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What coronavirus teaches us about climate change

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By Gwynne Dyer

Humans respond well to a crisis that is familiar, especially if it is also imminent. They do not do nearly as well when the threat is unfamiliar and still apparently quite distant. Consider our response to the coronavirus threat.

Countries in East Asia with recent experience of similar viruses (SARS, etc.) immediately responded with "test, track and isolate" drills, plus instant lockdowns if the virus had already gained a foothold in the population.

Other countries, just as rich and well-educated, had the same information, but they still waited several months before taking emergency measures that upset the comfortable routine of their lives. So the United States, Britain and France ended up with death rates per million more than 50 times higher than China, Korea and Japan.

The same applies to global heating, except that in this case we are all Americans. None of us has prior experience of a genuine climate crisis, and although we have known enough about what is going to happen to justify urgent action for 30 years now, we have done nothing decisive about it.

We have lots of "clean" technology, but total demand for energy has grown so fast that we are still getting a steady 80 percent of our energy........

© The Korea Times