The Pandemic and Climate Change
By Cyril Cabral, Jr.
If someone had told you a few years ago that there would be a pandemic in the future that would kill between 5 to 11 million worldwide (depending how you count them) you would likely not have believed it.
If you were then told it could be stopped by wearing a mask and keeping a distance of at least six feet from others, you would probably say, “Wow, that is so simple!” And if it was predicted that vaccines would be developed in less than a year that could prevent the suffering, hospitalizations, and deaths from such a pandemic, you’d likely say, “Amazing!”
Finally, if you were told the caveat that many would refuse to wear the mask, keep their distance, and take the vaccine, your retort might be an unbelieving “No way!”
The solution is simple; the citizens of wealthy Western countries need to get vaccinated and then pay to vaccinate the rest of the world, else mutant variants like the Delta and Lambda, that are much more contagious and evasive of our immune system, will continue to develop and boomerang back causing suffering and death. The future is in our hands, with science pointing the way out of this tragic predicament.
Moreover, consider this: Climate change will be worse than the pandemic, possibly causing hundreds of millions, if not a billion deaths, and here is why.
Climate change is simply global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels. As the earth warms over the entire planet it amplifies the dryer and wetter areas of the planet, causing them to become much drier and wetter. The parched areas dry further due to the higher temperatures leading to massive wildfires, crop failure and the disappearance of potable drinking water. The wetter areas, due to the increased heat, have more atmospheric moisture from evaporation leading to torrential downpours, flash flooding and very large dangerous hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones, and tornadoes. The cold areas covered in ice thaw and sea levels rise causing islands and coastlines worldwide to become submerged. Massive human migrations will take place, with struggles to ensue over obtaining our basic needs of clean drinking water, food, and shelter. Is this the future you want?
The poorest 50% of the world’s population produce 10% of the carbon emissions (burning of fossil fuels), whereas the richest 10% produce 50% of the carbon emissions. Like with the pandemic, maybe even more so, the richest
Western countries need to do what is needed to curtail the negative effects of climate change by stopping the burning of fossil fuels to sustain their lifestyles and then help the rest of the world do the same. The solution entails electrifying everything (homes, businesses, industry, transportation) and producing the electricity from carbon free sources (wind, solar, hydro, biomass, nuclear). Research and technology in carbon free energy generation and use alternatives must also be funded, since innovation will be key. There is no time to lose, this effort must start in earnest today.
In the United State, in the first half of 2021.there were seven major climate change events already that cost in excess of one billion dollars each and one on-going event, namely the western heatwave, drought and massive wildfires. The events are:
- Jan 24-29, California, atmospheric river, 7-15 inches of rain causing flooding and mudslides, cost $1.1 B
- Feb 10-19, Northern, Central, Eastern cold wave, and winter storm, historic cold 40 F below normal, ten million without power, the costliest winter event on record, cost $20.4 B
- Mar 24-25, Southeastern tornados, forty-one tornados, one EF-4 (166-200 mph), three EF-3 (136-165 mph) and ten EF-2 (111-135 mph), cost $1.6 B
- Mar 27-28, Eastern sever weather, tornado, wind and hail damage, cost $1.4 B
- Apr 12-15, Texas hailstorm, damage to homes, vehicles, and businesses, cost $1.2 B
- Apr 27-28, Texas, and Oklahoma, severe weather, tornados, flooding, and hail damage, cost $2.4 B
- May 15-19, Louisiana flooding, twelve inches of rain, home, vehicle, and business damage, cost $1.3 B
- On-going, Western drought, heatwave, and wildfires, cost TBD (since 1980 drought has cost $249 B)
- New temperature records, Portland 116 F and Seattle 108 F
- Lake Mead reservoir (nine trillion gallons of water) at 36% capacity – lowest point in history, major water restrictions for forty million people in Arizona, Nevada, and California
- Hoover Dam at 66% electric-generating capacity affecting 1.3 million people
- On-going drought conditions for twenty-one years, with no end in sight
- Wildfires in Oregon – Bootleg fire consuming 402,000 acres, Lake Tahoe – Tamarack fire consuming 65,000 acres to date and the California – Dixie fire consuming 200,000 acres, the smoke from these fires has made its way to New York!
In summary, the pandemic and climate change have known solutions based on scientific understanding. Both will take major efforts at the international, regional, local, and individual levels to keep human suffering and death to a minimal. What will you do? Please visit the following websites to learn how to start fighting against these scourges today.
- Cure100 Community Based Climate Change Organization
- New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
- US Climate Alliance
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
- COVID-19: Insights and solutions