Today is No Ordinary Earth Day

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Today is No Ordinary Earth Day

Today marks the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. It’s a chance for us to think about global sustainability in a new light. Typically, people around the world gather and take action to raise awareness around environmental protection and sustainability. But today is no ordinary Earth Day, as we are in no ordinary time. At this moment, the canals in Venice are glistening clear with schools of fish visible in the center of the city. China has seen a dramatic drop in pollution created by factory and auto emissions. Here in California, the infamous Los Angeles smog has dissipated, aided by reduced traffic levels. And in Yosemite National Park, wildlife is flourishing as tourism has virtually halted.

While the earth is receiving a temporary respite from our harmful human impacts, we cannot dismiss what has led to these changes: The world’s response to an international pandemic, a pandemic that has led to the tragic loss of over 175,000 lives.These unprecedented times should refocus and sharpen our vision of what is possible and what is necessary. We are seeing human suffering and the brunt of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis disproportionately distributed among the most socioeconomically vulnerable. Many of those hospitalized across the U.S. had at least one underlying chronic health condition. These conditions disproportionally impact communities of color because of preexisting disparities in access to health care, healthy foods, and clean environments caused, in part, by decades of systemic injustice, deprivation, and abuse.

The decisions we make going forward regarding environmental protection, economic revitalization, and public health are not mutually exclusive; they are intersectional and inextricably intertwined. We must tackle all three together by harnessing this historic moment of world focus and international collective action. COVID-19 has shown us that when lives are on the line, we can mobilize together and take bold action with heightened resolve. Ultimately, we can implement science-driven solutions that combat the global health pandemic AND address our climate crisis. BOTH of these goals can be achieved as we begin our economic recovery. We need to reimagine a sustainable economy and infrastructure that will leave a healthy, habitable, and equitable planet for generations to come. These very principles are the foundation of my legislation AB 1839, the California Green New Deal.

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