By Stephanie Pearson, League of Women Voters
Our Environment is Getting a Break
During this pandemic, we are all absorbed in getting by on a daily basis and striving to stay safe – as we should be. When I have a moment, I find myself looking up into the sky and thinking about how our planet is getting a respite from the onslaught of CO2 being spewed into the air by our industrialized society.
The evidence is there. We can see the decline in CO2 and NO2 around the world and some of our waters are cleaner. This will not be sustained, of course, and, in the near future, our economic engine will be started and accelerated again. Our economic model requires that it does.
Keep it Going with Clean Energy
What we don’t want is government policy that takes advantage of our serious economic situation to relax pollution rules and regulations. Unfortunately, that is being done now.
It would make more sense for Congress to pass recovery bills that invest in clean energy. We all need to contact our elected officials and ask for investment in clean energy that will improve our environment, help mitigate climate change, and create new sustainable jobs.
Pandemic/Climate Change Connection
Is a connection between this pandemic and climate change?
Population growth around the world has fueled the search for more land and natural resources. This rising demand is causing deforestation and the encroachment of people into natural habitats. Humans have become exposed to new pathogens that previously existed only in wild animals. Climate change has spurred wildlife to migrate into areas where they are more susceptible to pathogens.
As a result, there is increased animal/human contact. Of all new human infectious diseases, 70% of them are the result of animal to human transmission – consider Ebola, MERS, SARS, HIV, and now COVID-19.
Lessons and a Wake-Up Call
It’s a new world. There are lessons we should carry to a post COVID-19 world. We are learning to conserve food and paper goods. We better understand the connectedness of our globalized world.
We know what a global crisis looks like and how it affects all of us on a personal level. We’ve learned we can change our behavior.
This lockdown has shown us that we can make radical change. When this is over, we can continue to minimize consumption, commute and travel less, reduce household waste and support local supply chains.
We know our government can take bold steps when it needs to. It needs to do so with COVID-19; but it also needs to combat climate change and do it now.
Climate change will be worse than this pandemic, if not mitigated. To survive, humanity will need to make a climate transition. Let’s push our elected officials to use the stimulus dollars for clean energy and let’s continue our habits of conservation to avoid a grim future. It’s up to us.
Stephanie Pearson is the Chair of the Environmental Issues Committee of the League of Women Voters of Broward County.
“The Invading Sea” is the opinion arm of the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a collaborative of news organizations across the state focusing on the threats posed by the warming climate.