guinto1_ALREN BERONIOAFP via Getty Images_typhoon philippines Alren Beronio/AFP via Getty Images

Pandemic Policy Must be Climate Policy

The early COVID-19 response focused on "flattening the curve": slowing the virus's spread, in order to buy time to increase health-care capacity. The same logic should be applied to climate action today, by flattening the curve of carbon emissions and our broader ecological footprint in order to buy time to build sustainable systems.

CALAMBA – While the world focuses on the COVID-19 crisis, climate change continues to advance. The consequences are devastating and becoming more so – and that includes for the pandemic response itself.

There is no doubt that natural disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity as a result of climate change. This year alone, Australia grappled with its most destructive bushfires on record. East African countries have been battling the worst outbreak of desert locusts in decades. The Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, and Tonga were hit by a category 5 tropical cyclone. Europe has blistered under a record-breaking heat wave. My country, the Philippines, has faced intense flooding, and typhoon season is far from over.

Such hazards, scientists warn, are likely to intersect with the COVID-19 outbreak and the public-health response, including by compounding stress on health-care systems, depleting emergency-response resources, and undermining people’s ability to adhere to social distancing. They will exacerbate and be exacerbated by both the unfolding economic crisis and long-standing socioeconomic disparities, both within countries and across regions.

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