A Coronavirus Earth Day

Ever see the movie The Day After Tomorrow with Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal? This 2004 big-budget special effects movie is about a climatologist Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid) who is largely ignored by U.N. officials when presenting his environmental concerns. His research proves true when several superstorms develop, setting off catastrophic natural disasters throughout the world. Trying to get to his son, Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal), who is trapped in New York which is flooded by a giant tidal wave and frozen over in little under an hour. The director was Rolan Emmerich who had written and directed the blockbuster Independence Day as well.

The theme of the movie was that the earth was fighting back against the massive polluting we were pouring into the skies and streams by plunging us into a new Ice Age. Over the past month, I have thought often and even watched the movie once again, wondering if instead of an Ice Age, covering everything above the 30th parallel north with mountains of ice and fast freezing millions, if instead the current coronavirus pandemic is Earth’s way of fighting that same polluting laissez-faire mindset we’ve all come to accept as a way to maintain our standard of living, putting off to tomorrow the concerns about pollution today.

With the world locked down, we’ve seen reductions in particulate matter from air pollution reduced as much as 60% in India, 44% in China, 54% in South Korea, 31% in Los Angeles, and 25% in New York City. Water pollution levels have also subsided enormously and photos from Venice to the Amalfi coast in Italy and the Great Lakes in the US and Canada. Satellites are taking photos of sunken ships that haven’t been visible from the surface for decades. The lack of noise pollution from ships and boats along the coasts have also brought back dolphins, whales, and fish of all sorts.

Some are certainly advocating for keeping the level of factories churning today, cars driving today, ships sailing today, and planes flying today at the levels we are experiencing during this pandemic. We all know that is impossible. We need a thriving economy. We need our jobs back. We need our lives back. We also need to realize, that every time we get in our cars to go somewhere, every time we press 2-day shipping on something from Amazon, every time we throw something away we could use 1 more time or 100 more times, we are contributing to that air, land, and sea pollution that we are enjoying a world-wide reprieve from.

As we celebrate Earth Day (mostly at home), what are you and your stores doing in selling sustainable or recycled product eyewear? What are you doing with such things as demo lenses or encouraging your customers to do with used contact lenses? What brands of eyewear are you selling that are made from recycled materials? What brands of eyewear are you selling that are made from sustainable products? What are you doing to encourage your customers to reuse and recycle?

We are seeing what happens to our world when we are forced to cut back on pollution. How great can we make it when we voluntarily cut back? As we emerge from our corona cocoons over the next few weeks we have a chance to consciously cut back, to consciously reuse, to consciously recycle. Will you consciously do so? Or do you prefer the dirty skies and cloudy water we’ve come to accept as life in the 21st century? The choice is each of ours…

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