By: Nancy Metayer
When people talk about what they are missing while sheltering in place, the list consists of brunch, football, soccer games, Coral Springs Unplugged, and even getting out to our parks while enjoying the city under the sun.
Today marks the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day and a little over a month of staring at the four walls of our homes.
The first Earth Day sparked a global movement empowering people across political lines to take concrete steps toward a healthier planet, establishing the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). On this day, I reflect on how much cleaner and safer our environment has been since the global pandemic, COVID-19.
COVID-19 has disrupted, challenged, and uprooted our lives in a matter of months. Fewer cars on our roads commuting means less air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. NASA satellites indicate a dramatic drop in air pollution near COVID-19 hotspots. The images are inspiring but also serves as a graphic reminder of the climate crisis that will continue when the pandemic passes.
With so many of us staying home—and public-transit agencies cutting service as a result—there’s significantly less noise pollution from cars, buses, trains, and other transportation.
While taking my socially distanced walks, I’m being amazed by how much quieter it is. Florida’s marine life has benefited as well; fewer people and waste on the beach means endangered sea turtles are enjoying our shores, able to nest, without as much human interference.
This Earth Day, it is important for us to look past Washington, and look to our home, Coral Springs. We need local policies, just as much as we need national policies. We must take into account the environmental impacts in our home territory, the stewardship responsibility we have for the ecosystems of which we’re apart, and protecting future generations’ livelihood.
The real effect of the coronavirus crisis on the environment could depend ultimately on choices made regarding how our local governments want their economies to look when they recover—and, in particular, how much they will continue to rely on fossil fuels.
Let’s aspire to live up to the grassroots ideals of the college students who stood up across the county on April 22, 1970, for environmental reform in what would eventually be the first Earth Day.
It is time to act on climate change and improve our environment. We have the opportunity to build a downtown Coral Springs that is sustainable, through green infrastructure and SMART innovation this is possible.
We can continue to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy. Let’s build a local economy that incentivizes our small business owners to be sustainable. Let’s inspire future generations and promote Earth Day everywhere, and most importantly, where it begins at home.
Nancy Metayer is an environmental scientist, a former member of the Broward County Soil and Water Conservation District, and a candidate for the City of Coral Springs Commission.
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