Giving Compass' Take:
- Shannon Osaka shares expert opinions on why the public doesn't seem to make climate change as big of an issue as COVID-19, despite these problems requiring similar long-term thinking to drive solution planning.
- How are these issues different? What is similar about the responses? Will climate change be taken more seriously after COVID-19?
- Learn why no ecosystem on Earth is safe from climate change.
What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
Schools are closed. Entire regions are on lockdown. President Trump has declared a national emergency and is weighing stimulus measures to help companies weather the storm.
Countries around the world are beginning to react to the novel coronavirus with unprecedented speed in an attempt to curb its spread. There are already more than 135,000 cases worldwide and 5,000 deaths.
It’s a worldwide, planetary crisis. So why haven’t we seen this kind of sudden mobilization for human-caused climate change — another global catastrophe that has likely already claimed thousands of lives?
It’s common to bemoan a lack of action on curbing greenhouse gases, and wonder what the world would look like if governments treated the climate crisis like a pandemic, or even a war. But there are real reasons why climate change isn’t emblazoned on every newspaper headline and, like COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, discussed in sprawling emails at work and in seemingly every grocery store aisle.
“We are certainly under-reacting to climate change,” said Ed Maibach, a professor at George Mason University who studies climate change and public health, in an email. “Because it is a potentially catastrophic health threat that is likely to greatly harm human health and wellbeing for many generations to come.”
Familiar problems often get pushed to the side in favor of new ones, said Susan Clayton, a professor of psychology at Wooster College in Ohio. “Visually, if you stare at the same thing for a long time, you literally stop seeing it because your visual receptors adapt,” she said. That’s akin to how people respond to climate change. “We think, ‘Oh, climate change is bad. But I’ve been hearing about it for a long time. So I don’t necessarily need to pay attention to the stories coming out today.’”
Read the full article about caring about climate change by Shannon Osaka at Grist.