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Why don’t we react to the climate crisis in the same way as to a pandemic?

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The pandemic is a health crisis, and climate change is leading to a crisis of survival. Why don’t we react decisively to the climate crisis, as we do when it comes to contagious diseases?

Why is the climate crisis underrated?

It is more difficult to raise awareness of the impact of climate change because its consequences are generally felt sporadically, out of sync and in different geographical locations (such as fires, floods, etc.). In addition, some of the changes brought about by climate change take longer to manifest or are not so noticeable in one generation (species extinction, declining crop yields, rising sea and ocean levels, etc.).

Also, due to sporadic manifestations of the negative consequences of climate change, in most cases, only the outcomes of such events are remedied, while a systematic approach to “treating” the causes of these phenomena is rarely utilized. This creates a false perception that we are capable of solving problems, simultaneously forgetting their causes.

All in all, human nature compels us to react to the imminent danger only, to what is threatening us at a given moment. Only then we are ready to swiftly change our lifestyles and our habits.

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The essential difference between the pandemic and environmental crisis is in establishing the connection between cause and effect

Although there are many similarities, there is a fundamental difference between the two crises. The coronavirus is present and can be felt on a daily basis. Therefore, in the absence of a prompt reaction, the consequences are reflected in the loss of a large number of human lives over a short period of time.

On the other hand, dealing with the consequences of climate change requires broader systemic action, which could take years to be fully implemented. This is why it is difficult to feel compelled to react quickly and efficiently.

Although climate change also contributes to the increase in mortality, general public fails to make a direct connection between death and greenhouse gas emissions or the consequences of their excessive accumulation in the atmosphere. On the other hand, in infectious diseases, the connection between cause (a virus) and consequence (disease, death) is much more obvious, therefore simpler to understand and accept.

However, we should be aware that climate change and other environmental problems endanger human health on a daily basis, and an increasingly intense negative impact is predicted. Therefore, it is necessary to learn the lessons from the current crisis as soon as possible and to take action.

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[…] In the previous article, I tried to explain why there is a different reaction to the climate crisis compared to the reaction to a pandemic. Related to that, I am of the opinion that there are at least 10 lessons that we could learn from this health crisis and that we can start applying today in the fight against climate change. […]