Good job taking care of the earth. Now can we do it WITHOUT an executive order?

I’m not proud of our recent “go green” fad, and you shouldn’t be, either

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

As Earth Day rolls around the corner, climate activists, journalists, and scientists alike are praising the positive environmental effects we have seen on planet Earth as a result of stay-at-home orders.

A few quick examples of said praise:

That’s nice, but guess what: I’m not proud, and you shouldn’t be either.

But we are finally saving the earth!

Yes—that’s true. But we had a goal to save the earth before COVID-19 took the lives of over 160,000 people (and counting).

We are not protecting the planet and saving the earth because we, as a society, desperately want to. Nope. Many people do want to, but getting the whole world on board, historically, has been like pulling teeth.

In fact, we are saving the earth BY ACCIDENT because of executive orders to stay at home — for something devastating, tragic, and unrelated to saving the earth.

You don’t get to be proud of yourself when you were forced to do something (literally via executive order) unless you intend to keep doing it once the orders are lifted.

Do you want me to praise you for taking a walk in your local park instead of driving to the beach 3 hours away? I’ll praise you for that if you keep doing it once the stay-at-home orders are lifted.

Do you want me to praise you for putting your gloves and mask in the garbage bin instead of throwing them on the ground? I won’t praise you for that at all — that’s your civic duty.

Do you want me to praise you for opting to ride a bicycle instead of driving or taking the train? I won’t praise you for that if the reason you’re not taking the train is that you’re afraid to catch COVID.

Do you want me to praise you for using cloth bags instead of double-bagging your groceries with plastic bags? This one is unrelated to coronavirus, but guess what — I’m not praising you if you only do it because it’s the law in your jurisdiction.

The death toll from COVID-19 is incomprehensible. Yes, it’s nice that we’re “saving the earth” by staying home — but we’re not staying home to save the earth. We’re staying home to save our neighbors, our relatives, and our friends.

If you really want to save the earth, keep up with the new green lifestyle you’ve adopted after COVID-related executive orders are a distant memory.

Then I’ll be proud of us.

But if your new green initiatives are just a fad (or a social media photo opportunity), or if your new obsession with taking a walk in the park is just the result of you having no other option… then sorry.

The canals of Venice will cloud up again.

The streets of New York City will be full of car exhaust again.

Factories will re-open.

State parks will be sparsely populated again.

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Photo by Hector Argüello Canals on Unsplash

“But this is still a silver lining!” you may say.

77,000 potential lives saved?

Don’t forget about the horrific loss of lives because of this pandemic.

If you want to save the earth, and if you want to save lives by reducing pollution, do it on your own volition — don’t do it with a pout on your face because your governor ordered you to stay home for something completely and totally unrelated to the environment.

You don’t need a pandemic or an executive order to make you take better care of the planet.

Happy Earth Day.

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✨ serial questioner • technical writer/devops • editor of Diary of an SRE • thank you for connecting 👩🏻‍💻 kerisavoca.com

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