Editor’s note: The Virus Diaries is a series in which Mainers talk about how they are affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

David Kuchta stands in the garden of his Portland home. Kuchta lost his job, but he sees a silver lining in the pandemic: stay-at-home orders have led to a reduction in carbon emissions. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

David Kuchta of Portland lost his income as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Still, he’s hoping for a greater, long-term gain.

“The air above me is much clearer,” he said, “and countries around the world now stand more of a chance of meeting their climate change goals.”

Kuchta, 60, is home with his wife, Jennifer Tuttle, a professor of English at the University of New England, and his daughter Sage, a freshman at Portland High School.

“Both are now home with me, adjusting to online teaching and learning.

“I worked remotely as an editor/writer for a New York-based educational publisher. I wrote and edited e-books for the school market. With schools going virtual and redirecting their budgets to supporting online learning, the educational publishing business dried up fast.

“I was furloughed rather than laid off, and hope to get my job back at some point. In the meantime, I’m collecting unemployment for the first time in my life and looking for jobs, though they are few and far between.

“I had been working at home for the past six years, so the major difference is that all three of us are home all the time now. In our family, that’s a good thing, as it’s nice to have my family together 24/7. Being unemployed and having my daughter at home has the silver lining that I get to spend a lot more time with her. Soon enough she’ll be off to college, so I’m treasuring the family time.

“Other than that, I’m still adjusting to being unemployed. I’ve built a new garden and am keeping a daily spreadsheet going of Maine’s COVID-19 cases. Being able to project a potential end-date for this crisis allows me to be patient.”

When this pandemic reaches its conclusion, Kuchta hopes attention can be directed toward climate change.

“Even before this pandemic is over, I’d love for people to take a look at the Portland skyline, from across the Fore River or Back Cove. Treasure the clear skies and the sharpness with which you can read the time on the Time & Temperature Building. Know that that’s something that we achieved in a month from changing our ways.

“Shed the fear and despair about the climate crisis and realize that we have the power to change. Think of this pandemic as a rehearsal: talk to your family, friends, and neighbors about climate change as often as you have about the coronavirus. Reply to the dozens of organizations that have sent you emails about what they are doing about the coronavirus, and ask them what they’re doing about climate change.

“Drive less, fly less, consume less, pollute less, as if your lives are at stake. And the media can do their part, too: Put headlines on the front page in 48-point type about the climate crisis, with daily articles and graphs about rising sea levels, ocean temperatures, lives disrupted and lost from climate change. Together, this is how we treat a crisis.”

Do you have a story to share about how you are affected by the coronavirus outbreak? Email us at [email protected]

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