Climate Health Is Being Advanced With COVID-19

Mar/29/2020 / by Seema Kumar
my climate goals

When I made a pledge earlier this year at Davos to do my part in advancing climate health, little did I realize how a novel coronavirus would make me over-deliver on my modest climate goals. In January, inspired by Greta Thunberg, who led a protest march down the Promenade in Davos at the World Economic Forum, I vowed to reduce my carbon footprint as part of my climate goals in four areas: Energy, Food, Consumption and Transportation. I made plans to use energy more wisely, conserve and not waste food, to take every opportunity to recycle paper, plastic, aluminum, cardboard, and glass; and, most of all, reduce my travel via planes, trains, and automobiles, which are responsible for almost 29 percent of carbon emissions. All to get us out of the climate crisis. Ironically, the recent COVID-19 crisis taught me how I could meet my climate goals and more. 

Thanks to work-from-home directives from my employer and my state governor, I have not driven my car for weeks, and many of my meetings are now online. My transportation carbon footprint is definitely reduced, helping climate health. 

 Staying at home brings food to mind, almost constantly. I’ve been cooking to help raise immunity for my family and me, but the creativity I crave is manifesting in not only tasty menus but in using what is in my pantry with little to know wastage. It is funny how imaginative one can get with limited ingredients when you put your mind to it. Next on the list?  Growing my herb garden! Climate health again!

Staying at home also has ensured my recycling goals are front and center. We shop less, ensuring that there is less plastic at home, and I decided to consciously use less disposable and more reusable products. I’m reexamining my relationship with paper products, limiting it to when I really need them (of course TP is an exception :-).  I find I can now take every, opportunity to recycle paper, plastic, aluminum cans, cardboard, glass, and milk cartons. Every little bit helps. Again helping climate health. Next up? Composting my kitchen scraps.  

COVID-19 continues to teach us many lessons. The planetary lockdown is making us look at climate change and reconsider our role as stewards of our planet. Thanks to the absence of cruise ships, dolphins have returned in greater numbers to the Italian port of Cagliari, swans have been spotted in the canals of Burano, and sika deer are showing up outside their normal habitat in Nara, Japan. Wild turkeys are even coming into in Oakland, Calif. And the ozone layer is repairing itself!  These examples are just a few of planet healing and better climate health while we stay home to #flattenthecurve. 

Another COVID-19 lesson is that we remain connected in meaningful ways. As Heena Patel reminded us during our first every SEEMA virtual cocktail hour this last Friday, social distancing may mean physical distancing but does not mean that we cannot connect socially, inspiring and raising each other up. Our new normal means some of us are renewing ties with distant friends, healing family relationships, connecting with our children over games as well as homework, or helping our senior neighbors unable to pick up prescriptions or groceries.  I hope such personal and planetary healing continues as our global health returns. 

Stay well, be well, make well for yourself, for your family and for your planet. your health is important and thanks for your contributions to climate health at the same time. Share with us your stories on our social channels (Instagram link) and do join us for our second SEEMA virtual cocktail hour coming Friday at 6 pm EST!

For more of my blogs on climate change and also read about this inspiring climate guardian.