Editor: The Global Pandemic has affected everyone. Our routines are disrupted as we shelter in place. The ways we work, shop, gather, communicate, and celebrate are not the same anymore.
While the Global Pandemic is front and center in the news and in our lives, another global crisis silently continues. Activists are reluctant to bring it up, but some realize that now is the time. Of course, I am referring to Climate Change. It’s been postulated that COVID-19 is Mother Earth’s way to find relief from the negative impacts human activity, which have reached unparalleled proportions. In fact, we are in a new geologic era called the Anthropocene, so named due to the overwhelming global evidence that atmospheric, geologic, hydrologic, biospheric and other earth system processes are now altered by humans. The balance of Nature is lost. Now, extreme weather events, such as drought, flood, wildfire, super-storms, or extended cold snaps, threaten our lives. Our lifestyle is unraveling.
There are lessons learned from the Global Pandemic that can be applied to the Global Climate Crisis. First, our society can make rapid and radical change. Second, compassion and caring motivate ordinary people to provide unmet needs for those of us, such as health care workers, at risk. Third, when the intensity of human life on Earth is diminished by sheltering in place or lock down, the resiliency of Nature is witnessed: air and water become clearer; fish return to canals in Venice; the Himalayas can be seen from 120 miles away for the first time in 30 years; NASA satellite images show dramatic drops in air pollution in China as industry shuts down; similar changes are observed in Southern California when commuting to work stopped.
While there are so many uplifting examples of Nature being restored, the white elephant in the room is climate change. Carbon dioxide is the primary green house. It remains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. We have already emitted enough carbon dioxide that we are locked into a 20 C increase in average global temperature. When the Pandemic is over, if we return to Business as Usual, there will be a 50 C to 60 C warming. Already, the Earth has warmed by 10 C and extreme weather events have become more frequent in the U. S. and beyond. Can we withstand 50 C to 60 C warming?
The Pandemic has changed us and we don’t want to survive the Pandemic unchanged. Can we build a life-sustaining society that turns: exploitation (of either people or natural resources) into respect; extraction of natural resources into regeneration; and competition into cooperation? Do we realize that this is the only viable way forward? Business as Usual got us to where we are now.
In Loudoun, we have a unique challenge: the huge amount of energy required to power Data Center Alley is generated by Dominion Power from dirty fossil fuels. We cannot return to Business as Usual. Dirty fossil fuels must be replaced with clean renewables. Make sure to tell your legislators at all levels of government.
Natalie Pien, Leesburg