Nature Strikes Back

By ANNA LEA JAKOBS | April 24, 2020

Illustration by Anna Lea Jakobs / The Amsterdammer

Wild deer walk through the concrete jungle of New York. The Venetian canals have welcomed dolphins again. A puma strides, looking for something to feed on in the conventional residential areas of Santiago, Chile, while donkeys pay a visit to the ICICI Bank in Prayagraj, North India. Animals are defying the formal lines of demarcation between them and their human cohabitants. Deer, dingo, donkeys, and ducks assemble: nature strikes back.

Whilst chancellors, presidents and health ministers around the world try their hardest to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the animal kingdom seems to have the burden of dealing with its own biggest threat softened. Like a parasite, the European population has grown from 51 million, in the 14th century, to 741 million today. A close companion of this population boom has been the decline of what once was the animal kingdom.

However, is the COVID-19 crisis a turning point to this devastating trend?

In my daydreams with apocalyptic sceneries, the wild residents of our planet defeat mankind. I think of a sequel to Chicken Run (Park & Lord, 2000), a movie of animal rebellion. To break free of the exploitation on the farm, the chickens join forces and stand up against their owners, farmers Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy. When Mr. Tweedy gets aware of the rebellious tendencies in his hen coop, he tells his wife, “The chickens are organized.” Mrs. Tweedy, the boss of the house, brushes him off by ordering him to focus more on profits and less on conspiracy theories. Finally, persuaded by her husband’s paranoid suspicions, Mrs. Tweedy agrees, “The chickens are revolting.” Nonetheless, the rebellion of chickens and stories alike, such as the famous motion picture The Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Wyatt, 2011) are likely to remain a fantasy. 

While chickens may not succeed in organised protest, activists like Greta Thunberg have been able to spark a change in the fight for climate justice. What is the climate activist doing now instead of sailing the oceans? In times of the COVID-19 pandemic, her Fridays For Future demonstrations have been put on hold. No climate choruses. No Greta Thunberg speeches. And certainly, no live concerts. On Earth Day, the 24th of April, the activists with Greta on the digital front line want to strike, nevertheless. The aim: to host the biggest videoconference that the world has ever seen.

Who would have thought that you could contribute to saving the planet from the comfort of your own home? For the time being, it seems like the animals will be the only ones protesting on the streets.

Anna Lea Jakobs is a student at the University of Amsterdam. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of The Amsterdammer.

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