Celebrating Earth Day in the Midst of a Pandemic


2020, or as we know it, “the future”. This was supposed to be the year we would finally get to see Amazon deliver packages via drones. This was supposed to be the year we would finally get to experience hyperloops and even flying cars! Fast forward and here we are, in the midst of a pandemic. 

How did this happen?

While it is true that no one can ever predict a pandemic, during his TED Talk in 2015, Bill Gates warned us that the world would not be ready for it. “If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war. Not missiles, but microbes. Part of the reason for this is that we’ve invested a huge amount in nuclear deterrents. But we’ve actually invested very little in a system to stop an epidemic. We’re not ready for the next epidemic,” Gates said. 

And that is exactly what is happening in the world right now. Does that make Gates a psychic? No. In fact, many people have been warning us over the past decade. Infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm warned us. Virologist and flu expert Robert G. Webster warned us. Even the US Intelligence Team warned us, admitting that a “novel strain of a virulent microbe that is easily transmissible between humans continues to be a major threat,” according to Daniel Dale from CNN.

We don’t have to be psychics or virologists to know that another pandemic outbreak is bound to happen. We might not know when or where, but we can be sure that it will. That is why we need to shift the way we treat these pandemic outbreaks. We need to be ready for the next one and have a strategy in place.

Making that shift happen 

Today we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. This civic event mobilizes around 1 Billion people in over 190 countries every year. Its main goal is to raise awareness about humans’ role in protecting the environment, and this year’s theme is Climate Action. 

Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable. At the end of 2020, nations will be expected to increase their national commitments to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. The time is now for citizens to call for greater global ambition to tackle our climate crisis. Unless every country in the world steps up – and steps up with urgency and ambition — we are consigning current and future generations to a dangerous future,” according to the official website of Earth Day. 

Although many people still believe that climate change is a hoax or even a cult, evidence and facts show otherwise. According to NASA, global temperature rise, warming oceans, shrinking ice sheets, glacial retreat, decreased snow cover, sea-level rise, declining arctic sea ice, and ocean acidification, are all scientific evidence that the climate is rapidly changing. 

What can YOU do about it?

Reducing waste, switching to a green energy supplier, going vegetarian/vegan, and so on, can make a difference. However, these individual choices won’t be enough to save the planet we live in. Technology and electric vehicles won’t save us either. 

When it comes to protecting our environment, sustainable living is a vital step in the right direction. Unless you want to transform the “New Year, New Me” saying into “New Pandemic, New Lifestyle” every year, sustainable living should be more than yet another New Year’s resolution.

Let’s consider this pandemic as a wake-up call. We have been destroying this planet for far too long. If we continue down this route, we will end up destroying humankind. This planet will continue to exist long after us, just as it has existed before us. It doesn’t need us.

Taking action on Earth Day while surviving the pandemic 

Given the current situation, we may be limited to how much we can contribute and take action on this day. Nevertheless, since Earth Day has gone digital this year, here are some ways you can take action even when in quarantine. 

Elon Musk will not start sending us to Mars any time soon, so it is important to take action every day, not just today. Watching Bill Gates’ TED Talk is a good way to start…

 

 

Header image: Alena Koval via pexels.com

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About Juxhina Malaj

A wanderluster and bibliophile passionate about oil painting, photography, and documentary films. She holds a B.A. in Journalism & Mass Communication from the American University in Bulgaria and is currently studying Master's in Communication Science at the University of Vienna.

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