The United Nation urges us that we need to – fight climate change like coronavirus – with the same resolve and determination we are showing in the fight against this imminent threat the new coronavirus. Unfortunately, although both COVID-19 and climate change are an existential threat to humanity, it seems that we are reacting slowly to the latter. This might be because of a time-span factor.
While the coronavirus is an imminent threat that has presented itself to us in full force in a short time-span of a few months requesting us to act quickly. Although climate change is also an imminent threat, it does not present itself in full force immediately as it spans itself in years and decades. Because of this, we might act more slowly and passively. The only problem is that by the time climate change entirely unfolds itself into an immediate threat, it will be too late to do something to reverse it. So now is the time to act.
Flattening the Curve on Climate Change
The UN’s World Meteorological Organization urges us that it is time to flatten the curve on climate change as well, as its impact on the planet has reached a crescendo in the past five years which were the hottest on record till now.
The World Meteorological Organization on its 50th anniversary of Earth Day — an annual event to demonstrate support for environmental protection said that this trend is expected to continue.
Earth Day celebrates 50th anniversary
It said that Carbon dioxide levels measured at one key global observing station are about 26 per cent higher than in 1970, with the average global temperature increasing by 0.86 degrees Celsius in that same time-span. The World Meteorological Organization pointed out that current temperatures are 1.1 Celsius warmer than the pre-industrial era.
The agency said the COVID-19 outbreak was making the socioeconomic impacts of climate change more evident. For example; tropical storms have increased in intensity over the years, making it harder to keep people safe from such cyclones.
However, the World Meteorological Organization’s climate monitoring programme has pointed out that; as a result of the current industrial downturn caused by the pandemic it has recorded a marked reduction in key pollutants and improvements in air quality.
The agency estimates that there will be about a six per cent drop in carbon emissions this year because of the lack of emissions we are experiencing right now from transportation and industrial energy production, the Secretary-General Petteri Taalas commented.
But he also pointed out the fact that the drop would be a temporary and the most likely it will go back to normal next year when we resume our usual activity. He added that this should not be so as we need to tackle climate change with unprecedented urgency. Failure to do so could threaten people’s wellbeing, ecosystems and economies “for centuries” to come.
Earth Day Climate Action Highlights
Secretary-General Petteri Taalas added that “We need to flatten both the pandemic and climate change curves”. He continued “We need to show the same determination and unity against climate change as against COVID-19,” calling for action in the short-term and “for many generations ahead”.
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg embraced such statements and echoed the same sentiment’s during a talk in Stockholm, stressing the need to handle “two crises at once”.
Greta Thunberg urged that climate change “is an immediate threat, even if it may not be as immediate as the coronavirus it will still impact ourselves and especially other people in other parts of the world”.
She argued that we need to tackle climate change with the same urgency of the COVID-19 now; otherwise, it will sneak up on us, during a talk organised by the Nobel Prize Museum.
Greta Thunberg in conversation with Johan Rockström streamed from the Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm
Time to act on Climate Change
The World Meteorological Organization urged that with carbon dioxide concentrations at key reporting stations being at record levels. It is adamant that any post-coronavirus recovery stimulus packages that help grow the economy must be focused on doing so in a much greener way.
We need to act counter to previous economic crises which have often been followed by a “recovery”, associated with much higher increases in emission than before the downturn brought by the crisis.
We need to act now as the opportunity presents itself to us.
Nullis, C. (2020, April 22). Earth day highlights climate action. Retrieved from World Meteorological Organisation: https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/earth-day-highlights-climate-action