Climate One: The different response to two global threats, COVID-19 and climate change

Fargo climate strikers make signs
Students from Ben Franklin Middle School in Fargo, N.D., make signs in September 2019 to use when they walk out of class to draw attention to climate change.
Dan Gunderson | MPR News 2019

Why does an invisible, life-threatening virus prompt a nationwide emergency, but invisible, life-threatening gases don’t?

Experts have been emphasizing the dangers of unchecked climate change for years, calling for bold action early on to avoid the worst impacts. Now, health experts are pushing the same level of global mobilization to quell the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Why are humans wired to respond to some fears and emergencies more than others? Can the reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic teach us anything about how humans respond to other invisible, global threats?

From the Commonwealth Club’s Climate One series, “COVID-19 and Climate: Human Response” is hosted by Greg Dalton. His guests are:

  • Peter Atwater, adjunct economics professor, College of William and Mary

  • Susan Clayton Whitmore-Williams, professor of psychology, College of Wooster

  • Robert Frank, professor of management, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business

Use the audio player above to listen to the full episode.

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