The Coronavirus and the Limits of Individual Climate Action

The pandemic has emptied the roads and cleared the skies. It still isn’t enough to reverse climate change.

Image: MK Feeney

In the United States, the fight against climate change is often framed as a matter of individual action toward a collective goal. If only Americans would drive and fly less, and consume more sustainable energy and food, then maybe our country could do its part to help reduce carbon emissions worldwide.

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic are a sobering rejoinder to such hopes. With much of the world in lockdown, road traffic and air travel have decreased significantly. The air in major cities like Los Angeles and New York is clearer than it’s been in decades, revealing skylines and mountain ranges previously obscured. We have never had a clearer example of how changes to individual behavior, on a mass scale, can make a real difference. And yet, as drastically as our lives have been circumscribed in recent weeks, new data shows that this would not be enough to save the planet—even if it were somehow sustainable. Read more at The New Republic.

Categories: Freelance Articles

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