I normally celebrate Earth Day by planting trees, picking up litter and taking part in a big public action.
Not this year, as most of us shelter indoors.
But perhaps a somber, personal reflection is exactly what we need for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
Physical distancing has forced a personal reality check for many of us, as we think about what really matters in life and the balance we might have lost along the way.
Some are thinking about their fast-paced, high-carbon lifestyles, especially as wildlife returns to places that have been vacated by big crowds.
And as we start to plan for the reopening of our economy, we should think about what will sustain us in the future and what is best left in the past.
The truth is that the pre-covid economy was in need of a reboot to tackle the climate crisis.
But nothing had shocked us into action - not the pleas from scientists nor the shocking wildfires in Australia.
Now we are at a crossroads that was forced upon us by the pandemic.
It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to jumpstart the economy that we want - a bridge to a more hopeful, sustainable and prosperous future.
The federal government made a good start by announcing funding for the clean-up of abandoned oil wells last week.
"The truth is that the pre-covid economy was in need of a reboot to tackle the climate crisis."
Now let’s go further.
Clean energy already employs 300,000 Canadians and is projected to grow at four times the Canadian average by 2030.
An aggressive shift towards energy efficiency and retrofits would create hundreds of thousands more jobs, while making us less dependent on the plummeting price of oil.
We could help people with loans to insulate their homes and install solar panels on their roofs, while offering grants and tax breaks to the entrepreneurs developing clean technologies.
We can once again make Ontario a manufacturing hub by turning our attention to the low-carbon sectors that are on the rise.
A recent study showed that with a robust electric vehicle strategy, Canada could create 1.1 million jobs by 2040 and add $150 billion to the economy.
We have many of the rare earth metals in Ontario’s North needed to produce EV and storage batteries. They can be sustainably mined creating an Ontario supply chain to electrify transportation.
And let’s install chargers across our provincial highways to get us ready for this electric vehicle revolution.
We can also make our communities more resilient to the climate impacts that are inevitable, from harsh droughts and rising flood waters.
One of the cheapest and easiest solutions is tree planting, which buffers the impacts of extreme weather. Canada’s goal of planting 2 billion trees in 10 years is nice, but last year Ethiopia planted 350 million trees in a single day.
Let’s also use this pandemic to make our food system less vulnerable to the next shock.
Family farmers who grow our fruits and vegetables should have access to financial support to stay in business, as well as local processors to preserve their harvest.
We should upgrade our grain storage infrastructure to prepare for the next emergency.
And we should invest in technologies to convert some of our food and agricultural waste into renewable energy and bio-based products.
The point is that the billions we spend today should make good economic sense - not just tomorrow, but in 2050.
Certainly there will be a big temptation to go in the other direction.
The fossil fuel industry is already asking for a rollback of pollution controls to help them get back on their feet, while various provinces are halting environmental regulations.
But a race to the bottom would be a mistake.
The recovery cannot be about finding the cheapest, most convenient or short-sighted way to resurrect the old economy.
We have all the motivation needed to choose a smarter path.
And if this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that when we take a threat seriously and listen to experts, we have the ability to rapidly change our behaviour.
Our collective resolve and solidarity are flattening the curve on COVID-19.
On Earth Day, let’s commit to also flattening the curve on climate change.