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Climate change and the pandemic are both failures of the imagination

“How many of us would have imagined, just fifteen years ago, that we would carry a device in our pockets that functioned as a phone, library, general store, newspaper, music repository, movie theatre, radio, alarm clock, health monitor, global map, tour guide, homing device, and, if you live in Vancouver, the key to hundreds of cars in a shared network? In January, who would imagined that in three months people would be quarantined in their homes, or that the oil supply would have outstripped demand?

Imagination alone will not save us from climate change. We need to be realistic. We are highly likely to see continued impacts from climate change for decades to come. We are unlikely to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to avoid 1.5°C of global warming, the lower temperature threshold in the Paris Climate Agreement. Avoiding 2°C of global warming will also be a tremendous challenge. Regardless, the more we do to reduce emissions, the less the planet will warm, and the less that people will suffer. That’s the key message from the scientific community.”

Climate change and the pandemic are both failures of the imagination, blog post by Simon Donner, Professor of Climatology at the University of British Columbia and Leopold Fellow (2009). Earlier this year, Future Earth relaunched the Leopold Leadership Program as the Earth Leadership Program – a new venture with a global focus. Read more about the transition at