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By Tom Duszynski
The coronavirus is certainly scary, but despite the constant reporting on total cases and a climbing death toll, the reality is that the vast majority of people who come down with COVID-19 survive it. Just as the number of cases grows, so does another number: those who have recovered.
In mid-March, the number of patients in the U.S. who had officially recovered from the virus was close to zero. That number is now in the tens of thousands and is climbing every day. But recovering from COVID-19 is more complicated than simply feeling better. Recovery involves biology, epidemiology and a little bit of bureaucracy too.
How does your body fight off COVID-19?<p>Once a person is exposed the coronavirus, the body starts producing <a href="https://www.mblintl.com/products/what-are-antibodies-mbli/" target="_blank">proteins called antibodies to fight the infection</a>. As these <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/27/serological-tests-reveal-immune-coronavirus/" target="_blank">antibodies start to successfully contain the virus</a> and keep it from replicating in the body, symptoms usually begin to lessen and you start to feel better. Eventually, if all goes well, your immune system will completely destroy all of the virus in your system. A person who was infected with and survived a virus with no long-term health effects or disabilities has "recovered."</p><p>On average, a person who is infected with SARS-CoV-2 will feel ill for about seven days from the onset of symptoms. Even after symptoms disappear, there still may be small amounts of the virus in a patient's system, and they should stay <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html" target="_blank">isolated for an additional three days</a> to ensure they have truly <a href="https://health.usnews.com/conditions/articles/coronavirus-recovery-what-to-know" target="_blank">recovered and are no longer infectious</a>.</p>
What about immunity?<p>In general, once you have recovered from a viral infection, your body will keep cells called lymphocytes in your system. These cells "remember" viruses they've previously seen and can react quickly to fight them off again. If you are exposed to a virus you have already had, your antibodies will likely stop the virus before it starts causing symptoms. <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.5114%2Fceji.2018.77390" target="_blank">You become immune</a>. This is the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK27158/" target="_blank">principle behind many vaccines</a>.</p><p>Unfortunately, immunity isn't perfect. For many viruses, like mumps, immunity can wane over time, leaving you <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160421145747.htm" target="_blank">susceptible to the virus in the future</a>. This is why you need to get revaccinated – those "booster shots" – occasionally: to prompt your immune system to make more antibodies and memory cells.</p><p>Since this coronavirus is so new, scientists still don't know whether people who recover from COVID-19 are <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/faq.html" target="_blank">immune to future infections of the virus</a>. Doctors are finding antibodies in ill and recovered patients, and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinical-guidance-management-patients.html" target="_blank">that indicates the development of immunity</a>. But the question remains how long that immunity will last. Other coronaviruses like <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/jmv.25685" target="_blank">SARS and MERS produce an immune response</a> that will protect a person at least for a short time. I would suspect the same is true of SARS-CoV-2, but the research simply hasn't been done yet to say so definitively.</p>
Why have so few people officially recovered in the US?<p>This is a dangerous virus, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is being extremely careful when deciding what it means to recover from COVID-19. Both medical and testing criteria must be met before a person is <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/disposition-in-home-patients.html" target="_blank">officially declared recovered</a>.</p><p>Medically, a person must be fever-free without fever-reducing medications for three consecutive days. They must show an improvement in their other symptoms, including reduced coughing and shortness of breath. And it must be at least seven full days <a href="https://health.usnews.com/conditions/articles/coronavirus-recovery-what-to-know" target="_blank">since the symptoms began</a>.</p><p>In addition to those requirements, the CDC guidelines say that a person must test negative for the coronavirus twice, with the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/care-for-someone.html" target="_blank">tests taken at least 24 hours apart</a>.</p><p>Only then, if both the symptom and testing conditions are met, is a person officially considered recovered by the CDC.</p><p>This second testing requirement is likely why there were so few official recovered cases in the U.S. until late March. Initially, there was a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/health/coronavirus-test-shortages-face-masks-swabs.html" target="_blank">massive shortage of testing in the U.S.</a> So while many people were certainly recovering over the last few weeks, this could not be officially confirmed. As the country enters the height of the pandemic in the coming weeks, focus is still on <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/clinical-criteria.html" target="_blank">testing those who are infected</a>, not those who have likely recovered.