For many of us, right now is a strange time to live in. A few weeks ago, we were working, going to school, or just overall carrying on with our lives as normal. As COVID-19 has taken the world by storm we are left dealing with an unprecedented pandemic. Strategies like social distancing are being used to help flatten the curve and prevent overwhelming hospitals. Right now, the world is trying to do as much as it can to solve this problem that affects us all.
Seeing all of this effort put towards solving a problem that affects everyone has made me realize one big thing: COVID-19 and climate change are not too different. Whether it relates to those in charge of making decisions, the scope, or simply the results we see from the action, these two problems have a lot in common.
We’ve seen in the last few months a number of examples of how we as humans are impacting the world. COVID-19 resulted in China’s greenhouse gasses dropping by 25%, the Venice Canals being clear again with wildlife returning, and Germany being able to reach their 2030 energy goals early. All of these show that our unprecedented reduction of pollution, albeit related to the virus, can have drastic changes on our environment.
There is one big difference between these two issues, however. COVID-19 is short-term issue, climate change is a long-term and much larger problem. We have companies pumping pollution into the environment like its nothing, destroying the Amazon Rainforest, and a number of climate refugees who have been displaced due to recent climate changes. All of these are occurring without much inclination of ceasing. The lack of efforts to solve these issues shows how many minds around the world operate on the “me me me” mindset. People don’t seem to care about climate change because, as of right now, they are not the ones who are affected by it. COVID-19 has incited action among people around the globe because it is an immediate threat to their health and livelihood. When people are not being directly affected by climate change, the lack of effort to fix it explains itself.
Leaders are saying that once the virus passes that society will go back to “business as usual” or the way things were before. The problem is, things can’t go back to how they were before. We’ve seen now that 1) we can reduce emissions in a reasonable amount of time and it will benefit the environment, 2) some of our essential workers and businesses are some of the worst paid, 3) living wages and health care for all have a much higher importance than politicians want us to think. Overall, we have the opportunity to change how see business, people, and the environment for the better. We are at a turning point in society where we need to take charge, demand change, and create a world that we can all live in more equally.