Today, on the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day we are reflecting on how the world has changed since learning of COVID-19. As a majority of people around the world shelter in place with a common goal of containing the virus and reducing the death toll, there have been some unexpected changes in nature – one being a decrease in emissions.
In places like New York, levels of pollution have reduced by nearly 50 percent because of measures put in place to control the spread of the virus. Since Europe has been under extreme lockdown, experts say carbon dioxide emissions have dropped by as much as 20 percent, and the hole in the ozone layer is repairing.
While emissions are decreasing, it’s because nobody is traveling, going to work, eating out or buying things to protect people from a global pandemic that is claiming people’s lives – but it’s also devastating the economy. This isn’t a long-term, or viable, environmental solution.
Throughout this pandemic, we have learned about vulnerabilities in our economic and social systems. We’ve seen large and small businesses struggling and families stretched to their brink. While some of these changes might be temporary, the most important thing we can do is to learn valuable lessons that will help us in the future, and hopefully find a silver lining.
One of these things is how we approach the way we look at our environment. We’re now seeing how a zero sum game – pitting the economy against the environment – plays out in real time, and it’s not pretty.
So how do we take a step back and look for that crucial silver lining? How do we learn from this crisis on Earth Day and move forward with the lessons we’ve learned? More importantly, how does CEEF help play a role?
First, the silver-lining: as we have witnessed, ecological systems are able to bounce back when given a chance, so looking at things with a more pragmatic approach is key. Second, pitting outcomes against each other always ends in disaster – like we’re seeing now. So how do we create more harmony between both?
That starts with the generations of kids that are working their way through our elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools as we speak. They have the ability, through science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to create the next wave of technology we’ll use to not only help our environment, but keep our economy running.
This is why it is so crucial to champion our youth – to get them excited about subjects and companies that are helping to pave the way towards a brighter future with amazing innovations! And they’re all around us.
But perhaps more importantly, maybe we can use this time to reflect on the fact that when we bond together in times of crisis to solve problems creatively, we have a better shot at changing the world – and ourselves. If we can reflect on these changes together, while applying all of our creativity, we will truly transform our planet without so much human suffering.