Editor’s Perspective: Checking in on Planet Earth During the Pandemic

In Climate, Features 20 by Mary Kurek

Mary Kurek, Publisher & Editor, Frontrunners Innovate & Pres., Frontrunners Development, Inc.

So many articles I’ve read lately indicate that the planet, itself, is enjoying a respite from the fumes, emissions, smog, and air quality issues that have long plagued our more metropolitan areas.  Perhaps that’s not all.  So, with Earth Day 2020 very much in mind, below I’ll share some excerpts from a few articles I’ve read recently that reveal some pandemic and environmental connecting points:

Let’s also put our strategic problem-solving “hats” on, because anywhere there is a challenge, there is an opportunity.

Regarding Medical Waste:

From a 4/1/20 article entitled  Government Braces for Increasing Medical Waste During Pandemic   by A. Muh.Ibnu Aqil and Arya Dipa for The Jakarta Post:

 “According to data from the Health Ministry, 2,820 hospitals and 9,884 community health centers (Puskesmas) in Indonesia produce up to 290 tons of medical waste every day. There are 10 licensed medical waste processing plants in Indonesia with a total combined capacity of 170 tons of waste per day, meanwhile, only 87 hospitals have incinerators to process waste on-site, with a combined daily capacity of up to 60 tons.”

Food Waste, Food Insecurity, and Agriculture:

From an Orlando Sentinel article posted by Mahadev Bhat on 3/27/20 entitled Limiting food waste is our social responsibility during pandemic | Commentary:  

“Under the worst economic scenario, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development predicts the pandemic could halve global economic growth in 2020 to 1.5%, down from the original projection of 3%. The study by IFPRI estimates that every 1% slowdown in the global economy would increase the number of people living in poverty — and likely food insecurity — by 2%, or about 14 million people worldwide.”

That seems depressing, but, there are other articles that conjure up a different, although, just as thought-provoking an image when considering the correlation between environment and pandemic.

In a fascinating article entitled  Is the Covid-19 Pandemic Mother Nature’s Response to Human Transgression? by Michael T. Klare and posted on the site, Common Dreams, 4/2/20, Mr. Klare shares the following as one of several explanations for why climate change could be at the heart of pandemics:

“Combined with mechanized agriculture and deforestation, climate change is also undermining subsistence farming and indigenous lifestyles in many parts of the world, driving millions of impoverished people to already crowded urban centers, where health facilities are often overburdened and the risk of contagion ever greater. ‘Virtually all the projected growth in populations will occur in urban agglomerations,’ the IPCC noted then. Adequate sanitation is lacking in many of these cities, particularly in the densely populated shantytowns that often surround them. ‘About 150 million people currently live in cities affected by chronic water shortages, and by 2050, unless there are rapid improvements in urban environments, the number will rise to almost a billion.’”

Sunrise overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway

I’m sure as many celebrate Earth Day, they could be thinking that the pandemic is the earth’s rebellion in some way.  Or, maybe it’s a global wake-up call for a lot of reasons.  We fear the virus; we fear to die; we fear losing our jobs and our ability to live normally.  I think, like many, that life won’t be the old normal anymore.  And, in some ways, my friends, I, personally, hope it won’t be.  There’s a lot of learning that’s happening now.

We’ve all seen, read, heard tons about the pandemic in the last few months, but, we need to keep on consuming reliable information, paying keen attention to science, because we have to get the message, and the message is clear.  We are but tenants on this great big planet and, as such, we have responsibilities to it and to each other. Our sheer numbers are invading her space and maybe expecting too much. She needs breathing room and us to be gentle with her and to cherish her.  If we can use technology, and strategy, and couple our brains with our hearts, we can do this.  And, while we can’t blame her for our fears and pandemic episodes, we can try to answer her call to bring attention and action, and maybe set the foundation in place for future generations to live more respectfully in her embrace.

Wishing you safety and good health.  The photos I’ve shared in this article are ones I took recently at sunrise…a beautiful reminder to contemplate the wonders of this fabulous place we call home.