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Corona and the Climate: The Opportunity to Write a New Story! 

As I am heading into the fifth week of quarantine, I am sitting down to complete this mini-series on the Corona crisis with a look into the future.  

Our current narrative is broken 

Over the last few weeks, I have been grappling with the enormity of the pandemic and its effect on our modern society. In the midst of a crisis, I find it challenging to take a helicopter view and put things in perspective. Newspapers seem to have decided already though, telling me that this is a historical moment: We are leaving the pre-Corona era behind and enter the post-Corona era. During the first weeks of the lockdown, I could not help wondering if it was all going to be that significant. Once we find a vaccine, won’t we return to ‘business as usual’ rather quickly?  

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Corona and the Climate: a Tale of two Global Crises

In my last article, I kicked off this mini-series on the relationship between the Corona pandemic and the fight against climate change. Today, I am taking a closer look at the differences and parallels between these two global crises.

A time lag of ten days or ten years

As the YouTube channel Our Changing Climate wittingly points out, one of the big differences between climate change and the current pandemic is their relation to time. When comparing cause and effect, we observe a delay of about five to ten days between getting infected with the new Corona virus and disease symptoms to emerge; this is the incubation period. Give it another three weeks and most human immune systems have fought it off .

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Corona and the Climate: don’t be delusional

Being home alone in self-isolation since mid-March, several of you have turned to me asking what I think about the relationship between the global COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis. Watching a transformation of global proportions enfold in front of my eyes is interesting, frightening, and sometimes inspiring at the same time. No longer neglecting my itching fingers, I am taking place behind my computer and starting a small series of articles about the current events and their relation to the climate.

Before getting into the complicated matters of politics and economics, I want to address the links and articles that some of you have been sharing with me over the last few weeks. Hopeful articles, often, about the signs of nature recovering in Chinese and Italian cities as a positive side-effect of the lockdowns enforced to keep the Corona virus at bay. I must admit these articles have slightly irritated me at best and rendered me hopeless at worst (no offense to everyone who sent them, I appreciate you are thinking about me 😊). Let me explain.

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Exploring personal carbon budgeting

During the last few months, I have taken more time again to attend events organised by environmental groups and civil society organisations. One particular point of discussion surfaces as frequent as it did when I started getting active in sustainability five years ago. At one side, you have those who believe we can meaningfully reduce emissions by individual lifestyle changes. At the other side are those who believe such efforts are futile, pointing fingers to pollution created by the ‘big companies’.

Even though I’ve always agreed that the climate crisis is a systemic problem that needs a systemic solution, I am a strong believer in taking personal action. I have my reasons. First, these big companies wouldn’t be big wouldn’t it be for us consuming their products. Second, nobody will take you seriously if you don’t at least do an effort to reduce your own impact before demanding action that will affect others. One should put their money, time, and energy where their mouth is. Third, in the midst of political institutions failing to address the climate crisis, it feels great to do something tangible – no matter how small the impact really is.

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Encounter with the Rebellion

It is Friday evening and I am on the way home. It is one of these days where the sky clears up just before sunset to make way for a beautiful play of colours. The city is buzzing with life, the Bruxellois are enjoying the start of the weekend outside. The chatter and laughing mixes with the sounds of music and clanking beer glasses.

The lively city streets are in stark contrast with the thoughts that are swirling through my head. I just attended a talk by Roger Hallam, one of the founders of the Extinction Rebellion movement. Given the waves they’ve made in recent months, there is a good chance you heard of them before. But for the uninitiated, let me quickly introduce them before heading into the beef – or tofu for the vegans – of this blog post.

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Career for the Climate

It is the beginning of summer here in Belgium and that means the academic year is over. After an undoubtedly excruciating exam period, students have left the library and are now to be found on festival grounds or on the Mediterranean beaches in Southern Europe. For most of them, July is the beginning of a long holiday, for others, it is also the start of their career. A small army of young graduates is lined up to enter the work force anytime soon. Are they ready to take it by storm?

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