The coronavirus outbreak and the climate crisis are two divergent global dangers, as both present potential devastating consequences. However, only the first has launched far reaching worldwide action in just a matter of weeks. With infections currently confirmed in over 150 nations, governments are forcing strict quarantine measures to contain its spread, forcing the population to stay home.
We are certainly responding to this emergency with a great deal of immediate action, where all of us have united behind medical science to revert its potential fatal trend. But the environmental crisis does not differ much in terms of size and number of people that is going to affect. It becomes a great deal when considering how fast we are reacting to the virus while we have not yet been able to make a move against climate change.
Since this crisis has led to a severe decrease of travel and the shut-down of factories, scientists have registered a decline in air contamination levels in all those areas of the planet affected by lockdowns, dropping CO2 emissions and similar pollutants by 53%, if compared to the emissions in March 2019.
According to the World Health Organization, over 7 million people die from breathing polluted air every year, with nine out of 10 individuals thought to be inhaling air filled with high levels of pollutants on a daily basis.
Reverse climate change should not require a close-down of economy and society, but rather sustained collective action, as we continue improving our lives and raising our living expectations. It is time to listen to climate researchers as much as we are listening to our medical experts.
It is up to us, as humans, to make the ultimate choice. We can repeat the pattern of disunity, which will not only extend the current crisis, but also induce even more severe tragedies, or we can explore the new path of global solidarity, which will not only defeat coronavirus but the coming crisis that will set upon humanity in the coming 30 years.