Our Footprints

Difference Between Being Proactive vs Reactive About Climate Change

22 November 2020

Proactive is when you actively make sure that things don’t go wrong, reactive is when you react when things are going wrong. Here is an example so we are on the same page —say you keep up to date with lectures every day and develop your assignment every week — you are being proactive. Say you don’t do your assignments till the night before, don’t know what is going on in your class now you are nearly failing the subject so you get a gallon of coffee two days before the exam to save the semester — you are being reactive (in case you’re wondering, I am both, depending on the subject).

I observed that whenever something is overwhelming, we take the reactive approach. Unfortunately, the most concerning global issues we face today, such as climate change and more recently, COVID-19, are overwhelming and thus, a reactive approach is being taken. We are seeing and living the consequences of it.

This column of Our Footprints will show the similarities between the reactions to the two global issues, climate change and COVID-19, so we can understand why being proactive is important and how it helps mitigate losses/sufferings.

COVID-19 Climate Change
The budget cuts

 

“Trump budget cuts funding for health, science, environment agencies”

11 February 2020, Washington Post

“Budget 2019: Coalition cuts climate solutions fund by $70m a year: The $2bn promised for Australia’s greenhouse gas abatement projects will be spread over 15 years, not 10, Tuesday’s budget revealed”

3 April 2019, The Guardian

The denial “Many governments initially denied the existence of COVID-19, attempted to silence those raising the alarm, or took few steps to search for cases. Many may still be downplaying the severity of the crisis.”

17 March 2020, The Conversation, UK

“Well firstly there is no link, the facts that cause the fires are the drought and the drying of the environment and on this our climate scientists down here have been very clear and they have said that there is no link between drought and climate change.”

Craig Kelly, 7 January 2020, on Good Morning Britain

Our failure to understand that complex systems defy simplistic reductionism

 

“The new virus’s death toll has just exceeded 130; for context, according to the CDC, about 15 million Americans have been sickened by the seasonal flu so far in the 2019-2020 flu season, and 8,200 have died from it. (The flu kills between 300,000 and 650,000 people around the world annually.)”

29 January 2020, The New York Times

“Nobody is suggesting climate change won’t negatively impact crop yields. It could. But such declines should be put in perspective. Wheat yields increased 100 to 300% around the world since the 1960s, while a study of 30 models found that yields would decline by 6% for every one degree Celsius increase in temperature.”

25 November 2019, Forbes

The moment of “hold up I didn’t think this would impact that

 

“The fashion industry is facing calls to step in and protect the wages of the 40 million garment workers in their supply chains around the world who face destitution as factories close and orders dry up in the wake of the Covid-19 epidemic”

19 March 2020, The Guardian

“Climate change may be powering the swarms of desert locusts that have invaded eastern Africa, ravaging crops, decimating pasture and deepening a hunger crisis, locust and climate experts said.”

30 January 2020, The Reuters

To put the importance of being proactive into perspective, a journal published by Medrxiv concluded that the number of cases of COVID19 could be dramatically be reduced by 66%, 86% and 95%, respectively, if the non-pharmaceutical interventions such as travel bans, home quarantine, social distancing could be conducted one week, two weeks, and three weeks earlier than the actual time it was conducted.

So, how do we become more proactive about climate change? Let’s start off by just watching a few documentaries about climate change (there are some on Netflix) and next time we meet our friends we can talk about it. The point is, we need to make sure that we are aware of the climate decisions being taken and we are making our close ones aware. The awareness translates into consciousness, so when you conduct your daily activities, such as groceries, you will opt for a planet-friendly option (for example, choosing farmers markets over supermarkets). It’s almost like submitting a thousand-word short story in two months; just write 20 words every day — of course, you may choose to change the entire plot later but you surely wouldn’t sit with a gallon of coffee the night before!


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