Coronavirus vs climate change: why are we acting against Covid-19 and not against global warming?

We are living through two major crises simultaneously – climate change and coronavirus. Climate change is one of the factors responsible for the rise in epidemics, their geographical expansion, and their aggravated impact. This is due to a more favourable environment for pathogens and their proliferation, as well as for vectors of infectious diseases (such as mosquitoes).

Globalisation and the increase in travel make international cooperation in the fight against epidemics and the training of health workers to tackle new infectious risks, necessary. The mobilization is occurring in waves. The amazing political mobilization in 2015 with the Paris Climate Agreement has slightly subsided, although a new wave has been ushered in by the youth with Greta Thunberg. While the mobilization of youth for the climate has raised the awareness in parents, grandparents and even politicians in Europe, Africa, and the United States, we realise that the measures that have been taken against climate change are not as radical as those taken for coronavirus.

Covid-19 is a zoonosis, a disease caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites, that is transmissible from animals to humans. Its spread has been enabled by our way of life. The extension of the human habitat, deforestation, and artificialisation of the soil are causing more and more interactions between the human species and the wild world. In fact, in 2016, the United Nations Environment Programme had concluded that there will be a sharp increase in zoonoses.

The coronavirus pandemic is mobilising governments around the world. They are on the front line and putting emergency measures in place with varying degrees of urgency. Everyone is at home, washing their hands, cancelling dinners and drinks with friends. Some people have concluded that we have to rush to get our hands on pulp or toilet paper.

This health crisis we are currently facing is proof that governments around the world are able to act quickly, in a coordinated manner and with the support of their people. The joint action has been facilitated by the fact that the pandemic is easy to apprehend and visualize unlike the nature of climate change. We fail to clearly understand the repercussions of global warming and climate change, which is why we don’t feel directly concerned, and thereby, remain unafraid. 

Also, Covid-19 pushes us to act together now, because we are seeing the immediate consequences. Regarding climate change, however, we seem unequipped to take decisions to plan for the future. The climate crisis calls for action today for future benefits, which we may not even know about, unlike the virus, on which our immediate actions can have an impact on the same day.

In any case, both crises will have an impact on the world economy and will result in the deaths of many people. While the list of coronavirus victims is updated and scrutinized daily, the list of climate change victims goes unnoticed, although it could prove to be much longer. Air pollution alone, for example, kills nearly seven million people worldwide every year – and that’s happening as we speak.

Professor Didier Raoult a prominent infectious disease expert, ran a clinical trial in France to test a derivative of chloroquine called hydroxychloroquine on a few dozen patients with Covid-19. He explained in an interview in January that we must be clear about infectious diseases because these are ecosystem diseases and ecological diseases which are transmitted because of our lifestyles in the form of imports. 

This health crisis is very much linked to the ecological crisis. It leads us to reflect on our over-consumption, our dependence on international markets, the interpenetration of our economies, etc. The coronavirus crisis is very closely linked to the ecological crisis and we can no longer live as we did before, because the world will be on its knees and we will have to recover by turning this crisis into an opportunity to promote sustainable development of our societies.

Solutions exist. We must be open-minded enough to look at them and adapt our economic models to this new page, which could be exciting once we know how to grasp it. A new era is dawning, forcing us to rethink the way we work by opening ourselves up to responsibility, collaboration, and partnerships at different scales – states, companies, citizens.

At Ergapolis, we care about the health of the planet as well as its inhabitants. If you have any questions regarding the climate change and coronavirus crises and how we can plan for a more sustainable future, do get in touch

You can also visit our website to learn more about what we do. 

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