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Climate vs Covid

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The response to Covid (massive instantaneous rearrangement of everything) compared to that for climate change (essentially nothing) is stark but Covid is minor in comparison to the coming effects of climate change. Can we learn lessons in how to engage society to make the changes needed for climate change?

4
 Timmd 19 May 2020
In reply to MG: Hopefully! It probably comes down to convincing people that any freedoms or luxuries which may be (felt to be) lost, are outweighed by the grimness of not addressing climate change, in terms of food scarcity, changing weather patterns causing more deaths, and there being more competition for land and sources of fresh water, and societal pressures which result from people migrating from the places most affected. That's key to everything else which needs to happen.

Unfortunately there's doofuses like Nigel Farage who talk darkly about the greens and environmentalists wanting to restrict our freedoms and liberties. 

Post edited at 19:22
2
 Eric9Points 19 May 2020
In reply to MG:

Start killing elderly people and not stop until we reach carbon neutrality?

2
 Clint86 19 May 2020
In reply to MG:

Unfortunately everyone seems keen to get out to Benidorm again as soon as possible.

There were some great pics on the news tonight in China, India and Paris which showed the contrasting clarity of air pre/post Corvid19. Why would we want to go back to the bad old days?  

In reply to Eric9Points:

That could be one lesson

In reply to MG:

Make folk aware of the link between eating meat (on the whole one of the worst things for the eco) and most pandemics. 

13
 Blunderbuss 19 May 2020
In reply to Clint86:

> Unfortunately everyone seems keen to get out to Benidorm again as soon as possible.

> There were some great pics on the news tonight in China, India and Paris which showed the contrasting clarity of air pre/post Corvid19. Why would we want to go back to the bad old days?  

Carbon emissions have dropped due to economic activity dropping off a cliff for 2 months.....I dont think its sustainable unless you fancy living in cave in a couple of years. 

3
 krikoman 19 May 2020
In reply to MG:

> The response to Covid (massive instantaneous rearrangement of everything) compared to that for climate change (essentially nothing) is stark but Covid is minor in comparison to the coming effects of climate change. Can we learn lessons in how to engage society to make the changes needed for climate change?


Probably not, we've already got people driving individually to crags to climb.

In about six more weeks we'll be back to normal, not giving a toss.

I said about seven weeks ago, CV-19 is nothing to climate change, and we won't be able to stay indoors for a month or two, to fix it.

1
 Eric9Points 19 May 2020
In reply to Blunderbuss:

Quite.

I can't see how carbon emissions won't actually be slightly higher when we all get back to work.

On the other I'm sure people appreciate the clean air and peace and quiet and so in the longer term people may be more eager to decarbonise society.

Of course it's what happens in India and China that will make a big difference.

In reply to Clint86:

> There were some great pics on the news tonight in China, India and Paris which showed the contrasting clarity of air pre/post Corvid19. Why would we want to go back to the bad old days?  

Because everyone wants to go on holiday. Climbers want to drive from London to Scotland to climb, football fans want to follow their team round the country. 

If we stop people traveling for leisure people will be up in arms about the draconian measures in place. After a few weeks of a temporary lockdown lots of people are whinging about their freedoms being eroded, imagine if it were for ever or at least until carbon free travel arrives. 

1
 Timmd 19 May 2020
In reply to Dax H: There needs to be better (possibly state and taxpayer funded) public transport it seems to me. Given the alternative, which is climate change which affects our quality of life in fundamental ways, keeping in mind that overall it's cheaper for society to address climate change than to adapt to it left unchecked, paying for a cheaper public transport network at the point of use like is done with the NHS could seem like a good idea? It could aid social mobility regarding job opportunities too, which may help the economy because of a wider range of talents for each job being available.

Post edited at 20:19
 Jezz0r 19 May 2020
In reply to MG:

On the other hand, we've had a huge change to everyone's daily life for just a couple of months, massively reducing carbon emissions, but have made basically no difference to the outlook for the climate, and everyone I know is already sick of lockdown.

 nufkin 19 May 2020
In reply to Jezz0r:

>  we've had a huge change to everyone's daily life for just a couple of months, massively reducing carbon emissions, but have made basically no difference to the outlook for the climate, and everyone I know is already sick of lockdown.

