My twenty-something daughter doesn’t want me to go to the post office to mail her things, and there are no cross-country air flights in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We keep in touch by texting photos and videos — her little dog bouncing across a green swath of public park, my garden where the lilac bush is bursting riotously into bloom, a harbinger of Earth Day.
The pandemic has been tremendously disruptive for everyone, but where there’s life, there’s adaptation and discovery of new ways of doing things. That adaptability must now be turned to the problem of climate change.
In early March, a dozen tornadoes flattened buildings on several streets in Nashville, leaving more than 20 dead. On March 28, a Jonesboro, Arkansas, tornado injured 22 people. FEMA emergency workers were shortly ordered home because of the epidemic.
Craig Fugate, former head of FEMA, lamented to news outlets that we don’t have a disaster-response network that is national in scope.
“We have built our systems around what we can handle, instead of what might occur” as year after year breaks records for fires, floods and storms. “We need to think bigger,” he said.
Bigger ought to be more than disaster assistance. We need a resilient green economy, where people come first, where human health and the health of the economy constitute two halves of a whole and a carbon price rewards companies whose green technologies benefit society as well as themselves.