benefiting from the lack of humans out “in the wild”, since we’ve gone into quarantine. The air is cleaner, bodies of water are clearer, smog has lifted, the skies are bluer, endangered wildlife are making appearances on city streets, emissions are at an all-time low (an anticipated 5% drop which is the lowest seen in over a decade), bears have become essential workers. Seriously, we’re living in a Louis Armstrong song--well, except for that "whole staying inside most days and away from fellow humans due to a virus that could kill us" part.

Mother Earth could only take so much, and who could blame her?

Especially with the atrocities of the recent past such as the Amazon fires, increased extinct wildlife hunting, non-stop factory emissions polluting the air, etc. The list is endless.

Eventually, Mother Earth decided to drop her remix of “What a Wonderful World” in Q2, challenging us to a rap battle in the time leading right up to what is typically the most profitable season for corporations, entertainment, and organizations bringing the economy and the world to a screeching halt and we showed up like Teddy Riley in his first-attempt at his Verzuz comeback, showing that all the Wu-Tang, John Denver PSAs, and Captain Planet of our youth prepared us had not. In fact, it seems as though only a few select superfans (obviously the wildlife) get early access to this new track while the rest of us have to wait to enjoy it, unless we pay the highly inflated ticket price of risking contagion for a front-row seat. We get clips and teasers via quick walks, runs, gardening, grocery hauls but never the full song unless you know someone with a bootleg copy.

In all seriousness though, by this time I know many of us and hope that many more will realize just how much of a negative impact we humans really are on the natural world as a whole. The fact that it’s taken the extreme of having just about the entire world in shut-down mode to reduce emissions by only 5% has to mean something to each of us. There are 7.6 billion people in this world, and say if even only a third of that number are in quarantine leaving much of nature untouched, 5% is still a single digit number and much lower than where we need to be long-term to drive significant change during this climate crisis. Of course this helps, but if we go back to business as usual and our old everyday habits then all of this unintentional conservation will have been for naught.

In the meantime, while all of us humans are stuck indoors the animal kingdom rejoices and takes on the role of man/woman about-town as we witness new kinds of non-human family outings.

If we stop to think about it, as cute as some of these sightings may be, this is what a balanced Earth actually looks like. We ourselves have kept animals and wildlife in quarantine segregating them to only certain parts of the world, while we greedily have commandeered the more desirable terrains. My hope is that when the novelty wears off of seeing these new friends frolicking in the sunshine and we’re safe to go back outside into this new slightly healed world, that we will remember that this world not only belongs to us the humans who have failed to protect and nourish it, but also to the animals who have been better stewards than you nor I, taking only what they need from Mother Earth’s bounty.

May they be our example for the future and may we never forget just exactly what it took to see clear blue skies in places like Los Angeles or China.


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