Olmsted’s South Park, Buffalo

All I personally want this year is to stay healthy and get to the other side of 2020 and beyond. Staying away from the people we don’t live with is the perfect—though not very fun—gift for #Holiday2020. Access to nature has been a big part of achieving this gift; where once Sundays were times for brunches with friends, now we take walks in semi-wild spots, grateful that we have them.

Will we continue to have them? Will the air we breathe stay relatively safe?

The not-so-jolly elves currently holding office in Congress did have a surprise gift for the environment when they agreed on a massive stimulus bill this week. It’s not getting too much attention, which is not to be expected when there is real money coming to help people and small businesses. But it’s a big deal.

A Washington Post article says that besides major cuts to hydrofluorocarbon emissions; new R&D for solar, wind, and energy storage; and reauthorized cuts to diesel emissions; provisions in the stimulus bill say that “the Energy Department must prioritize funding for research to power the United States with 100 percent ‘clean, renewable, or zero-emission energy sources’ — a rare declaration that the nation should be striving toward net-zero carbon emissions,” with one advisor noting, “This is perhaps the most significant climate legislation Congress has ever passed.”

The provisions aim to coax rather than mandate, with tax breaks and more funding. Where once environmental initiatives could be counted on to get more nonpartisan support than most issues, that hasn’t been the case in recent years. Far from it. That’s why even mild-mannered initiatives like these—no regulation of utilities or aggressive attacks on fossil fuel dependance—are welcome developments.

My check will be nice, and I’ll try to stay healthy enough to spend it. A renewed focus on the health of the world I garden in will have farther reaching benefits.