Pandemic puts Earth Day in new perspective
Several years ago, a History Channel special, "Life After People" (January 2008), explored what the earth would be like if the human race suddenly disappeared. It made a big impression on me and I think about it often. The planet came out pretty well. Our artifacts didn’t hold up, but nature flourished.
2020欧洲杯正规平台The sudden and severe decrease in commerce and human interaction resulting from measures put in place to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus have had a similar happy impact on the earth. Because industries are shut down, cars are off the road, and airlines have canceled flights, there are blue skies in Delhi, one of the most polluted cities in the world, and for the first time in 30 years residents of the Indian state of Punjab can see the Himalayan mountains, 100 miles away.
2020欧洲杯正规平台The point is not to promote the elimination of homo sapiens, which would unhappily include myself plus my children and grandchildren, but rather to emphasize the significant impact our species is having on the planet.
2020欧洲杯正规平台The coincidence of Earth Day, April 22, 2020, occurring in the middle of a global response to a world-wide pandemic, is an abrupt reminder that our presence is profoundly altering our environment.
Founded in 1970 by Democratic Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin and co-chaired by Republican Congressman Pete McCloskey of California some 50 years ago, the initial purpose of Earth Day was to provide a voice for emerging environmental consciousness.
2020欧洲杯正规平台By the end of 1970, the first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. However, beginning with the new millennium, the focus has now shifted to global warming and a push for clean energy. Find a digital Earth Day event by visiting
Our response to the impending doom of global warming is strikingly similar to our early reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic – an all too human refusal to believe bad news, especially bad news that requires a sharp and unprecedented alteration to how we live our lives, conduct our economy, and relate to our neighbors.
2020欧洲杯正规平台What began as an aloof skepticism has unfortunately often turned into paranoid conspiratorial theories frequently alleging political gamesmanship. Despite all the technological and scientific advances that augment our daily life, when cornered, we seem as a species to regress to our superstitious and tribal selves.
2020欧洲杯正规平台Now that the health crisis is upon us some, with hindsight, would like to place blame on our President for the failure to put timely preventive measure in place. But honestly, the United States is not much different from the rest of the world. Certainly, Europe and its leaders have not done much better. The difficulty seems to lie with our inability to see past our immediate gut level intuitions and rely on abstract science.
It’s all too easy to base and rationalize our response to our uncomfortable dilemma on how we feel today: "I feel good and all my friends and everybody I know feels good"; or, "Here comes spring again — the flowers are blooming, and the birds are singing, what’s all this talk about climate change?"
2020欧洲杯正规平台The central role of science is also striking.
The rapid spread of the pandemic means that scientific findings and strategies are quickly determined to be accurate and useful. According to polls, when it comes to the pandemic, we now have greater trust in our scientific community than our political leaders. Not so with global warming. The longer timeline of the climate change allows us quibble over and undermine our response to the deadlier consequences of man-made climate change even though the scientific evidence is solid and substantial.
The accumulation of scientific data and the development of scientific models are paying off in our ability to predict where this epidemic is going and how to deal with it. There is really no sound reason to doubt the science for climate change other than the horror and inconvenience of its conclusions.
If you think a temporary economic time out and global recession is more that we can bear in the current COVID-19 situation, ponder the economic and human price we will pay when the ice caps have fully melted, our most important coastal cities are gone, and we are struggling to find homes for huge numbers of displaced people.
The earth will do fine without us. We, however, will not make it without the earth.
Meta Calder is a member of Sustainable Tallahassee and the editor of Sustainable Tallahassee’s Greening Our Community Blog. She can be reached at email@example.com. This is a “Greening Our Community” article, an initiative of Sustainable Tallahassee. Learn more at www.SustainableTallahassee.org.
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