Spring has arrived, unambiguously. Clear blue skies. Sun all day. Flowers in full bloom. Nature is calling, but we have to stay home. Empty streets, empty squares, empty airports, we are experiencing ‘the great empty’, as the New York Times coined it recently. It is all so strange: we are sliding into a deep crisis, but when I look outside my window the world looks very healthy to me. Beauty and horror, nature has them both.
It’s hard to find the right words in the midst of all this, let alone to define what it means for the future of our human civilization. It’s probably way too soon to say anything meaningful about it.
But, anyhow, here we are. So let me focus on the first thing that pops into my mind when thinking of the corona crisis and our current ecological predicament. One word, namely: control.
We want to control it all. The virus, the weather, the temperature in our houses, our minds and bodies, our future. We want to control nature itself; we want to tame it. That’s the project of Modernity: to study, understand and ultimately control nature (and with that our destiny).
But as we know deep down, ‘life finds a way’ as the eccentric chaos theoretician Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) tells us in the 90’s classic hit movie Jurassic Park. And many of the feedback loops and ecological hazards we are experiencing now - like climate change, acidification of the oceans, atmospheric pollution, radioactivity and the proliferation of pathogen viruses - are a product of our relentlessness commodification and extraction of the natural world.