One year ago this month, seven million people around the world, 200 of them in Port Perry, took to the streets to march for climate action. It was part of the Fridays for Future global movement.
During the past year we’ve seen unprecedented fires in Australia, a world record-breaking high temperature in California of 54.4C, terrifying images, of out-of-control fires along the west coast of the U.S. and “Biblical” flash-flooding in Scotland. Closer to home we experienced more than 30 days of 30 degree temperatures this summer, for the third year since 2016. Historically, we would expect six super-hot days.
Since March, our world has been turned upside down by a virus. A virus that made the leap from animals to humans, thanks in part to loss of natural habitat due to development and climate disruption. We’ve learned that of the three new infectious diseases emerging every year, three quarters originated in wild animals. SARS, Covid-19, Ebola, West Nile, Lyme disease are on that list. As we move into natural habitats, crowding out the animal kingdom, their diseases are moving into us.
We’re also seeing that in many low-income areas, where minority groups often live, the virus is hitting harder, in part, because those residents are more likely to be breathing polluted air. It’s easier to get approval for locating dirty industries where people don’t really have much of a voice.
While the virus has been devastating on so many levels, costing health, lives and livelihoods, it has brought out the best in people. Neighbours are shopping for neighbours, making masks and shields to share with others, and showing appreciation for our essential workers. The slowdown has given us time to think about what’s important, each other. People over products. Community over consumption.
It has also shown us that what we do, or don’t do, makes a difference. In China, earlier this year, they expected a drop in emissions to result in more lives saved due to cleaner air than were lost due to the virus.
For the first time in decades, less smog meant people in India could see the Himalayas. Los Angeles, notorious for its brown haze, had its longest stretch of good quality air since 1995, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In fact, it’s said that one way to manage stress is to take action. On Friday, September 25th, those who want to act, and find out what else we can do to build a cleaner, healthier world, can join Friday’s for Future march around Palmer Park, beginning at noon. It will differ from last year, as we wear masks and physically distance while showing the powers-that-be that we want them to do better. To build back better, healing us, our air, our water and the natural world we depend on in a fair and equitable way.