Tag Archives: Coronavirus

COVID-19 and Climate change: A Convergence of Crises

“Never waste the opportunity offered by a good crisis.”
— Niccolò Machiavelli

What appears to be the hallmark of the COVID-19 crisis at the peak of the curve, that place where fatalities are highest, is lack of capacity within the health-care delivery system.

We have seen it in Italy. We are seeing it in New York.

The Governors of both Oregon and Washington are taking extraordinary measures to prevent this scenario here by constructing temporary care facilities in tents on soccer fields and at the Fairgrounds in Salem. These needed actions do raise a question. Why are we so unprepared for situations where emergency care is crucial for survival?

We live in an earthquake subduction zone. Significant portions of our population reside in Tsunami Inundation Zones. Every major city in the Willamette Valley is within the impact area of a dormant volcano and an air-quality inversion area. The devastation caused by major forest fires is no longer a distant memory of a prior generation.

Yet in order to address this pandemic, we are forced to build temporary field hospitals. We do not have sufficient ventilator capacity in the state, and local health-care organizations are seeking volunteers to sew safety masks for providers. The forces that created this situation are neither new nor unique.

In 2006, Lord Nicholas Stern, economist, issued a 700-page report on climate change on behalf of the United Kingdom. In it he cites that climate change is the result of the greatest market failure in human history. The logic now-a-days is well accepted by most. If modern managers of most corporations can avoid a cost, they will. This is not new. For decades

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