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COVID-19 has taught us that it is possible to make sudden social changes that result in radical reductions of greenhouse emissions, changes that decades of climate change activism have failed to achieve. At the core of this failure are three main problems: firstly, climate change discourse is simply more abstract than the easily digestible realities of COVID-19, with its daily infection, death, and recovery counts; secondly, there are some deeply engrained, counter-productive ideologies lurking in the very discourses we use calling for action on climate change; and thirdly, because there are no immediate tangible rewards for committing to broad changes, motivating people through climate change discourse presents challenges that COVID-19 simply does not face. Moving forward will mean facing these three problems, but it will also mean facing the reality that slow-downs or shut-downs disproportionately affect poor people and nations. The people barely surviving from the pittances they receive in the sweatshops—the places that sustain the electronics and garment industries, that are the supply chains and processing centers, and that form the blood and guts of industrial capitalism—are the people who suffer most. There are many lessons in COVID-19 for climate change activism, and we do well to take heed of them.

climate change activism, COVID-19 environmental effects, ecomedia, pandemic lockdowns

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