</p><p>Many more people are being tested now that states and private companies have begun <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/testing-in-us.html" target="_blank">producing and distributing tests</a>. As <a href="https://www.dispatch.com/news/20200406/coronavirus-in-ohio-from-its-rocky-start-testing-for-covid-19-slowly-ramping-up" target="_blank">the number of available tests increases</a> and the pandemic eventually slows in the country, more testing will be available for those who have appeared to recover. As people who have already recovered are tested, the appearance of any new infections will help researchers learn <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/24/we-need-smart-coronavirus-testing-not-just-more-testing/" target="_blank">how long immunity can be expected to last</a>.</p>
Once a person has recovered, what can they do?<p>Knowing whether or not people are immune to COVID-19 after they recover is going to determine what individuals, communities and society at large can do going forward. If scientists can show that recovered patients are immune to the coronavirus, then a person who has recovered could in theory <a href="https://www.vox.com/2020/3/30/21186822/immunity-to-covid-19-test-coronavirus-rt-pcr-antibody" target="_blank">help support the health care system</a> by caring for those who are infected.</p><p>Once communities pass the peak of the epidemic, the number of new infections will decline, while the number of <a href="https://www.newsweek.com/china-says-passed-peak-coronavirus-epidemic-covid-19-1491863" target="_blank">recovered people will increase</a>. As these trends continue, the risk of transmission will fall. Once the risk of transmission has fallen enough, community-level isolation and social distancing orders will begin to relax and businesses will start to reopen. Based on what other countries have gone through, it will be <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00154-w" target="_blank">months until the risk of transmission is low</a> in the U.S.</p><p>But before any of this can happen, the U.S. and the world need to make it through the peak of this pandemic. Social distancing works to slow the spread of infectious diseases and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/what-you-can-do.html" target="_blank">is working for COVID-19</a>. Many people will <a href="https://www.yalemedicine.org/stories/2019-novel-coronavirus/" target="_blank">need medical help to recover</a>, and social distancing will slow this virus down and give people the best chance to do so.</p>
By Jennifer Cheavens and David Cregg
The world is currently in the midst of a pandemic where the most useful thing many of us can do is stay at home and keep away from others. Schools, restaurants, office buildings and movie theaters are closed. Many people are feeling disoriented, disconnected and scared.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Hector Chapa
With the coronavirus pandemic quickly spreading, U.S. health officials have changed their advice on face masks and now recommend people wear cloth masks in public areas where social distancing can be difficult, such as grocery stores.
But can these masks be effective?
Sick, but No Symptoms<p>As recently as early February, the World Health Organization stated that viral transmission from <a href="https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200201-sitrep-12-ncov.pdf?sfvrsn=273c5d35_2" target="_blank">asymptomatic people</a> was likely "rare," based on information available at the time. But a growing body of data now suggests that a significant number of infected people who don't have symptoms can still transmit the virus to others.</p><p>A <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6912e3.htm" target="_blank">CDC report</a> issued March 23 on COVID-19 outbreaks on cruise ships offers a glimpse of the danger. It describes how the testing of passengers and crew on board the Diamond Princess found that nearly half — 46.5 percent — of the more than 700 people found to be infected with the new coronavirus had no symptoms at the time of testing.</p><p>The CDC explained that "a high proportion of asymptomatic infections could partially explain the high attack rate among cruise ship passengers and crew."</p><p>Dr. Harvey Fineberg, former president of the National Academy of Medicine and head of a new <a href="http://nationalacademies.org/news/2020/03/harvey-fineberg-named-chair-of-standing-committee-requested-by-white-house-in-response-to-coronavirus" target="_blank">federal committee</a> on infectious diseases, told <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/02/health/aerosol-coronavirus-spread-white-house-letter/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> on April 2 that he will start wearing a mask in public, especially at grocery stores, for this very reason. "While the current specific research is limited, the results of available studies are consistent with aerosolization of virus from normal breathing," he said.</p><p>It is these "silent carriers" — people infected with the virus but without fever, cough, or muscle aches — that proponents of universal mask wearing point to as proof that more could be done beyond social distancing to slow the virus's spread.</p>
