It has taken climate change 30 years to get half of the publicity COVID-19 is currently getting. With climate change being one of the biggest challenges our generation will face, why is it not given the same attention?
The first recorded case of COVID-19 was in late December 2019 in Wuhan, China. It has since spread around the world in a matter of three and a half months, causing warranted mass panic and countries being forced into lockdown for the sake of public health.
Meanwhile, over the last 30 years, the environmental movement has tried its best to grab people’s attention. People have fought to get laws in place, be recognised by governments, companies and deniers. Despite all this, many are still not listening to climate scientists when asked to change their ways immediately. There have been concerns that people are slow to change seeing as climate change will eventually affect everyday life too.
For many, isolation means turning to social media to check up on friends and loved ones. Because of increased traffic, there have been more posts on major social media accounts that read: Climate Change needs to hire Corona Virus’s Publicist. Many of these posts’ intentions were likely in good humour, attempting to make light of the global situation in regards to the coronavirus, while simultaneously taking into account the need to look at the global climate crisis.
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As the media has called this a global crisis and is consistently using urgent language in the reporting, there has been an immediate change in people’s behaviour. Most people don’t bat an eyelid before voluntarily self-isolating and making themselves very aware of the symptoms of the disease. Undoubtedly, this is the right thing to do. At the time of publishing, there have been 1,095,208 diagnosed cases and 58,795 deaths.
On the other hand, it is nearly impossible to directly link deaths to the climate crisis. This is because, unlike a virus, there are many different ways deaths can be linked to the climate crisis. Some of these include deaths due to stronger natural disasters, pollution and extreme weather. The WHO also cites that risks in climate change “are concentrated in the poorest populations, who have contributed the least to the problem of greenhouse gases”.
At the end of the day, we as a planet need to be paying more attention to the climate crisis because it will have a negative impact on all of our lives. The biggest lesson climate change can take from COVID-19’s publicity would be the urgency in the matter. While climate change is not directly upon us the way coronavirus is, it is approaching rapidly and will have a lasting impact on all of us.
In this time of uncertainty, the most important thing is to not lose sight of the environmental protection progress we’ve made, and to remember to take care of our loved ones, including the earth and future generations. While COVID-19 is worrying and creating uncertainty for everyone, it’s doubtful that this is the end of the world. Climate change, on the other hand, might just be.