This essay was first published in our semi-weekly newsletter, Climate in the Time of Coronavirus, which you can subscribe to here.
Last week I took a day off from work. For two months the pandemic had prevented me from going more than a few miles from my Brooklyn apartment, and I wanted to feel the freedom of travel and motion. So when I woke up I decided to bike about 10 miles to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the site of the 1964-65 World’s Fair. There’s not much left of the fair besides a couple of rusted, space-age towers that look straight out of The Jetsons. But one gleaming relic remains: a 15-story, 700,000-pound steel representation of the globe dubbed “the unisphere.”
What captivates me about the unisphere is, ironically, its utter irrelevance to my life now. The world map has never seemed like such an abstraction. I’ve been fortunate enough to set foot in more than half of the world’s continents, but when their shapes appeared in steel before me last week they might as well have been the indecipherable runes of a lost civilization. I haven’t been in a plane, train, or automobile in two months. And for the first time in my adult life, I don’t know when I’l... Read more