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DR. JAMES McCLINTOCK: Lessons on climate change from the COVID-19 pandemic

James McClintock

James McClintock, PhD, is University Professor of Polar and Marine Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the author of 'Lost Antarctica' and 'A Naturalist goes Fishing.' 

Americans are getting a whopper of a life lesson on the incalculable cost and heartbreak of lives lost and economies fractured because of a belated federal response to a viral pandemic. Once medical experts deemed COVID-19 transmissible and capable of killing humans in China, months of denial and inaction by our federal leaders greatly compounded the severity of the outcome. 

How America’s leadership is approaching climate change is akin to how it is approaching the pandemic. The time scales may be different, but the sequence of events bear remarkable similarities. Scientists have known for decades that ignoring climate change is inherently risky, yet their omnipresent warnings go largely unheeded.