More Effective Than Doing Nothing<p>While research on the effectiveness of universal mask wearing for reducing respiratory droplet transmission is still thin, there is <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-0843-2" target="_blank">evidence</a> to support it.</p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4293989/" target="_blank">Research on SARS</a>, another coronavirus, found that N95 masks were highly effective at blocking transmission of that virus. Even ill-fitting medical face masks have been found <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2843945/" target="_blank">to interrupt</a> airborne particles and viruses, keeping them from reaching as far when someone sneezes.</p><p>Another <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24229526" target="_blank">study</a> determined that, while masks made out of cotton T-shirts were <a href="https://academic.oup.com/annweh/article/54/7/789/202744" target="_blank">far less effective</a> than manufactured surgical masks in preventing wearers from expelling droplets, they did reduce droplets and were better than no protection at all.</p>
A Challenge With Cloth: Washing<p>The surgical masks that doctors and nurses typically wear are designed for one-time use, while cloth masks used by the general public would likely be washed, which raises another concern.</p><p>A <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6599448/" target="_blank">study</a> from Nepal on cloth masks designed to protect wearers from larger particles, such as pollution or pollen, found that washing and drying practices deteriorated the mask's efficiency because they damaged the cloth material.</p><p>It is clear that urgent research is needed on the best material suitable for universal masks, their storage and care, or the creation of proper reusable masks for the public.</p>
A Low-Risk Intervention<p>As an obstetrician-gynecologist and researcher, I believe that some protection for the public is better than none. A recent article in the medical journal <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(20)30134-X/fulltext" target="_blank">The Lancet Respiratory Medicine</a> states a similar rationale.</p><p>The universal use of mouth and nose covering with masks is a low-risk intervention that can only assist in reducing the spread of this terrible illness. If everyone wears a mask, individuals protect one another, reducing overall community transmission. It could even remind people <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/02/should-you-wear-a-face-mask-to-prevent-covid-19-doctors-weigh-in.html" target="_blank">not to touch their faces</a> after touching potentially contaminated surfaces.</p><p>As the research shows, masks aren't shields. It's still important to help prevent transmission by practicing social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from others in public, staying home as much as possible, and washing hands frequently and properly.</p>
At several points in the history of our planet, increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have caused extreme global warming, prompting the majority of species on Earth to die out.
Past Mass Extinctions<p>Many species can adapt to slow, or even moderate, environmental changes. But Earth's history shows that extreme shifts in the climate can cause many species to <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-11-13/what-is-a-mass-extinction-are-we-in-one-now/11699372" target="_blank">become extinct</a>.</p><p>For example, about 66 million years ago an asteroid hit Earth. The subsequent smashed rocks and widespread fires released massive amounts of carbon dioxide over <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/99/12/7836" target="_blank">about 10,000 years</a>. Global temperatures soared, sea levels rose and oceans became acidic. About <a href="https://www.britannica.com/science/K-T-extinction" target="_blank">80% of species</a>, including the dinosaurs, were wiped out.</p><p>And about 55 million years ago, global temperatures spiked again, over <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/ngeo578;%20https://www.nature.com/articles/ngeo1179;https://www.whoi.edu/fileserver.do?id=136084&pt=2&p=148709" target="_blank">100,000 years or so</a>. The cause of this event, known as the <a href="https://www.britannica.com/science/Paleocene-Eocene-Thermal-Maximum" target="_blank">Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum</a>, is not entirely clear. One theory, known as the <a href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2010RG000326" target="_blank">"methane burp" hypothesis</a>, posits that a massive volcanic eruption triggered the sudden release of methane from ocean sediments, making oceans more acidic and killing off many species.</p><p>So is life on Earth now headed for the same fate?</p>
Comparing Greenhouse Gas Levels<p>Before industrial times began at the end of the 18th century, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere sat at around <a href="https://data.giss.nasa.gov/modelforce/ghgases/" target="_blank">300 parts per million</a>. This means that for every one million molecules of gas in the atmosphere, 300 were carbon dioxide.</p><p>In February this year, atmospheric carbon dioxide reached <a href="https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/" target="_blank">414.1 parts per million</a>. Total greenhouse gas level — carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide combined — reached almost <a href="https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/aggi/" target="_blank">500 parts per million of carbon dioxide-equivalent</a></p>
