All through March to September, my project of witnessing the Cranes amidst the unfurling Anthropocene era of climate emergency stayed in stasis. I’m determined to stay on top of climate change news, which is often troubling, while radiating hope by telling the story of ancient birds that struggle onwards. All my travel plans to see Cranes were of course put on hold by Covid-19, but until this month, I could hypothesise future adventures while doing avian research in the middle of other more urgent projects.
During October the dream slumped. So wracked is the United States by the pandemic I doubt I’ll get to see the Whooping Cranes and Sandhill Cranes of North America until 2023 at the earliest. And what chance of visiting Bhutan or South Africa, or indeed of spying Demoiselle Cranes migrate over the Himalayas? Even my Australian road trip from Darwin across to the Atherton Tablelands to marvel at Brolgas and Sarus Cranes, now tentatively set for June next year, feels a lifetime away.
And the climate news! Arctic ice is now all newly formed and thin and smaller in extent than ever. The Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets can be seen beginning to slip, melting, into the seas. Wildfires still rage in America, with winter approaching. Our Great Barrier Reef is officially half dead. Methane burps from the ground far up north. Cyclones form and rage with alarming frequency. The Earth’s regular winds and deep currents are altering. The Amazon is heading to become a treeless savannah. Throw in Trump, Putin, Bolsanaro, and Morrison, and hope of concerted global action remains slight.
Oh, I know good news also abounds. Coal is nearly fucked (but won’t be for a couple of decades), solar rules, China says it’ll be zero by 2060, Biden promises more than any U.S. president has ever come close to promising, Europe acts, our local councils act, awareness is high, and so on and so on. I know Melbourne will come out of lockdown and Extinction Rebellion can begin anew. I know, I know, I know.