The coronavirus pandemic as an analogy for future sustainability challenges

The current coronavirus outbreak may provide an illustrative analogy for sustainability challenges, exemplifying how challenges such as climate change may become wicked problems demanding novel and drastic solution attempts.

It seems that the consequences of this extreme event for the global economy are yet to unfold and hard to predict. In this article, John-Oliver Engler and colleagues argue that the coronavirus crisis resembles, in microcosm and over the short term, the dynamics of global, long-term interrelated sustainability crises—such as biodiversity loss, food crisis and climate change—that humanity will face during the twenty-first century. Here they focus specifically on the coronavirus crisis as an analogy for anthropogenic climate change.

Arresting the spread of coronavirus requires challenging deeply held societal behaviors values such as the freedom of movement and travel. Similarly, tackling climate change requires addressing ingrained behaviors related to resource consumption. While the coronavirus crisis unfolds on a short to mid-term scale, the impacts of climate change are starting to manifest themselves only now. The crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic may thus foreshadow the disruptive force with which other wicked problems such as anthropogenic climate change might affect our global economic system and society. What unites these problems is the fact that the time to act is now.

This article was published in the journal titled, 'Sustainability Science,' volume 15, issue 5, September 2020.

The coronavirus pandemic as an analogy for future sustainability challenges

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