Amid what is now called a global pandemic, borders are closing and things are cancelled, quiet, shuttered, surreal and scary. We are anxious, fearful, nervous and very worried; and hoping it will soon pass so we can go on with our lives.
Is this the new normal? Will we elevate ourselves and find a way to collaborate and turn our attention back to the climate change crisis? COVID-19 is our loudest warning bell ever to the need to reduce our emissions. Are you listening NOW?
Our recent article – Travel Uncertainty in the Face of COVID-19 – connected the dots back to human activity – deforestation, hunting and eating wildlife, and our highly carbonized lifestyle that is changing the climate – that create the environment for viruses to be passed on, pathogens that are exposed to warmer temperatures in the natural world due to climate change are better equipped to survive the high temperature inside the human body. The threat of COVID-19 and the climate crisis is interconnected and the responsibility for both lies firmly at our feet. It’s something we can all stand accountable for – our human behaviour.
Our world enforced pause will hopefully trigger a deep soul-and-heart-searching introspection of the way we conduct ourselves, the kind of world we want to live in, and our personal impact on people and planet. It will hopefully bring out the kindness in people to support those in our lives who are most vulnerable to anxiety and victims of discrimination. And it will hopefully ignite the collective ambitions and individual efforts to address the urgency of the impending climate crisis while we still have time.
According to the World Economic Forum in January 2020, climate dominates people’s worries in most countries. Almost one-half of Europeans and nearly three-quarters of Chinese people consider climate change a major threat. Millions of Europeans would be prepared to move to another country because of the issue. Young Europeans are most likely to think the problem will force them to migrate. Climate change is reversible according to 80% of Chinese people, but that level of optimism isn’t a global phenomenon. Large numbers of people in the EU and US believe there is nothing that can be done. Northern Europeans, in particular, share this concern; approximately 40% of people in France and Poland think we have gone beyond the tipping point, compared to just over one-quarter in Italy and Spain.
Meaningful global cooperation on climate change should have been established years ago. The UN said this week that global action is way off track and the World Meteorological Organization rang the alarm on climate … AGAIN.
The failures of individuals, companies, governments and countries won’t be contained to borders and the consequence of our inaction and delays will affect us all. The threat of viruses and diseases and all the other negative impacts of the climate we are changing are terrifying, and it will continue to gravely affect our health, our economic prosperity and our way of life.
NOW has been ringing the warning bell loudly in the last two years. Something very serious is happening and it needs to be addressed seriously by everyone. Our recovery priority must be grounded on accountable and transparent sustainability with the goal of supporting the Global Goals and reaching carbon neutrality to prevent or delay our global temperature from reaching the 1.5 °Celcius, the point where we’ll likely see many natural systems begin to cross dangerous points of no return, triggering lasting changes and transforming life as we know it.
We share one planet, one home, and we are all in this together. It must be NOW!