The World Can Flatten Curves
We’re flattening the coronavirus curve. We can flatten the climate curve, too. Showing people the urgency will help.
A. R. Ravishankara and Mary M. Glackin, May 19, 2020 (Washington Post)
Flatten the curve! Flatten the curve! It has become a rallying cry for dealing with the novel coronavirus across the world…Can this approach be used successfully to address our climate change challenge?...There are many similarities between covid-19 and climate change. Both present problems that are global in scale. The detrimental effects of both are faced by everyone, albeit to different degrees…[But] the time scales for the two problems are different…For climate change, it is decades to centuries. But the general features are eerily similar. The scientific community generally knows what to do. To flatten the curve for covid-19, we stop transmission by avoiding contact with others (distancing). For climate change, we flatten the curve by limiting the emissions of greenhouse gases…[In both cases, we] are buying time to avoid a catastrophe…
…Both issues have latency periods when nothing seems to be happening but are critical to what happens subsequently…For both problems, the time at which we act has significant impact on the amount of action needed and the number of people involved…[For both, actions are needed from] governments, businesses and individuals…Unfortunately, in both cases, there are skeptics who call for business as usual that hinders flattening the curve…[But today’s lifestyle changes show] our society can act when the threat is clearly visible and leaders work with common purpose. The same approach is needed to address the not-yet-visible climate change crisis…If society now “accepts” and acts on the idea of flattening the curve for the virus, can it do the same for climate change? If not, it does not bode well…” click here for more