Is there a link between the coronavirus crisis and the climate crisis and what is that link? This question has occupied me recently and I have been looking for answers. One thing, which immediately comes to mind is that both these crises reveal a great reluctance of governments to deal with them. It seems not convenient, economically not sound and politically risky to deal with them. The immediate reaction is to kick it into the long grass. This has happened with climate change as well as with Covid-19. However, the reality forces us to engage with it, and, as has been proven, the longer we wait the dearer the consequences are. In regard to Covid it meant the unnecessary loss of thousands of lives.
The UK government, for instance, should have reacted weeks before they started to take the crisis somewhat seriously. So much valuable time has been lost, although the examples of China, Italy, France and Germany were all clearly in sight. At that time the UK government prided itself of having the best and world leading experts to advise them. They didn’t need to be told by those Europeans they had just rejected in their Brexit experiment. This island, and one could even say this empire glory mentality, does not fare well in a worldwide epidemic which knows no borders, Brexit or not.
I remember a comment in relation to one of my tweets addressing the balance between the economic argument and the life and health of the population, the very same population which was hailed as ‘the will of the people’ who seemingly delivered us from the rule makers of Europe just some months earlier. The tweet defended the Prime Minister and his indecision and dithering by evoking images of otherwise economic collapse, leftie ideology and the failed Utopia of Venezuela. I wondered what this had to do with a pandemic which knows no borders, no political left or right, and certainly no utopia .
Now the tone has changed. The same restrictions are enacted has we have seen weeks earlier in Europe and especially in Italy.
In October 2016 the UK government ran a national pandemic flu exercise with the codename ‘Exercise Cygnus’. It is astonishing to see how clearly scientists had predicted the outbreak of a viral pandemic, however, the government did not act on such advise nor did it make any contingency preparations, especially in a climate where the NHS had been systematically run down, neglected and starved of cash, equipment and manpower, for a decade.
The question therefore arises, why do governments and politicians not act on the good advice of scientists, the same scientists who warn governments to take the climate breakdown seriously. Why is there such a reluctance to act and why is there always business as usual. These are the real questions that need answering. Why are governments not the protectors of the people but the protectors of the polluters such as the fossile fuel lobby and the pharmaceutical complex. Who’s interests are they defending?
Here is an interesting take. Why not take the opportunity when handing out support packages to businesses and large corporations to make those handouts dependent on meeting the Paris climate goals? The idea is, why should the public support large corporations if these very same corporations don’t give something back to the people in terms of climate change mitigation and adaptation?
Here is an interesting conversation. Today it is reported that the EU has agreed a massive procurement exercise for face masks and protective equipment for its frontline staff in hospitals and the social service sector. This is backed up by 500 million people. The UK government have been invited to be part of this procurement but they have declined. Why is this isolationist Brexit ideology more important than the life of people and especially our frontline services? The coronavirus does not respect any borders nor does it respect Brexit. Surely, in such an unprecedented worldwide emergency individual countries should forget their differences and work together for the common good. A government who cannot do so is not worth the trust of its people.
The following tweet links to an article entitled ‘(How) Coronavirus is a Small Taste of the Dystopian Future’ or in other words, compared to the imminent climate breakdown Covid-19 appears just like a dress rehearsal.
Below is an interview with Alexandra Knight from Global Climate Change Advert. Alexandra shares her insights and experiences of the Covid-19 lockdown.
The following is an interview with Kavita Ashok, an environmental activist and campaigner from New Delhi. Kavita, who is coming from the glamour of a life as a model, runs her own environmental charity, Tree of Life.
This is an interview with John Coster from the Documentary Media Centre in Leicester. The focus of the discussion is on how can we engage and encourage young people to engage with the narrative surrounding climate change and climate breakdown.