I’ve lived a long time, but this is new and hard to believe. Yesterday, production on “Grace & Frankie” was cancelled till things change. There are people on the crew and staff who won’t be getting a check indefinitely, whose children will be home because their schools have shuttered. So many in the country who live pay check to pay check. I hope the bill being proposed by Nancy Pelosi and the House of Reps that provides Paid Sick Leave to families (just about all other Western countries have that but not the U.S.) and other assistance to those who need it will pass. I fear T will veto. Stores have run out of many things. In the closest grocery stores to where I live, there is no more poultry, people are wrangling 3 shopping carts full of stuff, shoring up for…what? Supplies will run out? They won’t want to go outside at all so have to get what they need all at once? How long before those not-working crew members and so many other workers who’ve been sent home won’t be able to buy food? What if they get sick but no longer have insurance? Or their doctors and hospitals are overwhelmed?

In what ways will T take advantage of this pandemic to favor himself and his buddies. Today’s press conference looks like this will be a big in for big corporations. The only upside to all this may be that people who have supported him will see what happens when a leader and his administration dismantle large chunks of the federal government and then run into a crisis that only a robust, well managed and properly staffed federal government can manage. Oops. The Emperor has no clothes and no fig leaf to disguise this blatant reality.

Once again, it is state and local bureaucracies left trying to piece things together to stave off the worst.

Okay, so what if a major hurricane or other extreme weather event hits while we’re facing this health crisis? Hasn’t happened yet but it will. And there will be other epidemics or pandemics since diseases that were once confined to other parts of the world come here due to warming weather. We don’t have the infrastructure in this country to manage multiple emergencies at once.

It’s good that people are girding themselves now against the corona virus. I hope we all realize what lack of federal preparedness has meant and will mean for us going forward. What it means that this administration dismantled the government apparatus that was put together carefully and with scientific input over several years by the Obama administration to deal with just this sort of pandemic. A multi-department-multi-disciplinary apparatus that can’t be quickly reassembled.

Let us use this as a teachable moment and not make the same mistake with the growing climate crisis. The next administration (and there better be a next administration or we’re looking an even broader, long-term catastrophe) must immediately recreate the Obama apparatus to deal with pandemics and, simultaneously, a Green New Deal and other mechanisms to address the drastic climate situation.

Not enough people make the connection between the health crisis and the climate crisis. They don’t link the climate crisis to the new strains of diseases, the increase of respiratory diseases, cancer, and other illnesses that strain healthcare systems worldwide, including here in the United States. Global warming expands the geographic range of mosquitoes and ticks and rodents, and other carriers of diseases, bringing dengue, encephalitis, yellow fever, SARS and zika to places where they were unknown before. Flooding causes upsurges of rodent-borne illnesses, contaminating food and water, an impact on human health that continues long after the waters have receded, leaving in their wake mental health problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorders, and depression. Just ask women in West Virginia whose towns have been flooded, people in Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, the farmers going bankrupt in the Mid-West due to climate change, where suicide is on the rise.

Air pollution, intensified by global warming, has led to two million deaths worldwide from lung cancer, heart disease, asthma, and allergies. The World Health Organization estimates that every day 93% of the world’s children under the age of 15 breathe air so polluted that it puts their health and development at risk. The healthcare systems in this country, and around the world, aren’t equipped to handle the already-upon-us corona virus, much less what’s coming.

So, what to do while we bunker down in the face of this new virus? I have a book coming out in August, “What Can I Do?: My Path from Climate Despair to Action” that will answer that question. Meantime, my next blogs will offer some ideas about what you can do right now, from your home, to make a difference.

Stay tuned

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  1. Thanks for your activism. I hope you will be paying close attention to the extaordinary powers Trump just granted himself by declaring a national emergency. He can now detain without hearing, use military force on American soil, nationalize the internet etc. I am very wary.

