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Climate Crisis Weekly: Climate skeptics are also likely to be COVID skeptics

  • A new poll found that those who are climate deniers also tend to dismiss coronavirus.
  • Pakistan’s government creates more than 60,000 tree-planting jobs.
  • US presidential candidate Joe Biden discusses the climate crisis with Jay Inslee on his podcast.
  • And more…

Global survey research data company Morning Consult took a poll and published the results, titled, “How Concern Over Climate Change Correlates With Coronavirus Responses.”

The poll was conducted online between April 14-16 on a national sample of 2,200 adults. Here are some of the results:

  • 54% of climate-concerned respondents said that they have “always” worn a mask in public spaces over the last month.
  • 30% of the climate-unconcerned said that they have “always” worn a mask in public spaces over the last month.
  • 86% of the climate-concerned practiced social distancing.
  • 72% of the climate-unconcerned practiced social distancing.

The “climate-concerned” group was defined as those who said that they are concerned about climate change and agree with the scientific consensus that climate change is caused by human activity. The climate-unconcerned group was defined as those who said they were either “not too concerned” or “not concerned at all” about climate change.

So why the disparity? Emma Frances Bloomfield, assistant professor in communication studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, explains:

Everything that science asks us to do is really sacrificing personal convenience for community convenience and well-being. And for a lot of people, the coronavirus is invisible, just like climate change is invisible. A lot of people don’t know people who have been directly affected, and in the case of climate change, a lot of the more severe effects are still years away.

Protesters in Lansing, Michigan, stormed the state Capitol on Thursday because, as they told local news, the coronavirus “isn’t real.” As of Thursday, the state of Michigan had 41,379 cases of the coronavirus with 3,789 deaths. It’d be interesting to know if the protesters in Lansing think climate change is real.

Laborers who have lost their jobs in Pakistan have been given new paid roles by the government: planting trees. The nearly 64,000 “jungle workers” are setting up nurseries, planting saplings, and serving as forest fire fighters as part of Pakistan’s 10 Billion Tree Tsunami program. Prime Minister Imran Khan launched the program in 2018 to counter climate change, and prioritized hiring women and gig workers.

The laborers are making half of their usual wages — 500 rupees ($3) a day — but it’s enough to survive in Pakistan. All workers must wear masks and maintain social distancing.

As Al-Jazeera reports:

The Global Climate Risk Index 2020, issued by think-tank Germanwatch, ranked Pakistan fifth on a list of countries most affected by planetary heating over the last 20 years — even though the South Asian nation contributes only a fraction of global greenhouse gases.

This is a great example of how stimulus programs can address both the pandemic economic crisis and the climate crisis.

Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden launched his own podcast called Here’s the Deal. This week, he spoke for 20 minutes with Washington State governor and climate-change activist Jay Inslee, who also ran as a Democratic candidate for president, about climate change. (You can listen to their chat by clicking the podcast link above.)

Biden and Inslee talked about such issues as wind and solar potential, electric vehicles, and how progress on climate and economic growth are compatible. Biden also asks Inslee whether the US could implement a climate stimulus plan in response to the pandemic.

What was most striking was that Biden seems open to ramping up his climate plan even more. He was endorsed by more than 50 climate scientists, Al Gore, and the League of Conservation Voters ahead of and on Earth Day.

Donald Trump‘s climate-change plan is the 1 trillion tree initiative. (He’s also getting ready to try to bail out Big Oil, but that’s not really climate-friendly.) As we said just above, trees are cool, but they’re not enough on their own, by a long shot — especially for one of the biggest-emitting countries in the world.

Rising seas as a result of climate change is a serious threat. Sometimes a simple video can communicate a lot more than words. So we’ll let this video demonstrate how important it is to protect mangroves to prevent coastal erosion:

Environmental activist Greta Thunberg launched a campaign with UNICEF to protect children from coronavirus. She donated a $100,000 award she received this month from Danish anti-poverty charity Human Act to funding supplies such as soap, masks, and gloves. Human Act also gave a further $100,000 to UNICEF.

Thunberg explains why this is vital:

It’s spring. We’re staying indoors. We’ve run out of excuses for avoiding a spring clear-out. Dangit.

A Grist reader asks,

I figure I might as well clean out my closet since I’m spending so much time at home. What’s the most climate-conscious way to deal with spring cleaning since so many donation centers are closed during the pandemic?

Grist‘s answer is thorough (and you can read it here), but the gist of their message is this:

If you’re in the US, you can donate unwanted clothes to textile recycling like USAgain’s TreeMachines if it’s in your area, or ThredUp, which sells secondhand clothing and is still operating online. And once thrift stores reopen, you can take items there.

But ultimately, Grist‘s advice is to extend the life of your clothing as much as possible. They then list a Marie Kondo-ish guide to categorizing your clothing to decide what to keep and what to donate.

And if you can sew, you can always make face masks with cotton items.

#FridaysForFuture was a double movement this week, with #StandWithWorkers.

Here’s Yağmur Ocak, 13, in Istanbul (with a companion and a cute cat):

And here’s Holly Gillibrand, 14, in Scotland:

Say hello to Elizabeth Wathuti in Nairobi:

And finally, the young activists in Sydney:

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Check out our past editions of Climate Crisis Weekly.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.

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