In The News

By Karyne Jones

The devastating impacts of coronavirus continue to fundamentally change the way the world thinks about public health and pandemic preparedness. As doctors and medical researchers work around the clock to understand what internal factors make some people more vulnerable to Covid-19, one answer may be external: air pollution.

Studies consistently show breathing polluted air has similar adverse consequences as smoking and can lead to chronic diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as respiratory illnesses like pneumonia. Underlying conditions like these are known to aggravate coronavirus symptoms, leading to a higher risk of complications and death.

This is particularly worrying among our elderly and minority communities, who we know are already the most likely to suffer from the effects of air pollution and – as we are learning now – are some of the most at-risk populations for coronavirus.

While our hospital workers and first responders selflessly and valiantly work to care for the most vulnerable in the short term, it’s up to us to find solutions to protect all New Yorkers in the long term. There are many mechanisms that can work to lower air pollution by encouraging the accelerated adoption of emissions-free energy portfolios and technologies and dissuading energy companies from using polluting sources like oil and natural gas – all we need is the support to make them a reality.

Carbon Free New York is a prime example of one such organization that is putting its combined weight behind efforts in New York to lower the barrier for all carbon-free energy sources to succeed.

CFNY is a new, diverse coalition comprising environmental, renewable energy, labor and clean energy groups that are working together to achieve the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act’s goal of emissions-free electricity by 2040. Highlighting the importance of collective action in achieving our shared goals, the group encourages leaders in the state to take strong action toward fighting climate change and improving public health.

As a public health specialist caring for our most vulnerable populations, I know the decisions we make about our environment today directly impacts our well-being tomorrow – now more than ever. I am proud of all our front-line workers across New York State, and urge those lucky enough to stay home to do their part by supporting organizations like Carbon Free New York. Improving our climate in the long-term starts with taking concrete steps in the short-term to ensure all New Yorkers have the chance to breathe freely in the future.

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