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What does our fight against COVID-19 and climate change have in common?

Daphne van Hesteren

It is often stated that the only way we can effectively fight the COVID-19 pandemic is by working together and by collectively following advices and policies.123 In order to gain accurate insights into the spread and the consequences of the pandemic, a constant flow of frequently updated data was released. All sorts of data were shared by both public and private institutions, such as economic, transportation, educational and epidemiological data. This resulted in virus tracking dashboards, informative news pieces and inventive initiatives to convince people of the severity of the virus, keep them updated on the latest information and create awareness of the importance of following the implemented measures.

I do not know if we are already allowed to talk about a ‘first wave’, but if I look back at the last few months I can proudly say that everyone around me followed, respected and, maybe most importantly, understood the implemented measures. Therefore, everyone did what was in their power to fight this pandemic, such as grocery shopping for elderly, creating online lessons and instantly switching to remote working. I think an important lesson can be learned from our current pandemic and governmental responses. There will always be room for improvement in how to deal with crisis situations, but the bottom line is that in order to combat national or global problems, we need to work together. This lesson can be useful when combatting another crucial and massive global issue: climate change. The current pandemic has many things in common with climate change.45 Most importantly, in both cases positive change will be beneficial for everyone across the world.

Most countries have addressed the problematic consequences of the climate change and several promising initiatives have been established to collectively mitigate climate change. Institutions and policy makers are aware that in order to effectively combat climate change, collecting, monitoring, using and sharing data will be crucial to understand the risks involved and the progress made.

However, the availability of data is not only important for decision makers. It is also crucial that the rest of society has access and proper understanding of the available data in this area. Only then will everyone follow, respect and understand current and future climate change mitigating policies. It is important that also the less data-literate citizens are aware of current problems and are stimulated to adjust their behaviour accordingly. Bottom line: instead of explaining that climate change is problem, we need to show it and convince everyone that we can fight this together!

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What COVID-19 and Climate Change Have in Common
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