Is COVID-19 Such a Threat To Our Society?

Written by on April 6, 2020

After describing the dead lying in the halls of Wuhan hospitals and the coffins stacking up on church pews, Donald G. McNeil Jr. remarked on the New York Times podcast The Daily:

“I’ve been looking at the [coronavirus] since late January, early February. I’m frightened by it. The visions are nightmarish. That’s what we’re headed for and I don’t see anyone taking it seriously.”

He was describing the inadequacy of the U.S. Federal government’s response to COVID-19, but he may just as well have been describing our cluelessness and lack of attention to the impending climate crisis, which will be far more devastating. Imagine the worst of COVID-19. Now magnify that by an order of magnitude.

COVID-19 is one virus. Just one. Climate change impacts will bring many new illnesses, as we have seen from the spread of the Zika virus. There are possibly viruses lying dormant in the melting permafrost, now. There will be existing illnesses related to water and air quality, land use and agriculture that are exacerbated by climate. There will be increased flooding, tornadoes and wildfires. We won’t have the luxury of dealing with them one at a time, since they are coming at us with a random and unpredictable speed and intensity.

is our governments prepared?

Is there a plan in place?

Are our hospitals, fire departments and food supplies ready?

In the absence of planning, will the migrations of people with food insecurity overwhelm us?

Will we need to shut down the economy again to lower emissions quickly (as is happening now) to grapple with the chaos?

Should we simply be reactive and play whack-a-mole, as we are doing now with COVID-19?

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