This piece is a proposed assertion of combining efforts to eliminate issues within America and presents a call to action in the possibility of cohesion within the spectrums of public health and environmental engineers.
At a time where crises are ransacking the United States, it can seem overwhelming what situation to conquer first. A widespread pandemic is halting life as we know it, natural disasters are tearing apart our structures, and racial tensions splitting apart once a unified nation, it is truly a time where these situations are making it seem like there no solution in sight.
Despite this, there is a glimmer of hope where there is an opportunity to tackle two birds with one stone. What I mean by this is that the situations of climate control and COVID-19 can be worked on simultaneously.
Over the past few months, the COVID-19 virus has infected 11,355,175 individuals across the U.S. and has taken the lives of 251,812 of that total. What is even more striking is that individuals living in areas where air pollution is a major problem, there is a drastic jump in the death rate of infected individuals. A recent Harvard study concluded that the “COVID-19 mortality rate ratios per 1 μg/m3 increase in PM2.5 and 95% CI using daily cumulative COVID-19 death counts”. Technical jargon aside, this study determined that excessive exposure to polluted air drastically increased the number of deaths in infected individuals.
Not only that, rapidly developing natural disasters such as the west coast wildfires are forcing people out of their homes and taking them out of an environment where social distancing was taking place. A New England medical journal even observed this behavior firsthand as cooling centers that were protecting those evacuated from the wildfires ended up contaminating those same people with the COVID-19 virus as they were all placed into one, densely populated, center.
So how can both problems of COVID-19 and climate control be solved simultaneously? I feel that the proper allocation of healthcare professionals and environmental engineers needs to be put in place as well as having the two groups of experts work together to implement corresponding policies. It is absolutely possible and absolutely necessary that this action takes place as it will place our great country in a position to once again succeed and flourish.
Firstly, having the proper allocation of healthcare and environmental engineers would put these two issues at the forefront of priorities. Obviously, healthcare professionals are on the front lines every day tackling this disease. With this, environmental engineers need to be marked as prevalent and placed at a higher degree. You can go onto any news site and see constant updates on every facet of the virus. Meanwhile, environmental engineers are left with rare updates on any form of climate control information. They need to be more prevalent and readily available for us as the populace to see.
In addition to this allocation, I feel that these two groups need to find a way to work together to conquer the same goal. As mentioned earlier, there are direct correlations between COVID-19 and climate control. Both can find a way to shape environmental and health policies that are in place today. For instance, deforestation policies could be developed with the aid of healthcare professionals as the devastation to biodiversity is one of the major leading causes of climate change as well as the infectious disease spread from loss of slow animal migrations. Having healthcare professionals included in this research and policy development could be a way to both solve climate control and the COVID-19 spread.
Going off the idea of having healthcare professionals and environmental engineers working together, I feel that they would also be able to resolve the everlasting issue of air pollution. Specifically, with greenhouse gas emissions, environmental engineers can put a plan into action with the guiding support of healthcare professionals. One such plan that is currently in place is called Cap and Trade. This policy focuses on created a cap for businesses and households on the number of greenhouse gasses that their ventures. This is more of an economic plan but is being worked to reward those who use cleaner energy sources to solve the emission crisis. Healthcare professionals would be an excellent addition to this policy as they can add input on the proper emission level that would stop disease respiratory infections via air pollution.
The COVID-19 disease and constant natural issues have placed the United States in a stagnant position where it seems like no progress is being made to better our country. I feel that if our healthcare professionals and environmental engineers can come together and operate as a unit, these two issues can be finally resolved. Unifying the professionals and allowing them to communicate on their developments within our country would in return, finally unify this country in moving forward to excel and prosper better than we were before this crisis.