Guest essay by Eric Worrall
In the minds of climate alarmists, the climate crisis is every bit as immediate and deadly as the Chinese Coronavirus epidemic.
Delay is deadly: what Covid-19 tells us about tackling the climate crisis
Rightwing governments have denied the problem and been slow to act. With coronavirus and the climate, this costs lives.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought urgency to the defining political question of our age: how to distribute risk. As with the climate crisis, neoliberal capitalism is proving particularly ill-suited to this.
Like global warming, but in close-up and fast-forward, the Covid-19 outbreak shows how lives are lost or saved depending on a government’s propensity to acknowledge risk, act rapidly to contain it, and share the consequences.
On these matters, competence and ideology overlap. Governments willing to intervene have been more effective at stemming the virus than laissez-faire capitalists. The further right the government, the more inclined it is to delay action and offload blame elsewhere. International comparisons suggest this could be making infection and death rates steeper.
Take the US, where Donald Trump is only now acknowledging the seriousness of the pandemic after weeks of claiming fears were exaggerated. Until recently, his government put more money into shielding the oil industry than providing adequate testing kits. He reportedly ordered officials to downplay early warnings because he did not want bad news in an election year. The US now has one of the fastest rising numbers of new cases in the world.
In the UK, Boris Johnson acknowledged the risk, but did little about it. Though not as extreme in his denial as Trump or Bolsonaro, Johnson’s government first dithered, then dabbled with a policy of “herd-immunity”that was reportedly driven by Dominic Cummings’ desire to protect the economy, even if it cost pensioners’ lives. The UK has since shifted tack and enforced a lockdown, but its controls are still haphazard. Last week, daily deaths in the UK were reckoned to be on a steeper upward curve than Italy was at the same stage.
In Asia, China initially attempted to hide the problem from the public when the virus emerged in Wuhan, then mobilised huge public resources to enforce a strict lockdown and provide extra hospital beds. South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand also appear to have turned the corner thanks to different combinations of extensive testing, quarantine measures and public health education.
Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/24/covid-19-climate-crisis-governments-coronavirus
Chinese Communists lying about an outbreak of a new disease is not a new thing. I’m angry at China for lying, yet again, and I’m upset that many of our politicians complacently accepted China’s assurances. People in all of our governments must have been aware of China’s track record of lying about SARS.
Given China’s track record of lies and bad decisions, to uphold China as model of how to respond to a crisis is as out of touch with reality as claiming climate change is a problem. The Covid-19 crisis only occurred because Chinese authorities silenced doctors who tried to warn people. Early action could have stopped the virus in Wuhan.
China claims they have now contained the outbreak, but after all the lies, how can we trust anything the Chinese government says?
There is nothing praiseworthy about shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, then trying to hide the truth.
There is a country which really does deserve praise for their response to a recent outbreak, a country which a few years ago demonstrated skill, courage and determination when dealing with a deadly disease. That country is Nigeria.
In 2014, a deadly Ebola outbreak which could have torn through the Nigerian capital Lagos, a city of 21 million people, was contained to 19 people, 7 of whom sadly died. Nigeria didn’t try to cover up what was happening, or pretend it was business as usual. Nigerian authorities were honest, open and decisive. Their efforts stopped the deadly 2014 Lagos outbreak in its tracks.
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