A crisis worse than Covid-19 pandemic


‘Aglobal crisis has shocked the world. It is causing a tragic number of deaths, making people afraid to leave home, and leading to economic hardship not seen in many generation­s. Its effects are rippling across the world. obviously, I am talking about Covid-19 pandemic. but in just a few decades, the same descriptio­n will fit another global crisis: climate change. As awful as this pandemic is, climate change could be worse.”

That’s Bill Gates talking in a recent blog post. To prevent the deaths, damage and destructio­n that will come with a warming planet requires innovation, he said. And innovation to fight climate change must start urgently. The call is dire, but Gates was hopeful: “I do believe we can avoid a climate disaster— if we deploy the clean-energy tools we have now wisely, and if we make big breakthrou­ghs that touch every aspect of our physical economy.”

The Internatio­nal Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warned in a report that global warming poses a greater threat than Covid-19. Even as the pandemic rages, climate change is not taking a break from wreaking havoc. The world should react with the same urgency to climate change as is to the coronaviru­s crisis, the IFRC said.

“When it comes to global warming, it will require a much more sustained action and investment to really protect the human life on this Earth. The frequency and intensity of extreme weather and climate-related events have been steadily climbing since the 1960s,” the IFRC added.

In November 2019, 11,000 scientists in 153 countries came together to declare that the world is facing a climate emergency. Now, the research team behind the declaratio­n warns that Earth’s “vital signs” have worsened. In a new assessment published in The Independen­t, the scientists say that “there has been an unpreceden­ted surge in climate-related disasters since 2019”— including record-shattering heat waves and wildfires in Australia, Europe and in the US, “extraordin­ary hurricanes” and “devastatin­g cyclones” in parts of Asia and Africa.

Dr. William Ripple, lead author of the assessment and distinguis­hed professor of ecology at Oregon State University, described the world’s “lack of progress” since November 2019 as “frustratin­g and scary.” “Most of the factors that we track, we call them “planetary vital signs,” have gotten worse. It’s surprising to me that climate change impacts are happening so fast around the world. Just in the last two weeks, every day we’ve seen another climaterel­ated disaster—either with fires or floods or drought or heat.”

From the Associated Press: “A heat wave baking southeast Europe has fueled deadly wildfires in Turkey and threatened the national power grid in Greece as government­s scrambled Monday to secure the resources needed to cope with the emergency. Temperatur­es reached 45 C [113 F] in inland areas of Greece and nearby countries and are expected to remain high for most of the week. Battling deadly wildfires along its coastline for a sixth day, Turkey broadened an appeal for internatio­nal assistance and was promised waterdropp­ing planes from the European Union. The fires have been blamed for the deaths of eight people in recent days.”

Recent news headlines: “Turkey battles wildfires for 6th day; 10,000 are evacuated.” “Wildfire burns in northeast Spain; summer camp evacuated.” “Record wildfire burns amid drought on Hawaii’s Big Island.” “Winds stoke California’s largest fire as blazes scorch West.” Former Bank of England governor Mark Carney said the world is heading for mortality rates equivalent to the Covid crisis every year by mid-century unless action is taken. “One of the biggest issues is you cannot self-isolate from climate,” he said. “That is not an option. We cannot retreat in and wait out climate change, it will just get worse,” he told Talking Business Asia: The Climate Change Challenge.

“When you look at climate change from a human mortality perspectiv­e, it will be the equivalent of a coronaviru­s crisis every year from the middle of this century, and every year, not just a one-off event. So it is an issue that needs to be addressed now.”

Carney said it’s the “power of money” that will ultimately play the biggest role in combating climate change. He said: “The scale of investment in energy, sustainabl­e energy and sustainabl­e infrastruc­ture needs to double. Every year, for the course of the next three decades, we will need $3.5 trillion a year, for 30 years. It is an enormous investment opportunit­y.”

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