When the world was struck by novel coronavirus, the shock was higher than the fear factor. Untouched by any major calamity for almost a century, our civilization became comfortable with the flawed ways that kept us going. Today, when 747,500 lives have been lost and economic hardships along with a host of related problems are surging, the global leaders have paused to introspect. Restoring ecological balance has emerged as an issue of paramount importance in the current context.
Climate change might appear to be a distant problem amid the current challenges but in actuality the issue is rather serous and urgent. Climate change can bring about a crisis far worse than this pandemic in a few decades from now. Reduction in worldwide economic activities due to Covid-19 is estimated to reduce earth’s carbon emission by 8%, from 51 billion tons to 47 billion tons.
If we were to consider the shutdown an exercise for decreasing carbon emission, the economic cost that US would have paid for it, is estimated to be somewhere between $3200 – $5400 per ton, which is 32 – 54 times more that the $100 per ton price that economists consider reasonable. Climate change will inflict economic adversities that would be much higher than this number.
In comparison to the Covid death toll of 14 lives per 100,000, climate change can cause 10 – 73 deaths by 2060 and by the onset of the 22nd century the toll could rise five times more. The estimated economic cost of climate change is equally stark. If the emission of green house gases is not reduced substantially, in the next 10 – 20 years, climate change will cause economic damage equivalent to the current pandemic once in every 10 years.
It is thus imperative that we use lessons learnt from the pandemic to avert the impending climate change crisis. These are the 3 Covid-19 lessons that can help in tackling climate change:
Rely on science and innovation to lead the way
We need revolutionary inventions that will allow production of electricity and food with zero carbon emissions. Inventions that enable sustainable lifestyles around the world. We would need innovations that help poor people adapt to unpredictable and sudden climate changes. Merely cutting travel or other excesses and rectification of minor flaws will not be enough. For preparing a comprehensive climate change response moving beyond climate science to other disciplines like physics, chemistry, biology, political science, engineering, economics and other sciences is necessary.
Solutions should work for economically backward countries too
Covid-19 is expected to have the most adverse effect on world’s poorest people. Experts forecast a similar effect of climate change on the world’s most economically backward countries, especially the ones nearest to equator where the heat waves are expected to get most intensive. The economic pattern is expected to follow the same trajectory. Since the richest countries of the world are greatest contributors of carbon emission it should be their responsibility to create solutions for the poorer countries. Further, clean energy should be made affordable so that the poor countries should be able to afford these.
Start working for climate change solutions immediately
It is just a matter of time before we get the vaccine for novel coronavirus. Unfortunately, there can be no cure or vaccine for climate change. Taking precautionary measures is the only way to tackle climate change. All the countries and entrepreneurs should work in unison and with equal fervor towards world’s zero-carbon emission target. Covid-19 pandemic caught us unprepared even though several health experts opined a pandemic can strike anytime. We cannot repeat the same folly with climate change. To save our planet and ensure a bright future for the future generations, it is imperative that we start now without any further delay.