There are some parallels between corona and climate change; not in how it showed up, but in how we showed up. It all reminded me of a scientist with decades of experience in climate change: ‘Eventually, the consequences will be as bad, people will do everything to change.’
We’re all in this together, even though it is different how we are in it. Nobody escapes from pandemics and climate change, the virus nor the floods and the droughts ask you for permission, nor the hurricanes and crop failures. The more resources and power you have, the better you can fight it, but eventually you can run, but not hide.
The virus, and so does climate change, finds you.
We had been warned for the possibility of a large-scale pandemic such as Covid-19, but we must have thought ‘let’s see before believing’. Too brave and stubborn, we thought a virus would never reach us in our ivory towers, and still some people are protesting thrusting on their own immune system, or maybe overestimating it.
The same parole happened with climate change. We’ve been warned for it for decades now, but people seem not to belief. Even when Australia was on fire due to bush fires, after extreme droughts and years after extreme floods, they continued building coal mines – the energy source that keeps us warm and warms up the planet at a dangerous pace.
Australia isn’t alone in this inconsistent perception of reality.
After SARS in 2003, the World Health Organisation put legislation in place for countries to prepare for the next pandemic. Almost two decades later, before Corona stroke down, not even a quarter of the countries had implemented them. They were not prepared.
After Ebola in 2013, scientists, epidemiologist, the WHO, and Bill Gates of all people, warned how unprepared the world was for a next pandemic, yet no additional measures were taken. They predicted a new pandemic to come and how disastrous the consequences would be, if only the virus would be more contagious than Ebola, it would have the potential to spread in a rapid pace over the world. We wouldn’t be able to stop it, unless we would prepare. We were not prepared.
December 2019, the first cases of Covid showed up in China. They did not report. January 2020, the first stories of Covid escaped from China and with them probably the first cases. The world did not prepare, nor did the World Health Organisation.
No matter how imminent the threat became, it wasn’t until they experienced at first hand, that they believed.
Misinformation is partly to blame for this. There was confusion about the severity of the virus, and of all other details. The WHO and China downplaying the virus, not to cause panic, or not to loose face, or for any economic and political interest.
Misinformation is partly to blame as well for our inaction towards climate change. Fossil fuel companies have been paying marketing campaigns and scientists to downplay the severity of climate change; as had done the tobacco lobby decades before, and chemical company Monsanto with its cancerogenic product Roundup.
Over and over again, political and economic interests suppress human and environmental interests.
But there always is a tipping point: when we cannot longer ignore the human and environmental harm caused by the political and economic interests; when we cannot longer balance both because they are causing too much economic costs, and political points to justify.
This is the moment when all at a sudden people start pretending as if they always had taken it seriously. The simple cold turning into a real virus that has to be fight as a state enemy. People forced to stay home, companies closing, streets getting empty.
The unthinkable happened.
People will do whatever is in their power to stop the threat, because the consequences became unbearable, the situation unliveable.
These were the words from the climate change scientists many years ago, but they are more accurate than ever facing Covid-19. Nobody would ever have imagined the draconic measures proposed, let alone them being implemented and obeyed.
In the face of such a tremendous threat, people do whatever is in their power to survive.
Governments were able to coordinate internationally and nationwide an emergency plan they might have never heard of before; emergency expert teams were set up, politicians listened to scientists, even before listening to lobbies.
For once, the human interest was prioritised above economics and politics. Governments and industries were fast to move the economy and the industry in a direction that was needed instead of wanted. Citizens were fast to adapt to save their lives, rather than save their pleasures. Newborn education and information campaigns aligned entire nations and even the world with the new values: stop the spread, flatten the curve, together we can.
The argument heard against acting upon climate change ended up in the waste bin next to the disposable facemasks. The impossible turned out to be possible.
Bold measures were taken to fight Covid-19.
When the WHO asked for bold measures in 2005, they were not heard. When the climate change scientists asked for bold measures the lasts years and decades, they were not heard. Even when we saw Covid-19 arising in China, and even when it started spreading over the world, we still ought ourselves to be in an ivory tower that wouldn’t be affected. Until it did. Over thousand deaths a day in the US and in Brazil, made their presidents finally turning ships from a simple flue to a dangerous virus.
