As we progress deeper into what seems like a never-ending year, there are overlapping social and environmental injustices that were present before but have been aggravated by Covid-19. While the pandemic has considerably shaken the world in a plethora of ways, it has also proven that mobilization and the rapid transition is possible in the event of an emergency.
Seeing world leaders essentially shut down countries so quickly in order to protect human life, has shown that treating an emergency like an emergency… works. Where is this attitude toward climate change?
It can be hard to conceptualize what exactly climate change is and the severity of it, which accounts for the surprisingly large population of individuals who claim it is fake. Climate change spans many environmental issues from dying coral reefs to rising sea levels and heat waves but ultimately means that our atmosphere is getting significantly warmer over time due to environmental, but mostly man-made, factors. In October of 2018, 90 climate scientists from 40 countries concluded that if humans don’t take immediate, collective action to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2040, the consequences will effectively be baked into the natural systems of the planet. With so much heat-trapping carbon in the atmosphere, there will be, in effect, no turning back. It has been 2 years since this chilling report and there has still been no collective agreement to mitigate the effects of climate change on a large scale.
Coronavirus has proven that humans are good at rising to the occasion, but when it is imminent. When the stakes are high enough to alter our daily way of life, we come together to change our fate. We cannot wait until the last minute to care about climate change—the droughts, the wildfires, the melting permafrost, the coastal flooding, and so on will not stop due to our lack of control. While the majority of the blame in regards to pollution and waste has been wrongly diverted to the consumers, big businesses and our world leaders have failed to take action in order to protect us from this crisis.
Just as the impacts of Covid-19 have hit the poor and most vulnerable the most, so will climate change. Food insecurity, population displacement, health effects, and more are only a handful of ways these communities are the most at risk. While these two crises overlap and intersect, we have seen a completely different approach to solving them. The way that governments made rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, in response to Covid-19, is how the climate crisis should be treated as well if we’re to beat the clock and save the planet.
Written by: Molly Brown