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Why The Solutions To Coronavirus And Climate Change Are The Same

Protecting the environment will make us healthier, so we can withstand the next pandemic — or prevent it.

By Amanda Schupak

The global spread of the coronavirus is intricately intertwined with the climate crisis. It is a problem exacerbated (and likely brought on) by environmental degradation of our own making, and how we respond to it could impact the health of the planet, and everyone on it, in ways that reverberate for generations to come.  The economic slowdown has temporarily led to cleaner air and the resurgence of wildlife in some cities hard hit by the virus. At the same time, there are indications that the pandemic is distracting from and derailing climate efforts. Under cover of COVID-19, the Trump administration has rolled back vehicle emissions standards. Vital international climate meetings have been canceled. Consumers again are clutching single-use plastics to salve fears of contamination, setting back years of conservation progress. But fighting a pandemic and fighting climate destruction are not at cross purposes, argues Aaron Bernstein, a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital who heads the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. In fact, they are one and the same.


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Lebanon’s capital Beirut with a clear skyline, on March 21, 2020, as most people stay home during measures to control the spread of the novel coronavirus. Beirut is known for its heavy air pollution.

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