Giving Compass' Take:

• Alicia Seiger shares important lessons from COVID-19 that can be applied to climate change in order to avert global disaster. 

• We have the capacity to fight climate change. What role can you play in ensuring available resources are applied to the problem effectively? 

• Read about how to accelerate progress against climate change

COVID-19 and climate change are case studies in risk management or, rather, risk management failures. Leaders caught flat-footed are calling the pandemic a “black swan.” But black swans are extremely rare events that no one sees coming. The novel coronavirus and climate change are other beasts entirely; they are “grey rhinos.” Grey rhinos are highly probable but neglected threats with enormous impact.

For many years, a worldwide pandemic capable of killing millions and bringing the global economy to its knees has been a probable and foreseen risk. Similarly, the probability of atmospheric warming is 100 percent; global average temperatures are already 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels. And the devastating human and economic impacts of increasing global temperatures are well understood, if difficult to truly comprehend.

But our fate is not yet sealed. There is still time to apply the lessons we’ve learned from failing to adequately prepare for a global pandemic. These lessons can help us stave off the worst impacts of climate change, and they include:

  1. Science can be more powerful than politics, religion, and greed.
  2. Abrupt and disorderly economic and societal transitions are most devastating to vulnerable populations, amplifying existing inequities and injustice.
  3. Individual behavior changes can make a difference, but decision-making by governments, businesses, and investors matters most.
  4. Governments can mobilize trillions of dollars in a matter of days when lives and livelihoods are on the line.

Read the full article about COVID-19 and climate change by Alicia Seiger at Stanford Social Innovation Review.