The world’s human inhabitants have been focused on fending off a virus for the past year, so it’s been easy to ignore the Earth’s ailments.
Today, April 22, is Earth Day, the second one of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’re still in short-term survival mode and therefore more apt to set aside the long-term survival of species and ecosystems in a changing climate.
We’ve been conditioned to act as though the virus could be anywhere and take the necessary precautions. We do a hundred little things differently than we did pre-pandemic and unfortunately, the environmentally friendly choice isn’t always the COVID-safe choice.
An easy example is our waste stream. The City of Nanaimo reported 18 per cent more curbside waste collected in 2020 than the year before, with a comparable increase in landfill-destined garbage. The Regional District of Nanaimo also reported seeing a direct correlation between lockdown measures and waste generation. By necessity, we’re now a society of clean-freaks and not as inclined to get our hands dirty recycling.
There’s been a lot of waiting around during the pandemic: waiting for the vaccine, waiting for this to all be over, waiting for things to get back to normal. Maybe we’ve been waiting to save the planet, too. This Earth Day might be a time to think about that a little bit, because if we do, it might occur to us that we can’t wait around. A global pandemic is as good an excuse as any to create waste, emissions, pollution and harm, but we don’t have to make excuses, and we don’t really have time for them.
We owe the planet our best efforts on Earth Day and every other day, during a pandemic and after.