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Opinion: Is Nature Really Healing?

A closer look at the real effects of the pandemic on our natural world

Editor's Note

Steve Palopoli Profile Photo

When Erin Malsbury took on the cover story for this week’s Green Issue, it was originally … well, let’s just say we hadn’t settled on exactly what it was going to be about. What we knew was that through the entire pandemic, people have been talking about how “nature is healing”—but the scientific evidence for this anecdotal observation was less than ideal. We wanted to know how much healing nature was really doing, and tell that story in a way that hasn’t been done yet.

As she always does, Malsbury found a way to do just that. She had considered many factors of what scientists are calling the “anthropause”—air pollution, the state of the oceans, etc.—but the element that kept coming up over and over was noise. Specifically, the sudden reduction in it during the pandemic, and how that was affecting wildlife in remarkable ways. What was even more remarkable is the hard data that scientists now have on this, which is laid out in her piece. What surprised me most were the unexpected manifestations of this phenomenon—most of us probably suspected that the pandemic has increased animal incursions into civilization, but did any of us think it would change the sound of songbirds? Or the stress levels of whales? It’s a fascinating story; I highly recommend you give it a read. Malsbury will also be talking about her article on Wednesday, July 7, on KSQD’s “Cruz News and Views” (3-4pm, 90.7FM).

 

STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

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