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Climate activist sees ‘silver lining’ in coronavirus: ‘The machine of capitalism has slowed dramatically, prompting environmental healing’

By Brooke Russell

Excerpts: …the tangibility of COVID-19 is overshadowing the looming existential threat of climate change, an issue that has much higher potential for complete and utter global devastation.

Even in the most tragic of times, however, a silver lining ultimately prevails. As roads empty and people sequester themselves, the machine of capitalism has slowed dramatically, prompting environmental healing. Viral articles detail miracles such as the vacancy of boat traffic in Venice that has prompted dolphins and swans to make an appearance. Though some of these articles have since been debunked, scientific data and satellites reinforce that COVID-19 has had a positive environmental impact. In densely populated cities such as Los Angeles, Seattle, and New York, satellite imagery shows a major decrease in emissions.

As people share these feel-good articles on social media and the like, the greater ramifications of these phenomena are still lost on many. This global pause has served as proof that we do, in fact, have the capacity to halt industries and disastrous environmental practices. While many are eager to return to what they deem as ordinary life, the fact of the matter is, our current practices are unsustainable at every level.

As we flatten the curve and society returns to some semblance of normalcy, my hope is that this catastrophe helps us redefine a different future. COVID-19 is a reminder that whether it’s a pandemic or broad sweeping anthropogenic climate change, humans are not immune to catastrophe in the many forms it may assume. Going back to the way things were, when possible, will be transitioning from one death sentence to another, even if it’s a less obvious one.

While many Americans, as well as people across the globe, maintain a singular focus on the pandemic, the prominent threat of climate change is being overlooked.

Public health is paramount, as the response to COVID-19 has indicated. Why treat climate change any differently?