The Best Laid Earth Day Plans…

Dear Friends,

This month marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

Way back in January, before a global pandemic shuttered Montgomery County, I had planned a grand birthday party suitable for a golden anniversary — you were all invited! Those plans, like so many others, have now been scuttled. But I didn’t want to let Earth Day 2020 pass without notice or reflection. Even in the midst of a viral outbreak, our home – the Earth – deserves its due. I’ll begin with a question:

Has anyone else been struck by the fact that there are parallels between humankind’s initial response to COVID-19 and our acceptance of climate change?

The science on climate change is abundantly clear. The data exist for all to see. Yet evidence and evidence-based practice aren’t what we as a society tend to turn to first, whether we’re responding to the insistent spread of a pandemic or the persistent advance of climate change. We avert our eyes. We turn our backs. And we pray — for just long enough to make it worse.

We in Montgomery County responded as quickly as anyone in the United States to the threat of COVID-19, thanks in large part to the efforts of Montgomery County Commissioner Valerie Arkoosh, M.D., and Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, M.D. We are so very lucky to have scientists at our helm. If only that were so on the national stage.

To my mind, the herky-jerky, uncoordinated federal response to COVID-19 stems in large part from our president’s stubborn and even vehement disavowal of science and his clear preference for magical thinking. COVID-19 was never just going to magically go away.

As I watch the numbers of Pennsylvanians who have tested positive for COVID-19 continue to rise, most of them still from the southeastern part of the state, I think of our seas, which also continue to rise. I think of the CO2 levels in our atmosphere, which also continue to rise.

Climate change won’t magically go away, either. Will the White House literally have to be underwater before the federal government accepts the science — and starts acting?

Let’s hope not.


Steve McCarter
Pennsylvania State Representative

Serving Cheltenham Township, Springfield Township and Jenkintown Borough