You could almost imagine the earth taking a great, deep breath these past weeks. If the global containment and the attendant human misery have produced the thinnest of thin silver linings, it is that the world is ever so slightly cleaner—if only briefly—than it was before the coronavirus outbreak began. The water in cities like Venice actually looks like water. Air quality in industrial hubs in China, India, and Northern Italy has shown improvement. But, like the virus itself, these changes for the better too shall pass.

Wiser minds at the Natural Resources Defense Council know that once the world goes back to work, their ongoing challenge will continue. In journalistic shorthand, the N.R.D.C. is the New York–based assembly of lawyers, scientists, and activists that essentially serves as the legal guardian of our air, our water, our public lands, and our endangered species. Not just in the U.S. but around the world.