We're alone in this together - lessons from a crisis
But what can we learn from this crisis for the crisis of a changing climate?
Our lives were flipped upside down by the global pandemic evolving over the last weeks, with our concert, tour and festival plans coming to a halt.
No doubt, the ongoing rapid spread of Covid-19 is a serious threat and the responses taken are important and pressing. We need to stay home, wash our hands and practice social distancing for a while, in order to #flattenthecurve
Though less visible these days but still ongoing and necessary is the conversation about our changing climate. I’m wondering which lessons we might take away from this pandemic, that could help us in tackling the climate crisis we are facing. Could this be a turning point?
What are the differences between the two crises?
The current global pandemic poses an immediate and unprecedented threat with constant 24/7 media coverage of ongoing quarantines and death tolls. While the threat of climate change has been slowly building over the decades, so has the conversation about it. The topic rarely makes the headlines and yet it is as urgent as never before.
Cause and effect
The human to human spread of the virus poses a direct link between cause and effect. Accordingly, we can take direct measures to mitigate the outbreak. Climate change, on the other hand, is far more complex and indirect, which makes it harder to securely link its consequences and is therefore more vulnerable to doubt.
Both the coronavirus and climate change cause a serious threat to the global community. We’ve also seen that both crises tend to get downplayed and often tackled with too little measures at first. Tackling either issue is capable of disrupting our lifestyles in a number of ways, some of which are very similar (eg. pressure on supply chains). Lastly, it becomes obvious again, that the weakest in our society are the ones hit hardest by the consequences of a global crisis.
Lessons from a crisis
I feel like this crisis burst a bubble of false safety. It shows us how closely interconnected we are and makes clear that facing a “great human challenge” needs joint forces. It also shows us how vulnerable we are to natural threats like a pandemic or the consequences of a changing climate. Dropping air pollution all over Europe due to lockdowns, as seen in this ESA report, shows that there is a clear link between economic growth and emission rates. The needed rapid reduction of such is a collective responsibility of the global community. We can see now that a collective large-scale structural change is feasible but it also makes it obvious that degrowth and reductions have to be accompanied by strong safety nets to support the most vulnerable in our system.
“This is how it turns out: Change begins as a changed pattern of expectations, perceptions and world connections. Sometimes it is precisely the break with routines, the familiar, that releases our sense of the future again. The idea and certainty that everything could be completely different — and even better.” - Matthias Horx
A brighter outlook
In many ways, the corona crisis has shown us a path forward.
Perhaps, we can source a sense of urgency from this crisis and combine it with a newly gained confidence, that radical change is possible.
A stronger sense of connection can result in better global cooperation and social solidarity. The corona crisis reminds us that we are all in this together, so we can use this time to change our perception of the climate crisis we are facing. A judicious global response to climate change yields countless benefits; clean air only being one of them.
Both the coronavirus and the climate crisis require us to slow down, listen to scientific advice, cooperate on a large scale to tackle a common problem and in many cases - get creative.
This crisis offers us a new chance to shape a greener and more sustainable world in the longrun.
Speaking of getting creative
To sweeten your time at home a little, why not tune in to one of the Milky Chance Acoustic Stay home Sessions?
Check out these articles by The Guardian, DW, EarthDay and Phys.org
Title picture © Anthony Molina