As a nurse for over 40 years, I am acutely aware of how humans with a pre-existing health condition are more vulnerable to opportunistic infections.
The same can be said for our earth. This amazing life giving planet to which we are inextricably connected for all our basic needs — air, water, health, shelter and security — has a pre-existing condition of climate disruption. The symptoms affect all basic life systems and pose a significant threat to human health and survival.
Now considered a collective syndrome, the health effects of climate disruption reach all parts of the world. Populations are affected in different ways, from shifting ecosystems to food availability, the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, and social justice issues
And now, because the earth is so vulnerable, COVID-19 has become the opportunistic infection to which the global community has succumbed. Like any major illness that a human experiences, this infection has caused an abrupt pause and change of plans. Nothing is normal any longer.
The ensuing social isolation needed to slow transmission of the infection has resulted in an almost total shutdown of industry, and air and car travel throughout the world. The earth, however, is experiencing relief from the resulting major decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. This unexpected positive effect is beginning to heal the earth’s pre-existing condition and it is responding with vastly improved air and water quality.
When someone’s life has been jolted to a stop by a serious illness, recovery is a time to take stock of what was occurring previously; what may have caused a vulnerability to the illness, and what will effect change in these areas to increase resilience and health.
For the global community that means mitigating the effects of climate disruption through a green recovery.
We need to provide all possible ways to heal the earth through decreased greenhouse gas emissions by:
• transitioning from fossil fuel to renewable energy,
• retrofitting buildings,
• retraining fossil fuel workers to renewable energy workers,
• supporting active transport systems,
• redirecting government subsidies away from new fossil fuel infrastructure to infrastructure that will heal and support life on earth.
Everything that is done in the green recovery needs to be examined through the lens of “how does this support the life of the earth?” This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to heal the pre-existing condition of climate disruption and increase resilience and health for all.
Please, let’s not squander this opportunity to affect a big positive healthy change.
Let’s run with it and make a healthy future possible.