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Climate Change and Coronavirus – The Paradox of our Time

Climate Change and Coronavirus – The Paradox of our Time
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Posted: 04-30-2020 14:25
Comments: 1 [Read/Post]

Just as real momentum was gaining on climate change discussions among the informed, the world lay crippled by Coronavirus. Suddenly with hundreds of millions of lives immediately at risk, the focus necessarily shifted. Climate change discussions and policy considerations were put on the back burner. CLICK ON THE TITLE ABOVE TO CONTINUE READING

In reaction to the very real threat of the pandemic, planes, trains, cars and trucks were parked and factories shuttered. Almost immediately, around the globe emissions from transportation and the generation of power plummeted. The lockdowns triggered by the pandemic with 2.6 billion of the world’s people living under Shelter in Place orders, are obviously having a positive impact on the flattening of the curve and lowering the spread of the virus. Importantly, too, they are also having a positive impact on the planet. Global levels of nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant linked to cars, have hit a record low, according to the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air. And, we may well see a flattening or dip in measured atmospheric CO2 concentrations for the first time in the 60 years they’ve been tracked.

Even if the effect is only temporary, the skies above Los Angeles, Beijing, New Delhi and Mexico City are clear for the first time in decades. The waters in the canals of Venice flow clear. The very undeniable evidence of man’s causation of climate change through over dependence on fossil fuels has never been, well, clearer. “It is a big, natural experiment that you could never reproduce on this scale,” says James Lee, a professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of York in England. But, it comes at a huge social, economic and human cost that no one would ever have signed up for. And if we don’t learn its lessons – all its lessons – accept them and use them, well then shame on us.

The paradox of course is that despite this rare opportunity for such incredibly visible and undeniable evidence, we can’t do much with it. Climate talks have already been delayed and new policy initiatives postponed. Governments and world leaders have attention for only one crisis right now. The pandemic — which is likely to dominate debate for months or even years to come — will overshadow environmental concerns. “It’s going to put a pause on anything climate related,” says Glen Peters, research director at the Center for International Climate Research in Oslo.

I do not take exception with the prioritization and fixation on the Coronavirus right now by any means. It’s just that in a world shaped by the pandemic, climate change now appears a more distant threat, but it is still an urgent, global threat nonetheless. Our attention always gets laser focused on that which is more immediate.

Looming large on the near horizon is the push for economic recovery. My fear is that in our haste to stimulate economic recovery, we push aside climate concerns and use this dip in pollution statistics as justification for doing so. We’ll race to get back to that normalcy we now long for, environmental concerns be damned. It already has thrown out the window reliable models for setting pollution reduction targets. But they shouldn’t be dismissed, just recalibrated appropriately, and I pray they will be.

My hope is that the eventual resumption of climate talks and policy changes with behavioral modifications that we’ve all just proven we can make, will no longer start and end with vacant debates based on ignorance and the denial of such overwhelming evidence collected at extremely high cost over this unprecedented period. The 250,000 lives that will be lost to Coronavirus will then prove to have an outsized contribution to the momentum and seriousness of addressing real environmental concerns.

Comments on Climate Change and Coronavirus – The Paradox of our Time

Nancy 05-02-2020 10:43
Beautifully written and 'hitting the nail on the head'. Thank you!!!...SO HEARTENING to know there are others who feel and see the same. Deeply grateful you have stayed open and available to all thru this...and hope YOU KNOW MANY OF US STAND WITH AND BY YOU THRU THIS ALL. This 'pandemic' is a HYDRA/many headed beast.. intent as well to obliterate all alternative (ha!..divergent) thinking,..including NATURAL HEALING. I AM SO UTTERLY GRATEFUL FOR YOU IN MY LIFE...INFINITE BLESSINGS TO EACH AND ALL OF YOU! GOD EMPOWER YOU AND KEEP YOU SAFE ON THIS JOURNEY!

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