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COVID-19 Is Slowing Climate Progress, Report Finds

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Jan. 19 2021, Published 12:02 p.m. ET

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has taken a massive toll on society's physical health, mental health, and — of course — on the economy as a whole. Many have been furloughed and lost their jobs, businesses have shut down, and many governments, like our own, have failed to distribute livable stimulus packages. And unfortunately, due to the growing wealth gap, our ability to tackle against climate change will be greatly hindered, as predicted by experts from the World Economic Form (WEF).

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“Growing societal fragmentation – manifested through persistent and emerging risks to human health, rising unemployment, widening digital divides, and youth disillusionment – can have severe consequences in an era of compounded economic, environmental, geopolitical and technological risks," warned WEF's executive chairman Klaus Schwab, as per The Guardian. 

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COVID-19 has effectively destroyed the global economy.

Ahead of the World Economic Forum's (WEF) annual meeting in the Swiss mountain town of Davos, the powerful political organization has unleashed its Global Risks Report for 2021. It reveals what many of us dread on a daily basis, and more importantly, emphasizes the effects of the coronavirus, how it's increasing the wealth gap between the rich and poor, and how that — in turn — will affect how we tackle the climate crisis.

COVID-19 has led to drastic economic downturn — according to the report, some of the poorest parts of the world have been hit the hardest economically, while the wealthiest have effectively remained relatively stable. Save The Children conducted a survey that polled households from 37 countries — 75 percent of households only started suffering economically during the pandemic, and 82 percent of poorer households were affected on an even greater scale.

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Due to our inability to address climate change over the last several decades since climate change was first identified in the 1930s, a widespread pandemic was in the making for about 15 years, the WEF estimates. And now, with so many people living in poverty, addressing climate change will be placed in the backseat, once again.

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The economy, climate crisis, and pandemic are all interconnected.

Meanwhile, with the environmental crisis continuing to spiral, marginalized communities will continue to be inundated by more diseases and natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires, which are inherently caused by climate change. Basically, if global governments fail to address the pandemic and economic crisis in tandem with climate change, the vicious and never-ending cycle will continue to ravage communities worldwide.

“The immediate human and economic costs of COVID-19 are severe,” the report says. “They threaten to scale back years of progress on reducing global poverty and inequality and further damage social cohesion and global cooperation.”

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The WEF says the top five risks for this year include: infectious diseases, climate action failure, weapons of mass destruction, biodiversity loss, and natural resource crises. But with COVID-19 at the forefront of our concerns, it seems as though we may continue to prolong any action against these impending risks, which could ultimately be catastrophic.

"Growing societal fragmentation – manifested through persistent and emerging risks to human health, rising unemployment, widening digital divides, and youth disillusionment – can have severe consequences in an era of compounded economic, environmental, geopolitical and technological risks," Schwab said, as per The Guardian. 

Needless to say, it's vital that we tackle this from an inclusive and holistic perspective.

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