What does the response to COVID-19 tell us about our ability to cope with climate change?

The global shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic have tested every part of our society, from healthcare, to employment, finance, supply chains, global trade, nationalism, governance, emergency response, and so on. How our governments have responded to the pandemic is revealing a lot about how the world works, and makes us ask what it reveals about potential responses to future disasters, such as the climate change crisis. Is the COVID-19 pandemic a stress test for future climate shock? How prepared are we?

Our current systems are ill equipped to respond to climate change and must be altered completely

We knew this was coming, strategies and plans had been drawn up, but the system has been unable to act in a way that avoids the worst outcomes. The performance should make us certain that the world is ill prepared to respond to larger future climate shocks.

Our governments were not prepared for a pandemic, so we can't expect them to be prepared for a climate change catastrophe.

Due to political fragmentation and bureaucracy, countries such as the United States were not prepared for a pandemic and took too long to coordinate an effective response. Climate change research exists, and so does pandemic research - but disorganization in the various levels of the government renders this research less useful than it could be.

Our society prioritizes profit over human lives due to capitalism.

As a result of capitalism, our governments are incentivized to prioritize profit and protecting the economy over taking measures to save human lives. The pandemic has forced many factories and corporations to halt production, resulting in a drop in harmful carbon emissions. This, however, is unlikely to continue past the end of the pandemic.

Mankind will never be able to defeat climate change

This pandemic has proven that we will never be capable of preventing permanent damage to the environment due to human stubbornness and ignorance.

Fake news, ignorance, and bipartisan politics will make defeating COVID-19 and climate change impossible.

In some countries, believing that COVID-19 exists and is not a hoax is, in itself, a political opinion. Fake news and ignorance is rampant, and people's refusal to practice social distancing or believe that the virus is a real threat does not bode well for how seriously they'll take climate change.

We, as a society, are resilient and will be able to apply the lessons COVID-19 has taught us to tackling the climate change crisis

The pandemic has proven that there is still hope. We, as a society, are taking what we've learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and can apply those lessons to our fight against climate change.

People are beginning to notice how global crises compound social inequality and are now more likely to become involved in local government and climate change activism.

Climate change, in its beginning stages, harms the poor and people who live in developing countries the most. People in the United States or Europe, who are quite privileged and have not yet faced the catastrophic affects of climate change, are being impacted by COVID-19 and are now more aware of how social inequality is compounded by global emergencies.

People now have a better understanding of the concept of exponential growth.

COVID-19 has spread across the globe exponentially, similar to how climate change is slowly worsening. The pandemic is helping people conceptualize and understand how slow burning crises can quickly get out of control.
Explore this question in a whole new way.
This page was last edited on Monday, 18 May 2020 at 00:00 UTC