We can learn from the Covid-19 pandemic how to better work together to tackle a global threat—a threat similar in many ways to Climate Change. This current moment can be considered a fire drill where our strengths and weaknesses surface. On the positive side, we are getting to view the amazing human spirit of hope, compassion, self-sacrifice, and cooperation exhibited by our medical workers, research scientists, emergency responders, and the countless individuals involved in the distributing of food and essential goods and services. On the other hand, we also see the unfortunate human traits of panic instilled greed, hording, neglect of others less fortunate, and along with it the urge to blame and seek petty revenge.
The parallels of Covid-19 and Climate Change are strikingly similar:
- Both are life threatening.
- Both can affect any human on earth and are oblivious to borders.
- Both result in tremendous financial costs.
- Both have a devastating effect on the economy.
- Both rely on science to understand. (Scientists, even if there is never total consensus, have done a great job of predicting the path of both scourges.)
- Both consist of natural forces that can respond to human intervention in a way that preserves human life.
- Both create a panic response only after the negative effects start mounting, when advance planning to mitigate loss is more effective.
- Both require human self-sacrifice to remedy.
- Both require global cooperation to resolve.
The differences between Covid-19 and Climate Change are also striking:
- Covid-19 if spread to all of humanity, however unlikely, without any intervention would cause only a fraction of human deaths compared to Climate Change.
- Covid-19 causes us to stay at home to control the outbreak whereas Climate Change would destroy billions of homes in coastal areas, flooded areas, and burned areas and make those areas uninhabitable.
- Covid-19 caused some food shortages in the supply chain. Climate Change will cause permanent food shortages by destroying agricultural land and climate conducive for agriculture resulting in widespread permanent starvation.
- Covid-19 overtaxes our health care system; Climate Change will increase the incidence of diseases decimating the ability of our health care system to react.
- Covid-19 has no effect on water supply whereas Climate Change would decimate clean water supplies all over the world.
- Covid-19 will incur trillions in damage to the economy, Climate Change will incur costs far beyond trillions, and eventually there would be no economy at all.
- Covid-19 will peak and pass within a short time frame of a year or two whereas climate change requires immediate investment and change within the next 10 years and if ignored will take a gradual toll each year culminating in painful human extinction in the farther future.
- The world’s governments have spent a fraction on Climate Change compared to what is spent on Covid-19.
In the coming year, let us observe how we achieve our successes in the fight over defeating coronavirus and learn from this fire drill to better our efforts to fight Climate Change. If we can perfect our response and flatten the curve of global warming maybe we can win back the earth for our children and generations to come.