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September 8, 2020 9:59 am

Scaring People About Covid or Climate Change Won’t Work, Says Israeli Future Studies Researcher

avatar by Maayan Manela / CTech


US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wears a protective face mask as he walks down a hallway of the Hart Senate Office Building during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, May 12, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria.

CTech – If there is one thing the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis has taught us it is that there is no responsible adult on the geopolitical front and that each country is on its own. “With all due respect to alliances, contracts, and international norms, at times of crisis, it is every man for himself,” future studies researcher Roey Tzezana said. Tzezana spoke Tuesday with Calcalist reporter Hagar Ravet as part of Calcalist’s online conference on sustainability and innovation.

“Germany and Italy are fighting over medical equipment and everyone is shifting the blame for the virus’ spread to China, Russia, Iran, the US, or Israel,” Tzezana said. “If this is how it is going to be for the next decade or two, then it means, unfortunately, that the world has little to no chance of uniting to curb climate change.”

While world leaders who rejected the science did not handle the coronavirus crisis well, Tzezana said, in Brazil, for example, where over 127,000 people (616 people per million) died, the economy is now starting to recover and public opinion is slowly shifting to support the line led by President Jair Bolsonaro.

“It isn’t enough to just scare people,” he said, “you need to set a policy that takes their other needs into account and primarily their source of income.” What Bolsonaro realized is that the average Joe just wants to make a living, he said.

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When it comes to the climate crisis, Tzezana suggested taking a similar approach. “There is no point in apocalyptic prophecies and false dichotomies between those who are ‘with us’ and are willing to shut down the economy and those who are ‘against us’ and are destroying the planet,” he said. “This approach is too simplistic and you need to keep the economy running and active so that you have money to invest in science, technology, energy, food, and water,” he added, “you have to find the middle ground.”

Environmental movements, so far, have put the earth at the forefront, but that is a miscalculation, according to Tzezana. “The average person doesn’t care about the earth,” he said, “they care about feeding their children, about having a job, about a sense of purpose, and the feeling that their needs are being addressed. If we really want the average person, which means more than 50% of the population, to get behind environmentalism, the focus needs to shift to them.”

The idea, Tzezana explained, is to accept a certain amount of damage to the earth while emphasizing the need to minimize it because of its effects on the average Joe’s life and the lives of their children.

According to Tzezana, the Covid-19 crisis highlighted not only the challenges of global cooperation but also humanity’s tendency to focus on the present and not the future, and the over-politicizing of certain subjects, all of which will also make it more difficult to deal with the climate crisis.

“Even if we fail to fix these issues, we will still continue to develop technologies that would reduce our use of fossil fuels and lead us closer to producing energy with minimal carbon emissions, minimizing industrial emissions, and even sequestration, the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This is going to happen, the only question is when and how hard we are willing to push for it,” he said.

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