A Flourishing Earth

By Sarah Frymark - Summer 2020 issue, The Chesapeake magazine

As the human world closes their doors, in the 2020 Pandemic, the natural world seems to be flourishing.  Air pollution is down, seeming to make the Earth breathe easier (ill-joke or not it’s true!).  After decades and decades of the human footprint enlarging, suddenly we all froze in place.  Air traffic halved, road traffic dramatically decreased, cruises banned, industrial activities slowed, and what is single use wrapping anymore? Hello buying in bulk to last me a month(plus) in quarantine! The entire Earth seems to be face-to-face with the same wide eye awakening…the Earth benefits from watered down human existence.

So now what? What can we do with this knowledge?

Locally, spring is blooming beautifully, and it is hard to notice a “difference” in the neighborhood ecosystems and environment; especially coming out of a very grey winter.  In other regions, tales are spreading about animals returning after decades away, and locally I cannot help but notice…has it always looked this green outside? Change may or may not be happening ecologically in Maryland due to the Stay At Home orders, and it’s hard to say when we are at home. Though whether the ecosystems in Maryland are flourishing more or not, we can listen and learn from other regions how it is changing for them!

Before COVID-19, it was a wild dream to ever mention decrease air, water, ground travel to minimize pollution; but here we are.  As Maryland is very tiny in terms of the entire world, we cannot ignore the small percentage we do contribute.  One local stream, feeds into a watershed, which provides drinking water for the town; it continues on though.  That watershed feeds into a river and a larger watershed, which turns into the bay and an exceptionally large multiple state watershed.  Which then becomes the ocean, and on.  Pollution grows as the watershed grows.  And this is what the world is seeing in data, and ecological behavioral changes.  The collective pollution from everyone, and every community, every watershed, every state, is making a difference! We may not be able to visually see the changes like Bald Eagles in your backyard; but it is the contribution or lack of contribution to the Total Human Impact Pollution, that is making a difference.

Moving forward, what can we do to continue this positive trend?

Together we do make a difference.  I have trust in the humankind to create and develop new technologies, industries, products, methods, and solutions, that will be gentler to our Home.  Though, never put all your eggs in one basket! It’s up to us, locally, to make our ecosystems, streams, watersheds, bays, etc. healthy and flourishing.  Gardens, walking and not driving, rethinking single use plastic, cleaning up litter, and education about such topics are all financially free ideas that can reduce one’s carbon footprint, and help the local ecosystem.  Getting creative and innovative in protecting and preserving one’s watershed is the future for post-stay at home Earth.

The health of the stream down the street may not be on one’s brain every day, and it is entirely reasonable for one to not lose sleep over the Coral Reefs in Australia.   Though, its never been a better time to look down and up…and around.  Taking notice or sparking curiosity to the world around us can help us walk into a brighter future.

Dolphins are swimming where they have not swum in years, and views of mountaintops are seen from miles and miles away.  But when will the stink bugs stop invading every corner of everything? Some questions never seem to get answered.

I hope everyone is well in these trying times, and I hope to talk passionately about Source Water Protection to all face to face again soon!