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What does the response to COVID-19 tell us about our ability to cope with climate change? Show more Show less
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The global shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic have tested every part of our society, from healthcare, to employment, finance, supply chains, global trade, nationalism, governance, emergency response, and so on. How our governments have responded to the pandemic is revealing a lot about how the world works, and makes us ask what it reveals about potential responses to future disasters, such as the climate change crisis. Is the COVID-19 pandemic a stress test for future climate shock? How prepared are we?

We, as a society, are resilient and will be able to apply the lessons COVID-19 has taught us to tackling the climate change crisis Show more Show less

The pandemic has proven that there is still hope. We, as a society, are taking what we've learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and can apply those lessons to our fight against climate change.
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People are beginning to notice how global crises compound social inequality and are now more likely to become involved in local government and climate change activism.

Climate change, in its beginning stages, harms the poor and people who live in developing countries the most. People in the United States or Europe, who are quite privileged and have not yet faced the catastrophic affects of climate change, are being impacted by COVID-19 and are now more aware of how social inequality is compounded by global emergencies.
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The Argument

Developing countries in the global south are seeing the catastrophic impacts of climate change before the rest of the world is. According to the UN, Botswana is suffering from climate change related droughts that are causing widespread food insecurity, while countries in Southern Asia are at a higher risk of flooding related disasters due to rising sea levels. [1] Global crises are not equalizers; they compound already existing social inequalities. The COVID-19 pandemic is doing the same. COVID-19, unlike climate change, is significantly impacting the lives of relatively privileged people in the United States and Europe. People in developing nations are still less equipped to cope with the virus, as social distancing is impossible if you live in a city that is overcrowded and washing your hands isn't easy when you have no running water. Climate change has not yet affected lower-income Americans as tangibly as it has people living in developing countries, but the pandemic has opened the eyes of people in the United States to how global emergencies compound existing disparities between certain social groups. For example, people who are financially privileged can typically afford to work remotely from home, without needing to worry about losing their jobs or potentially being infected by COVID-19. Blue collar workers, however, must continue going to work to make ends meet - and are more likely to be infected by COVID-19 as a result. Because they have less financial privilege, it’s harder for them to practice social distancing and to access healthcare. This is why coronavirus is disproportionately ravaging predominantly black neighborhoods. [2] The COVID-19 pandemic is therefore triggering a major societal shift, in which people are more aware of how everything that happens in the world occurs in a "social and economic context," as put by New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. People are becoming disillusioned by their apathetic and seemingly ineffectual governments, and the ways in which they’ve failed to properly contain the COVID-19 outbreak, which will lead to people becoming more involved in their local governments or in political and social activism. People will be more likely to pressure their governments to prepare for the catastrophic impacts of climate change because they now realize how certain minorities will be affected and disproportionatly harmed.

Counter arguments

Premises

[P1] Climate change is compounding social inequalities by harming people in developing countries who rely on the environment for agriculture and other things. [P2] The pandemic is introducing Americans, who haven't been impacted by climate change to the same extent, how global emergencies compound inequalities, which is why some minorities are being impacted by COVID-19 more than others. [P3] This is triggering a shift in society in which people are more aware of how crises such as pandemics or climate emergencies are not equalizers, and they're more likely to become involved in social activism or climate change activism once the impacts on their personal lives become more noticeable.

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.un.org/press/en/2019/gaef3516.doc.htm
  2. https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/news/nation/2020/05/02/coronavirus-impact-black-minority-white-neighborhoods-chicago-detroit/3042630001/

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This page was last edited on Monday, 18 May 2020 at 22:09 UTC

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