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Monday, March 9, 2020

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

If one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, then one man’s curse could be another man’s cure. While much of humanity shudders with fear of the deadly coronavirus, not everyone is. That’s because a pandemic that slows civilization’s activities means less damage to the global climate. For some environmental extremists, events that visit tragedy upon human beings are viewed as propitious for the planet. It doesn’t take a doctor to conclude that looking for the bright side of suffering is itself a sickness.

Radical climate-change doctrine that venerates the natural world above human life has drifted from the commune into the mainstream, taking root among some of humanity’s most respected institutions. Former United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres, who now heads the climate-action organization Mission 2020, suggests that COVID-19 isn’t all bad. Asked by the United Kingdom’s Channel 4 whether economic slowdown caused by coronavirus is “actually good for the climate,” she replied: “Well, that is, ironically, of course, the other side of this, right? It may be good for climate because there is less trade, there’s less travel, there’s less commerce.”


The climate is everyone’s best friend forever. And it’s self-evident that when people are prevented — by disease or otherwise — from engaging in the activities of modern life, the planet’s climate is spared some of the effects. The closer the climate comes to an original state of nature, though, the rougher things can get for Homo sapiens. Without the advances of the modern world, life would be, as English philosopher Thomas Hobbes put it, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”

The “nasty, brutish and short” part must ring true to those unfortunate enough to catch a fatal dose of the coronavirus, despite the best preventative measures of modern medicine. Thus far, nearly 4,000 persons worldwide have lost their lives. If the World Health Organization’s death rate figure of 3.4 percent proves accurate, the virus could kill 15 million worldwide, according to the Australian National University. Human suffering on a massive scale has a numbing effect — Joseph Stalin’s point when he said: “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.”

Ms. Figueres is not alone in looking for the sunny side of catastrophe. Prefacing his cutting remarks with the Band-Aid, “I do not wish sickness on anybody,” Climate activist Martin Lopez Corredoira wrote at the website Science 2.0: “As said by the proverb, ‘Every cloud has a silver lining’. Neither Greenpeace, nor Greta Thunberg, nor any other individual or collective organization have achieved so much in favor of the health of the planet in such a short time.”

It’s unclear whether the venerable environmental organization or the young Swedish finger-wagger would prescribe pandemic as a remedy for what ails the planet. Mass death was a thing for the Nazis, though, during the 20th century. And for those grieving over the unfortunate victims of the spreading virus, the only “silver lining” they are likely to behold is the one inside the open casket containing the body of their loved one.

Then there is writer Madhvi Ramani opining in The Week magazine: “Where scientists and popular movements have thus far failed to convince the world to act, it seems that Mother Earth may have succeeded, with the never-before-seen COVID-19 virus. The novel coronavirus is estimated to have curbed carbon-dioxide emissions in China by a quarter.”

Pardon us if we don’t join in kissing the hem of the goddess’ flower-bedecked gown while she decimates the human family. There are better methods for reducing man-made greenhouse gases than Mother Nature smothering her own flesh and blood.

The International Energy Agency reported last month that global emissions flatlined in 2019 even while economic activity rose 2.9 percent. The technologically advanced United States led the way, cutting its emissions by 140 million tons last year and nearly a billion tons since 2000. The 27 nations of the European Union chipped in a reduction of 165 million tons and Japan chopped another 45 million. U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette called the report “proof positive that innovation and technology are the solution to the world’s climate challenges.”

There is no bright side of suffering. Ideologues who extol the environmental benefits of contagion have lost touch with their humanity. Hopefully, they’re not beyond cure.


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