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PRISTINE PENINSULA – A symphony of give and take By Liz Rogers

If you’re like us and have been following the news or social media in search of a sliver of understanding on what is happening around the globe at the moment, you may have noticed something extraordinary. There’s something remarkable happening in direct response to human isolation. The Earth is singing. Sighing. And we can hear it.

We are currently experiencing an ecological symphony that many of us may not have noticed before because of our extremely busy and noise-infused lifestyles. As human beings have exited city streets, cafes, pubs, public transport and the extensive array of events usually taking place in our very social world, the environment from land to sea to sky has taken centre stage – and its aria is getting clearer day by day. You may have noticed that the wind is blowing just that little bit louder, or how the salty froth gathers and giggles against the shoreline. Or how the sky is looking clearer as you listen for the movement of one solitary cloud. You may even be able to differentiate between the songs sung by our Peninsula birdlife you never knew existed before COVID-19. 

A recent New Zealand television ad celebrating the silence of Auckland, Papatūānuku is Breathing, tells it like it is. What a ripper. As noise pollution dissipates, we can hear Mother Earth speaking. Seismologists’ instruments are picking up activity on the other side of the world more easily because there’s less noise from humans. Our marine animals may be feeling less stressed because of the lack of noise from maritime traffic. Satellites are recording a decrease in nitrogen dioxide in the air because of fewer vehicle and industrial emissions. There’s less litter swirling on the foreshore where the sand meets the sea. Our public bins have ceased to overflow.

If you’re online you’ve probably seen the pictures of nature ‘taking over’ streets around the globe as the COVID-19 lockdown continues. South African lions are napping on the roads as cars snooze silently in garages, and wild animals are hitting the streets in Toronto, Canada as humans adapt to the world as we now know it. You can see seaweed, fish and crabs in the canals of Venice because there’s less boat activity. There have been reports that the pollution levels in China and India have dramatically dropped. 

So, what does all this mean for you, the readers of a magazine that is 100 per cent dedicated to keeping the Mornington Peninsula clean, green and sustainable? Well, that’s up to you – but what an opportunity to think about how you envisage our part of the world looking once this is over. The trick is to work out how we humans can meet Mother Nature halfway to exist in environment-first harmony. A symphony of give and take. We can do that. Can’t we?

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