It’s hardly surprising when the environmentalist crowd surveys the wreckage of the COVID-19 crisis and waves it away as nothing compared to climate change. But it’s more than a bit jarring to see the World Health Organization do it. Recently WHO’s Arthur Wyns wrote “the 2020 coronavirus pandemic may lead to a deeper understanding of the ties that bind us all on a global scale and could help us get to grips with the largest public health threat of the century, the climate crisis.” Ah yes, the climate crisis that didn’t pose any obstacles to the great advancement of human prosperity over the past century, unlike the coronavirus pandemic that has thrown millions out of work overnight. Somehow the largest public health threat isn’t this virus or the next one, no matter how much unemployment, poverty, misery and death they cause, it’s the minuscule warming we have experienced since the end of the Little Ice Age. If that’s where this “Health” organization’s attention was focused it’s no wonder they were so useless in the early stages of the pandemic.
It’s not just the WHO. Barack Obama, whose tweet of the 97% consensus figure helped make it a celebrity without a lot of people going hey, you’re not a “climate scientist”, tweeted “We’ve seen all too terribly the consequences of those who denied warnings of a pandemic. We can’t afford any more consequences of climate denial.” Which at least has the virtue of brevity.
Not Wyns. He’s actually WHO’s “Climate change advisor”; it seems that organization has enough money to afford lots of such posts, indeed an entire “climate change team” (just not a “Chinese communist lies team” or at least not one devoted to exposing same). And as you’d expect he’s a master at bureaucratic word salad. He says “There are, to a certain degree, parallels that can be drawn between the current COVID-19 pandemic and some of the other contemporary crises our world is facing. All require a global-to-local response and long-term thinking; all need to be guided by science and need to protect the most vulnerable among us; and all require the political will to make fundamental changes when faced with existential risks.”
If you’re wondering, well, here comes the flood and the plague. “Some of these health impacts have a clear climate change signature, such as the increasing frequency and strength of extreme weather events or the expanding range and spread of vector-borne diseases like malaria or dengue. For others, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the connection with climate change is less clear cut.” That “less clear cut” is a delicate euphemism for non-existent or even anti-existent, since in reality warmer weather and sunlight are liable to help combat the pandemic by strengthening our immune systems and slowing its spread.
Wyns’ whole argument turns on two very weak hinges. First, the bland assertion that we are seeing an “increasing frequency of extreme weather events” for which he offers no specifics, and second the vague claim that for his wise perspective to prevail we need long-term thinking, faith in experts and political will not the short-sightedness, ignorance and lack of nerve advocated by his wretched opponents.
It is understandable that alarmists are getting vaguer as they get louder in their warnings about extreme weather, given increasing awareness the evidence is missing and the science is falling apart. But not to worry. Pandemic or no pandemic, leading climate research universities are combining forces to… “identify the most effective ways to communicate research-based facts related to climate change to the public.” Such as that things that aren’t happening are?
As for long-term thinking, well, we’d like to think about what’s really threatening to us, now and in the future. And maybe exercise a little political won’t on the subject of hugely expensive responses to illusory threats.