  2. Hi Jane,
    This sure is a weird time in the world. Here in Ohio all schools have closed and all state employees have been ordered to world from home. It breaks my heart that without school, many students are left without the meals they depend on. As this all unfolds, it’s more evident than ever that we need a President who will provide support to Americans with paid time off, and support a Medicare for all plan so that people don’t have to worry about what might happen if they fall ill and are unable to see a doctor. My brother is overseas in Taiwan working as an English teacher (thankfully he is safe) and I am amazed by their preparedness during this outbreak, compared to the US. Instead of mass chaos, they have taken control of the situation and managed to keep the virus at bay with only 50 cases in the country of 24 million residents. The universal healthcare plan has definitely been a huge factor!

    A big impact for me as a member of Sunrise Movement is that our upcoming Earth Day actions and strike have been canceled and we will now have to resort to digital activism. It is especially disheartening that this is all happening a time when our upcoming election is dire. Youth voter turnout is so incredibly important right now, and with so many students being displaced from their college dorms around the country and primary elections being postponed, it’s inevitable that voter turnout will be lower. I was lucky to be able to utilize the early voting option. It is my hope that this outbreak puts everything into perspective for all Americans. If the 2016 election had turned out differently, we likely would be more prepared to handle a situation like this.

    Your activism with FDF has really inspired me to do more here in Ohio. Would love to get several local climate groups together to start a local chapter of FDF!

    See you in May at Kent State. Hoping that this coronavirus will be a thing of the past by then. My friend Alexandra and I are looking forward to your speech! Stay safe out there Jane! ❤️

    • Robin, yes, we must find ways to keep our activism juices flowing. I’m planning on doing more teach-ins here at hone on SKYPE. I need my Fire Drill Fridays fix. Also, i;m writing this FDF book which I really love. See what I wrote to Alexandra re KSU xx

  3. Jane you are absolutely right, my state is tropical, in recent years the mosquito is uncontrollable, and dengue hemorrhagic fever is a tremendous disease that kills many people every year, the floods are more severe this is part of our culture but in recent years everything has sharpened, hopefully God protect us from this new virus, here it is very hot and that can help with dengue we have enough.

  4. Ahh truth-sayer thank you for your voice, your pen, your modeling, your mind, conviction, and heart. You raise us up, give us hope that we can DO something with this dire warning of truth. You have no idea how very much you have given us all these years. But we know. Barnes & Noble better have lots of these books. D

  5. Hi Jane!

    Thank you so much for your continued clarity, compassion, and perspective. I’m also cautiously optimistic this pandemic will signal a tipping point—not just in the public’s awareness of glaring systemic inequalities, but in our collective motivation to actually DO something meaningful to balance the scales. 

    The mood where I live in Harlem is decidedly resilient, proving that our best bet for a more humane and dignified future lies not with our current house of cards (built by, and for, white men) but within indigenous, immigrant, and minority communities.

    I know from personal experience that the decision to transform ourselves and the world around us can happen in an instant—maybe this will finally be that moment for a great number of people. I’m hopeful that while progress is often slow and painful, it’s still progress.

    I can’t wait to read your new book—to say that your words and actions have been an inspiration to me is an understatement. Those D.C. Fire Drill Fridays brought me new friends, new ideas, new passions, and most importantly, a new perspective on the world and my place in it. Hopefully the book will also help ease the profound sense of withdrawal that I—and many others—felt the moment the D.C. actions ended.

    Take care of yourself, we’ll see you at KSU, and join you on the front lines wherever and however we can. 


    • Hi dear Alexandra. KSU has cancelled the events but still want my speech virally so I will send my speech and we’ll see how they disemminate it. xx

  6. I new here. This is all truly scary. I haven’t had this much anxiety in my life. And…I’m a licensed social worker in TN working in healthcare out in the community so I’m totally exposed. You would think this would bring us closer as human beings and make us kinder toward one another but my trip to the grocery store left me speechless from rudeness not to mention the empty shelves due to fear and panic. I feel helpless and afraid. Our government has offered no words of comfort or protection – our leadership is a hot mess. Our world is unbalanced and it’s angry. I’m praying for all of us.

