Thursday December 02, 2021

A wake-up call

March 12, 2020

In the short time since the COVID-19 virus was discovered and made public in Wuhan, a city of 11 million in central China, this new strain of coronavirus – a family of pathogens that includes the common cold, as well as more deadly strains like SARS and MERS – has caused a global public health, social, and economic crisis.

The virus is now in over 100 countries, including the United States and in Africa. Significant parts of China, South Korea, Japan and Italy have ground to a near standstill or are in lockdown. There have been thousands of deaths, and over 100,000 cases reported worldwide so far with the numbers growing daily.

Global financial markets have lost nearly $10 trillion in wealth. Consumers are losing confidence as supply chains break down, leaving grocery store shelves bare, and businesses cut back. Some fear the panic in financial markets may trigger a global recession.

While there’s no indication climate change played a role in this outbreak, which the World Health Organization calls a “public health emergency of international concern,” the WHO has long warned climate change is likely to create, increase, or spread dangerous diseases.

That means we need to take a hard look at the global economic and social consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak. They foreshadow the global crises we will all face because of climate change. These crises will demand a global and coordinated response, with an unprecedented level of international cooperation.

If the outbreak of a single, comparatively mild virus in one part of China can rapidly lead to such dire global, social, and economic impacts, imagine how multiple, simultaneous climate change events – including outbreaks, deadly weather events and devastation in coastal cities – could devastate global economies, societies, and even the human habitability of our planet?

Imagine, for example, the human and economic devastation when cities like New York, Miami, Lagos, and Bangkok are literally under water.

The COVID-19 outbreak should be a wake-up call that the economic and social costs of climate change will likely be so catastrophic – potentially many times worse than what we’re currently witnessing – that as a nation and the community of nations, we can’t afford not to take massive measures to combat and mitigate the dangers.

For those who say we can’t afford to make the immense efforts necessary to combat climate change, think about what the loss of $10 trillion dollars in wealth, prompted by a single event, may mean to the global economy. Then multiply that many times over because of climate change.

Excerpted from: ‘The Coronavirus Is A Wake-Up Call For Climate Change’.