COVID-19 is Another Symptom of the Real Crisis
The outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic has, more or less, proved that we as a species are capable of taking a crisis seriously. It should stand as proof that we can respond to the much more consequential crisis facing our species and planet.
The response has not been ideal. It hasn’t been as good is it should, or even could, be. Egos, ignorance, and no shortage of other human foibles have gotten in the way of our addressing the pandemic as a united species as effectively as possible. Global leaders, including our orange turd, have at least been pretending to take it seriously, now. Orange turd, despite denying the seriousness of the pandemic for weeks, claiming it was a hoax, doing nothing to prepare, spreading dangerous misinformation, and having dismantled our country’s best resource for preparing for, or even preventing, the pandemic wreaking havoc in the US, has, too late, put on his serious face and mumbled some vaguely coherent shit about addressing the crisis.
Healthcare professionals are doing the best they can, very admirably. Grocery store workers, and other such purveyors of necessities, deserve praise as well. Our political leaders, in too large proportion anyway, are doing at best a mediocre job. And the news media is fulfilling its role of simply not shutting the fuck up about it. Not that they shouldn’t be reporting on the pandemic, but it is not the only subject still worthy of note in the world. Given the intensity of attention they’re giving it, they should be losing their shit and blaring news of the climate crisis on a constant basis. Every facet of global society should address the climate crisis with the fervor they’re giving this pandemic, many times over.
The global response to the climate crisis should be proportional, if much improved and better refined, to that of the COVID-19 pandemic. I won’t downplay the seriousness of the current pandemic, but in relation to the impending climate catastrophe, it frankly is far less significant. The death toll from COVID-19 passed ten-thousand this week. People, and thousands of other species on which we place less or no importance, will die in the millions, if not billions, because of the climate crisis. Many already have. Many are dying right now.
We manage to spare our interests and attentions for the symptoms of the climate crisis, rather than taking in the big picture of the illness it is, and are far too reticent to address its causes. Virtually every crisis we face, that we have been facing, for decades, right now, has its roots in the climate crisis. Whether it’s a fire or a flood, a pandemic, a war, a draught, a mass-poisoning of a community through a toxified water supply, each crisis, while it may have multiple contributing factors, has, almost as a rule, the overarching effects, and causes, of the climate crisis in common.
When people hear that a fire killed over a billion animals, as happened during the recent Australian brush fires, or that over ten-thousand people died, and many more will follow, of a viral infection, as we’re seeing with the COVID-19 pandemic, people pay attention. Not all, but many, take it seriously. Many follow the instructions of health officials or emergency aid workers, or donate, or do whatever else they can that may be helpful. We need to take those spurts of interest, those impulses to focus on singular tragedies, and broaden them, expand our minds, our empathy, and our survival instincts, to address the constant crisis looming over, and contributing to, everything else.
The media, and government officials, and every one of us, should be demanding action, and working ourselves, on remedying the climate crisis. If we can devote endless airtime, send millions home from work, all but halt the economy, hide out from other people in our homes, radically change society’s notions of normality in a matter of weeks because of a single virus, then it is absurd to suggest that we cannot do more for the far more devastating threat of global climate catastrophe.
Alongside the terrible effects of the pandemic, we’ve seen some positive developments. That people are flying and driving less, and that factories, particularly in countries like China, temporarily stopped producing mostly unneeded garbage for us to consume, has led to appreciable improvements in air quality. While it is not a good thing that people need to get horribly sick, or fear becoming so, for us to slow our feverish poisoning of the planet, take a silver lining where you can get it. Take it as a sign that we can actually save ourselves if we want to. We can adjust our lives and the world economy when needed. We can make certain changes permanent, acknowledging that our survival depends on it.
This pandemic is a signal not only of how “normal” can change, but how it must. It should not be a circumstance against which we combat in order to return to “normal.” Every measure we have is telling us that what we accepted as “normal” was wrong. “Normal” was the problem. “Normal” brought us here. We can’t hope for what was at the expense of what needs to be, and we sure can’t can’t fix the large structural problems by throwing money at them.
No bailouts for the fossil-fuel industry, nothing for the airline industry, no money, not a cent of taxpayer money should be given to aid or enrich the industries that have most contributed to the greatest global crisis society, and our species, has ever faced. The evil that brought us here must die, so that a better future may grow from its carcass.