ecofascism (noun): a totalitarian form government requiring each person to sacrifice individual interests for the well-being of the ‘land,’ understood in this sense to be the splendid web of life, the organic whole of nature, including the people and their state. “Blood and Soil” is an exemplar ecofascist slogan
by Jinal Bhatt edited by O Society May 9, 2020
A cacophony woke me. The TV flashed the static Disney+ homepage I watched Avengers: Endgame on, as I felt the remnants of a droolworthy dream on my pillow (Me. Fat Thor. Cheeto puffs.)
It was 3:17 am. I was surprised at the unusual amount of nature sounds: crows and insects, cuckoos, and other birds too! I saw a larger than usual pack of howling canines running down the street outside my window, relishing the lack of even the bare minimum of traffic. Zero traffic sounds, in fact. Maximum city with minimum movement.
Blame it on my sleep deprivation from all-night binges, the COVID-19 lockdown ennui, or the fact Earth Day is here; in a nutshell, had an epiphany. The realization Thanos – the purple douchebag we were hating on for offing half of all life in the universe – probably was right.
Things were so much better when humans were limited. Literally and figuratively.
Did Endgame actually ruin everything?
Exactly a year ago, we were rooting for a bunch of fictional superheroes to reverse a cataclysm caused by a powerful entity. We were angry some of our favourite superheroes were dusted, and we wanted to #AvengeTheFallen, #WhateverItTakes.
Well, if the first half of Avengers: Endgame is any indication, what it takes is giving up a planet slowly reclaiming its lost glory and healing itself. As Steve Rogers pointed out to Natasha Romanoff, the humpback whales are back in the Hudson River, there’s less pollution, the green cover is returning, and the planet is finally getting some breathing space after growing increasingly claustrophobic with population since primordial life began.
In the end, Wakanda Forever trumps Green Earth Forever, and so we obviously want everyone back. While the people of the “fictional” Marvel Universe™ are busy mourning Iron Man and Black Widow, it’s interesting to wonder who thinks the planet was better off before the Snap was reversed.
Does this story convert any climate change coronavirus nonbelievers in the advent of the Anthropocene?
When people return after five whole years and see the gaping wound they left on the Earth’s body mending, do they decide to help with the healing process or do they resume maniacally picking at our collective festering wound?
Are there tweets from Peter Parker’s schoolmates to declare #ThanosDidNothingWrong and humans are the ones Snapping the earth’s resources faster than Thanos did to its human resources? Did anything change at all, environmentally speaking?
The Coronavirus pandemic forced entire nations to implement lockdowns, thereby limiting industrial activity and transportation across the globe. Let’s assume roughly half of the world’s human population is limiting their activities right now, if not altogether sequestered.
Considering our state – we only got serious about implementing these measures maybe a month ago – the resulting upswing in environmental healing is surprisingly fast. And no, I don’t mean the fake reports of dolphins returning to Venice canals. Although, the optimist in me says, give it time. If whales can return to the Hudson in a movie, we can expect some exotic marine life to return to Venice in real life, right?
Wait, didn’t someone spot dolphins in the harbour of Mumbai’s Gateway of India? And those pink flamingos flocking to Navi Mumbai? The Ganges cleared up.
Pollution levels drop around the world, the skies are forget-me-not blues on most days, while deers, peacocks, and other animals are seen strolling in the streets, and people discover a newfound love for the outdoors. When you look at the night sky now, there’s much more of the cosmos likely visible than before.
The Twitter trend “Earth is healing. We are the virus” turned into the latest meme format. But are we really going to ignore the stark truth staring in our faces? We are to the planet earth as the coronavirus is to us…
What Do The Experts Say?
In 2018-2019, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published an analysis, which puts things into perspective for us. Right now, our global warming is at an increase of 1 degree.
Almost all climate change reports align on this conclusion: if we reach 1.5 degrees of global warming, things will get worse for us. It’s not exactly a point of no-return, but seeing as how much damage a single degree causes already (bushfires, water scarcity, glaciers melting, earthquakes, etc), you’d shudder to even imagine the hellfire to be unleashed next…
What’s worrisome is this report estimates at the rate at which we are going, we’re likely to hit 1.5 degrees anytime between 2030 and 2052. Of course, things can get worse in 2020 itself, as there’s no accurate prediction for when the proverbial shite will hit the proverbial fan. Going by what we have on paper, we’ve got about 10 years, give or take, to mend our ways before we may lose any remaining sense of control.
Can The Coronavirus Change Our Relationship With Nature?
It better! How daft would we be if we emerge out of this experience without learning the most important lesson about our own hubris?
The pandemic shows us the thing this planet needs from us is to step aside from time to time so it can regenerate itself.
Think of it this way. When the house-help comes to clean your room, you considerately move to another room, or at least lift your feet off the floor temporarily so they can do their job. You don’t have to leave the house completely; just make yourself scarce for those few minutes. That’s exactly what we’ve done right now, and even this little respite is enough for Mother Nature to get the party started.
And don’t we love it? We so desperately want to believe our staying indoors has a silver lining for nature, we readily believed in fake news about dolphins! We’re loving this transformation in nature, and we’re singing its praise, even as we pray for the devastation around us. Isn’t it motivation enough to not want to ruin it all?
