By Ingvar Haukeland
ecophilosopher and professor at the University of Southeastern Norway
Can’t we handle two crises at the same time?
This is a discussion post. Opinions in the text are the responsibility of the writer.
When the fire department hears code red, there is a fire and therefore an emergency in seconds. Code red at the hospital means you drop what you have in your hands and run. The patient’s condition is life threatening and there is no time to waste.
On March 12, 2020, the government, backed by the National Institute of Public Health (NIPH), issued a “code red” for the pandemic. FHI clearly warned: if we do not take radical measures, the situation can spiral out of control.
The government responded immediately. All parties to the Storting agreed. Voters were not asked. Some thought that the closure occurred in the last team. All over the world, similar movements were made and the world’s population simply had to adapt.
We have never seen such a change and closure of the world.
On August 9 of this year, the sixth report of the UN Panel on Climate Change was sent, and the UN Secretary General sent a “code red” because of the weather. It’s about life.
What is the difference between the code red for the pandemic and the code red for the climate crisis?
Impossible to deal with two crises at the same time?
During the pandemic, crackdowns were accepted due to trust in both politicians and scientists. People accepted that they were necessary to deal with the situation and improve later.
Scientists saying no is not enough. Politicians beyond partisan political differences must have the courage to follow through with radical measures.
Espen Rostrup Nakstad became an outside face. Not just because of FHI, but because of government control. He is a doctor, lawyer and author, in short a professional who knows how to communicate. In addition, he is jovial and popular in his form, something that for many inspires confidence.
Despite some skeptics about the pandemic, especially about the vaccine, trusts more than 90 percent of the population according to the advice of FHI. Nakstad recently published a book with the title Code Red.
There is also a cross-party agreement that the climate crisis is here. And measures to cope with the pandemic, such as less travel, also have a positive effect on the climate crisis.
But the red code for the weather clearly doesn’t mean the same thing. Can’t we handle two crises at the same time?
Why two teams with FHI, but not Cicero?
People all over the world are affected much more difficult due to the climate crisis that of the pandemic. More people die from climate-related diseases and the costs to society are higher.
Climate psychologist Per Espen Stoknes of BI says in the book What we think about when we try not to think about global warming that the climate crisis is about five barriers to action:
- The problem is lived too far away.
- We don’t want to hear about bad things.
- We deny the gravity of the situation.
- We try to deny our role.
- We have invested in a lifestyle that we do not want to change.
The solutions, according to Stoknes, is to make changes social, simple, and supportive, to give clear signals with positive feedback that squeezes are helpful, and to build a new narrative about why we do what we do. We must see the connection between the near and the far.
Greta Thunberg, who before the pandemic shouted “code red” and urged everyone to act like our house is on firesaid in a recent documentary about their engagement: “Don’t listen to me, but to science!”
We have a scientific research institute in the field of climate, Cicero, which bases its activities, like FHI, on solid scientific research with clear advice to the government. Why then does the government go in two teams with FHI and not with Cicero?
We need clear boundaries
How would a television debate have been received on March 12 of last year, when infection rates soared, if politicians discussed the measures that would take effect in a few years?
People would not take them seriously. It is today that the steps must be taken.
During the pandemic, many have managed with less travel and more cities have become more livable, with less pollution. If we want to achieve climate goals, we need measures that set limits on consumption and production that exacerbate the situation, such as electricity consumption, travel and the use of nature. We need to track the climate footprint not just on food, but on all goods. Freedom under responsibility does not mean that anything goes.
As with the pandemic, the limits will burn.
But if we learn why they are established, we can be confident that they are necessary and adapt to them to improve later. At the same time, we take care of those who are struggling in transition.
Within the limits, there are also solutions and opportunities for work, leisure and well-being. And as the philosopher Arne Næss pointed out: A radical change in lifestyle can be enriching and joyful. We can get closer to what matters in life.
The new government must show courage and join forces with Cicero and soon call a press conference on immediate radical measures to respond to the climate crisis.
Code red means that is now the case!