The World Will Handle Climate Change Just Like the Pandemic

Cordoba Roman Bridge

A world pandemic shines a light on the human plight. It doesn’t just reveal how vulnerable we are, but also gives us a hint as to how we will respond in the future to any challenge of this magnitude. The number one revelation that COVID has waved in our faces every day for two years is that we seem unable to cooperate with one another.

In fact, we can’t cooperate even if it kills us.

When I look back over the past two years, I realize that the pandemic has given me a peek into how we will most likely respond to a world call to action when it comes to climate change.

There are three essential takeaways that have been garishly on display since COVID turned our lives upside down.

  • People get mad when they’re asked to make sacrifices.
  • Our economy, built upon massive consumerism, is threatened.
  • The elite preach one thing but do another.
  • Every little bit doesn’t make a difference.

Maybe the above snippets resonated with you, but allow me to further explain.

People get mad when they’re asked to sacrifice. Personal sacrifice has always been touted as a noble thing, but in reality most of us would prefer that someone else sacrifices for all of us. Sort of like Jesus hanging on the cross for everyone’s sins. We might jump on an activist’s bandwagon, but until we’re asked to give up something, it’s pretty meaningless. At that point we stingily measure how much we’re willing to give up and praise ourselves disproportionately for what little bit we offered.

If called upon to do more, I mean something really significant, we quickly become resentful.

COVID has certainly demonstrated how short tempered people get when they’re asked to do something as small as wear a mask in a crowded room. Suddenly, resistance accompanied by anger, manifests itself on public forums and within communities and things go from bad to worse. Apparently, anger simply begets more anger not more solutions.

What makes matters even worse is that the elite often preach one thing but do another.

Deep down inside we know that we’re being asked to sacrifice things that our leaders or the wealthiest among us won’t personally give up. How many times during the COVID years have we caught leaders going on vacations, gathering for parties, and not wearing masks after they’ve begged us to do the noble thing and stay home — again — rather than enjoy a break or visit our families.

From progressives to democrats to republicans to the rich and famous, worldwide they always tell us to do as they say not as they do.

Our economy is another matter altogether. First and foremost, we tend to think about how we’re going to make money. Money gives us access in the modern world to everything that we need from shelter to food to that occasional vacation. And, in order to keep it grinding, we need to sell more stuff this year than last year. The pandemic made it abundantly clear that when we shut things down, even temporarily, we’re left standing on thin ice. Will our economy recover and if so will it be the economy we had before we were forced to tamper with it?

Change of any kind scares the hell out of us.

We want guarantees first and even then when pushed out of our comfort zone, we tend to resist. And, the big moneymakers are the worst of the lot, because they have most if not all of the power and they don’t intend to change. They may ask us to change. Or they may try another tactic and tell us lies so we’ll think we don’t need to change, but they’re never going to leave their privileged comfort zone.

One of the biggest fallacies, however, is that every little bit counts.

That if I recycle or drive an electric car or stop flying to exotic places for vacations then that’s one less person creating a toxic environment in a swiftly changing world. My sacrifices will make a difference. So, if I wear my mask in a store where the other 100 people refuse to wear a mask, my attempts at fighting COVID are still powerful. If I get vaccinated but 60% of the population refuses the vaccine, my choice to do so will make a big difference in my community.

One thing we’ve learned is that we all remain vulnerable to a greater or lesser degree as long as we’re unable to convince a massive amount of people, about 95%, to take the same precautions.

Apparently, a unified front can deliver better results, but when people are angry, worried about the economy, or getting mixed messages from their leaders, unification becomes less and less likely.

That means, we are weakened as we fall prey to procrastination, denial, wishful thinking, and misinformation.

The fact of the matter is that until we have a huge commitment from the leaders of the world, I can live a life of self denial but in many ways I might as well join a convent and devote my life to praying for the planet. You know. My intentions may be good, but it really won’t make a difference. I’d go so far as to venture a guess that it would have zero effect on climate change. Zero.

It almost becomes a question of how do I want to spend my time as the ship is sinking, refusing to drink one last beer or accepting my fate and partying as the ship goes down.

As you can see, I don’t hold out much hope that the world will be able to unite against climate change. Oh, there will little token sacrifices and better-late-than-never promises made. Sure! We might even see partial agreement on a few steps we can take, but in the long run I’m not holding my breath any longer.

Humans have a history of building empires, even improving life for many, only to later burn it to the ground.

Anger, lack of cooperation, the need for money, the super wealthy and hypocritical leaders have always ended up setting Rome on fire.

As 21st-century humans watch our planet burn, I have little hope that they’ll suddenly join forces to fight the fires. They still won’t be able to cooperate with one another — even if it kills them.

Teresa Roberts is a retired educator, author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. You can find her books on Amazon.



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Teresa Roberts

Teresa Roberts


Teresa is an author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. She’s also a top writer on climate change and the future.