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What does Covid teach us about climate change? Food for Thought by Tim Harford (Financial Times)


“Climate change because of greenhouse gas emissions is well under way, but at a speed measured in decades. As a result, it is almost impossible to cover climate change as a pure news story.” Says Tim Harford in this piece for the Financial Times, early April 2021.  Where he continues by saying “One difference, all too obvious to journalists, is that while Sars-Cov-2 turned the world upside down in weeks, the pace of climate change just doesn’t suit the news cycle.”

Some of the similarities and differences between both crisis

“Now for the equally disheartening similarity: both are amenable to disinformation, polarisation and wishful thinking… Greta Thunberg complained to the Financial Times last week that “the climate crisis has never once been treated as a crisis”. She is right about that, and it never will be. We will never have a daily afternoon news conference in which the prime minister explains to the nation how the climate has changed over the past 24 hours (…) Activists now use the phrase “climate emergency” in an effort to prompt a sense of urgency. I sympathise: we have delayed obvious policy responses such as carbon pricing for a quarter of a century, and every further delay makes the problem graver. But such delays will always be tempting.” More via

Some of the lessons

“Here again, Covid-19 suggests a lesson. The vaccines were produced by a global scramble for results, with researchers sharing information while racing to develop them. Governments put large sums of money on the line to ensure that private companies had the necessary resources and incentives to push forward at a speed that would otherwise have been commercially reckless(…)Importantly, too, we’re starting to use data differently. Of course, the impetus for such progress—COVID-19—has cost society dearly, which is why it’s so important to use this pivotal moment to move forward effectively.”

“The dramatic response to Covid-19 suggests that we are capable of demonstrating some of the virtues that may be necessary to deal with climate change. We can adapt in extraordinary ways if we must and if we’re willing to make significant sacrifices for the common good.” More via

Watch this video on why I think Covid-19 is a Test Run for Climate Change




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