This Earth Day 2020, with Climate Action as its theme, coming at a time when the COVID 19 pandemic is dominating global attention, is the perfect time for us to ponder the need for collective action.

This communicable disease has infected around 2.5 million people worldwide, and has killed more than 165,000 of them. No one knows how long this pandemic will persist, and how many more lives will be lost. Already, it has virtually paralyzed many nations, forcing them to impose lockdowns and quarantines, reducing economic and other activities to a trickle.

The damage from COVID 19 and climate change bring about destruction and chaos to any nation. On the one hand, with COVID 19, we are faced with immediate gripping fear of losing more lives; on the other hand, with climate change, we are faced with rising sea levels, saline intrusion into aquifers, droughts, floods, and the results will impact billions of people, as well as biodiversity. However, with climate change, adaptation and mitigation responses are not as immediate because its impacts appear to be just merely creeping.

In both COVID 19 and climate change, our survival is at stake. The urgency of the need for concerted and comprehensive action, without waiting for the problem to peak or to impact millions more of people, is the same.

The lockdowns that COVID 19 compelled many countries to impose has resulted in clearer skies, more breathable air, cleaner seas, and more vibrant wildlife. For climate change mitigation and adaptation, our responses may be less drastic, as they generally require only lifestyle changes. But we must invest in and institute the necessary concerted reforms speedily and extensively, before it becomes too late.

This Earth Day 2020, let us look beyond COVID 19. With the help of the mass media, let us challenge all nations, including ours, to take decisive climate action. After all, this has long been overdue. ###