Lawrence Wright, writing in The New Yorker:
In Austin, the city where I live, I also have treasured the absence of the usual traffic roar, the neighborhood streets given over to pedestrians and exhilarated children on bicycles. I have been inspired by photographs of Los Angeles looking eerily pristine, and by newfound vistas of the Himalayas from Punjab, hidden for decades by smog. Could these images have a galvanizing effect, like the 1972 photograph of Earth taken from space by the crew of Apollo 17, which helped bring the environmental movement to life? The atmosphere feels scrubbed clean; the stars are sharper and more visible. The relationship between humanity and the natural world is more balanced and harmonious. Such ecological restorations, of course, have come at the cost of collapsed economies and punctured dreams. Traffic will necessarily resume, oil will be pumped, airplanes will take off. But I wonder if the glorious experience of living with less pollution, however momentary, will linger in our consciousness as an achievable destiny—and as a reminder that major transformations are possible.
# Wednesday, 15 July 2020
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