To the reader:
My name is Alexandra Cohen and I am a junior at Louisville High School in Los Angeles, California.
In a city like Los Angeles, every school I have attended since kindergarten has made celebrating Earth Day a priority. My generation has grown up with a constant awareness of the imminent threat to our Earth, climate change. We’ve grown up alongside the governmental developments to combat climate change, or as it was once named, global warming.
We ask for straws and pay extra for bags at the grocery store. We’ve watched as our homes and schools began recycling. We’ve seen our school cafeterias shift from styrofoam to biodegradable tableware. We’ve missed school on Fridays to protest at city hall. The awareness has never wavered.
And it seems that now, when we can’t protest at city hall or bring our metal straws to brunch, is the time where we’ve seen the most tangible change in the quality of our air and our planet.
We’re all stuck in our homes, unable to spend our weekends driving to the beach on a stagnant 405, polluting the air on the way to polluting the ocean. We entertain ourselves with walks and hikes and escape boredom with nature. Perhaps, on its day, though its inhabitants are living in frustration and uncertainty, the Earth itself is at peace.
COVID-19 won’t last forever, but we must ensure our planet will. We must remember the skies of Los Angeles in April of 2020 in contrast to their appearance just three months before. When we taste the sweet freedom of returning to school and work, we must remember the present we gave our planet in the midst of our misery. We must reform the way we treat our home.
The government was able to find the funds for stimulus checks and the postponement of tax day, and we must keep their documented ease in mind when handling our planet. We mustn’t allow the excitement of returning to the world we once lived in to distract us from the state of our Earth. We mustn’t allow the excitement of the Earth’s improved state to distract the privileged from those who potentially won’t recover from the effects of COVID-19, physically and economically.
The generation that has lived with the constant awareness of Earth’s not-so-slow human caused destruction must act to preserve and improve its current conditions. We ought to take this day to acknowledge how significant the effects of pausing life have been on our forever home, without forgetting the millions who have and will lose their lives and their loved ones to a worldwide pandemic.
When we return to normalcy, many industries will be obsolete and Americans will be out of work. Perhaps we’ll be able to find a silver lining, a silver lining that benefits the planet. We can lobby for the workers in bygone industries to return to government-funded projects that aim to protect the planet. We can remember the walks we took in nature when there was nothing else to do, when we return to our daily traffic-filled commutes. We can remember the government’s ability to spend on a large scale, and hold them accountable next time we ask for an Earth-improving measure.
During Earth Month, let’s look at how a pandemic helped the natural world. I implore you not to forget the disaster that COVID-19 has caused, but when recalling these days, remember how beautiful the sky looked and the feeling of breathing clean air. Harness your anger into demand.
Appreciate the way the world looks and remind your lawmakers of nature’s constant role in all of our worlds, with or without the threat of a pandemic.