Lorrie Goldstein: We Gambled On The Wrong Threat — Climate Change
Toronto Sun, 22 March 2020One of the key lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic is that for at least the past decade, we focused disproportionately, or rather our governments did, on one potential global threat — human-induced climate change — to the exclusion of all others.
Protesters hold banners reading “180 degree turn ” and “coronavirus pandemic, the first step in the collapse of our civilization if we do not revolt today” during a recent demonstration for climate change in Bordeaux, France, despite government recommendations to limit gatherings amid the outbreak of COVID-19. (Photo by AFP, via Getty Images)
Anthropogenic climate change became the issue that sucked up all the oxygen in the room when it came to a global crisis.
At the expense of, for example, a contagious and deadly virus becoming a pandemic, which public health experts have been warning us about for decades.
In Canada, our political leaders, have long ignored — perhaps the fairer word is “downplayed” — the health care threat posed by the fact our hospitals are chronically overcrowded, with thousands of patients being treated in hallways, year after year.
That’s why the greatest concern health-care experts have now is that our hospitals, overcrowded in normal times and routinely operating at or beyond their designated capacities — as opposed to 80% of capacity to be able to handle a “black swan” event like COVID-19 — may soon be overrun by critically-ill patients.
Wrong decisions have dire consequences. We’re now facing them.
That’s not to say concern about human-induced climate change (not “climate change” as we obsessively and incorrectly describe it) was entirely misplaced.
It’s one of many serious environmental challenges we face, such as the more than 900 billion litres of raw sewage we’ve dumped into our rivers, lakes and oceans since 2013.
But while human-induced climate change contributes to human suffering and death, it has never been a so-called “existential” threat to humanity, meaning, a threat to human existence.
Neither is COVID-19. It will eventually burn itself out as have previous pandemics.
The question is how effectively and for how long can we contain it through aggressive social distancing — far harder to do in democracies than it sounds — and how many of us will die or suffer life-changing consequences before there’s a vaccine?
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, some who jumped on the anthropogenic climate change bandwagon early and hard, argue COVID-19 shows us what the world will be like if we don’t quickly abandon fossil fuels.
In reality, COVID-19 shows us what the world will be like if we abandon fossil fuels prematurely, without having reliable energy sources to replace them, compounded by the fact many opponents of fossil fuel energy also oppose nuclear power.
As Robert Bryce warns in Power Hungry: The Myths of ‘Green’ Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future: “If you are anti-carbon dioxide and anti-nuclear, you are pro-blackout.”
Consider what the world would be like today, in the face of COVID-19, without fossil fuel (and nuclear) energy, a world climate radicals crave.
Without reliable, on-demand energy sufficient to power a modern, industrialized society — which neither wind nor solar power can provide at current levels of technology — our hospitals could not maintain sterile conditions.
Food and vaccines — when one for COVID-19 is developed — could not be preserved or transported.
Medical equipment to protect front-line health care workers from COVID-19, and respirators for critically-ill patients, could not be delivered where they’re needed, let alone manufactured in the first place.
Indeed, if you want to see what the world would be like if we prematurely abandon fossil fuels, all you have to do is look around, right now, in the age of COVID-19.