Fighting Climate Change & COVID-19
Context: During the past few months the world has battled the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in millions globally quarantined at home during different forms of lockdowns. In the United States, the pandemic disproportionately has killed Black Americans. Simultaneously, in response to the murder of George Floyd, protests against police brutality and systemic racism have erupted worldwide.
Both the pandemic and the current protests are calling for massive changes to the way our country operates - everything from our healthcare system, to our schools, to our city planning. While there have been many visions of what a ‘recovery’ could look like after the pandemic, many are calling for the response to also include the fight against climate change, which similarly has greater impacts on communities of color. This activity explores how the past few months have influenced the debates on fighting climate change around the world.
To learn more about the connections between environmental and climate justice, check out our previous activity, found here. If you are interested in learning more about the role of protesting in addressing both systemic racism and climate justice, this previous activity provides great examples.
Think about the similarities and differences between climate change, the current pandemic, and systemic racism
Consider possible solutions
Age Group: 9th-12th Grade Time: 1 hour
First, take the time to read this short article on the impacts of lockdowns during the pandemic on global emissions, here. Then reflect on the following questions:
How did this drop in emissions compare to the drop from the last recession?
What changes in human activities are responsible for this drop?
How did New York City compare to Paris? Why were they different?
What can we learn about these changes to our lives (think of travel, work, etc.) during the pandemic that could help us fight climate change?
Next, read this article on how different countries are planning to recover after the pandemic, some of which are also addressing the climate crisis. Then reflect on the following questions:
How are European countries planning to recover from the pandemic? How has the US differed?
What were some of the technologies countries are using to change how we travel, while also reducing the impact on the environment?
Which of these solutions would be most helpful in Detroit? Think of how we travel, how we get our electricity, etc.
Lastly, watch this short video on the Green New Deal, a proposal for transitioning the United States away from fossil fuels, while also addressing societal inequalities. Then answer the following:
What are some of the industries that would have to drastically change in the Green New Deal? What would be their replacements?
In Detroit, what would you envision the Green New Deal looking like? Give examples.
How does the Green New Deal attempt to fight climate change and inequality?
While critics claim this great of a change would be ‘too expensive’ or ‘too difficult,’ what are the dangers of not trying?