By Will Baker, CBF President

Lightening strikes light up the clouds above a body of water while lightening strikes the shore.
As climate change goes unabated, storms like this one over the Elizabeth River in Virginia will become more frequent and intense. Photo by Annette Averitt

The COVID-19 pandemic is the stuff of fiction writers. Sadly, it is all too real. The illness, death, and economic damage are nothing short of history in the making.

And yet, out of this tragedy, we see a glimmer of hope for our little Planet Earth.

In India, some have been able to see the Himalayas for the first time in decades. In England, nitrogen oxide pollution in cities fell by as much as 60 percent. And here in the U.S., air pollution has dropped 30 percent over large cities in the Northeast according to NASA.

These are not improvements to celebrate. The nexus is too painful. But there is a powerful lesson that we ignore at our peril. If we change our habits, we can significantly improve the chances that our children and grandchildren will have a habitable planet. From the ashes of this crisis, a new beginning can arise. The horror of the pandemic can be a catalyst for change, a chance to overcome the existential threat of global climate change.

Our special issue of Save the Bay Magazine has been planned for months. Now, it is more critical than ever to focus on the intersection of climate change and Bay saving — two sides of the same coin. Climate change makes Bay saving more challenging, while Bay saving makes climate change less damaging.

“Now, it is more critical than ever to focus on the intersection of climate change and Bay saving — two sides of the same coin.”

What’s more, they can be job creators. From rural nurseries growing and planting trees to the industrial expansion of wind energy to the farming of native Bay oysters, the economy and the environment can prosper together. Call it Sustainable Capitalism.

After the Great Depression came the New Deal. Can America do the same today to jump start Sustainable Capitalism?

Let’s invest in jobs which begin the transition away from fossil fuels. Let’s invest in jobs that restore nature’s great filters. Let’s invest in jobs that build commercial fisheries that will thrive for centuries. The triple bottom line benefits are worth it — a stronger economy, cleaner water and air, and improved public health (as just one example: scientists recently learned that lungs damaged by air pollution make COVID-19 much more deadly).

It should be a slam dunk. Especially now with interest rates at record lows.

We WILL get through COVID-19. Let’s make sure we don’t just bounce back; let’s make sure we bounce forward — stronger, more creative, and more resilient than before.

Save the Bay. Save the Planet.

Saving the Bay through restoration, advocacy, education, and litigation. www.cbf.org

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