Updated: Jul 7, 2021
Written by: Maya Kattler-Gold
I cringe when I hear people hoping for a return back to “normal” from the pandemic. I also want to see my friends and go to school, but what else comes along with this normal? The earth can’t afford for us to ramp back up our fossil fuel economy and then maybe eventually get back to thinking about making some changes. Progress is usually slow, and meaningful change can be even slower. But change has been very fast lately. Why would we want to go back to normal rather than rebuild something better?
The good news is, this idea is entering the mainstream. On July 14th, when Joe Biden unveiled his new $2 trillion climate plan, an upgrade from the $1.7 trillion plan he touted during the Democratic primaries, he promoted the idea of “building back better.”
Biden said when he announced his new climate plan: ‘"Here we are now with the economy in crisis, but with an incredible opportunity not just to build back to where we were before, but better, stronger, more resilient, and more prepared for the challenges that lie ahead." Although climate activists are pushing Biden to improve his plan*, it is encouraging that people are beginning to recognize the potential to use this crisis as an opportunity to grow.
The pandemic has brought the way our country really functions to light for a lot of people. We’ve seen how the most essential workers are the lowest paid. Thirty million Americans are out of work and twenty eight million are at risk of eviction, while in just the two month period of mid March to mid May (right after most states shut down), the net worth of America’s billionaires grew 15%.
The same system that caused this economic inequality is keeping us from taking climate action, as our government and economic system protects the interests of the wealthy over the wellbeing of the many. By fixing this inequality and making ourselves more resilient to challenges like COVID-19, we might finally be equipped to deal with the climate crisis.
*The biggest and most important change activists are demanding is to shift his timeline from net-zero emissions by 2050 to 2030.