Of course my big disclaimer here is that I am not a doctor and have no science degree. But, I do believe heartily in climate change, and I would wager a guess that the pandemic caused by SARS-COV2 and all of its variants are actually the beginning of massive and catastrophic climate change.
We know that the ability for SARS-COV2 to jump so easily from bats to humans, and to continue to adapt and mutate into variants, was accelerated by climate change. This is a fact.
But what if COVID was actually the climate crisis… kicking off?
The signs are everywhere. From the inability to get the pandemic under control, the constant mutations that are now spitting out at such a speed of rapidity, every day a huge new list is spewed out by the World Health Organization; to the other emerging co-infections that are wreaking havoc around the world (such as the hepatitis that is mysteriously causing liver failure in kids all over the world, many of whom had confirmed cases of recent COVID and adenovirus). COVID is now the most transmissible virus in recorded history, and it became as such in just under two year’s time. Ebola is also an epidemic again, with the second death confirmed today; animals are seeing their own viral outbreaks, including hemorrhagic rabbit disease, and bird flu has been spreading through out North America for a while now.
As if this weren’t enough, today China announced its first confirmed case of H3N8 influenza in a human. This sort of just flew under the radar of the news cycle, but anyone that knows anything about avian influenza knows that this is bad news. There are several types that, if they become more transmissible between humans, will obliterate half the human race. This is not hyperbolic either; at least one avian flu cropping up monthly now has a greater-than 50% mortality rate.
It seems like disease is spreading more far and widely than ever before, and it’s mutating and adapting to be able to jump from animal to human to animal again with increased speed as well. I’ve seen enough documentaries to know that this was to be expected as a piece of the climate changing – our ecosystem is changing, and in many ways falling apart.
But again… what if this isn’t just arbitrary and minor change, but rather the beginning of the catastrophe?
Last week, right before Earth Day, several scientists got a little blurb at the bottom of the news screen for chaining themselves outside their office building to raise attention to the pending doom the world faces if drastic measures are not taken. The United Nations then issued a statement saying we have 36 weeks to reduce carbon emissions from every major carbon emitter in the world; and this doesn’t even take into account the real thing not being discussed: methane from commercial farming. (Why is no one talking about this?) Then, on Earth Day, a Buddhist and climate activist lit himself on fire in front of the Supreme Court over the catastrophe descending upon us all.
And then, everyone just went about their weekends.
But what if these warnings are too late? Obviously they’ve mostly fallen on deaf ears, and the media cannot be bothered to report on them, or even when they do to do so with the urgency of the message contained. Don’t Look Up wasn’t supposed to be a How To manual, but it sure as hell seems that it is being treated as one. And what if we really are too late? Certainly, I’ve seen some scientists on Twitter suggest that at this point, it’s about survival. I know you’ve all seen some of those takes too. When we look at the way our government is handling COVID at this stage (well, all along)… maybe that’s true.
Maybe they even already know.
It’s a grim thought, but when you look at the somewhat-state of nature, post-apocalyptic world we live in today, it’s hard not to see this as the actual turning point. The point from which we realize there is no return. Through the last two years of this pandemic, the world has also seen bizarre weather phenomenon – hurricanes of untold strength, tornadoes where tornadoes typically don’t … land… I’m not suggesting a Biblical apocalypse (though I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if one day we see people shooting up into the sky, should God and the Rapture actually be what’s real).
I’m saying that what I see COVID as now is the beginning of the climate crisis that scientists have been warning us about for years. And just as the COVID variants changed in ways and on a timeline that defied the science as we knew it, the climate crisis and how it will play out has as well.
And it makes sense to me – a non-scientist. In the climate catastrophe, everything we knew about the empirical world changes. The true hubris of modern science leads us to believe we know exactly how and when it will all happen, but the truth is: we don’t. COVID reminds us of that. …that science really doesn’t know until after the fact. After it has data it can test with. Like the way economists don’t know a recession has occurred until after we’ve been in it for several months, couldn’t scientists not know the climate catastrophe has begun until after it’s had a while to observe and gather the data?
This certainly makes sense to me.
People always say “yeah, if we handled COVID this poorly, just think how we’ll handle climate change!” Except COVID is climate change. COVID has been made worse by the organic processes that result of a changing climate; just as the human behaviors that caused the changing climate have fed into the trajectory of the pandemic. But I think it’s time to delineate between climate change, and climate catastrophe. Between the slide to the end, and the end.
What if COVID isn’t the slide to the end? What if COVID is the beginning of the end?