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What does the response to COVID-19 tell us about our ability to cope with climate change? Show more Show less

The global shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic have tested every part of our society, from healthcare, to employment, finance, supply chains, global trade, nationalism, governance, emergency response, and so on. How our governments have responded to the pandemic is revealing a lot about how the world works, and makes us ask what it reveals about potential responses to future disasters, such as the climate change crisis. Is the COVID-19 pandemic a stress test for future climate shock? How prepared are we?

Our current systems are ill equipped to respond to climate change and must be altered completely Show more Show less

We knew this was coming, strategies and plans had been drawn up, but the system has been unable to act in a way that avoids the worst outcomes. The performance should make us certain that the world is ill prepared to respond to larger future climate shocks.
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Our governments were not prepared for a pandemic, so we can't expect them to be prepared for a climate change catastrophe.

Due to political fragmentation and bureaucracy, countries such as the United States were not prepared for a pandemic and took too long to coordinate an effective response. Climate change research exists, and so does pandemic research - but disorganization in the various levels of the government renders this research less useful than it could be.
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Context

The Argument

The United States is an example of a nation with a government that was drastically underprepared for the COVID-19 pandemic. The Global Health Security and Biodefense Unit was established in 2015 by the Obama administration, only to be dismantled in 2018 by President Donald Trump. Trump would then go on to say that coronavirus "came out of nowhere," and "blindsided the world." The Trump administration did, however, conduct a series of exercises and simulations code-named "Crimson Contagion" in order to highlight the devastating impact that a potential flu pandemic would have on the United States. It “drove home just how underfunded, underprepared and uncoordinated the federal government would be for a life-or-death battle with a virus for which no treatment existed.” [1]The government, contrary to popular belief, actually was prepared for a pandemic - or, at the very least, was aware of the fact that they were unprepared. The United States did not have the means to quickly manufacture masks or ventilators in large numbers, hence why many states are currently facing shortages. The “knowledge and sense of urgency about the peril appear never to have gotten sufficient attention at the highest level of the executive branch or from Congress, leaving the nation with funding shortfalls, equipment shortages and disorganization within and among various branches and levels of government.” [1]The United States is an enormous country with a polarized political system, so federal and state governments are very fragmented- which is why “the rollout of COVID-19 testing and the overall response has been so sluggish and haphazard in the U.S. relative to more centralized governments such as South Korea’s.” [2] When COVID-19 eventually reached the United States, Donald Trump downplayed the dangerous nature of the virus and the government did not act quickly enough in preventing it from spreading further. All of this mirrors our governments responses to the climate change crisis. Politicians have consistently denied that climate change poses a real threat to our livelihoods, even though research has been done into how catastrophic it will be. Due to government bureaucracy and disorganization, it's very unlikely that the government will be able to tackle climate change, or that they'll even attempt to stop climate change before its already too late.

Counter arguments

Framing

Premises

[P1] This government of the United States was unprepared for the COVID-19 pandemic despite the research that had been conducted beforehand. [P2] This issue is not the lack of research or awareness, but the fragmentation and disorganization of the United States political system that makes quickly and efficiently tackling emergencies difficult. [P3] Research has been conducted regarding climate change, but it's unlikely that executive branch of the U.S government will take it seriously before it's too late.

Rejecting the premises

Proponents

Further Reading

References

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/19/us/politics/trump-coronavirus-outbreak.html
  2. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/03/coronavirus-united-states-vulnerable-pandemic/608686/

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This page was last edited on Monday, 18 May 2020 at 21:44 UTC