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Lessons Learned From the COVID Pandemic - UPDATED 4-28-22

Lessons Learned From the COVID Pandemic - UPDATED 4-28-22

1. Broad reaching central coordination and leadership was needed in key areas such as allocation of limited resources and setting of standards and protocols. This is even more important in climate actions and policies than in pandemic policies and actions, since unlike pandemic processes, climate physical processes are essentially unaffected by political boundaries (You can stop potentially infected people at the border; you can’t stop a weather front...) The COVAX global vaccination initiative should be studied to further learn what might go wrong or work well vis-à-vis the Paris Accord.  

2. For instance, even though vaccine development was exceptional, vaccine distribution and utilization was flawed--and lives were lost-- because of lack of central coordination and clear and honest communications, as well as systemic cultural and economic weaknesses and differences. Climate action plans at all levels must include such factors. The Pandemic came on too quickly for the creation of “Virus Action Plans”; Climate action planning is under way and completed in many places, but implementation is frighteningly slow...

3. Bubble creation and border closures are effective ways to reduce pandemic data load needed for control, but may not be feasible in climate change & sustainability strategies. But vaccine manufacturing technology sharing and other such innovations need to be carefully studied for inspiration re green tech and decarbonation approaches.

4. Unanticipated social issues and systemic inequalities are being revealed & exacerbated in many cases. Therefore, social and civil factor monitoring and metrics must accompany “traditional” physical data measures of climate, and equity concerns must be anticipated rather than discovered later.

5. Need for pandemic test data was underestimated; both individual and collective (waste water) testing proved useful. But such data becomes useless quickly so time lag must be minimized, and accuracy variations must be understood and accommodated. This is also true for climate status tests & data; frequency of climate data collection may be OK if somewhat slower but more prolonged, given the time constants of the processes involved. But current day GHG inventory and climate impact data collection updating is too infrequent and must be more often in the future.

6. Unanticipated classes of workers became essential workers during pandemic conditions.  This is likely true for climate workers, although the essential classes will differ somewhat. But stresses suffered by Pandemic doctors and nurses, as well as meat packers, may provide insights as to the needs of flood control engineers and fire fighters, for instance.

7. Private sector responses cover the gamut of employee support from accelerated protective change to harsh, hazardous exploitation.  The same may occur at slower time rates for a different set of industries in the climate/sustainability milieu.
8. Living digitally has taken over many life styles; sustainable lifestyles may be similar, due to inhospitable climate aspects, but subject to different pressures, requiring some different media and services

9. Technology benefits have been surprisingly accelerated to great public advantage and/or purposely misrepresented for great private gain. Independent risk assessment and approval has played a major role in safeguarding public safety. The public will require similar protection mechanisms; albeit from a different set of risks (e.g. geo-engineering schemes, bogus low cost energy systems purveyors, etc).

10. Political movements have politicized-- including wholesale use of disinformation --important aspects of proposed pandemic control strategies. Public sector and private sector entities are still working on reasons and remedies for this; hopefully answers will emerge that can help resistance to  wholesale politicization of climate change mitigation and sustainability...

11. Mitigation policies and pressures created a need to move skilled workers of various types quickly in large numbers. Given the different processes and time constants involved, training and retraining locals may be more feasible, alleviating some need for emergency transfers. But jobs, and too few or too many people to fill them, will be a problem as always...

12. Policies and events created unforeseen changes in demand throughout many different markets (e.g., jobs, finance, housing, food, toilet paper, health care). Economic modeling of this will need to accompany environmental change modeling...

13. Populations responded differently to mitigation mechanisms, depending on economic, demographic, cultural, age and other factors. See items 11 and 12 above...

14. It appears that education level is key to a successful approach to convincing individuals to cooperate to fight the pandemic, e.g. to get vaccinated.  But the pandemic came at us too quickly to allow education at levels and in amounts needed. The climate change battle will take place over a longer time frame, hopefully allowing time for education initiatives of size and scope untenable for a  faster moving pandemic.
15. As mentioned above, the pandemic came on too quickly for the creation of “Virus Action Plans” at any level. This lack of planning led to recurring spikes and politically expedient approaches rather than science-based decisions. More time and an increased focus on more aggressive climate action planning should help to mitigate and lessen the most severe impacts from climate change (e.g. via the setting of carefully developed science based targets).
16. Wildlife is being impacted in unexpected ways. Slower but greater climate driven changes will need to be accommodated and have already begun.  And species change in both flora and fauna will have as yet many poorly understood impacts on agriculture and other aspects of local, regional and more extensive environments.


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