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April 18, 2020 · OPINION

Reflections on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day

By Barbara Cochran

As we approach the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, it is a time for reflection on where we are at this point in history. Earth Day began with 10 percent of the U.S. population holding demonstrations for a cleaner environment. This brought awareness of environmentalism to mainstream America.

Now 50 years later, we are finding the coronavirus is giving an awareness of cracks in various aspects of our society — healthcare, social inequalities and environmental factors.

While there appears to be no direct link between global warming and coronavirus, there are contributing factors. A loss of habitat for species means more human/wild animal interactions, where people can acquire novel diseases. More extreme weather events provide outlets for disease outbreaks. People living in polluted environments have a lowered ability to fight pathogens.

As most of us are engaging in stay-at-home orders, we can ask ourselves, “What can we take from this experience to aid us in going forward to benefit our environment?”

Here are a few thoughts to consider. With travel being reduced dramatically, we have seen incredible air quality improvements. Would we be willing to eliminate a portion of our own trips per year to assist with carbon emissions?

Telecommuting has become normal during this time. It is a viable option and can function if appropriate infrastructure is put in place. Would this work for one or two days a week for many of us?

Food production is currently inflexible and vulnerable. A strong local food economy is better able to adjust production, processing and delivery to meet changing demands. There has been a renewed interest in “victory gardens,” which reduce pressure on public food supplies.

There are parallels between the existential threats of coronavirus and climate change. Both require behaviors on an individual level to combat the crisis.

Social distancing is making a major difference in the virus spread. Our behavior, both individually and globally, will determine the impacts of climate change as we go forward.

Coronavirus will have a peak, but the emissions that are overheating the planet continue on an upward trajectory. If the coronavirus has any lesson for humanity, it may be that we as a global society can come together to address an existential crisis when the threat is clear and pressing.

How we respond this Earth Day and beyond will show us what we have learned.

The writer is a member of the Fauquier Climate Change Group.

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Jeffersonian American · April 25, 2020 at 5:14 pm
I strongly encourage the author and their group to seek more factual evidence, knowledge and understanding of the essential science truths from the World's Most Distinguished Geologist and his peers:

More wisdom from the World's Most Distinguished Geologist, Dr. Harrison H. Schmitt:

• On public lands: Conservation requires a balancing "of the liberties of individual citizens, the economic wellbeing of local communities and States, requirements for the 'common defence,' and the advance of conservation technologies... "The Government violates constitutional equal protection most generally by restricting the land-related economic and recreational activities of residents of Western States when no comparable restrictions are possible in most Eastern States. "(Federal) Wilderness and Monument designation for various western lands, establishment of private land buffer zones for endangered species, and regulatory and federal lawsuit roadblocks in the name of conservation also trample equal protection, as well as 5th Amendment's guarantee of due process in many cases."

• On energy: Congress should remove the "regulatory bottlenecks on nuclear power plant and refinery construction and on exploration and production from beneath public land and offshore waters. ... "A major national security requirement for Congress is enactment of an accelerated program to encourage energy exploration and production from public lands or offshore water where economically and technically feasible. ... "Our dependence on unstable foreign sources of oil has become one of our greatest national security vulnerabilities that only domestic production can solve in the next 50 years." Schmitt also says loan guarantees to promote development of alternative energy sources are unconstitutional.

• On climate change: "Policy makers at the head of the government in the United States and in many States want to believe, and to have others believe, that human use of fossil fuels accelerates global warming. "They pursue this quest in order to impose ever greater and clearly unconstitutional control on the economy and personal liberty in the name of a hypothetically omnipotent government. "There exists no true concern ... about the true effects of climate change — only a poorly concealed, ideologically driven attempt to use conjured up threats of catastrophic consequences as a lever to gain authoritarian control of society."

• On work: The constitutional "protection of the right to work has been usurped by government requirements for minimum wages, union shops, payment of a prevailing wage, prohibition of even managed use of public lands and resources, moratoria on energy production, and many other unnecessary and politically motivated restrictions on earning a living."

• On health care: "One of the Obamacare legislation's most insidious Trojan Horses is the creation of a 'National Health Service Force,' including Ready Reserves, under the control of the President. President Obama has referred publicly to this Force as a 'national civilian security force' that is 'just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded' as the U.S. military. ... "The president's new 'force' conjures memories of nightmares that previously occurred in totalitarian States."

• On China: It "constitutes both a military and an economic threat to our freedom and the freedom of all democracies. Congress must begin to fight Cold War II."

• On the news media: "The state-committed media supports proposals to silence or regulate alternative media sources and broadband communications as well as generally limit the 1st Amendment's freedom of political speech." Also, the media and Congress are working to "demonize and unconstitutionally discriminate against ... education and personal achievement, marriage, and other Judeo-Christian values."
DonkeyFarmer · April 22, 2020 at 12:19 am
Linda does not like humans:

"The human species is doomed, and the sooner we are gone the better for the planet. The Earth will not miss us!

Donkey Farmer - Not only do I feel that way, I believe it wholeheartedly. Humankind is a cancer spreading and killing everything all over this planet."

Keep this in mind when you read her posts. She literally wants us to die for the sake of "the earth."
Linda Ward · April 20, 2020 at 2:03 pm
I like where you are going, yet I believe that once this all settles down, if it settles down, people will go back to their old ways, Earth be damned.
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