I suppose that's a key difference - the anti-viral measures could be so drastic because they are temporary (or at least were envisioned thusly at the time they were imposed). Similar climate-saving action would have to be long-term. People could get used to no international travel/one child maximum/compulsory veganism etc, but it doesn't seem likely that they - we - will, even as it becomes more necessary the longer it's skirted around

In reply to Timmd:

> There needs to be better (possibly state and taxpayer funded) public transport it seems to me. 

100% agree, in Leeds there are 2 different bus companies, my last apprentice had to use both to get to work (5 miles) so that meant 2 different day riders.

Then there is the time taken, the Mrs got a job 15 minutes drive away but it took over 1 hour each way on the bus, well 2 busses, one to Leeds center followed by a walk across the center they a wait for the bus to Pudsey.

When I was an apprentice £22 got you a pass for both the bus and train, I could get from Leeds to Ilkley or Harrogate going north, all the way to the coast going east and west as far as Huddersfield. 

 Timmd 19 May 2020
In reply to nufkin:

> I suppose that's a key difference - the anti-viral measures could be so drastic because they are temporary (or at least were envisioned thusly at the time they were imposed). Similar climate-saving action would have to be long-term. People could get used to no international travel/one child maximum/compulsory veganism etc, but it doesn't seem likely that they - we - will, even as it becomes more necessary the longer it's skirted around

With lab grown meat being something which is inevitable, as far as meat goes people won't have to be vegan. I guess it's possible that cheese and cream and milk might be generated from cultures too, but I don't know anything about that. It could be that only one flight (or 2) a year would be possible too. It's not quite as stark as you put it.

Edit: Speaking for myself I've switched to wild muntjac deer from the UK as my only meat source, for environmental and welfare reasons (it's carbon neutral like other wild animals other than from being delivered to my door etc, and harms woodland biodiversity before it's hunted and shot dead), but I appreciate that likely isn't a solution for the whole country.

Post edited at 23:01
In reply to MG:

Covid isn't minor in comparison to climate change.  Catch Covid tomorrow and you could be in ICU in 10 days and dead in two weeks or recovered with a long term condition which limits you for the rest of your life.   Climate change extremely unlikely to kill you at all in the UK.  

I have a bad feeling that right now we are experiencing the exact same emotions and responses as the US did after the first peak of the 1918/19 flu epidemic.   It didn't end well because there is still a virus out there that given the right conditions can double the number of infections every three days.   UK politicians are back to 'linear thinking' in the face of something that gets worse exponentially.

The other scary thing I read today was the relative efficiency of sneezing at spreading virus particles.   Sneezes have huge viral load and the expelled droplets have a lot more energy and travel much further.   I wonder if UK government has considered that it's just about to be hay fever seasons where lots of people will be sneezing,  2m social distancing is useless against sneezes.  The pictures in this document of who got infected from a carrier in a large open plan office are instructive.

https://www.erinbromage.com/post/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them

Having said that I think they really need to be figuring out ways to get benefit from this crisis and ways of injecting huge amounts of money into the economy to create demand.  The absolute worst thing is to play this by the normal rules and force everyone to focus on paying off debt and hoard cash while demand drains to nothing and the productive economy shuts down and skills are lost.   Things like transition to electric vehicles, space programs, medical research should all get gigantic funding so there are new opportunities for business to chase, skilled people stay occupied and there are alternative options for people in industries which are going to shrink long term e.g. travel, hospitality, retail.

2
 EddieA 20 May 2020
In reply to Clint86:.

> There were some great pics on the news tonight in China, India and Paris which showed the contrasting clarity of air pre/post Corvid19. 

And Everest visible from Kathmandu for the first time in years/decades (depending on which report you read)

https://www.nepalitimes.com/banner/when-the-air-is-clean/

 EddieA 20 May 2020
In reply to Blunderbuss:

> Carbon emissions have dropped due to economic activity dropping off a cliff for 2 months.....I dont think its sustainable unless you fancy living in cave in a couple of years. 

