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Now is the moment

Posted June. 27, 2020 08:13,   

Updated June. 27, 2020 08:13


Here is a short story where most grown-ups goof around all day long merely by indulging in nice food, drinks and drugs. Left in fury and rage, young children, in turn, decide to take action. Their anger is directed at the unbearable level of irresponsibility that older generations have shown for driving the planet into the apocalyptic risks of climate change. Younger people, just as described in the brief story, take to the streets across all over the globe to stop older generations blinded by greed from robbing them of the future.

“We are enjoying the deep blue skies and fresh air.” The whole planet shares the same view amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Factories have shut down. The global use of fossil fuels has dropped significantly, and so have levels of fine dust and carbon dioxide, the main culprit behind climate change. Carbon Brief, a U.K.-based non-profit organization designed to study climate change, says in its website, “Analysis: Coronavirus temporarily reduced China’s CO2 emissions by a quarter.” The reduction effect goes far beyond China. Having said that, the COVID-19-induced drop in carbon emissions has not successfully curbed the growing risks of weather catastrophes.

Then, can we imagine how awful disaster may come with climate change? Based on data on the latest weather indexes released this May by the NASA, the U.S. aerospace agency argues that melting glaciers, global average temperatures, sea levels and carbon concentrations are almost reaching the worst phases of the path. The NASA-released report only gives me sleepless nights of tossing and turning with a pessimistic view of the severity of extreme weather events that the younger generations will likely suffer when they are my age.

Former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, chairman of the National Council on Climate Change and Air Quality under the incumbent South Korean administration, wrote in the Financial Times that governments will never have a better chance to address air pollution and climate change as they come up with large-scale funds to help overcome the COVID-19-sparked economic crisis. There is no future guaranteed unless we put a halt to climate change, according to Mr. Ban. All-show-and-no-go plans and the Green New Deal in name only do not make any difference in addressing climate change. The South Korean government should find a breakthrough solution.

Eun-Taek Lee nabi@donga.com