Lessons from Covid-19

As we prepare to bring our economies back from their pause, it is time to work hard for a just and green recovery. We have the resources, the scientific and technical knowledge, and the proven policies for all of us to live well.

As I have been thinking about the worldwide response to COVID-19, like many people I have been amazed that this pandemic would spur people to move out of a business-as-usual approach to life and into forms of action that will stop at nothing to achieve an important social goal. While I have complied very willingly with the advice of the epidemiologists, I do muse about why this crisis was the one that provoked such a healthy social immune response.

In recent years, millions of people have been raising alarm bells about the deadly climate crisis, the deadly crises of police violence and mass incarceration, the refugee and immigrant detention crises, and the deadly crisis of homelessness. Globally, the climate crisis already kills about 300,000 people annually and has led to a current count of 25 million climate refugees. Air pollution kills 5.5 million people around the world each year. At the present time, swarms of locusts are devastating crops and farmland in much of East Africa, endangering the lives of 25 million people. And the people of East Africa are partly experiencing this because of increases in CO2 in the atmosphere, 79 percent of which has been emitted by the countries of the Global North.

It isn’t that I wish COVID-19 received a less urgent and comprehensive response. It is that I wish those other crises were treated with the intensity of purpose they also deserve. 

Read the full article in the April 15, 2020 issue of Common Dreams.