The Great Pause

Geologic events sometimes disrupt the ecologic landscape. Volcanoes explode and bury river valleys with mudslides. Earthquakes rearrange entire coastlinSMD_5_2020es with tsunamis. Meteor impacts cause mass extinctions. Post-event, the affected environment reaches a new state of equilibrium.

We’re in the midst of a human disruption, a virus-driven pandemic, that has mostly shut down the human world. Some call this the Great Pause. Though human activity has come to an abrupt halt, the natural world is largely unaffected.

During the Great Pause, the human part of Folly Beach is mostly shut down. Skaters and bicyclers run free on empty streets. So do squirrels. A passing car has become an event. Amplified music gives up ear space to ocean sounds.

For a while, with boats briefly out of the way, life in the salt marsh went largely unhindered. Despite the absence of humans, nature’s food chain continued operating without disruption. Dolphins still ambushed redfish and mullet. Migrating Red Knots still scoured horseshoe crab eggs from the beachface. Short Billed Dowitchers continued to probe the mud flats for mollusks.

Briefly, during the Great Pause, dolphins communicated freely sans the drone of a hundred water-piercing boat propellers. Briefly, Wilson’s Plovers nested without harassment of marauding dogs. Briefly sea turtles found less cellophane cracker wrappers floating among the jellyfish.

This Disruption will change society. How? Will society become more insular, or more tolerant? More altruistic, or more selfish? More capitalistic, or more socialistic? What emerges as society’s new state of equilibrium?