Two surprisingly similar global emergencies, two very different reactions..
Both Covid 19 and the climate crisis present a huge threat to public health. One is on our doorstep effecting our here and now yet the other is already killing millions of people but we see it as miles away, a less direct threat to our lives and so the two emergencies are handled very differently.
Both emergencies corner our most vulnerable first and foremost. Both emergencies require us to listen to the science.
Heat waves are causing food and water shortages for some of the poorest economies. The same pollutants that contribute heavily to climate change are also killing millions of people each year. Mosquitos are moving into new areas spreading diseases like malaria and dengue fever. Climate change threatens to destabilise entire economies and overwhelm poorer countries lacking resources and infrastructure just as Covid 19 does. Yet climate change is a more permanent and irreversible emergency than Covid 19. With time we will overcome Covid 19 but with climate change we are already running out of time.
Onto the positives. What I have noticed, and it is not something that I have seen before during my lifetime, is the level of communication of the government with the people during this time. This emergency has meant that politicians cannot hide behind well thought out speeches written with the help of many advisors with time to prepare. Each day we have seen the top leaders pushed to the max, working long hours, being fired at with criticism and questions, huge pressure on their shoulders, faced with life or death decisions to make as the death toll rises. I for one watch uncomfortably and would not want to be in their shoes but I feel that this situation has unveiled their more human side.
The immediate action and the coming together of communities, the outpouring of support for the NHS and hundreds of 1000's volunteering to help has shown the best side of what we can do. The unbelievable advances in medicine since Covid 19 was announced shows the speed at which change can come about when we put our minds to it. Think what can be achieved if we put the same sense of urgency into developing new energy sources or cleaner fuel for air travel? If we could learn from this situation then perhaps we can transfer this reactive way of working to the climate crisis. We'd be able to see and question the action the government are taking with daily updates. Overcoming Covid 19 should correlate directly with healing our future. We need to make sure we come out of this to a cleaner and brighter future and start planning for this now. There are so many changes we can make that could save money in the long run and create new and much needed jobs.
The climate crisis is an existential threat to our future yet the sense of urgency is absent. Covid 19 is showing us what can be done, the action that can be taken when needed, so lets hope we can take these lessons to help our planet.