Watching the news every night and seeing the numbers drive upwards is frightening. The effects of the COVID-19 outbreak are global, personal, and a strange mixture of chaos and peace. Yet amidst all of this there very well might be a silver lining: Earth.
Global air travel is at a standstill, vehicles remain parked at homes, factories are closed, and the planet takes a deep breath. The data on carbon emissions and other pollutants is still coming in, but the impact is vivid. Crystal clear water in the canals of Venice, smog-free blue skies over Beijing and Los Angeles, and goats wandering the empty streets of Wales.
While this is great news for us tree huggers, it covers up important policy initiatives. The EPA has basically told factories that if they are running they can pollute whatever they want with little consequence. Additionally, the drive for economic recovery will be harsh on the planet with dangerous deregulations. Our water will be poisoned, forests and jungles burned, and the sweet air puffed away with the engine clouds.
We were at a global turning point on climate change before our sense of safety was shattered by this virus. Now more than ever, our next steps will define the future livelihood and stability of our planet Earth.