BY NORBERT RUG
I’ve always said that there are too many humans on earth and that no matter what we humans do or what we build, nature always wins. I see more and more wildlife out my window than I have in the past. There are more squirrels and birds than ever visiting my back yard. I attribute this to the lack of people.
Most of us are familiar with the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. This was built from stone and concrete but has disintegrated to the ruins we now know. There are several places where we can find the ruins of ancient civilizations like Stonehenge, Pompeii, Easter Island and the Acropolis.
The fleeting impact of the human species was demonstrated to me again very recently. I had a wheelchair ramp installed in my back yard. Even though we live in the city, we saw one of the indigenous wild life in my neighborhood, a rabbit, checking out the ramp one afternoon. When I was coming home from a doctor’s visit the next day, the same rabbit shot out from underneath the ramp. The rabbit gave me a look that said “What the hack are you doing on the roof of my new home?” Apparently this was where they lived now.
People have been trying to control nature since the beginning of time. Occasionally it is by building a dam to create a lake for hydroelectric generation or for a reservoir. We may construct seawalls or break waters to keep waves from washing away beaches and homes and the buildings we live in. The reason for these efforts is to allow people to live wherever they want.
Rabbits aren’t the only “wild animals” that have invaded our yard. We have had three skunks, 2 raccoons and 2 opossums visit us over the years. We even saw four deer walking down the middle of our street early one morning and then we have the squirrels. There seems to be a squirrel invasion this year. However our yard isn’t the only place that nature has invaded. We’ve had a couple of mice and bats in our house in the past.
We presently have 2 spiders, named Bob and Bobbette, which live in our bedroom. They are very respectful and maintain social distancing. They live on our ceiling, sleep all day and wander about at night. One of the high points of my morning is finding out where they are hiding every day. (Man, am I bored by this self-imposed quarantine).
We now see wild animals invading cities worldwide. There are deer wandering the urban streets of Japan, wild turkeys In Oakland, Calif., a herd of deer was spotted resting in a housing development in Harold Hill, Romford, England. Wild boar have also been seen in parts of Paris and puma were seen walking around the streets of Santiago, Chile.
Human beings have always tried to control nature and one of the ways we have done this includes the conquering of disease. Smallpox came to North America in the 1600s and we survived that. A century ago, the Spanish flu caused a staggering 20-50 million deaths worldwide and we survived that. In 1793 there was a Yellow Fever outbreak and we survived that. The first major polio epidemic in the United States started in 1916 and reached its peak in 1952 and we survived that.
It’s this lesson that we should learn from the current coronavirus pandemic. We should try to utilize as much scientific knowledge and expertise as we can to defeat this. That’s what public health measures are all about, and such efforts are as old as human society itself. Disease control has improved dramatically with the progress of modern medicine. We can learn from the efforts of other countries to flatten the curve and act on that knowledge as quickly and efficiently as possible, but the virus will still be here. Our older population will still be in danger and all of us will be at elevated risk. Our schools and shops have to be kept closed and our public spaces kept deserted until this is eradicated. The economic outcome and its ultimate toll in lives and the economy due to this pandemic remains unknown but I think the stock market is going to tank, wiping out trillions of dollars in wealth and some businesses will close permanently. Once this is over, it is going to be a different world than we once knew.
Again, I am no one special. I am not an expert but I am going to do my part. I am going to stay home. I am only buying the toilet paper I need, I am only buying the food I need. I have complete faith humanity will survive. There is hope for human survival after all. Human nature will prevail. I hope that when we reach the “new normal” the world will be a kinder, gentler place.
Norb is a resident of Lockport. If you want to visit him, you will have to talk with him through a closed window much like a prison visit.