What can climate activists learn from the unfolding coronavirus pandemic?

by Richard Rollins

“The coronavirus pandemic and the slower-moving dangers of climate change parallel one another in important ways, and experts say the aggressive, if belated, response to the outbreak could hold lessons for those urging climate action. Both the pandemic and the climate crisis are problems of exponential growth against a limited capacity to cope… With entire nations all but shutting down in hopes of slowing the viral spread, the public is coming to understand that…you have to act in a way that looks disproportionate to what the current reality is, because you have to react to where that exponential growth will take you. You look out the window and it doesn’t look like a pandemic [or climate change], it looks like a nice spring day.”

What can climate activists learn from the unfolding Coronavirus pandemic?

Anyone following the public discourse surrounding the spread of the Coronavirus has gotten a crash course on “exponential growth”. And the similarity between the exponential growth curve tracking the global cases of COVID-19 and that of the global increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations is unmistakable: the growth of CO2 concentrations represents a global “pandemic” with unavoidable and often irreversible impacts on all habitats, all life, and everything we consider normal.

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