By Tina Spencer
As Earth month comes to a close this year, it’s important that we look back and reflect on the importance of why it matters. As the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day was celebrated in the midst of a global pandemic, much has been revealed about the health of human beings and our planet.
In Delhi, India, many are seeing blue skies for the first time ever, due to COVID-19 restrictions that have resulted in less air pollution. With businesses shut down and barely any vehicular traffic, Delhi’s skies went from hazy and gray to bright blue as residents revel in the fresh air accompanied by the very positive environmental change. Delhi’s change is dramatic, but stories like this are being realized around the world.
As you may already know, air pollution severely impacts health around the world, especially heart and lung functions. According to the World Health Organization, one third of deaths from stroke, lung cancer and heart disease are due to air pollution. Essentially, less pollution means improved health.
The United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Ratings for air pollution, Nebraska is ranked 19th. While Nebraska’s air pollution isn’t the worst, the Omaha area needs immediate attention, and we can do more to improve the health of Nebraskans. There are things that all of us can do to positively impact air pollution, like conserving energy by turning off lights or reducing the number of trips you take in your car.
The immediate social distancing/stay-at-home orders have shown the impact we have on our environment—both good and bad. COVID-19 is an obviously serious situation, but it has also shown that we are “better together”. We’ve seen others rise to many challenges and come together quickly to rearrange both personal and work life. We’ve had online interactions with everyone from like-minded individuals around the world to regular meetings with your team at the Med Center, to family members near and far.
Our efforts to slow the spread of the virus, and help others while we’re at it, is a shining example of doing better together.
This pandemic is demonstrating that we have to raise our awareness and modify our actions as we seek to change systems and personal habits which currently negatively impacts our planet. Hopefully, people will begin to understand our living planet’s connection to their (hopefully improved) human health. We are better together.