Climate change and the coronavirus have a lot more in common than the letter C, but their differences explain society’s divergent responses to each.
Why it matters: The internet is full of comparisons, some from biased perspectives. I'm going to try to cut through the noise to help discerning readers looking for objective information.
Here are some of the more common comparisons made on climate change and the coronavirus over the last few months and corresponding reality checks. Click here to get the full reasons why.
Comparison: Pandemics and climate change are both massive risks that much of the world is ignoring or downplaying.
Comparison: They’re both existential crises of our time.
- Reality check: Partially true. The pandemic will define our generation uniquely, while climate change will wear on for many.
Comparison: The coronavirus is climate change on warp speed.
Comparison: They both threaten our public health.
- Reality check: True. But the coronavirus could kill someone within two weeks, while climate change does it more slowly and in a more indirect fashion.
Comparison: Scientists have been sounding the alarm for years — even decades — that a pandemic like the coronavirus could devastate humanity, and also that unabated climate change would wreak havoc on the planet.
Comparison: The fact that the predictions from scientific modeling about the coronavirus didn't bear out weeks later shows why climate change models predicting vast ecological harm over decades should not be trusted.
- Reality check: False. This argument, perpetuated by those who question the scientific consensus of climate change, are either purposefully or ignorantly misunderstanding how modeling works.
The bottom line: Coronavirus and climate change are both complex, terrible risks the world is facing today. Making them out to be more or less than what they are does a disservice to anyone looking for solutions.