I spent more time on the internet this week than I have the past few weeks. As COVID-19 spreads, it continues to take up more space everywhere. But people are also thinking and writing about it in reflective and nuanced ways. The internet was chaotic this week, but patterns are starting to emerge.
Highlights: Mexico City’s water crisis, AIDS and coronavirus, the commodification of meaning, Sinéad O’Connor, falling, learning to swim, Rihanna made some music (!?!?!?!??!!?), Bob Dylan’s unreleased track, Europe’s oldest forest, and Tiger King.
With everything happening as a result of COVID-19, it has been easy for the pandemic to, in some instances, overshadow other things happening in the world—at least for me. I haven’t paid as much attention to the global water crisis as I usually do. I’m lucky enough that I don’t have to constantly think about my water consumption on a daily basis, but that isn’t the case for residents of Mexico City.
Mexico City is sinking, quite literally, writes Rosa Lyster, who is based in Cape Town, South Africa. “The city is subsiding as it draws more and more water from further and further below the surface, collapsing into the clay lake-beds on which it was built, and even someone who doesn’t know what an aquifer is can see it,” she writes. Mexico City is different from Cape Town, however, in that it has more rainy days than London, and “the original Aztec city, Tenochtitlan, was built on an island in the middle of a lake, surrounded by other lakes.”
Lyster writes that in Mexico “the problem is not water scarcity, although it now presents itself as that. It’s a problem of water management, and infrastructure, and inequality,” understanding that “water is political and access to it determines the course of one’s life.” Mexico City and Cape Town aren’t alone in this, and “in five years’ time, two-thirds of the world’s population is going to be living in a state of ‘water stress’… Either we won’t have enough or it will be dirty or we won’t be able to access it without difficulty.”