from The Internationalist and International Institutions and Global Governance Program

Earth Day’s New Urgency in the Era of COVID-19

People wearing face masks walk at a park in Wuhan, China, on April 12, 2020.
People wearing face masks walk at a park in Wuhan, China, on April 12, 2020. Aly Song/Reuters

COVID-19 underscores the extent to which human health depends on environmental health. 

April 20, 2020

People wearing face masks walk at a park in Wuhan, China, on April 12, 2020.
People wearing face masks walk at a park in Wuhan, China, on April 12, 2020. Aly Song/Reuters
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In my weekly column for World Politics Review, I examine the links between human and environmental health and argue that COVID-19 is a reminder of humanity's dependence on a healthy biosphere.

This Wednesday, most of us will commemorate the 50th Earth Day not by frolicking in nature but by hunkering down in the comforts of our built environment. That’s a pity, because it’s pretty out there. Suddenly blue skies and cleaner water are showing us what a healthier environment might look like, if only our governments took decisive action to decarbonize the global economy and if we stopped running down the natural capital assets upon which our prosperity and indeed survival depend. Beyond a chance to daydream of a greener future, our current quarantine provides an apt moment to reflect on how intimately our own health is connected to that of the planet. COVID-19, which likely originated in bats, is a reminder that we are part of the biosphere, no matter how much we pretend otherwise. It also reveals how far out of balance we have gotten in our relationship with nature. When we despoil Earth’s ecosystems and disturb the organisms that inhabit them, we put our own health in jeopardy.

More on:

Public Health Threats and Pandemics

Coronavirus

Climate Change

Global Governance

Energy and Environment

Read the full World Politics Review article here.

More on:

Public Health Threats and Pandemics

Coronavirus

Climate Change

Global Governance

Energy and Environment

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