Can we go back to business as usual?
The World is now occupied with the Coronovirus and its immediate implications for health and societies. Many commentators suggest we will come out of this into a greatly changed world. Pandemics do get controlled, and while this one may take many months, we are confident we have the science to be sure this outcome will be achieved. Meanwhile the threats arising from human induced climate change continue, with possibly much larger economic and social impacts than the current pandemic over the long-term. The underlying science about climate change is clear and it is surprising that some of our leaders choose to disbelieve this area of science. How strange that our greatest environmental challenge continues to be derailed by beliefs of a powerful few? In the long-term, climate trajectories have huge implications for health, food and water security and on our life supporting Earth systems. It is impossible to overstate the need for caring for Earth systems, and each year of inadequate and uncoordinated response heightens the level of risk and eventual cost for societies. The burden will fall on everyone, but unfairly on the disadvantaged who mostly live in poor countries that lack the resources and knowledge to mitigate the worst of the impacts.
The Springer Climate Series is producing a growing body of volumes which describe actions and suggested policy development. While the challenges are global, individual places as diverse as Bangladesh, African and Indian cities, Mexico, Indonesia and Pacific Island states who are all moving ahead out of urgency have already published volumes. There are also some general volumes which take a more global approach on the economic and social impacts of climate change. Each region has its own peculiar conditions and level of resources and infrastructure which can be used to at least identify the critical challenges ahead, and the volumes suggest policy approaches which may address both short-term and long-term actions. The authors have a great wealth of experience in their fields and are generally well-connected in their own countries and globally. A key aim of the series is to foster the sharing of lessons and approaches that can be applied more widely.
One aspect of the various approaches to dealing with coronavirus is that some success stories are emerging. It is an urgent global problem. Once it is dealt with the world may realise that relentless human impacts on Earth systems bring unwelcome and dangerous feedbacks. Will the action to control the coronavirus pandemic teach us that we cannot afford to go back to business as usual?
Biography: John Dodson
Professor John Dodson has worked in the fields of climate change and human impact on environmental systems in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, China and Pacific Islands. He co-led the Science Program of the Climate Change Section of the International Year of Planet Earth, and the Australasian Transect of the PAGES Global Changes program of the International Geosphere Biosphere Program. He has held chairs in geography and environmental science in universities in Perth and London, and was until recently Head of the Institute of Environmental Research at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation in Sydney. He is currently a guest professor of the Institute of Environment in Xi’an (Chinese Academy of Sciences) and an honorary professor at the universities of Wollongong and New South Wales. His current research projects focus on Quaternary environmental change, abrupt events and human impacts in central China, tropical Hainan Island, NW China and at Thirlmere lakes near Sydney.