Hi friends! Happy Belated Earth Day! I hope you are staying safe and well and hugging the earth whenever you can. I apologize for my absence the past week; it’s been a busy work week and I had a post scheduled for Wednesday on the health impacts of mercury (in light of the recent proposed regulation relaxation), but publishing such a somber post didn’t feel right on Earth Day, so I saved the draft for another time.
Today, I have sort of a different style of post. Rather than a data-infused article, it’s more of a thought piece (or an op-ed, if you will) on what we can learn from the COVID-19 crisis to help us fight climate change. This piece is an excerpt of my latest for Planet Forward, so please visit their site for the full story.
I hope you enjoy! Thank you as always for allowing me the space to experiment with my creative and scientific pursuits. I am working on some posts about eliminating foods from your diet, If you want to read more about the environment in honor of belated Earth Day, I have a whole bunch of posts you can sort through:
- How you can fight climate change
- How does CO2 Contribute to Increasing Temperatures?
- How Does Climate Change Impact Human Health?
…and many more under the ‘Climate + Health and Sustainability‘
There are many similarities between the COVID-19 crisis and the climate change crisis: both are global threats to human health, the economy, and have the potential to disrupt life as we know it.
The major difference between the two is the time scale at which they are unfolding.
With coronavirus, the threat is palpable; we see it unfolding daily as cases and fatalities continue to climb, and the world scrambles to find treatments, vaccines, and strategies to adapt to a new reality in the face of a major threat.
Climate change, on the other hand, is unfolding a bit more slowly. While some directly see and feel its effects, for many, it seems like a distant and personally irrelevant threat.
Yet, these two crises both require a global cooperative effort to mitigate their magnitude of their destructive potential, and rely heavily on work done by the scientific community to project their paths and to create and implement solutions.
And importantly, both require not only the cooperation of governments around the globe, but also action of everyday citizens.
When it comes to climate change, that means individual action to reduce personal carbon footprint while supporting policies for sweeping change, and when it comes to coronavirus, that means adhering to public health recommendations by sheltering in place, wearing a mask, and social distancing.
Both instances require personal sacrifices, a trust in science, and a respect for greater good. And unforutanley, both coronavirus and climate change have been politicized, with certain individuals casting shadows of doubt on science and experts to fuel political narratives, creating an illusion of personal safety and remission of personal responsibility.
Which is perhaps why most importantly, both of these crises run the risk of giving into the temptation to delay taking action until it’s too late. We’ve seen the impact of complacency in parts of the world that believed itself immune to the dangers of COIVD-19, until the virus proved its potential to wreak havoc on communities.
There is the potential that the crises created by climate change will have similar implications for disrupting humanity, riddled with devastation, death, and economic fallout happening across the globe. Some places will be hit harder than others, and some people and places are already feeling these effects.
Much like with the current pandemic, we must act swiftly and with global cooperation to implement solutions to mitigate the impacts of climate change, and, to make a parallel to COVID-19, to flatten the curve of its destructive potential.
We have seen that on some scale, this is possible. With COVID-19, the world has pulled together to fight a common enemy. People are staying home, helping their neighbors, and rising at opportunities to contribute to a greater good.
We have also learned with greater clarity what is really essential in terms of polluting activities we engage in in our daily lives. Perhaps more of us can truly work from home from time to time, avoiding long daily commutes, and perhaps we can continue to eat food we have in our homes rather than seek out other foods to suit our moods and let leftovers go to waste.
The pandemic has also exposed the gravity of modern health and economic disparities in our societies, and perhaps we can move forward with plans that better serve those in need.
And with coronavirus, as many around the world turn to medical and public health experts for guidance, eagerly waiting for scientists to create a treatment or vaccine, there’s a chance that this experience will perhaps bring about a returned trust in science and experts to guide relevant decisions.
As humans, we have grown, and can continue to learn from these experiences to create a brighter future.
All of these learned experiences will be helpful for working to better protect our environment, fight climate change, and prevent future pandemics.
There is no way to disentangle future pandemics and how we treat the environment. Luckily, this presents a dual opportunity: we can take better care of our planet, and by doing so, take better care of our health.
If you liked “What can we learn about fighting climate change from the COVID-19 crisis?” you may also like:
- What Does it Mean When Your Phone Says “Unhealthy Air Quality for Sensitive Groups?”
- Air pollution and Human Health: How does Air Pollution Cause Chronic Illness and Death?
- Is organic food better for the environment? What about grass-fed meat?