Too often reality sets only in when it is too late.
These were the words of the climate change scientists various years ago. ‘People will take action when it gets so bad, they cannot longer ignore the situation.’ He was talking about climate change, but it applies to any other crisis humanity is facing. We cannot belief until it happens. Even when it happens, we cannot belief until it happens to us. The droughts, the bush fires, the increased strength tropical storms, the extreme cold and extreme heat waves; they don’t force us to act upon climate change, until our houses are burnt down, or swept away by a hurricane or flood, until we are suffering starvation because our crops are destroyed, or our water resources are dried up.
Flatten the Curve
‘I only hope,’ the scientist continued, ‘it doesn’t have to turn as badly first.’
If we grow smarter because of Corona, one might hope we don’t let the disaster happen first to clean up the mess afterwards; one might only hope we would finally come down of our ivory tower and understand we are not untouchable; one might only hope the warning signs are enough to act now before it is too late; one might only hope we are strengthened by the fact that we know now that we can.
We can flatten the curve of Corona; hence we can flatten the curve of our emissions. Even the words, the strategies, the rhetoric is out there, we just have to look ones more to our own vulnerability, come down once more of our ivory tower and face the threat that is facing us.
Climate change is happening already, let’s not let it escalate as we’ve done with Corona.
Being humble and facing our own vulnerability at one hand, while being confident and empowered by how we have dealt crisis before, should be the perfect combination to make us deal with climate change as well.
Yes, we can. Yes, we will. Flatten the curve. Stop the emissions.
This article is part of the series of Hope in Times of Corona. Read
- How this too shall pass
- how this times of self-isolation should not mean loneliness,
- how you can contribute to this battle,
- how gratitude lights up the dark,
- how united we will stand strong
- on the most util strategy in awake of a crisis
- how I got blown of my feet as well, but caught by many caring hands,
- how being calm can get us through the storm.
- about Love in Times of Corona
- how to discover your own talents
- why we need stories to hold on to
- how you can be creative and innovative.
- how to spend your mot valuable assets in times of Corona.
- how to listen to the sound of silence.
- How breath taking Corona really is.
- discover the other freedoms Corona has shown us,
- about the new-born freedom Corona gave us.
- about another way to exceed your personal bubble.
- about the position of nature in this entire story
- about nature bouncing back
- about the crucial choice between resilience and resistance
- about the game to play
- about star gazing in dark times
- About looking for Meaning
- About how Music Connects
- about what Easter and Corona have in Common
- About the Shark and the Turtle
- About the Irony of Distance
- Why to Hold on
- Fake News
- about The Big Unknown we live at
- about Feeling Alive
- About turning obstacles into opportunities
- about what the Birthday of my nephew learned me about life
- About where we should go from here?
- About coping with incertitude
- About the Great War and the Great Pandemic, and we should not forget
- about history’s most important message, echoed by corona
- How one country could rule them all
- About how to prevent the next Green Pandemic
- about how we are experiencing a new episode of our history books
- about when the poppy flowers
- about what’s in a number
- masks off, how a friend in need is a friend indeed
- What’s Next. after we flattened the curve?
- how will our personal story look like in a post-corona world?
- why we should never let a good crisis go too waste.
- How Spring can happen in Autumn
- How to unlock the lockdown
- Why education matters
- How we can give meaning to the meaningless deaths. (rethink health care)
- The remarkable marketability of health, or not?
- the remarkable rewards of health
- The queeste for global health care
- Health Heroes
- Pains and Gains
- Solidarity 3.0
- Work-Life Balance
- Home sweet home
- Real Connections
- Leadership 3.0
- gratitude 3.0
- Respect 3.0
- Humanity 3.0
- Change Management
- Economic Catharsis
- To consume or not to consume?
- Travel the world, travel your heart
- Barrels of Life
- People, no Number Management
- Back to the Office?
- Those jobs …
- Economic Growth or Green Growth
- Global trade, global fate
- Act local, think global
Or wait until tomorrow, when I’ll shine another light on yet another positive corner of this dark time.