Climate activist: Govt needs to keep citizens in ‘emergency mode’ to deal with climate change
April 2, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Climate activists are praising the national lockdowns and declarations of national emergencies around the world in response to the coronavirus pandemic as a model for response to “climate change.”
“We’ve been trying for years to get people out of normal mode and into emergency mode,” said Margaret Klein Salamon, leader of The Climate Mobilization group.
“What is possible politically is fundamentally different when lots of people get into emergency mode – when they fundamentally accept that there’s danger, and that if we want to be safe we need to do everything we can. And it’s been interesting to see that theory validated by the response to the coronavirus,” she said.
“Now the challenge is to keep emergency mode activated about climate, where the dangers are orders of magnitude greater. We can’t think we’re going to go ‘back to normal,’ because things weren’t normal.”
Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist who rose to prominence last year, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation last week that while the coronavirus is a terrible event “it also shows one thing: That once we are in a crisis, we can act to do something quickly, act fast.”
Conservative journalist and commentator Matt Walsh posted on Twitter earlier this week that it “seems likely” that a future Democratic president “will declare climate change or gun violence a ‘national emergency’ and use that as an excuse to drastically curb civil liberties, citing the coronavirus response as precedent.”
Walsh pointed to a recent tweet by former U.S. president Barack Obama to make his case. Just a few days ago, Obama tweeted: “We've seen all too terribly the consequences of those who denied warnings of a pandemic. We can't afford any more consequences of climate denial. All of us, especially young people, have to demand better of our government at every level and vote this fall.”
We've seen all too terribly the consequences of those who denied warnings of a pandemic. We can't afford any more consequences of climate denial. All of us, especially young people, have to demand better of our government at every level and vote this fall. https://t.co/K8Ucu7iVDK— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) March 31, 2020
And Obama’s message is being repeated by mainstream media around the world, with a UK academic even telling CNBC that this is “a ‘yes we can’ moment for the climate crisis” -- a catch phrase frequently deployed by Obama during his years in office.
Gail Whiteman, director of the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business at the UK’s Lancaster University, said that having listened to medical scientists in response to the coronavirus that “(n)ow it is time to listen to climate scientists.”
In the same article, CNBC also featured the view of Johan Rockstrom, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, that the coronavirus, which according to official figures has caused almost 50,000 deaths globally since January, is “nothing compared to the climate crisis.”
Forbes too is telling its readers that “the climate emergency is, by far, more severe and presents a greater existential threat than the coronavirus pandemic, even with the death toll.”
Meanwhile, an opinion piece in Canada’s National Observer asserts that “the climate emergency is much more dangerous than COVID-19” and says the coronavirus pandemic “serves as case study” for how to respond to “the climate emergency.”
Obama, of course, is not the only political figure linking the response to the coronavirus with that of “climate change.” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said earlier this month that it was important that the global fight against the coronavirus didn’t distract from the need to defeat climate change.
“Whilst the disease is expected to be temporary, climate change has been a phenomenon for many years, and will remain with us for decades and require constant action,” he said.
Writing at The Hill, Rupert Darwall observed that “(f)or more than three decades, climate change has been the catastrophe that’s always just over the horizon.”
The coronavirus pandemic, on the other hand “shows what a genuine crisis looks like.”
“No one has to catastrophize it,” Darwall wrote, “the facts speak for themselves. Inducing fear and panic is counter-productive.”
But while Darwall makes the common sense point that fear and panic are unhelpful in dealing with the present crisis, climate activists are observing the global concern about the coronavirus and believe that the same or greater levels of concern need to be promoted about “climate change” in order to force governments to act.
“We need to learn to be scared together, to agree on what we’re terrified about,” Margaret Klein Salamon says.
The world has changed more in the past two months than almost anyone would ever have imagined, but as Rupert Darwall observes “(o)ne thing hasn’t changed and won’t change: Catastrophizing climate change for political ends.”