Editorial

EDITORIAL: COVID-19 and the Environment

Global efforts to battle the monthslong spread of COVID-19 that is leaving hundreds of thousands sick, and thousands more dead, is far from over. The continuing threat is real, and some areas, including the nation’s capital, are said to still be facing a peak of the pandemic, rather than a “flattening of the curve.” For now, “stay-at-home” orders will remain in effect, thereby requiring the indefinite adherence to social distancing, wearing of face masks in public and constant handwashing.

This new normal that is a necessary inconvenience to humans is beginning to have positive impact on the environment. And it comes at a time when activists whose causes include clean air, clean water and green living are planning a virtual celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day next Wednesday, April 22.

Environmentalists have made a causal connection between the impact of industrial development across the planet and health concerns that create and exacerbate diseases that cause sickness and death. Also, there is evidence that people living in polluted environments have a much more difficult time staving off infections or illness and even a higher chance of succumbing to both. We’re seeing it now with COVID-19 and it is having a disproportionate impact on African Americans who, not only may lead an unhealthy lifestyle, but are more likely to live in unhealthy environments.

The good news is slowly coming to light. Despite the inconvenience of COVID-19, the air is getting clearer, the rivers are getting cleaner and humans are cleaning and disinfecting their personal living spaces as if their lives depended on it — and it does.

The reduction of people and vehicles on the streets, fewer planes flying the air and a drastic cut in gas and oil manufacturing, among a host of other factors, seem to be having a positive impact on the environment. But the question is, for how long? It also begs the question, are we, human beings, the virus that’s killing the environment? Are we creating the cause of a pandemic that is causing death among ourselves?

Earth Day is a day to celebrate, only if we realize we are responsible for creating a clean, safe and healthy environment. What this virus has taught us should not be forgotten when the curve flattens.

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