No carbon footprint means the end of life itself. – GJ
By: Tilak Doshi – Forbes
Up to a few months ago, life was normal. Well, sort of. In that pre-coronavirus normalcy, the reigning narrative was that of mankind facing assured destruction if we did not amend our wasteful – read carbon-intensive — ways. Short of a drastic curtailment in our use of fossil fuels, we would all perish in the not too distant future.
How distant depended on who one listened to. At the radical end of the spectrum — US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, teenage icon Greta Thunberg and the Extinction Rebellion folk among others — gave us a decade or less before we would face the fury of the elements, be they fires, droughts, floods, and other horrors of biblical proportions. The “moderate” position held by the mainstream climate change establishment — ranging from the key multilateral organizations such as the UN’s IPCC to the private sector with oil majors such as Shell and leading environment and social governance (“ESG”) practitioners like Larry Fink, CEO of the world’s largest hedge fund BlackRock – held that we had to reach the “net-zero” rate of carbon emissions by 2050 lest the world climate “tip over” to Armageddon.
But then, something happened along the way. Up popped a particularly contagious virus, first in its birthplace in Wuhan, China, and then spreading across the world. In a mere couple of months, the novel coronavirus began to wreak death and economic mayhem, the latter caused primarily by governments panicked into shutting down entire swathes of the economy to “flatten the curve” of infections to avoid health systems from being overwhelmed.
It did not take long after the onset of the global pandemic for people to observe the many parallels between the covid-19 pandemic and climate change. An invisible novel virus of the SARS family now represents an existential threat to humanity. As does CO2, a colourless trace gas constituting 0.04% of the atmosphere which allegedly serves as the control knob of climate change. Lockdowns are to the pandemic what decarbonization is to climate change. Indeed, lockdowns and decarbonization share much in common, from tourism and international travel to shopping and having a good time. It would seem that Greta Thunberg’s dreams have come true, and perhaps that is why CNN announced on Wednesday that it is featuring her on a coronavirus town-hall panel alongside health experts.
In response to both threats, governments and their policy experts habitually chant the “follow the science” mantra. In everything from face masks and social distancing (1 or 2 meters, depending on the relevant jurisdiction) to the duration of lockdowns, governments were “led by the science”. California governor Gavin Newsom told protestors last month “We are going to do the right thing, not politics, not protests, but by science”. In banning the sale of mulch and vegetable seeds and such-like as non-essential, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer proclaimed in a New York Times op-ed that “each action has been informed by the best science and epidemiology counsel there is.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Swedish COVID-19 Statistics (H/T Tony Heller)