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Week of 13 July 2020: Has the Covid-19 experience soiled the Environmental Movement?

Email Jim at jthompson@ipulpmedia.com

I have met no one who doesn't want clean soil, water and air for themselves, their families and succeeding generations. How could anyone be against such attributes? Yet there are portions of the environmental movement that hinge on the invisible, not these things that we can see.

The whole discussion on the proper balance of carbon dioxide that is appropriate in the atmosphere, for instance, is a discussion best left to learned scientists and mathematicians. Carbon dioxide, in its gaseous form is invisible. Just like Covid-19.

The effects of Covid-19 are visible and timely while Covid-19 is just as invisible as Carbon Dioxide. Yet, we find we live in a world where the medical profession, scientists, politicians and interested business leaders have wildly different opinions on how to deal with Covid-19. All this is occurring while it is believed Covid-19 is a relatively short term (6 - 24 months) phenomenon.

If people haven't figured it out already, they will soon be making the comparison of Covid-19 and its effects to excessive (whatever that is) amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Such a comparison is going to leave the environmental scientists with some explaining to do when the average person on the street makes the link. Note, I am not saying the link is accurate or valid, I am merely saying it is inevitable.

The issue may even penetrate even deeper than this in people's thinking. It seems universally well accepted that governments of any ilk have done a poor job of dealing with the Covid-19 crisis. To me, this seems to be an attitude that has a danger of transference to the environmental movement. It goes like this, "If governmental organizations can't get their arms around the Covid-19 issue, how can we expect them to get their arms around climate change?"

It wasn't always this way. I am old enough to clearly remember the 1960's. The US Space Program, sponsored and funded by the federal government, had nearly universal acceptance as the only possible way to get to the moon in the time frame allotted by President Kennedy. Ralph Nader lassoed the government into accepting responsibility for mandating automobile safety. We universally accepted these governmental solutions as the paths to solve these problems.

Things have changed since then. For awhile we have had to hitch a ride to the international space station from another country. Now, we are back to ferrying our own astronauts, but on a private rocket. Auto makers worldwide have seized the initiative for the next generation of auto safety (semi-autonomous computerized driving assistants). Government is barely on the scene, adopting a far distant supervisory role.

Today, cynicism abounds in nearly all walks of life. Blame it on the changing times, blame it on nearly universally inaccurate news feeds. That is the way it is. The Covid-19 experience is not helping.

For safety this week, we have visible and invisible hazards in our mills. Most importantly, however, are our attitudes. Safety performance starts with a clear mind and a serious, balanced attitude. Make sure you and those who report to you have this covered.

Be safe and we will talk next week.

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