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Tags: coronavirus | climate change | lockdowns

Sorry, Coronavirus Lockdowns Won't End Climate Change

a woman enjoys the sun on her balcony with the eiffel tower in the background
Air pollution has fallen in Paris in response to the lockdown measure to fight the spread of the COVID-19. (AP/Michel Euler)

Larry Bell By Monday, 04 May 2020 10:19 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

In case you might have imagined that there was no grave misfortune that couldn't be either attributed to human-caused climate change or blamed on President Trump, it may come as no big surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception.

Actor/producer Robert Redford and his Redford Center co-founder James Redford published an April 30 CNN News blog attached Trump to both causations. Titled "Trump's Coronavirus Failures Offer Warnings and Lessons about Future Climate Change Challenges," it admonishes: "Make no mistake, the worst of climate change awaits us in the near future."

Why is this Trump's fault?

It goes on to say: "Here in the U.S., we have seen the cost of failed leadership. As the pandemic began its global march, President Trump failed to act quickly and decisively, likely increasing its toll and worsening our pain and suffering. As he has done with climate change."

Here, I would venture to argue that his decision to shut down flights from China at a time that the World Health Organization (WHO) told us that human-to-human transmission wasn't a problem was, in fact, a laudably rapid and bold mega-life-saving decision.

Nevertheless, the authors warrant that "As he has done with climate change, Trump failed early on to embrace or even understand sound scientific consensus about what must be done to protect this nation and its people." They're presumably referring here to the sound scientific advice offered by WHO that Trump so obstinately ignored.

In any case, Redford and Redford point out that the situation didn't actually turn out all bad after all. "There have also been some pleasant surprises. As many of the world's transportation and industrial sectors have reduced operations, there has been a remarkable decline in global carbon emissions."

While noting that "Of course, the cost in life and livelihood negates any celebration," they do offer a coronavirus silver lining lesson about how to finally end countless millions of years of global warming. The Redfords sanguinely conclude, "Nonetheless, there is no denying that we have gotten a very real glimpse of the potential for global environmental repair."

Their apparent takeaway answer then is to permanently lock down life.

Perhaps the United Nations has much the same idea in mind.

A new "Global Energy Review 2020" report issued by the U.N.'s International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts an "unprecedented decline" (an 8% drop) in global CO2 emissions this year due expressly to COVID-19 lockdowns.

All IEA countries are signatories of the Paris Agreement that strives to limit warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels, and two-thirds have committed to emission neutrality in 2050, whereas IEA's Sustainable Development projects net-zero emissions in 2070.

This was the famous fossil energy abandonment agreement that President Trump had refused to join that would require global emissions to fall nearly 8% every single year between now and 2030. Ironically, few if any developed signatory countries ever came anywhere close to doing that prior to the pandemic.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol described the COVID-19 pandemic as "This is a historic shock to the entire energy world."

Global use of oil fell nearly 5% in the first quarter of this year, the report said. By March, global road transport was down nearly 50%, and air traffic was down 60% compared to 2019.

Nevertheless, according to IEA, that one-time shock to the energy industry, to our businesses and to our lives, won't be nearly long enough to save us from climate change so that we can return to nostalgic pre-industrial lifestyles.

Glen Peters, research director at the Center for International Climate Research in Norway clarified that "A lockdown is just a one-off event, it can't get you all the way there."

Besides, as Peters pointed out to The New York Times, even amid the sweeping lockdowns, the global economy continues to rely heavily on fossil fuels for all the power plants, trucks, planes, cars and heavy industries that are required to continue to operate during the crisis.

As for Robert Redford and James Redford blaming President Trump for having "failed to act quickly and decisively, likely increasing its toll and worsening our pain and suffering as he has done with climate change," exactly how has making America energy independent while simultaneously lowering carbon emissions either warmed the planet, or added in any way to the number of COVID-19 casualties?

In any case, isn't warm weather supposed to inhibit the spread of infectious viruses?

And regarding failures to rapidly and decisively respond, wasn't it WHO — not Trump — that delayed six fatally critical weeks before alerting the international community to prepare for the looming disaster?

Yeah, I know what some of you are still thinking.

So long as it's bad news, Trump's responsible anyway.

Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of several books, including "Cyberwarfare: Targeting America, Our Infrastructure, and Our Future" (2020), "The Weaponization of AI and the Internet: How Global Networks of Infotech Overlords are Expanding Their Control Over Our Lives" (2019), "Reinventing Ourselves: How Technology is Rapidly and Radically Transforming Humanity" (2019), "Thinking Whole: Rejecting Half-Witted Left & Right Brain Limitations" (2018), "Reflections on Oceans and Puddles: One Hundred Reasons to be Enthusiastic, Grateful and Hopeful" (2017), "Cosmic Musings: Contemplating Life Beyond Self" (2016), "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015) and "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax" (2011). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles." Read Larry Bell's Reports — More Here.

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Glen Peters, research director at the Center for International Climate Research in Norway clarified that "A lockdown is just a one-off event, it can't get you all the way there."
coronavirus, climate change, lockdowns
Monday, 04 May 2020 10:19 AM
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