We learned all the wrong things from climate change
Do you remember the early pandemic days when we thought that we would actually take global action on climate change? A whole bunch of us - me included - felt that Covid had the same global impact as climate change but it was visibly happening in front of us so we’d actually respond? And then we’d learn from that and then take climate action too.
We were such sweet summer children. Literally I guess, since it was July in the Western Hemisphere. Remember the factory workers demanding to make ventilators? Drug companies cooperating?
We sure did draw the wrong conclusion. As it turns out, we didn’t learn from covid response and apply it to climate change. We went the other way. We took our experience at ignoring climate crisis and then used it to ignore Covid too.
I guess then the question is what can people who still care about Covid learn from climate change activists? They’ve got to know something about playing Cassandra.
A scan of the writing on climate change activism gives me a few things:
Climate change activists keep speaking up, even when it’s uncomfortable. They’re not hesitant about hurting feelings or being rude. They’re trying unconventional legal and financial tactics to slow climate change. And they’re using a lot more direct action than they used to.
What does that mean in terms of my own personal responsibility about Covid? As a public health person I feel an extra responsibility to be vocal, no matter how unpleasant that is. But there’s got to be options beyond making my friends and peers tired of me. Aside from the social toll, people are going to stop listening. (My colleagues don’t get tired of it, but talking Covid to public health nerds is certainly preaching to the choir.)
For now I’m going to keep speaking up, even when it’s tiring. I’m going to keep writing here and elsewhere. Going to keep asking companies to do better by their employees and bugging my kids’ school to protect our children properly. Keep contacting politicians to demand better policy. Truthfully it doesn't feel like much. If anyone has suggestions for what more we should all do, please share.