The Relevance of Earth Day During a Global Pandemic
When the Council set out to compile the 2019 Annual Report, we looked forward to doing so in the context of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. We expected to look back with a mixture of joy and frustration at what we have accomplished in five remarkable decades of Connecticut environmental history. We could not have foreseen that this report would be issued in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, with all its possibly staggering environmental implications. The Council decided by consensus that it should not let this particular confluence go without comment.
While the COVID-19 emergency is not what we usually think of as an environmental issue, the viral outbreak provides an interesting lens through which to examine the data presented in this report. The virus has rapidly spread globally highlighting the interrelation and cross-boundary communion of environmental conditions. There are no borders which insulate us from human actions and impacts. The differing effectiveness of each country’s measures taken to control the virus instruct us that borderless problems require coordinated solutions The virus recognizes no social, economic, racial or national lines. Likewise, air pollution, water pollution and climate change respect not political borders.
The primary risk reduction techniques being employed to combat the virus – hand washing, general hygiene and social distancing, which has led many people to discover the trails and natural spaces around them – highlight the importance of the basic concept of cleanliness and parallel society’s need for clean water, clean air, general environmental hygiene and healthy open spaces.
The virus is a ruthless science teacher reminding us that the data we collect are to be ignored at our peril. The Council is alarmed by the current fashion of resistance to, and even disdain for, science. Attempts to deny the virus outbreak ironically intensified its impact and sent our economy into a state of wild disruption, offering proof of the truth that our economic welfare and our health are co-dependent. The environment does not negotiate. It responds to our stewardship without judgment. While the Council attempts to present its annual reports with minimal subjective commentary, we urge you to read this report and reflect on the consequences of denying the interconnectedness of the human economy and the natural world.