    • Yep. We must try to be civil with each other. We are IN THIS TOGETHER. Have each other’s backs.

  7. i’ve been following and reading your blog for such a long time now, but have never left a comment so here goes nothing:

    i’m victoria, i’m nineteen and i can’t thank you enough for being a constant light in my life. your activism and determination has inspired me more than you could ever imagine. seeing you dedicate your life to so many wonderful causes, reading your books and learning about your life has been so eye opening. you’re so real and honest, and i’m just so grateful to have someone as incredible as you to look up to. (you also have the cutest dog)

    i love you jane <3 you’re quite possibly the greatest woman to ever exist.

  8. Hi Jane! Thank you for being you <3 You are such a comfort In a world like this both In the small and In the big picture! We will stick together In times like this. In my home country Sweden we get paid when we are home and sick, we get paid when our children are sick and we get paid If we have to go to meetings at our children school. I don't know If you know about our prime minister Olof Palme who was assassinated in 1986. He and the Social Democrats built a democratic and good welfare society here but know we have a upcoming far right rasist parti who Is gaining votes. That hurts my deep In my heart since my grandparents survived Bergen Belsen. I'm a 47 year old mother off three and I wan´t mine and all the children to grow up In a better place so my contribution Is that I am a social health worker In school. Thank you for the Inspiration you give me as a person, mother, human being. I'm a new follower here. Love Helena from Sweden (Also a daughter off suiced, I was 11 my mother was 32)

    • Olaf Palme was someone I admired a lot. I met him several times. Stay strong. xxoo

      • Jane, I wanted to let you know that watching “Grace and Frankie” has centered me through all this. I am a gay 49-year-old musical-theatre conductor/keyboardist who was working on a Georgia stage production of “Singin’ in the Rain” when the world crashed down. I got to see it all happen in real time–I went to the grocery store one day and everything was in place; the next day the toilet paper was half-gone. People were laughing off the warnings but still staying a safe distance away (no more handshakes or hugs). When I left for home (I live in Pennsylvania), I wondered if I would ever see the people and places I was bidding farewell to again. But, as I say, thank heavens for you and Lily and the “Grace and Frankie” team for keeping us all sane. I hope all of you are taking precautions and that we all get through this!

  9. Jane, I am heartbroken. It’s just so easy to fall into depression and despair, seeing what’s happening to the world. I’m trying every day to put just one foot into the future until this nightmare is over, planning and preparing future projects, taking some time off the news and social media. Not gonna lie, being alone in a strange country literally locked away from my dearest family and friends is a terribly devastating state of being. But I am hanging in there, like hopefully so many of us. I really admire you for being able to keep going in this situation, when I just feel like curling up in a corner or going to a winter’s sleep…

    Stay safe and healthy! Hugs from your loyal Daniel

  10. Hi Jane,
    I just read the messages.Here in France we are also living in an extremely difficult period with coronavirus. we’ve been living in confinement since yesterday noon ! I cross my fingers so that this epidemic quickly recedes.

    everything in the world is very anxiety-provoking and difficult to bear. I think it is unfortunately a bad thing for a better world, that mentalities are changing ! That it will lead to awareness for an important change for the planet and for all of us.
    I admire your energy in defending all these causes, you are truly extraordinary!… Respect !
    especially take care of yourself and your family

    • If we make sure our elected officials don’t allow government hand-outs to corporations that enrich CEOs and shareholders but leave workers out, it will be good. BUt people need to put porssure on their electeds. We could come out of this better off but it won’t happen without public pressure. xx

      • that’s for sure, and it won’t happen overnight
        above all take good care of yourself xxx

  11. Hello Jane, definitely trying times that we have never seen. Sad for all those who are sick, or who have lost loved ones. Also sorry for business owners who have had to close down and the employees who are out of work because of this virus. Hope T and congress can get something figured out quickly to help all affected. Be safe.
    P.S. Not sure if you remember me from 1990 Goodwill Games (driver) Now semi retired and living in Bozeman.

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