Global warming is, guaranteed, something everybody is aware of. However, it is rarely properly addressed. For the pandemic, it has been the opposite – impossible to escape. Radios and shows would always include the latest news on COVID-19, adverts would pop up in TV and social media, even conversations with friends or family seemed to ultimately always centre around the virus. This pandemic has constantly been on everyone’s minds, subconsciously reminding each one of us how serious it is and how we should be acting. Although sometimes exhausting for this to be all that is talked about, the effect was undeniable: every single person was forced to regard the pandemic with urgency. Even more importantly, there were regular, nationwide addresses to the public on what to do to help. This meant that the feeling of helplessness after hearing increasingly worrying news about the virus was combatted by hope of solution. No matter who you were, or how much the virus had personally affected you, every single person had a clear instruction of action.
Laying these out side by side, it is evident that in order for people to act on the issue of climate change, there needs to be publicity, there needs to be urgency and most importantly, there needs to be clear rules set out by those in charge. People feel hopeless around the climate crisis – they do not know where to start. During the pandemic, a simple act of wearing a mask out in public fuelled hope that as individuals, whilst not personally developing major help such as the vaccine, we were doing what we could and felt positive that, with collective effort, a difference would be made.
As well as these rules, there were provisions put in place to make them possible. For example food packages were sent out whilst we were made to stay at home, educational support was put in place to make sure children could carry on with school in the most normal way possible. This aid needs to be adopted around the climate problem. Often we are informed that our plastic use is having a momentous effect on our world, yet we walk into a supermarket and are greeted with hundreds upon hundreds of packaged foods, with very little alternatives. We are told that our carbon emissions are rising fast, that clean energy is the only way forwards, that cars and planes have a catastrophic effect on the climate, yet in order to travel, in order to go about daily life, fossil fuels are evidently used up and are hard to avoid. Those that want to cut back have to dedicate themselves to the mission, and even then, it is incredibly hard to consistently maintain.
Reducing carbon emissions should be presented to the public as something that is not optional, not just ‘good for the environment’, but instead as something that is needed to save our world. Supermarkets need to stop selling plastic in the vast amount that they do. There are plenty of alternatives out there, and plenty of ways it can be avoided. The public cannot rise to the crisis if alternatives are not available to us, just in the same way that if masks were in low availability, or near impossible to get hold of, they would not be worn.
Many of us weren’t affected immediately by the virus, but we still all believed that we should do all we could to protect others, even though that meant sacrificing social occasions, jobs, education and even financial security. In the same way that we considered stopping the virus as the highest priority, we have to stop seeing the climate crisis as a problem that should be avoided because it will have consequences. Of course there will be detrimental changes to the way we live our lives, but it is not an option to avoid these anymore. The pandemic has been awful – the effects of climate change, though not immediate, will be far worse. We didn’t ignore the pandemic, didn’t go about our daily lives as if nothing has changed, this attitude must now be reflected. There is no other solution.
Yes, there are still physical solutions to be discovered to combat climate change. I have not offered a way that carbon can be taken out of our atmosphere, nor a cleaner use of energy or a cheap, eco-friendly material to use instead of a current one. These of course will be the way out eventually, much like the vaccine’s place in the ultimate stopping of corona virus. However, in the same way that we all had to change our lives to slow coronavirus, actions must be done in same way regarding our climate. What we can learn from this pandemic is that when told by those in charge that we had a crisis and must all act to stop it, the vast majority of us did. We were forced to act in a way that negatively affected an enormous amount of our society, plummeting our country alone into waves of emotional, industrial, financial stress – yet we carried on in order to save the lives of those around us. This attitude needs to be reflected when we turn to the problem of our world’s inevitable future. What is needed to be done by the government and those in powerful, influential positions to kickstart is: to address the situation properly; to lay out rules of what must be done by each individual (with the proper resources available for this to be possible); and to ultimately raise the urgency amongst all, with a plan of action that allows people to think that it can be done and will be done, with their involvement.
Now more than ever, this is not something that we can say is ‘impossible’ to fix. We are running out of time, but it is not completely up. If an idea of urgency is created worldwide, and if everybody acts, we can slow it. We must slow it.