What effect will Coronavirus have on Climate Change?
As CoVid-19 sweeps the world, what does this mean for long term efforts to prevent the more long-term global issues facing humanity?
Like climate change.
Clearly, there is a need to deal with the issue at hand, and to ensure that we are all making every effort to flatten the curve of coronavirus while we can.
But as with all crises, there’s a danger that focusing excessively on the short term problems at hand, to the exclusion of all else, will cause a myopia in terms of the larger, more permanent issues that the world faces.
You lose the ability to see the wood, for the trees.
Some short term problems, in fact, are designed to cause exactly such poor sightedness.
Terrorism, for example, is the extreme actions of a few, designed to create enough theatre, emotion and fear to provoke large powerful nations into a reaction.
By reacting with force, the powerful nations not only create the conditions for extremists to thrive in the wreckage, but also spend time, money and political discourse on snuffing out these relatively small acts of political violence, in lieu of improving healthcare, coping with technological disruption, or dealing with climate change.
Clearly CoVid-19 is not causing disturbance by design.
It is not a biological weapon (despite the conspiratorial claims of a few idiots on the internet).
However, it does have the same potentially disruptive effect to long-term issues such as climate change.
Let’s assess the impact so far.
In the short term, emissions are down.
It’s likely that, this year, greenhouse gas emissions will be down overall, as the growing public health crisis grounds planes, squeezes international trade, slows the global economy, and prevents individuals from leaving their homes.
However, as with the rare instances when worldwide carbon pollution has dipped in the past, driven by economic shocks, diseases, and wars, emissions are likely to rise again as soon as the economy bounces back.
In the meantime, an economic crash combined with historically low oil prices could easily drain money and political will from climate change efforts.
On the positive side, longer-term investments in renewable energy might become more attractive.
Interestingly, however, China produces a huge share of the world’s solar panels, wind turbines, and lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles and grid storage projects, meaning that supply chains for these clean energy solutions will be disrupted as China goes into lockdown.
There’s a real danger that progress made so far is slowed or grinds to a halt.
Where does this all leave us?
As I said at the start, people will understandably become more focused in the short-term on their health, their immediate families and their jobs.
But the climate change issue will still be there once all of this ‘blows over’.
(I’m reminded at this point of Simon Pegg in Shaun of the Dead).
The chances are that dealing with climate change, and hitting targets, will be all the more challenging once the world is allowed to restart.
Meaning that our own actions become even more important.
Maybe you realise you like working from home, and that the commute is unnecessarily adding to emissions.
Maybe there will be a knock-on effect of fewer flights, as airlines struggle to keep themselves in business.
But let’s focus on what we can control.
The Stoic philosophy of 'you can't control what happens, but you can control your response' has never been more pertinent.
Your diet is one of the things that you can control.
And so, therefore, is your health (in the general immunity, all-round wellbeing sense).
The Healthy Planet Project is about improving your health, improving your body composition, and doing all of that in an environmentally sustainable way.
The next Free 14 Day Challenge (which is fully online, and requires no social contact), starts on Monday.
Sign up here
Share this with someone who might find it useful.