COVID-19 Offers Hope for Solving Climate Change
For the past year, many Americans came together to lockdown in order to flatten the curve. Calls to “stay home, stay safe” reverberated through the country as diligent people did their parts to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The world has watched in real time as their elected officials, experts, and leaders learned about COVID-19 and the impact it would have on our community, economy, and future generations. Politics aside, Democrats and Republicans joined together to support the creation of a vaccine, and the upper echelons of government came together to fund scientists to expedite its approval and distribution.
Regardless of political leanings, the fact that our nation’s government was able to work together despite political differences and work toward a common goal of ending the pandemic seems like nothing short of a miracle. The government’s ability to green light funding for scientists to develop a vaccine showed what happens when our elected officials put their faith in science and listen to experts.
The government should use the same approach in addressing another global existential threat, climate change.
Climate change has been a doomsday warning alarm from scientists, economists, and political leaders across the spectrum. Climate scientists, nonprofit organizations, grassroots efforts and other stakeholders have worked diligently for decades to bring the country together to solve the climate crisis. But sounding the alarm over the earth growing warmer, sea levels rising, storms intensifying, fires raging, you name it, isn’t enough. I know, because I’m one of these activists working to garner support for climate action, and often it feels like my time would be better spent banging my head against the wall.
While solving climate change may seem daunting, there is an opportunity for our country to apply what we’ve learned during the pandemic. Swift and decisive action is possible and best achieved through bipartisan cooperation and with all levels of government support.
Similarly to what we experience with COVID-19, climate change threatens the lives of every single person on earth. Just like early delays in mask mandates and shutdowns led to greater deaths, with each passing year that we don’t act on climate change, our planet gets warmer. In fact, since 1998, the earth is heating up twice as fast as scientists originally thought. The last time the Earth experienced cooler than average temperatures was in February 1985.
The spirit of cooperation which was exerted over the pandemic must be applied to the climate crisis. In the years before the pandemic, the concept of bipartisan anything seemed like the stuff of fantasy, and while there are still pockets of COVID-19 deniers on the right and the left, our leaders seem to have finally pulled it together.
I implore elected officials to do the same now.
Climate change doesn’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. It doesn’t matter how much money you make, what your education level is, if you own a house or rent—you’re still in jeopardy, though the situation will be worse for those living in poverty and in vulnerable areas of the world. Elon Musk’s solution to the climate crisis is to send people to Mars. Alternate planetary living isn’t for everyone—and likely won’t save those most at risk. For the time being, we are all stuck here on Earth. It’s past time for our leaders and elected officials to solve one more crisis.
Currently, 70% of Americans support government action to address climate change. If Washington is waiting for a signal of bipartisan support among its constituents, here’s your sign.
For the climate crisis, 2050 is the pending doomsday year. In 2021, 2050 seems far away, but in the words of Ferris Bueller, “life moves pretty fast.” 2050 is in our family’s lifetime. If we’ve learned anything during this pandemic, aside from how to make sourdough bread from scratch, it’s that global crises cannot be ignored.
Unlike the previous administration, Biden’s administration has set some lofty climate goals and it will be up to Congress to help President Biden achieve these goals. While America breathes a collective sigh of relief as vaccines become available for every citizen, Congress must turn their attention to climate change by putting a price on carbon and passing other key policies to ensure the United States is in position to reach net-zero by 2050.
America, it's time to flex once more and show the world we can solve the climate crisis.