The Health of Earth on Earth Day, 2020

By Ian Wahl, founder & medical 
director of St. Louis Allergy Relief Center

Although you are reading this article in the April edition of The Healthy Planet, I am writing it on March 13, 2020, the day President Trump declared the coronavirus a national emergency. In the days before, and even more so in a matter of hours after the announcement, we learned that schools, meetings, cultural and sporting events, including the Natural Living Expo, were being postponed and some outright cancelled. I have no idea what April will be like when you read this. Perhaps there will be less panic and fear by April 22, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. I pray that to be so.

As someone who has walked through 7 decades (ok so the first year may have included crawling), I have a different perspective than my children and grandchildren. There have been 60 national emergencies declared in the last 44 years and over 30 of them are still in effect. At the time of this writing, President Trump has declared 5 national emergencies. 

So, what does this have to do with Earth Day other than wondering if we will be able to have large gatherings of people to celebrate it? Let’s look for a moment at what is currently happening during the end of March 2020. There is a panicked buying frenzy and hoarding of paper goods and disposable plastic goods from disinfectants to water bottles to boxed or plastic wrapped food and other containers. It’s ironic that so many of the same people who are so proud of themselves and so careful to recycle will now have even more plastic to recycle. Is that hypocrisy or a smart compromise?

The Covid-19 pandemic speaks directly to the Earth Day article I wrote last April for The Healthy Planet. We know this pandemic severely affects older people who have cardiac problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, and compromised immune systems. While we want to celebrate the incredible strides we’ve made in the last 50 years from recycling awareness to deforestation and climate change consciousness, our planet is struggling with a health issue that affects humans more than plants and other animals. 

At the time I’m writing this, every news source is telling us what we need to do to protect ourselves from contracting the coronavirus. But I haven’t heard too many telling us that if we eat healthy, exercise, show compassion, and feel grateful for the blessings we have in our lives, then maybe we can boost our immune systems just enough to prevent a virus from becoming a critical illness. As for a vaccine, what if this deadly virus mutates as quickly the seasonal flu and sticks around year after year? Staying as healthy as possible seems to be profoundly more important than panic hoarding while waiting for a miracle vaccine.

As I wrote last year, it’s easy to blame our politicians for ignoring the health of our planet. But if we don’t care enough about our own health, much less that of our planet, what makes us think Mother Nature will continue sustaining us? Our planet and our personal health are intimately tied.

Let’s celebrate Earth Day 2020 as a turning point in our individual lives — the day we put aside hypocrisy and decide our personal health and our planet’s health aren’t separate. Of course, we still need to explain how human activity affects climate change and what to do about it; continue shopping for healthier alternatives to eat; continue planting tree seeds and seedlings, composting, recycling, and cleaning up trash someone else left drifting in the wind. More importantly, we need to be grateful for, and mindful of, and compassionate toward our fellow humans as well as toward the incredible diversity of life that surrounds us. Our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing depends upon it. Perhaps Mother Nature is telling us to take care of Her as well as ourselves or She will not be able to help take care of us. We need to change our perspective—and remember, together we are the answer, not just the problem.

Ian Wahl is the founder and clinical director of St. Louis Allergy Relief Center, a holistic allergy and asthma clinic in Chesterfield, MO. For more info see www.StLouisAllergyRelief.com or call 314-384-9304 to reserve your spot at our next free monthly Thursday evening introductory lecture on how to relieve seasonal and chronic sinus, skin, stimuli, and food allergies.