In an essay endorsed by establishment media, Mazzucato is pushing for draconian measures to curb what she says is the tipping point of climate change. She says if we don’t take such dramatic interventions immediately, human civilization will come to an end, and so will the planet.
Under a “climate lockdown,” as she calls it, governments would limit the use of private vehicles, ban the consumption of red meat and impose extreme energy-saving measures. Fossil-fuel companies will have to stop drilling, as well. To avoid a climate catastrophe, Mazzucato says, it is important to overhaul economic structures and do capitalism differently.
However, given what the government and scientists already know about the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdowns, the effects of such a system could have devastating consequences for every country and could send shockwaves through every socioeconomic area.
So why would politicians and media want to get on board?
Governments, mainstream media associate health emergency with climate emergency
Various articles have already been published regarding the environmental impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. A report released in 2020 noted that future pandemics could emerge more often, spread more rapidly and do more damage to the economy than COVID-19, unless transformative change can be seen in the global approach in dealing with infectious diseases.
President Joe Biden uses recent hurricanes as “proof” that the world is entering a climate crisis. He has issued a “code red,” and House Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy backs him up. McCarthy says the climate crisis is now considered a “health emergency.”
There are also claims that the COVID-19 lockdowns have already prepared people for “personal carbon allowances,” as restrictions on individual freedoms were “unthinkable” only a year before. However, it has made people more “prepared” to accept the tracking and limitations to help “achieve a safer climate.”
World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas says that COVID lockdowns provided a blueprint for how people can proceed with climate lockdowns.
Taalas says that while the pandemic is not a solution for climate change, it does provide people with a platform for a more sustained and ambitious climate action to reduce emissions to net-zero by completely transforming industrial, energy and transport systems. (Related: Climate lockdowns? Prince Charles calls for military response to address climate change and reorganize the world economy.)
He adds that the changes are economically affordable and could possibly affect everyday life only marginally.
Southeast Asia has seen a 40 percent reduction in the level of harmful airborne particles caused by traffic and energy production in 2020. The same goes for China, Europe and North America, which have seen emission reductions and improved air quality during the first year of the pandemic.
Lockdowns affect mental health, global economy
However, studies have shown how harmful lockdowns are for the mental health of people, and how it negatively affects the economy.
A study found that limiting aspects of a lockdown can impact the mental health of individuals as well as their social support. This is especially important for those who already have a history of mental health treatment.
From school closures to devastating industries that lost millions of jobs, the social and economic costs of the pandemic threatens to widen inequalities, undermine progress on global poverty and clean energy, and more.
One year into the pandemic and almost half of the students around the world are still affected by school closures. Many businesses have shut down, leading to the loss of 255 million full-time jobs and triggering the biggest recession since World War II.
By limiting our options instead of looking for tangible solutions, the pandemic and other future problems will only continue to steal lives and livelihoods around the globe. Lockdowns are not the answer.
Get more climate updates at Climate.news.