"I was in Melbourne in late January, watching as more and more people
donned face masks to protect themselves against the bushfire smoke that
had thickened the air for weeks and that was causing hundreds of deaths.
Turning on the news, I was surprised to see footage of crowds in China
similarly masked, but for a very different reason. Hundreds were then
dying in Wuhan, Hubei province, from a novel virus.
When I asked Australia’s chief medical officer about the virus that same
week, I could see the concern in his eyes. But my attention was largely
on the fires. They were unlike anything experienced on the continent
previously, and climate scientists were beginning to piece together the
link with climate change. What few knew back then was that three
catastrophes would strike Australia in quick succession: the
unprecedented, climate-fuelled megafires that were extinguished in
February by damaging, climate-influenced floods. Then, in March, the
Covid-19 pandemic that began to spread across Australia.
These three catastrophes are proof that things that travel invisibly
through the great aerial ocean that is our atmosphere are a particular
danger to our complex, global civilisation. The carbon dioxide molecule
that accumulates imperceptibly as we burn fossil fuels causes an
increase in average global temperature, which triggered the profoundly
disruptive droughts, floods and fires that plagued Australia over the
past year. But the coronavirus also travels unseen through the great
aerial ocean, insinuating itself in lung after lung, killing person
after person, until it threatens our health system, economy and society.
There are many differences between climate change and the Covid-19
pandemic but, from the perspective of prevention, there are also many
similarities. Perhaps the most important is that both have “incubation
periods” during which the problem grows, undetected, except by the
experts. Throughout this period, things can seem relatively normal but,
unless a sense of urgency leads to decisive action at this time,
catastrophe becomes inevitable."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics