What the pandemic has revealed about climate change views, activism

Combination photo showing New Delhi's skyline.
This photo combination of Nov. 1, 2019, top, and April 20, 2020, bottom, shows New Delhi's skyline. India's air quality has improved drastically during a nationwide lockdown to curb COVID-19.
Manish Swarup | AP Photo file

2020 feels like a whirlwind of news and change. But even as new issues — like the coronavirus have arisen — previous problems haven’t gone away and their depths have been highlighted or exacerbated amid the pandemic. One of those issues is climate change.

In the early months of the pandemic, the levels of two major air pollutants drastically dropped. And the need for fossil fuels declined as planes were grounded due to the lack of travel. But the world is trying to return to various economic and social activities as people figure out how to live with the virus, and so the green effects of the early months of quarantine are likely fleeting.

In all of this, climate change activists are watching and weighing the lessons of the pandemic as they move forward. MPR News host Kerri Miller spoke with a meteorologist and a biologist on Tuesday at 9 a.m. about what we’re learning about climate change, education and activism in this period of transformation.


  • Eric Holthaus is a meteorologist, journalist and author of “The Future Earth: A Radical Vision for What's Possible in the Age of Warming.”

  • Elizabeth Sawin is co-founder and co-director of Climate Interactive.

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.