December 03, 2021

On the LSE COVID-19 Blog from the London School of Economics and Political Science, Yossi Sheffi discusses how lessons learned from the pandemic can be applied to other large-scale global problems like climate change:

The pandemic has taught us a great deal about responding to global challenges that threaten the wellbeing of humanity. Climate change is such a challenge, and there are striking parallels between the pandemic fight and the need to establish a cohesive response to the climate crisis.

In addition to being global, both challenges have complex, nonlinear effects, and cannot be solved through local initiatives. When viewed through a pandemic lens, climate change is a metaphorical infection spread by uncontrolled practices that increase the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This “infection” causes various symptoms including temperature fluctuations that drive extreme weather events, and disruptions to the planetary circulation of water and air. It has already damaged Earth’s lungs.

Another common denominator is that changing human behaviour represents our first line of defence against these crises. Pandemic-related examples include the imposition of mask-wearing and social distancing mandates. In the case of climate change, we are trying to persuade individuals to shift their consumption habits towards carbon-light (or even net-zero) products and services.