And even while the virus proliferates, who could not be thrilled by the swell of birdsong in cities, peacocks dancing at traffic crossings and the silence in the skies?Arundhati Roy, New Delhi, April 20201
A 2020 vision
The first reaction upon hearing reports that troops from the billion-people-strong nations of China and India had engaged in a fatal skirmish in the mountains—two advanced nations deploying rocks, sticks, and earthworks in almost neolithic manner—is to wonder quite why 2020 seems determined to tick off every prediction in the dystopian futurist’s playbook by the middle of the year. Yet even this incomprehensible flashpoint is but a minor detail in the broader scheme of things.
The year started with the vast bushfires along Australia’s eastern seaboard, fires so fierce that they created their own weather systems, scorched 27 million acres, killed a billion animals, and destroyed many thousands of homes. The fires held the national, and sometimes global, consciousness in its grip, as they became what David Bowman described as ‘our bushfire Gallipoli’.2
A Roy, ‘The Pandemic is a Portal’, Financial Times, 4 April 2020, https://www.ft.com/content/10d8f5e8-74eb-11ea-95fe-fcd274e920ca accessed 24 August 2020 ↩
B Nogrady, ‘How Long Will Australia Be Livable?’, The Atlantic, 7 January 2020 ↩