Yes, absolutely - and the lead author of the study  behind these news stories on carbon emissions drops (Corinne Le Quene) said pretty much the same thing you did:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/19/lockdowns-trigger-dramatic-fall-global-carbon-emissions

She also said that the relatively small drop in emissions during shutdown showed that individual behaviour change could only take you so far on the road to carbon neutrality.  Structural change - how society is organized, how we produce and consume energy - need to be tackled if we want to stabilize emissions and therefore climate.   That would require some far-sighted policy and a citizenry willing to vote for it.  The Green New Deal pushed by some in the Democratic party in the US is an example.  China's 'Ecological Civilization' initiative in another (but the Chinese don't get to vote for any alternative...). The tools and mechanisms for decarbonization are mostly there waiting to be used; we're probably better prepared, technologically, and in terms of having well-worked out regulatory and economic policy options, than we are for dealing with Covid. But it's a much bigger job to apply them and it has very different politics (see below)..

Cutting down on travel, buying less disposable stuff, eating less meat and so on all cumulatively help and don't involve having to live in a cave, so do whichever of them you feel able and willing to do but don't beat yourself or others up about a trip to Benidorm or feel guilty because you fancy a Sunday roast. But it shouldn't be down just to individuals voluntarily making sacrifices for the common good.

Although it might not seem so initially, you'll achieve more by supporting politicians willing to take some bold and far-sighted decisions for the long-term public good. When those people don't yet exist, activism is an entry point.   Remember when access to uplands and the right to roam was regarded as radical politics? Or even further back, women's right to vote?  Activism moves politicians into taking action.  You may find Extinction Rebellion annoying, but people probably found the Kinder Scout mass trespassers or the suffragettes annoying at the time  - and yet we are thankful for their efforts now - unless you are the mysogenist owner of a grouse moor.

To the OP - its a good question and one I've seen debated in quite a lot of online media. A couple of my former colleagues, who are political scientists/economists, wrote this for Forbes Magazine. It's one of the shorter articles that try to take on your complicated question. It confirms and expands on some of what has been debated here

https://www.forbes.com/sites/prakashdolsak/2020/03/15/heres-why-coronavirus-and-climate-change-are-different-sorts-of-policy-problems/#3c91b0439e6f  

Hope everyone is well and that you get to go out climbing soon.  

 Tom V 20 May 2020
In reply to Clint86:

> Unfortunately everyone seems keen to get out to Benidorm again as soon as possible.

It will be interesting to see whether the numbers of UK climbers on Kalymnos is reduced when things get back to "normal" again.

In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> Covid isn't minor in comparison to climate change. 

Which will kill more people in Africa this year? Starvation, malaria or covid?

In the West covid has hit us, so we've got very excited about it. Climate change is currently hitting folk elsewhere in the world and the West is causing it, out of sight out of mind. 

Ps. And before you say malaria isn't climate change. Climate change is expanding the habit of the malaria carrying mosquitos. 

Post edited at 08:20
1
 Richard Horn 20 May 2020
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> Covid isn't minor in comparison to climate change. 

In 20 or 30 years time people will struggle to remember Covid, whereas climate change will be playing out in the lives of our children and the next generation. It may make history lessons but to be honest I was pretty ignorant of the Spanish Flu pandemic 3 months ago so I wouldnt hold my breath. There are a whole host of ways you/one could die tomorrow, and that maybe of importance to the individual but it doesnt make any of them as important, or even on the same scale as climate change which is going to impact both the entire natural world as well as the human population going forwards.

In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> Covid isn't minor in comparison to climate change.  Catch Covid tomorrow and you could be in ICU in 10 days and dead in two weeks or recovered with a long term condition which limits you for the rest of your life.   

You could  but it's very unlikely for most people.  If you are under 50, climate change is definitely going to have major effects on you later in life, and it will and already is killing more people than Covid ever will.  Your risk assessment is way off. 

That said, you have also highlighted the nub of the problem - humans are acutely responsive to immediate personal risk but very bad as reacting to more distant societal risk.  The challenge for reacting to climate change is to make it relevant to individuals on a less than 5 year horizon.

 Jezz0r 20 May 2020
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> Covid isn't minor in comparison to climate change. 

