Will our unity continue?
The COVID-19 crisis has united Americans, the likes of which has not been seen since 911. A survey in April showed 81percent of Americans agreeing with social distancing despite damage to the economy. The majority of us have embraced the recommendations from scientists and physicians who have expertise in pandemic behavior. Congress, too, seems more united. When faced with a nationwide economic crisis and millions of Americans out of work, they passed appropriate legislation reasonably quickly. For this I am appreciative.
But will our unity continue and can we learn from our experiences? There is evidence COVID-19 is the result of human activity. After all, we are responsible for worldwide deforestation resulting in destruction of animal habitat, thereby putting wild animals in closer contact with humans. Illegal animal trade has done the same. And countries across Asia still allow butchering of wild animals in proximity with human populations with little or no regulation. Our mistakes and subsequent negligence have resulted in zoonosis, the transmission of infectious diseases from animals to humans and vice versa. Our worldwide goal must be to mitigate zoonosis, while all the while improving preparedness for future pandemics.
But let’s not forget climate change, our next looming crisis. Unlike COVID-19, the climate crisis is more insidious, yet potentially just as devastating. A Pew survey from last November showed 79 percent of Americans believe human actions have some role in climate change. The same survey revealed 67 percent of Americans believe the federal government is not doing enough to reduce the effects of global climate change. Whether it be the pandemic or the climate crisis, a clear majority of Americans believe the scientists.
Americans must move forward on a united front to avoid back-to-back crises. In the months prior to the pandemic, Congress was earnestly discussing climate change and legislation to address it. There is a bill in the House, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act that is endorsed by 80 representatives. There are now two bipartisan Climate Caucuses, one in the House and one in the Senate. The key word here is bipartisan, as only this approach will work. As voters we must speak out and demand climate action, and we must vote for leaders who believe the scientific facts.