What’s more, the virus’ origin story managed to once again put us in our place in the order of nature. We can go ahead and build our shiny castles with all the latest technology and all the comforts. But the fact is, we’re doing so by encroaching on the spaces that we were never supposed to encroach in the first place. This brings us, and the biodiversity we displace in the process in unnatural proximity to each other like never before. The result? Bacteria and viruses once limited to the non-human part of the animal kingdom are now mutating and aiming higher up on the food chain. For us, humans.
Look at the epidemics we’ve seen —Nipah, SARS, Ebola, Bird Flu, Swine Flu—all of which originated from livestock and wildlife, because we overshot nature’s laws for our own gluttony. And when these viruses come for us, we’re rendered practically impotent and, ironically, imprisoned in our shiny, comfortable towers.
It only gets worse. With global warming comes the melting of millions of years of ice, which is bound to release old bacterias and viruses frozen and preserved in the permafrost for all these years. Maybe we’ll have a cure for them, maybe we won’t and struggle as we did with the Coronavirus. Maybe worse. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928 heralded the age of modern antibioic therapy, and for the next three-four decades, a number of antibiotic classes were discovered and developed. However, at the start of 1990s, a new paradox emerged. Our world began getting plagued by an increasing number of infectious diseases, making it the second most common cause of deaths worldwide, while the number of new antibiotics and our previous emphasis on research and discovery dropped drastically in favor of increased spending on marketing.
And this birthed one of the biggest threats to our health and longevity—antibiotic resistance. We’ve all, at some point, been prescribed some kind of an antibiotic. However, there’s only a finite number available. The emergence of newer bacteria developing resistance to the current tableau of antibiotics thus points at a crisis. We might sooner than later encounter a bacteria completely antibiotic-resistant, which means when you are given medication, the bacteria in your body will know all its tricks and fight back. Result? There will be no way to cure it.
There are many who speculate rather than nuclear warfare, it shall be biowarfare, accelerated by nature itself, bringing our apocalypse. As we huddle in our confined homes for safety from an invisible enemy, we’ve been shown the planet is probably not going to wait around for us to completely destroy it before it begins rebuilding again; it is willing to do it on our corpses too, and make survivors watch the process. You can’t blame nature for being natural, we brought this upon ourselves. In fact, we still are.
We’re already dreaming of everything going back to normal—transportation, industries, construction and so on. Which means we’ll probably spill a boatload of crude oil over all of nature’s efforts of the past few weeks, probably double up on all those bad habits because we couldn’t indulge in them for this little while. Sustainable fashion, food, energy, travel, everything will go out the window.
We’ll mourn the loved ones lost; we’ll make love with so much fervour that we procreate more, and we’ll find another exotic animal to eat. We’ll probably also build more hospitals, more factories to manufacture healthcare equipment and more industries for foreign investment.
Basically, we may have vanquished our Thanos, and retired our Avengers for the time being, but we’ll continue to pretend as if nothing happened.
Hey Thanos, You Should’ve Gone For The Head Too
Thanos was right when he talked about balance. But dude didn’t have to be as extreme as he was purple. In fact, towards the end of Avengers: Endgame, he was downright genocidal, making it a personal vendetta rather than his original noble initiative.
Of course, IRL too, it’s not like we want the doctors and governments to stop working, let people die of COVID-19 and purge the earth of some population so we can continue to have peacocks be the new gully boys in the city.
We publicly admitted the earth has a limited human population capacity it can hold 50 years ago in publications such as The Limits to Growth. Then we promptly pretended not to notice our realization as the marketing salesmen for “progress” changed the subject to “How Can I Buy M-O-R-E?”
No matter how advanced medical science gets, the inevitability of death is too big a player to beat in this game. So it’s probably good and wise to intentionally regulate our own population growth and consumption a bit.
Our real problem, then, is overconsumption. It’s all in our heads. Did you see how people rushed to stock up on toilet paper in times of crisis? Or the amount of food that people are buying and hoarding and which is eventually going to rot and go waste? Have you seen our extravagant plans post-COVID, because we just had the fear of God put in us and suddenly realised YOLO?
Overconsumption of resources is what leaves a section of the population as victims, and the other as gluttonous criminals. We see the discrepancy in supply and demand and think, “Oh, maybe we need to produce more for everyone.”
The is there is more than enough out there to feed all mouths, clothe all bodies, and put a roof over all heads. It’s just the allocation of these resources and our consumption habits that needs to undergo a drastic change. The sharing thing.
Remote working, limited consumption, regulating production, these are all different ways in which we can give the planet enough space to regenerate. We needn’t wait for another epidemic to kickstart a lockdown; this can be done by implementing stricter governmental policies and penalising the corporations who regularly violate them. Destroying the planet – much like homicide – should be considered a non-bailable offense.t
he point of no-return is coming. And it is only through an Iron-clad resolutio we show the middle finger to Thanos, and tell him that we have what it takes to stop the inevitable.
On Earth Day 2020, its 50th year, the world shared messages and pictures and proofs of how transformative our recent actions have been for the planet. The news could be blossoming with positive thoughts about the Earth, once again a proof even in these difficult times, people can’t help but marvel when Earth is feeling better.
Let’s not forget the price we have to pay. We can change policies and habits, instead of waiting to dig wells when there’s an inferno raging, if we want to..