Commentators have drawn obvious parallels between the climate emergency and the coronavirus pandemic many times. One of these has been adopted by many governments, and in particular our own. On the one hand we accept and follow scientific advice on the coronavirus but on the other still ignore (and even oppose) that given by an overwhelming body of science on climate change. This is something our Liberal National Party governments have been doing for twenty years. The governments that have either ignored the public health science, or acted belatedly on its advice – including the UK, Brazil and the USA – are those that have suffered, and continue to suffer, horrendous numbers of fatalities from the coronavirus.
And the well-worn post pandemic recovery option called variously a ‘green revolution’ and here, Australia as a “renewable energy superpower”, is a conclusion drawn by science and activists across the country but again ignored, restrained or manipulated by a government anchored in the past. One less obvious and more subtle parallel with the coronavirus pandemic is that any delay in action can have catastrophic results. The prime example of this is the response of the USA where there mortality statistics lead the world and currently (early August) show no signs of respite.
Similarly, it was also possibly a delayed decision in Victoria that has led to a resurgence of the coronavirus and the correspondingly severe lockdown here. The slogan “go hard and go early” does not appear to have been applied, with some opposition politicians and irresponsible sections of the media urging a return to economic ‘normality’. The ‘go hard, go early’ slogan should also have been applied to global warming as we have known this was a serious problem for more than 30 years.
There can be little doubt the effects of global warming will be far worse than the pandemic. Already the fatalities associated with climate influenced events like the 2009 heatwave and bushfires and last summer’s bushfires are large – about 500 and 450 in each case. Whilst these grim statistics may be overwhelmed, in the short term, by a growing coronavirus fatality list in Australia, they will be surpassed quickly by fatalities from climate induced and exacerbated extreme weather events – the grim reaper of global warming in action.
Each delay in concerted action on climate change means that we will have to go even ‘harder’ and this will involve much more government direction and control. Global warming is a long-term problem that will be with us for generations. We have already had a generation’s delay. That is why the continued delaying actions of many of our politicians and the fossil fuel industry are criminal.