Today is Juneteenth, African-American Emancipation Day.
There’s a certain bitter taste to it, coming, as it does, while black Americans are still suffering disproportionately from pretty much every flaw in this country that I love so deeply.
The climate crisis: Who is more likely to have their health compromised by polluting industries built in or near their homes? Black and brown people.
COVID-19: Who is more likely to have poor health care, comorbidity linked to lack of access to fresh food and stress, and (see above) health compromised by polluting industries built in or near their homes, while being more likely to be designated an essential worker, expected to work while infection rages through the community? Black and brown people.
The economic downturn: Who is more likely to suffer business collapse and receive less government help during this current crisis? Let’s ask The New York Times:
But Juneteenth IS a date to be remembered and celebrated. It’s WAY past time to redeem the promise that was made then, that began to be fulfilled under Reconstruction but was destroyed by White Supremacists. Cover your ears, my Sweet Little Baby Angels; MomGoth is about to curse. Fuck White Supremacists, and the tiki torches they rode in on.
ANYWAY, climate change and pathogens have a definite connection. Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health has an excellent paper available on the subject. It says, in part:
We don’t have direct evidence that climate change is influencing the spread of COVID-19, but we do know that climate change alters how we relate to other species on Earth and that matters to our health and our risk for infections.
As the planet heats up, animals big and small, on land and in the sea, are headed to the poles to get out of the heat. That means animals are coming into contact with other animals they normally wouldn’t, and that creates an opportunity for pathogens to get into new hosts.
TL;DR: The paper’s final paragraph? (emphasis mine)
When you look at this question purely from a financial standpoint, air pollution is a drag on economic growth and solutions to address have been enormously cost-effective in the United States. In 2011, a study by the Environmental Protection Agency that looked at the costs and benefits of the Clean Air act found that every $1 invested to reduce air pollution returns up to $30 in benefits. The only thing our health and our economy can’t afford is climate inaction.
A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Write about not being able to breathe.