In honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the latest episode of “We Roar,” a podcast featuring Princetonian’s voices on the COVID-19 pandemic, highlights reflections by Shana Weber, Princeton’s director of sustainability.
With much of human activity coming to a halt as a result of social distancing and shelter-in-place orders, we’ve found ourselves in a “Silent Spring,” she said, calling to mind the 1962 book of the same name by Rachel Carson, whose work on pesticide use inspired the environmental movement that led to the creation of Earth Day.
“We're in this extraordinary moment where the silence — the human silence — is allowing other voices to come forward and be noticed,” said Weber, who is also a lecturer in the Princeton Environmental Institute. “So bird calls, for example — they're not being drowned out by other sounds.”
Not only are we seeing a resurgence in nature, but we’re experiencing a renewed appreciation for the natural world as we get outdoors more frequently — one of the few activities that offer solace as we keep distance from one another.
“The realities that we're facing now with COVID-19 have made us rethink how we celebrate not only the anniversary, but how we think about sustainability and environmental issues more broadly,” she said.
Weber called the pandemic a “unifying global experience” that has revealed our interconnection with each other and with nature. “The global pandemic clearly illustrated how intimate those connections are and how quickly we link with people physically all over the world,” she said.