Coronavirus Magnifies Inadequate Response To The Climate Crisis
Updated: Aug 7, 2020
When you are a mask away from contracting or spreading a deadly illness to the ones you love, or those in your local community, putting a mask on is more often than not an effortless choice.
In fact, when faced personally with an immediate threat to our health, we have shown that we will alter much of our lifestyle to ensure the safety of ourselves and others. Whether it be keeping 1.5 metres distance, or remaining home for weeks on end. We do what it takes.
Coronavirus has proven that when an issue poses an immediate threat, frequently our first instinct is to take whatever action necessary to reduce harmful outcomes.
Through this pandemic, we have seen the Australian Government demonstrate their ability to act promptly when faced with an issue in dire need of attention. Extreme measures have been taken in an attempt to "flatten the curve".
So why aren't our politicians being held accountable for their inability to do this when it comes to the climate crisis? Why not "flatten the curve" of emissions, as scientists have been demanding for years?
Exacerbated by record breaking drought, dry fuels and soils, and record breaking heat, we have already seen direct impacts of climate change during the disastrous 2019-2020 bushfire season. That burned over 18 million hectares of land and over 2,800 homes. Like the bush fires COVID-19 is merely a symptom of the climate crisis.
Many have also made direct links between climate change and the rate of communicable diseases globally. The World Bank has stated "changing weather patterns increase the risk of infectious diseases around the world", and that "air pollution could help viruses become airborne and more deadly".
As New York University climate economist Gernot Wagner described it, the coronavirus pandemic is like "climate change at warp speed. What takes decades and centuries for the climate takes days or weeks for a contagious disease".
School strike for climate change, Melbourne
It is clearer now more than ever that the Australian Government has the capacity to support job losses and major hits to the economy. Whether through the $17.6 billion economic support package, the $2.4 billion health care package or securing face masks, it's plain to see that the government is capable of supporting our population in times of need.
A phased approach has been taken throughout this pandemic, to allow people time to transition and diversify. A similar process could be implemented in regards to fossil fuel dependent companies and the mining industry, to guarantee community support. Take the DeGrussa Copper-Gold Mine, in Western Australia. Who, although it may only be a minor step, have created the largest integrated off-grid solar battery storage facility in Australia. Reducing their carbon emissions by 15% each year.
The death toll and rate of suffering as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic can be seen as a prediction of our fate if we do not take more action against the climate emergency immediately.
There is no longer room to imagine that we are above the climate crisis. We have battled through the bush fires and now are attempting to contain a deadly disease that's spread is linked to climate change. It's happening, it's here and our government is not acting as effectively as they should be in response.
We as the youth of today are the ones leading the change. Each time we demand action on the climate crisis we are making a difference. We must continue to band together to show our leaders that we will not rest until they act to save this planet and it's inhabitants for generations to come.