We are going into this decade with 2 global crises ahead of us: climate change and COVID 19. They both affect the health, well being, and livelihoods of people across the globe. Billions of people worldwide are struggling to survive the two emergencies.
So… we don’t see climate change locking billions of people in their homes with thermometers. How exactly does it pose a threat?
Among other things, climate change increases instances of extreme weather, which will, in turn, increase food insecurity, poverty, inequality, and spread of disease. It has also worsened the economic fallout due to COVID.
Here are some additional ways that COVID and climate change risks intersect and build upon each other:
Floods and scarcity of clean water lead to inadequate sanitation, which leads to an increased spread of COVID.
Warming effects lead to increased cases of heat-related illness, which stresses hospitals and health centers.
Dealing with climate-related natural disasters is much more difficult during a pandemic, and the resulting recessions are more severe.
How to Deal With Climate Change
1. Protect income, access to food, housing, other services to decrease vulnerability
COVID has decreased income, access to food, and other services such as sanitation. The more than five million small producers face the greatest challenges in surviving climate shocks, as they are the most exposed and have the least resources.
It is vital to understand the overlap in communities at risk from local hazards and communities at risk for COVID 19 and listen to their voices.
2. Update & communicate emergency plans
COVID also impacts hazard emergency plans, evacuation plans, and local response plans. In order to reduce the risk of both crises, it is important for communities to update and communicate the emergency plans.
3. Increase efforts to keep people cool
Extra efforts of keeping people cool during especially hot summers can lessen the extra stress on health care centers due to heat-related illness.
How to deal with climate change risk after the pandemic and in the long term
COVID has showcased the vulnerability of cities and the cost of not being prepared, so here are 5 key steps to build a more resilient future. These steps are key to managing dangerous climate impacts, as well as boosting the economy and reducing the spread of infectious disease.
1. Invest in public health services and emergency services.
2. Invest in water and sanitation services.
2.2 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, and 3 billion people lack access to basic handwashing spaces, even though affordable and reliable water and sanitation are necessary for human health. Growing cities, the climate crisis, and COVID all intensify this problem.
3. Create climate-resilient infrastructure
Creating this infrastructure will also create jobs and stimulate the economy!
4. Invest in nature-based solutions.
Nature-based solutions and healthy ecosystems have many benefits. They provide food, as well as protecting against natural disasters, supporting livelihoods, fighting climate change, and making money.
In West Africa, the Great Green Wall Initiative is restoring over 15,000 square miles. This has improved on the problems of food insecurity, water management, and rural development.
5. Invest in early warning systems.