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Climate chief: Coronavirus shows us we can beat global warming – New Scientist

Global warming has become a forgotten crisis during the coronavirus pandemic. But a year that has set worrying climate records also shows how we can remake the world for the better

Environment 14 October 2020

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA – SEPTEMBER 9: Smoky skies from the northern California wildfires casts a reddish color in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020.

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THE orange skies looked more like a smoking hellscape from the film Blade Runner 2049, but this was California 2020. The images of the huge wildfires there, and in Australia earlier in the year, are perhaps as emblematic of 2020 as those of queues of people wearing face masks.

Climate change hasn’t stopped because of a global pandemic. Yet our turbocharged heating of Earth has become an almost forgotten crisis. “Climate change has been put on the back burner,” says climate scientist Corinne Le Quéré at the University of East Anglia, UK, who advises the UK and French governments.

In the meantime, the world has seen a welter of uncomfortable records or near-records this year on measures related to climate change, from global temperatures to Arctic sea ice loss, with ever-clearer consequences for global health, wealth and happiness.

“It’s understood the covid crisis is a short-term public health crisis and an economic crisis for a few years,” says Petteri Taalas at the World Meteorological Organization. “But it’s very well understood that the magnitude of crisis we face if we fail with climate mitigation would be something very different.”

Coronavirus is far from over. But it is time to think what we want the world to look like 10, 20 and 30 years down the line. What has been happening with the climate crisis while the world’s attention has been diverted? How has the pandemic changed the game, and what can …

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