Handling COVID-19 and Climate Change, a Familiar Tragedy Looms
In our newest blog post, science writer Andrei Mihai looks at COVID-19 measures and climate change as a tragedy of the commons.
While COVID-19 is certainly one of the biggest tests society has faced over the past century, even the pandemic fades in comparison to the massive challenge of global warming. Global warming is not only a tragedy of the commons at an individual level, it’s a tragedy at an international level.
Each country (or state, area, zone) has an incentive to use cheap fossil fuels to produce energy for its activities and economic growth, but in doing so, it produces greenhouse gas emissions that raise the planet’s temperature and end up harming everyone.
We are all part of the problem and have to change our behaviour to mitigate the climate change. Photo/Credit: Canetti/iStock
The solution is, at least in principle, straightforward: Every nation needs to reduce its greenhouse emissions, but doing so goes against the individual short-term interest, and as a result, most if not all countries on earth are behind on their climate pledges.
Just like with the coronavirus crisis, efforts to slow down global warming have been severely hampered by our inability to prioritize collaboration and common action. Both climate change and the pandemic have highlighted just how difficult it is to navigate a tragedy of the commons.