American environmentalist John Muir once said, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” Our connections to one another — to neighbors both near and far, and our dependence on natural resources has become more clear than ever before.
As we recognize Earth Day’s 50th anniversary at the San Francisco Fed, we’re reminded of how interconnected and interdependent we are across the planet. This year, Earth Day occurs during a large global crisis. With the recent shelter-in-place actions implemented across much of the world, the ripple effects seem never-ending. Our world and how we live in it has changed dramatically in what feels like overnight.
From an environmental perspective, being homebound has had some beneficial outcomes. Because fewer people are commuting, we’ve seen reduced air pollution and carbon emissions. In the Bay Area, for example, air pollution is down 21% in Oakland, 36% in San Jose, and 41% in San Francisco. According to the EPA, one car trip — assuming it’s a passenger vehicle with 22 mpg — equates to 20 pounds of carbon (source: Environmental Protection Agency). Taking into account the millions of people across the world who are also sheltering in place, the air we share has become both cleaner and cooler for everyone in a matter of weeks.
Improved air quality is just one example that shows how simple, individual actions can add up to a positive outcome that we can all benefit from. At the SF Fed, this understanding of our reliance on each other as caretakers of people and resources is at the heart of Earth Day. We’ve also increasingly recognized the importance of the environment and climate to our mission. Watch our quick video that explains.
Robin Connell is Senior Manager, Social Responsibility at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. She holds an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School.
You may also be interested in:
- The New Stone Soup
- Why Climate Change Matters to Us
- Federal Reserve Cash Services – Environmental Initiatives
The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the management of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco or of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.