Author provided / The Conversation /CC BY-ND<p>Carbon dioxide is now pouring into the atmosphere at a rate of <a href="https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/" target="_blank">two to three parts per million each year</a>.</p><p>Using carbon records stored in fossils and organic matter, I have determined that current carbon emissions constitute an extreme event in the recorded history of Earth.</p><p><a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/gcb.13342" target="_blank">My research</a> has demonstrated that annual carbon dioxide emissions are now faster than after both the asteroid impact that eradicated the dinosaurs (about 0.18 parts per million CO2 per year), and the thermal maximum 55 million years ago (about 0.11 parts per million CO2 per year).</p>
An asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. Shutterstock
The Next Mass Extinction Has Begun<p>Current atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide are not yet at the levels seen 55 million and 65 million years ago. But the massive influx of carbon dioxide means the climate is changing faster than many plant and animal species <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/gcb.13342" target="_blank">can adapt</a>.</p><p><a href="https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2019/05/nature-decline-unprecedented-report/" target="_blank">A major United Nations report</a> released last year warned around one million animal and plant species were threatened with extinction. Climate change was listed as one of five key drivers.</p><p>The report said the distributions of 47% of land-based flightless mammals, and almost 25% of threatened birds, may already have been negatively affected by climate change.</p><p>Many researchers fear the climate system is approaching a <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/115/33/8252" target="_blank">tipping point</a> - a threshold beyond which rapid and irreversible changes will occur. This will create a cascade of <a href="https://sites.hks.harvard.edu/sed/docs/hjs_esa_environment_0510.pdf" target="_blank">devastating effects</a>.</p><p>There are already signs tipping points have been reached. For example, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/27/arctic-warming-scientists-alarmed-by-crazy-temperature-rises" target="_blank">rising Arctic temperatures</a> have led to <a href="https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=7616" target="_blank">major ice melt</a>, and weakened the <a href="https://www.globalresearch.ca/melting-ice-sheets-and-weakened-polar-fronts-onset-of-climate-tipping-points/5668981" target="_blank">Arctic jet stream</a> — a powerful band of westerly winds.</p>
A diagram showing the weakening Arctic jet stream, and subsequent movements of warm and cold air. NASA<p>This allows north-moving warm air to cross the polar boundary, and cold fronts emanating from the poles to <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-019-02458-x" target="_blank">intrude south into Siberia, Europe and Canada</a>.</p><p>A shift in climate zones is also causing the tropics to expand and migrate toward the poles, at a rate of about <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-worlds-tropical-zone-is-expanding-and-australia-should-be-worried-77701" target="_blank">56 to 111 kilometres per decade</a>. The tracks of tropical and extra-tropical cyclones are likewise shifting toward the poles. Australia is highly vulnerable to this shift.</p>
Uncharted Future Climate Territory<p><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nature16494" target="_blank">Research</a> released in 2016 showed just what a massive impact humans are having on the planet. It said while the Earth might naturally have entered the next ice age in about 20,000 years' time, the heating produced by carbon dioxide would result in a period of super-tropical conditions, delaying the next ice age to about 50,000 years from now.</p><p>During this period, chaotic <a href="https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/storms-of-my-grandchildren-9781608195022/" target="_blank">high-energy stormy conditions</a> would prevail over much of the Earth. <a href="https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319572369" target="_blank">My research suggests</a> humans are likely to survive best in sub-polar regions and sheltered mountain valleys, where cooler conditions would allow flora and fauna to persist.</p><p>Earth's next mass extinction is avoidable — if carbon dioxide emissions are dramatically curbed and we develop and deploy technologies to <a href="http://www.ecosmagazine.com/?act=view_file&file_id=EC147p14.pdf" target="_blank">remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere</a>. But on the current trajectory, human activity threatens to make large parts of the Earth <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41552709-the-uninhabitable-earth" target="_blank">uninhabitable</a> - a planetary tragedy of our own making.</p><p><span></span><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/while-we-fixate-on-coronavirus-earth-is-hurtling-towards-a-catastrophe-worse-than-the-dinosaur-extinction-130869" target="_blank">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>
By Bhiamie Williamson, Francis Markham and Jessica Weir
The catastrophic bushfire season is officially over, but governments, agencies and communities have failed to recognize the specific and disproportionate impact the fires have had on Aboriginal peoples.
