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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 now have a better understanding of the concept of exponential growth.

COVID-19 has spread across the globe exponentially, similar to how climate change is slowly worsening. The pandemic is helping people conceptualize and understand how slow burning crises can quickly get out of control.
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The Argument

The COVID-19 pandemic has made people more aware of the concept of an exponential curve, in which the rate of infection is steadily increasing similar to how the Earth’s temperature is slowly rising. One person contracting coronavirus and giving it to somebody else who then goes on to infect a third person, and so on, is an example of exponential growth. And “It’s also how climate change works. And if there’s any silver lining in this mess, it’s that the coronavirus pandemic is teaching us a valuable lesson about the perils of ignoring destructive processes—and perhaps even larger, longer-term disasters—that increase exponentially.” [1]People often struggle to conceptualize the future catastrophic effects of climate change, because it’s entirely unprecedented and therefore difficult to understand (since we have no reference point to compare it to). To make it worse, we can not see or feel climate change, so the severity of the issue hasn't fully sunk in for us yet. But the pandemic is a great example of how little things can slowly add up, until the results are catastrophic and completely out of control. We've had past pandemics, such as H1N1 or the flu, so we understand how they work and what they look like. It took 67 days to reach 100,000 coronavirus cases worldwide. The second 100,000 cases took 11 days, and the third 100,000 took only four days. [1]The COVID-19 pandemic might galvanize people into taking action against climate change, and help them better understand the exponential growth of harmful carbon emissions that are steadily increasing each year before it becomes too late.

Counter arguments

Premises

[P1] People do not understand the concept of exponential growth in relation to climate change, or how a multitude of choices that are somewhat harmful to the environment add up until you have a full blown climate catastrophe. [P2] The reason for this is because people struggle to conceptualize things they can not see or feel. [P3] COVID-19 is a more tangible and comprehendible example of exponential growth that will help people understand how climate change gradually worsens over time.

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/03/26/what-the-coronavirus-curve-teaches-us-about-climate-change-148318

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This page was last edited on Monday, 18 May 2020 at 22:27 UTC

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