The Covid-19 pandemic is dishing out lessons for the world and offering warnings for the future.
The main one is obvious. How much cheaper, smarter and safer would it have been to prepare properly beforehand than be hit without adequate protection by the double whammy of a health disaster and economic shockwave?
That should underline countries' relationships with each other and their own economic, security, and climate change policies going forward.
At international and national levels, the world can't operate as a collective jungle where we can be savaged by wolves and only watch it happen. There's no security and stability in that.
Governments need to think long-term, build some protective barriers into economic and working life, and treat essential services as essential. Proper funding for health and other public services should be viewed as insurance against trillion-dollar meltdowns. And probably the only way to ensure that happens globally is to tackle economic inequality to free up funds.
It's not just pandemics we have to worry about.
Both coronaviruses and climate change can threaten everyone: Neither respect borders nor ideologies. They demand adequate prevention strategies from governments and personal changes from people.
NEW: Florida officials knew as early as 2005 that a coronavirus-like pandemic could devastate the state. So they prepared for it like never before.— Steve Contorno (@scontorno) April 4, 2020
Then, state leaders cut. And cut again. And cut some more.
Story by @_neilbedi and I. https://t.co/mq8iVrDsHW
The coronavirus is giving the environment and wildlife a time out, in a reminder of our influence on the planet itself.
Satellites show pollution levels have dropped in major European cities as human activity has stalled. US data shows that fuel consumption has fallen there to the lowest levels in 25 years as people stay home. Social media has been full of videos of wild animals scoping out streets around the world amid the human withdrawal.
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The world's coronavirus experience is mixed news for climate change. It suggests that radical, head-spinning change is possible if the political will is there and the public buys in. It shows how inter-connected the world is. And it has reaffirmed the importance of scientific expertise.
Yet it has also exposed the short-term thinking of many leaders. Co-operation between countries is improving but has come late in the crisis and is inadequate. Nations are competing for ordinary, everyday, medical supplies. How did it come to this?
Before Covid-19 emerged, individual countries could have set up response teams under proven leaders to run national strategies; built deep stocks of their own manufactured medical supplies; had networks of companies organised for emergency production, for testing and for vaccine research. They could then have tapped into international advice, help and feedback.
What's unsustainable is the world just slipping back into old ways.
Brooklyn medical center to use rain ponchos and garbage bags due to gown shortage https://t.co/vwGr9oToCx— Kara Scannell (@KaraScannell) April 4, 2020
We've seen how one pandemic can cause damage that will likely take years to recover from. We've seen how inadequate preparation and incompetent leadership globally can make a bad situation worse. We've seen that reliance on voluntary compliance from the public isn't always enough. We've seen that the most vulnerable get hit hardest. We've seen that the trafficking in wildlife can be a point of vulnerability for the world.
The Covid-19 coronavirus is upon us and in our faces. It demands people's attention and we are seeing it unfold. Climate change lacks the urgency of now for too many people and officials.
Maybe the pandemic and the way governments have dealt with it will shake off that complacency.
Coronavirus: 3M tells Trump halting exports would reduce number of masks https://t.co/HU4dwZeGH9— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) April 4, 2020
Life after lockdown: Will things ever be the same again? https://t.co/oRzxNZQ5bs— Tess de la Mare (@TessdelaMare) April 4, 2020
3 coronaviruses have emerged since 2002. “The risk of these things happening has enormously accelerated. We have to get a grip on that.”— Rowan Hooper (@rowhoop) April 1, 2020
This on the hunt for #covid19 Patient Zero is fascinating. By @donnadlu. https://t.co/HnBUVR1zHt