The global coronavirus pandemic ought to be enough to occupy our thoughts at this moment in time, but regretfully, we must not forget that there is a second global crisis that, in the long run, may prove to be even more difficult to confront. I am referring to the climate crisis.

About the only silver lining to the diminished economic activity around the world is the fact that greenhouse-gas emissions have been sharply reduced. Depending on what economic scenario plays out for the rest of the year, we may see a 5 to 10 percent overall reduction in emissions for 2020, according to the International Energy Agency. If we could sustain such annual reductions until 2035, we would go a long way toward mitigating the catastrophic impacts otherwise predicted.

Obviously, a pandemic is not the best approach to mitigating climate change. But we can take advantage of the current lull in emissions to envision a better path forward, a path that includes the replacement of fossil fuels by renewable energy and myriad other actions and policies soon to be made public by the Governor’s Council on Climate Change.

This thought reminds me of a recent article in this paper about ATVs (“ATV sales riding high as Mainers long to get outdoors,” July 26, Page A1). Unless such vehicles are fully electric, their use does us more harm than good, analogous to people not wearing masks to fight COVID-19.

Joseph Hardy


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