Table: The Conversation. Source: Authors' calculations from 2016 Census of Population and Housing (ABS 2020) and 2016 ERP (ABS 2017b). Get the data
Areas in NSW and Victoria burnt and affected by fires of 250 ha or more, July 1, 2019 to January 23, 2020, and Aboriginal legal interests in land. Author provided
By Raya A. Al-Masri
Different strategies for resisting the spread of the new coronavirus have emerged in different countries. But the one that has cut through everywhere is simple and, supposedly, can be done by anyone: "Wash your hands with water and soap for at least 20 seconds."
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By Albert Van Dijk, Luigi Renzullo, Marta Yebra and Shoshana Rapley
2019 was the year Australians confronted the fact that a healthy environment is more than just a pretty waterfall in a national park; a nice extra we can do without. We do not survive without air to breathe, water to drink, soil to grow food and weather we can cope with.
Environmental condition scores by local government area, and values for each of the seven indicators. See more data on www.ausenv.online.
Values for 15 environmental indicators in 2015, expressed as the change from average 2000-2018 conditions. Similar to national economic indicators, they provide a summary but also hide regional variations, complex interactions and long-term context. ANU Centre for Water and Landscape Dynamics
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Blue sharks are among the widest-ranging shark species in the oceans. We know this partly because from 1962 to 2013, 117,962 blue sharks were tagged as part of the ongoing Cooperative Shark Tagging Program.
A dart tag, one type used in the Cooperative Shark Tagging Program. NOAA<p>More than half (51%) of the animals tagged were <a href="https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/discover-fish/species-profiles/prionace-glauca/" target="_blank">blue sharks</a> (<em>Prionace glauca</em>) – a total of 117,962 individual sharks. This is probably because blues are abundant: They are found in all of the world's oceans, as far north as Alaska and as far south as Chile, but rarely venture near shore.</p><p>Unlike some other sharks, blues are not a prized commercial species, likely because most people think they <a href="https://www.ifish.net/board/showthread.php?t=258823" target="_blank">taste disgusting</a>. That makes fishermen willing to tag and release them instead of harvesting them.</p><p>But blue sharks are often caught unintentionally as <a href="https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/node/251" target="_blank">bycatch</a> along with targeted fish. They are classified as <a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/39381/2915850" target="_blank">near threatened</a>, and there is evidence that their <a href="https://www.mcsuk.org/30species/blue-shark" target="_blank">population is decreasing</a>.</p><p>Each tag attached to a shark carries an identification number and contact information, so that recaptures can be reported and matched to data collected during the initial tagging. The data show that these sharks really move. One traveled a record-breaking 3,997 nautical miles from waters off Long Island, New York, where it was first tagged, to the south Atlantic where it was recaptured – a distance longer than the Great Wall of China.</p>
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By Shireen Kassam
Many of the important benefits of a plant-based diet – particularly for climate health and animals – are well known. Yet despite the science being very clear, there remains confusion about the impact on human health.
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By Eric Galbraith and Ross Otto
In the past few weeks, governments around the world have enacted dramatic measures to mitigate the threat of COVID-19.
It's too soon to know whether these measures will prove too little to limit mass mortality, or so extreme that they set off economic catastrophe. But what is absolutely clear is that the pandemic response is in stark contrast to the lack of effective action on climate change, despite a number of similarities between the two threats.
