Enthusiasm over the environment is down — we must stay vigilant

View the full article from The Hill

“As the presidential primaries began, a February Pew Research poll found that for the first time concern for environmental protection among two-thirds of Americans nearly equaled their concern for the economy. Concern over climate climbed to equal concern about jobs for half of Americans.

Then came COVID-19, followed by the protests over police brutality and systemic racism.

With over 140,000 Americans dead and with racism searing our consciousness in a way not seen since the 1960s, climate and the environment are — for now — behind even the back burner. As for what is the most pressing problem right now, Gallup and Monmouth University found that climate and the environment registered at 1 percent.

As hard as this moment is, we must find a way to stay vigilant about the environment. A massive reason is this very moment, in which we are being dominated by a pandemic. The same White House that did not prepare for what has become a national killing field for COVID-19 — whose incompetence has enabled the virus to become out of control in the Sun Belt — has also used the pandemic as a cover to accelerate its systematic gutting of environmental regulations.

This is taking place as scientists have uncovered environmental justice links between pollution and COVID-19. The virus has disproportionately killed people of color, who also disproportionately live closest to toxic industrial facilities. Even before COVID-19, researchers found that air pollution kills more than 100,000 Americans a year.”