Earth Day 2070, for good or ill

This Is Insane

National Geographic.April 2020
National Geographic.April 2020
The National Geographic had a “flip” magazine issue for Earth Day. Where will we be in 2070? Will we have saved the world? Or will we destroy the planet?

Based on the past three years, I am pessimistic. The current regime has rolled back vehicle emission standards and the Clean Power Plan. It has appointed a former coal lobbyist to lead the EPA, who replaced a guy equally unqualified. Scientifically inaccurate information about climate change is regularly inserted into scientific reports.

Regularly, court cases break down protections. For instance, in March, toxic copper sulfide mining in the watershed of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness was permitted.

The effects of climate change appears everywhere we look. Fires are pervasive in Australia, California, Siberia and elsewhere. In fact, “wildfires in California today burn 500 percent more land per year than they did in 1972.” We’re also seeing devastating hurricanes such as Harvey, Dorian, and Maria.

Yet, and ‘Holy Crap This Is Insane’: Citing Coronavirus Pandemic, EPA Indefinitely Suspends Environmental Rules. “The EPA uses this global pandemic to create loopholes for destroying the environment.” The regime indeed has “issued a total suspension of enforcement of environmental laws, announcing that companies will no longer need to meet environmental standards during the outbreak. The EPA has set no end date to the policy.”

That was the absolute wrong takeaway. What would happen if the world reacted to climate change like it’s reacting to the coronavirus? In spite of some failures in addressing the pandemic, we’d be going in the right direction.

COVID and the environment

Some semi-good news: Could COVID-19 Spell the End of the Fracking Industry as We Know It? “Seven of the most active companies involved in fracking in Texas have already cut $7.6 billion from their budgets as a response to the oil price collapse.”

And some actual good news from the Boston Globe: Amid coronavirus pandemic, air pollution declines in Boston and elsewhere. It’s an antidote to the cooped up, post-COVID-19 world: a walk or run to get some sun and breathe the spring air. And yes, it’s no illusion born of captivity, the air is actually fresher.

“Pollution — in a remarkably short time — has abated. In the past few weeks, satellite measurements have found that emissions from cars, trucks, and airplanes have declined in metropolitan Boston by about 30 percent, while overall carbon emissions have fallen by an estimated 15 percent.

“Such a sudden drop has few precedents in the modern era, a testament to the scale of societal disruption caused by the virus.”

Do we really need a pandemic to make our planet less polluted by Earth Day 2070? If so, what does that say about us?

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

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