Instinctive Fear<p>First, COVID-19 is deadly in a way that is frightening on an instinctive, personal level. People react <a href="https://openlibrary.org/books/OL5411118M/The_denial_of_death." target="_blank">strongly to mortal threats</a>, and although the virus appears to have much <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6912e2.htm" target="_blank">lower mortality for otherwise healthy people under 60</a>, those statistics do not quell universal personal safety fears.</p><p>The rapid bombardment of vivid detail we receive about infections, overburdened hospitals and deaths further amplifies our personal <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/journals/xlm/4/6/551/" target="_blank">assessment of risk</a>. Climate change has the potential to end up killing more people than COVID-19 in the long run, but the deaths are one step removed from carbon emissions, appearing instead as an <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-018-2258-3" target="_blank">increased frequency of "natural disasters</a>."</p><p>And the slow timescale of climate change — an incremental ratcheting up of global temperatures — allows our <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/fulltext/2011-09485-004.html" target="_blank">expectations to continually adjust as the situation gradually worsens</a>. The abstract connections between emissions and these mortal dangers prevents global climate change from achieving the urgency that the virus has, making everyone more reluctant to accept difficult policy choices.</p>
Fast-Moving Threat<p>Second, COVID-19 is a new threat that exploded into the global consciousness with obvious urgency while climate change has been on the radar for decades.</p><p>The consequences of inaction on COVID-19 loom on a timescale of weeks rather than decades away for climate change — this is not a problem for future generations, but for everyone living now. The slow, creeping awareness of the climate change threat also allowed the parallel development of professional skeptics, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/10/vested-interests-public-against-climate-science-fossil-fuel-lobby" target="_blank">funded by the fossil fuel industry</a>, who were amazingly effective at <a href="https://books.google.es/books?hl=en&lr=&id=yz4kAwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&ots=XYJuVlaeHu&sig=5f1t-qmVqqKzIQ2MbiDpYuQwPPc#v=onepage&q&f=false" target="_blank">sowing doubt on the science</a>.</p><p>There was no time for vested interests to mount similar resistance to COVID-19 policy, so governments seem to be acting on the advice of health professionals for the public good.</p>
Clear Strategies<p>Third, officials from groups like the World Health Organization presented <a href="https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/technical-guidance/critical-preparedness-readiness-and-response-actions-for-covid-19" target="_blank">coherent and immediately actionable paths</a> to slowing the spread of COVID-19. Governments were given a straightforward priority list of compelling their citizens to wash more, stop touching, reduce travel and go into some degree of isolation.</p><p>In contrast, the space of possible solutions to climate change is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/wcc.324" target="_blank">bewilderingly complex</a>, and these solutions touch on nearly all aspects of modern life.</p><p>Even experts don't agree on exactly what is the best way to bring down carbon emissions while minimizing economic damage. This lack of clarity has contributed to confusion and decision paralysis on the part of policymakers.</p>
Ability for Nations to Go It Alone<p>And, while responses to COVID-19 require close international collaboration about public health directives, travel and borders, individual nations can take effective action to slow the spread of COVID-19 within their own borders. Even the smallest countries, like <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-singapores-coronavirus-response-worked-and-what-we-can-all-learn-134024" target="_blank">Singapore</a>, can ensure the safety of their citizens by making an effective local response to COVID-19.</p><p>In contrast, stabilizing climate requires all nations to reduce their emissions — going it alone doesn't work. This co-ordination problem may be the toughest hurdle of all when it comes to climate change. There are <a href="https://issues.org/climate-clubs-to-overcome-free-riding/" target="_blank">ideas of how the co-ordination problem could be addressed in stages</a>, but they still require collaboration between an initial group of committed nations.</p><p>While the international response to COVID-19 <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30679-6" target="_blank">has been criticized</a>, it still gives us hope that strong climate change policy can be achieved if we manage to overcome the psychological handicaps that keep governments complacent.</p><p>At this point, the policy changes required to mitigate climate change appear far less disruptive — economically, socially and culturally — than the measures being taken right now to tackle COVID-19.</p><p>In fact, carbon dioxide emissions could probably be brought down dramatically through gradual increases in a <a href="https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/global-carbon-pricing" target="_blank">global carbon price</a> in ways that would be imperceptible in the daily lives of most people.</p><p>When the dust of COVID-19 settles, we should look back at this moment as proof that our societies are not enslaved to fate, and find strength in the demonstrated ability of modern societies to react to global emergencies.</p>
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By Tamara Hew-Butler and Mariane Fahlman
So here we are, perfecting our social distancing skills while schools, sports and other forms of social engagement are on indefinite hold, by a dangerous virus named after a (regal) crown. The coronavirus is named because the center envelope is surrounded by small protein spikes called peplomers. These little protein spikes wreak havoc when they attach to lung tissue and hijack otherwise healthy tissue into building a potentially lethal coronavirus army of invaders.