It is one of the paradoxes that makes the COVID-19 crisis not only brutally ironic, but sad and tragic.

Attention is rightly focused on the pandemic and its byproducts — social distancing, masks, and schools, stores and sports shut down by this merciless virus.

But our environment is a key to our health, as well, so we should remember that today is Earth Day 2020.

Celebrations this year will be virtual, not actual. Students will not go to school to participate. Officials will not gather beside river and streams, or next to woods. We will observe the day as we have for the last five weeks — in quarantine, on our computers, from the isolation of our homes.

In addition to a pandemic disease, we are witnessing a tragic reversal of the environmental clock in which the progressive notions of green, sustainable energy and the phase-out of fossil fuels are being sacrificed to the Trump administration’s reactionary policies and unbridled passion to support big oil.

Earth Day, which began as a rebuke to wanton environmental desecration and an expression of love for the gifts we enjoy from Mother Earth, is slipping away, both as emblem and as reality.

The coronavirus leads the discussion on Earth Day, but the issue of climate change is not far behind. Meteorological experts tell us that it is no longer a question of stopping climate change, but of living with it.

Under the Trump administration, the environment is losing its standing. The president has weakened the Environmental Protection Agency to the point of inefficiency. Activists who care about the environment are branded as radicals. The administration is opening up drilling rights in environmentally sensitive areas without consultation with Congress and no public hearings.

Today is Earth Day. There is nothing wrong with celebrating our environment. If nothing else, though, it will be a celebration of our ecology’s resilience.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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