Yes it is. But that's not a statement about Covid-19 being insignificant, of course it's a huge problem that the world needs to tackle as effectively as possible, which doesn't seem to be happening right now.

Covid-19 is minor in comparison to climate change because the latter right now seems likely to destroy most of the ecosystems of the world and probably kill a decent chunk of the world's population. I think the only comparable threat to the world in the last century has been nuclear war, and that was a hypothetical whereas climate change will happen unless we make a major change in our behaviour right now.

 cb294 20 May 2020
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

But nevertheless climate change effects caused more excess deaths worldwide than CV19 over the relevant time scale.

Also, the current pandemic will not end civilization as we know it even if we let it run unchecked (you could invent "ebeasles" that would set us back like a zombie apocaplyse), quite the opposite is true for climate change.

In that sense, yes, CV19 is just a mere blip.

CB

 kaiser 20 May 2020
In reply to MG:

Public transport use is likely to drop a lot - and for a long time - due to a) SD restrictions and b) people's fear.   

Some previous users will cycle, most will drive.   That won't be good

 MargieB 20 May 2020
In reply to Timmd:

The idea of private public funding of buses occurs in the highlands as regards the necessary but less lucrative routes. The caveat here as regards public funding is that companies need to compete to get the contracts , tendering- otherwise a monopoly like stagecoach would be able, despite their wealth as a company, ask whatever they like of us the taxpayer, possible unreasonably. The existence of two major bus companies in Inverness drives this process to the advantage of reasonableness to some extent of public money support. If I remember in Preston there is  a bus  monopoly for example and that is awkward in a tendering process.

Post edited at 09:56
In reply to kaiser:

> Public transport use is likely to drop a lot - and for a long time - due to a) SD restrictions and b) people's fear.  Some previous users will cycle, most will drive.   That won't be good <

Completely agree. I have no car and often rely on public transport eg to Dorset/ Skye from London. Even for those of us happy to take a slight risk it is likely that we shall often have to pay more (SD =less passengers), have to reserve seats in advance for long distance travel, and possibly have less services due to less users, and diversion of public subsidies to health etc. An extra worry in the short term is that drivers may be more wary of giving lifts to hitch hikers (lifts are often necessary for local travel  after reaching one's primary destination).

My vision of reduction in car ownership, a greatly expanded national bus network (the necessary roads are already in place), and automated cars plus local buses at hubs is seeming even more like a pipedream.

> Carbon emissions have dropped due to economic activity dropping off a cliff for 2 months.....I dont think its sustainable unless you fancy living in cave in a couple of years. 

Actually, that isn't right. CO2 is measured at Mauna Loa, and there has been no reduction in CO2.

It's counter intuitive and no one understands why this is the case but CO2 is still increasing in a straight line, despite the shut-down.

https://www.co2.earth/daily-co2

Pan Ron 20 May 2020
In reply to MG:

Similar issues perhaps?  People focussed on the immediate risks and are less concerned about the less tangible future ones.  Likewise with covid19 - double the chance of death (from a very low baseline) has people's immediate attention while potentially worse, or longer-lasting harms, resulting from economic shutdown in years to come are largely ignored.

Nothing was stopping anyone prior to now from getting their annual carbon footprint in order by shaving off the unsustainable 75%.  But most seem to prefer to make minor and personally appealing adjustments, then preach about others failing to do so the same. 

A lesson relearnt might turn out to the negative impacts of economic shocks on personal and environmental wellbeing.

 Clint86 20 May 2020
In reply to Blunderbuss:

There's is a long, long list of things that we could do without that wouldn't affect our quality of life that are all part of 'economic activity'.  

In reply to MG:

There are too many of us on the planet to stop climate change, no matter what we in the west have realised about the consequences, there are millions of people in the world aspiring to our standard of living. As for the token veggie who posted further up, what is your source i.e peer reviewed papers, for such a claim? I think anything we do is a band aid at best. Massive population reduction and a shift to zero emissions energy (and i mean not selling/buying/offsetting co2 allowances) in order to do really stand a chance is what is required. Which will never happen. 

Post edited at 09:08

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