Kincade: Gratitude and awareness on Earth Day |

Kincade: Gratitude and awareness on Earth Day

Susie Kincade
Valley Voices

For 40 years I have been proud and very grateful to be a citizen of Eagle County, but never more than on this 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. Working together, leaders from all sectors of the community have made many difficult decisions in managing COVID-19 based on science, pragmatism, and compassion.

This approach has paid off. Eagle County flattened our curve of infection and will be the first county in Colorado to ease, carefully and deliberately, from home isolation to the next step, a “safer-at-home” approach.

I believe our courageous, progressive leaders have been successful against COVID-19 because they are aware and actively addressing the systemic, negative environmental impacts the human population is having on our valley and the planet. I believe they likely recognize COVID-19 is a “shot across the bow” — a terrible symptom of the greater existential challenge we face: the climate crisis.

Outside of the intense 24/7 work of our health care heroes, it is as if our community has been holding our collective breath for nearly two months. Now, as we begin to emerge from the first wave of the pandemic, we can exhale, release our fear, grief, panic, anxiety, and stand at the crossroads the virus has provided. The future is ours to choose.

In this pause between the great exhale and the next collective in-breath of humanity, may we tend our wounds and lean into the opportunity before us. We can envision and create a different future for human existence, one that is environmentally sustainable, socially just, and spiritually fulfilling. Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary is an auspicious time for creating such a vision with the Earth, rather than humans at the center. As we begin the next slow, deep inhale, let us breathe life into a new, sustainable presence for all life on Earth.

From our grief, loss, and suffering, we can find gratitude for awakened awareness and opportunity this crisis provides. Therein lies hope. What can we learn from the pandemic that will help humanity shift to a sustainable, balanced relationship with our Earth?

  1. Everything is connected. You, me, plants, animals, viruses, DNA, photosynthesis, air, water … everything. We are all one, living with the Earth, not separate from it.
  2. When faced with a global health crisis, the world can come together to solve it.
  3. When we stop polluting for even just one week, the powerful Earth begins to heal herself!
  4. The human spirit is indomitable, compassionate, kind and caring.
  5. Science, mathematics, research, medicine are human gifts that are critical to our survival.
  6. “Flattening the curve” is a model that spreads out the impacts of a public health crisis to various sectors of the community, from individuals, to professional responders to leadership. This powerful model can help us solve the climate crisis.

This pandemic has been a fast-moving global crisis. However, we can and must apply these lessons to solve the slower moving challenge of the climate crisis — before it becomes a climate catastrophe. There is no “going back to” before. We know too much, and we can do this together.

To take action locally, join the citizens’ group, Climate Reality Project by emailing or calling 970-328-5472. Learn more about how you can be part of Eagle County’s bold plan to reduce our carbon emissions 25% by 2025 and 80% by 2050 through the Climate Action Collaborative.

Susie Kincade is an Eagle resident who is the co-leader of the Climate Reality Project in Eagle County.

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