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Robert Redford’s cool with massive unemployment over COVID because of ‘pleasant surprises’ on climate

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Though more than 30 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits over the past six weeks thanks to state-issued ‘stay-at-home’ orders to ostensibly curb the spread of COVID-19, multimillionaire actor Robert Redford apparently thinks the supposed environmental benefits are worth it.

In an op-ed he penned with his son James for NBC, Redford said that the coronavirus pandemic has led to several “pleasant surprises” for environments who continue to face the “daunting” challenge of saving the globe from changing climate.

Redford, long a climate activist, implored Americans to draw some green lessons from the pandemic, even as tens of millions are now living day-to-day on reduced incomes.

“What has the scourge of COVID-19 revealed to us?” the Redfords wrote in their column, which, predictably, blames President Donald Trump’s alleged “coronavirus failures.”

“Will any of these hard-won lessons help us as we turn to face the potential calamity of climate change that looms on the horizon?” they ask.

After listing several examples of Trump’s “failed leadership,” the Redfords add:

At the same time, we’ve been fortunate to witness the inspiring power of people doing the right thing. Millions of Americans have willingly sheltered in place to protect their families and communities. Led by the leadership of many governors, many different Americans have become front-line workers — doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians, of course, but also grocery store staff, food bank volunteers, warehouse workers and postal carriers — battling COVID-19 on our behalf at their own peril.

The two then offered praise to “industries” that “repurposed their production capacity” to make “much-needed” equipment — which, to be clear, came at the direction of the president, who invoked the Defense Production Act in order to ensure companies “repurposed their production.”

That said, the Redfords continued, “There have also been some pleasant surprises.”

“As many of the world’s transportation and industrial sectors have reduced operations, there has been a remarkable decline in global levels of carbon dioxide emissions. Of course, the cost in life and livelihood negates any celebration. Nonetheless, there is no denying that we have gotten a very real glimpse of the potential for global environmental repair. … Clearly, inertia [on green activism] is unacceptable,” they claim.

After first praising industry, the Redfords then took it to task because corporations dare to seek profits, which, of course, are necessary to keep them afloat so they grow, earn revenue for investors (including ordinary Americans with 401(k) retirement plans) and employ people.

“Underlying these necessary changes is the need for a deep shift in our values and priorities, a shift strong enough to wrest control of environmental policies held hostage by stakeholders desperately clinging to their profits and power,” they wrote, after laying out suggestions on how best to blunt climate change.

“As COVID-19 began its lethal march across our nation, most Americans embraced scientific consensus and understood that collective grassroots action could protect us from the worst-case scenarios,” they add. “This actionable wisdom should be at the core of our fight against climate change.”

There is real evidence that unemployment causes damage not only to the economy but to health. Studies for years have found that unemployment, and especially prolonged periods of joblessness, are detrimental to mental and physical health.

That said, there is no real scientific consensus that human activity and technology — or capitalism — is causing the planet’s climate to change, even as the climate is changing, as it has throughout the history and evolution of Earth.

Jon Dougherty


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