Climate Change A ‘Trial Worse Than This Pandemic’

May 6, 2020

Editor, The News-Gazette:

COVID-19 arose in China in December 2019. Most public health scientists by early January knew that there was a high likelihood of the virus affecting the U.S. and the world.

The U.S. government had, in 2007, established the need for planning for such an event. Unfortunately, the National Security Council agency empowered to plan, guide, and direct the Federal efforts for such an event was disbanded. Result: testing still not adequate, protective and medical gear still not available for some health care workers and hospitals, public messaging still confused, many people dying unnecessarily.

This pandemic will stop when a vaccine becomes available. But there will be another pandemic. When is unknowable. But it will happen, for sure. Will we demand of our government wiser planning and readiness? Will we insist on hearing the voices of scientists in government when the next catastrophe looms? We are failing this simple step as I write this letter.

But we are facing a trial worse than this pandemic: climate change.

Climate change is happening, requires scientific input, national planning, leadership, international cooperation, and resources comparable in scope to that of WWII. Why? The U.S. scientists have spoken; you can read online in the 4th National Climate Assessment on page 12 the “Summary Findings”: without drastically lowering our CO2 emissions soon, the Earth will get progressively hotter, causing longer droughts, threatening our food production, our drinking water supplies, our economy, our environment, and most of the animals we share it with. Polar ice is melting, and oceans are rising. Cities and homes will be destroyed over time, forcing internal displacement of many millions of American citizens. The long-term “do nothing” outcome is a catastrophe, for our children and grandchildren, and all the animals of Noah’s ark.

Readers, we and our country are failing. We may lose the window of time to limit damage to the climate we have degraded. This changing climate, after all, is a manmade disaster. We must demand of our Congress and elected officials to listen to our scientists, our economists, our public health officials and begin an honest, clear-eyed national effort to soon lower U.S. CO2 emissions.

Can we learn from the pandemic we are enduring?


Rockbridge County

The News-Gazette

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