Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

Comparing the coronavirus pandemic and climate change

The coronavirus pandemic compares to climate change like traffic accidents to the AIDS epidemic. The first will kill many people but most people will stay alive, no matter how passive we stay. The latter will kill everyone unless we interfere drastically. A treatment against AIDS was found but it took decades. Climate change is largely ignored by the biggest polluters for 60 years. Some disastrous effects are unavoidable already.

Are we so exhausted about disaster by the coronavirus pandemic and its losses that we will shut our ears even more to climate change that is threatening not just the comfort of future generations but is actually endangering human survival? Or do we finally get the warning that some problems are so big that we must act — like we had to with COVID-19?

COVID-19 was so acute that hundreds of thousands of lives were lost because of hesitating a couple of days, weeks, or months here or there.

Climate change is so acute because we waited for decades. It won’t kill us all in weeks. But it’s going to exterminate us all in a few decades unless we act now. And the deathbed will be long and painful. With billions without food or water. With hurricanes, floods, and forest fires everywhere. There will be hardly any weather pattern left as nature will be taken over by disaster after disaster on a global scale.

Climate change will not be stopped by a sudden invention of a cure as we are awaiting for vis-√†-vis cancer. One day, we may have a scientific miracle cure against climate change but we can’t wait and gamble we’ll be alright.

Most people are still passive, not because they don’t care but because they feel powerless. But we are not.

There is much we each can do. And our actions will be decisive. They won’t just save lives — they will save the human species.

But our actions must not be piecemeal. They must be done by massive numbers of people, day after day, in ways that attract others to act too.

  • We’ve seen how clean the air became under lockdown. We must rethink the ease at which we decide that we like the comfort of a car above public transportation. We must consider not commuting so much. Can’t we find a job closer to home? Or moves closer to work? Or work from home? Do we really need to travel and have vacations far away? Even if you’ve got the money and it’s legal, do you need to show off to feel good and ignore the consequences? You don’t need to be a world superpower leader to cut down on traffic pollution.
  • Seen how terribly COVID-19 patients felt who needed ventilators? We are taking away the world’s lungs by burning forests (and they also stop the hothouse effects by converting CO2 to O2) for making more grasslands for cows. We must rethink the insane amounts of meat and milk many of us are consuming daily. You don’t need to be a world superpower leader to cut down on eating animal produce.
  • Each of us must step up (or begin) to reduce waste, reduce our water and energy consumption, scale back consumerism buying stuff we don’t need (just to feel rich) all the time. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s decent or smart. Just because it was OK yesterday doesn’t mean it’s still a good thing. Kick out that TV.
  • Much of our run towards the abyss is caused by greed of the super-rich. The ones to stop them are politicians. They’re only as powerful as their populations are activists. If they are for radical climate action, support them by massive frequent demonstrations. If they are uncommitted or against radical climate action, oppose them by massive demonstrations and strikes. Stop ignoring politicians.
  • Much of our run towards the abyss is caused by us being exhausted by work and responsibilities we have already. We are tired. But this is an emergency. Who says that we can afford you sitting in front of the TV every night instead of being an activist? Yes, you will be even more tired. But at least you’ll feel good about yourself. Yes, you will make mistakes and waste energy but that’s how we learn. We need to stop the insane amount of entertainment that is going on.
  • Activism must be done such that it is contagious. Not as if this is only for a few enlightened souls. The people who work in the car or travel industry are not the enemy. (Their jobs would have been cut by automation soon anyway.) They deserve help, not war. Yes, it is important to take care of your short-term needs and that of your family. Yes, the fights against sexism, world hunger, child abuse, racism, etc. are crucial and exhausting. But they are not enough. Each of us needs to fight against humanity going extinct. ‘I’m already an activist for other causes’ is no excuse. No one is exempt.
  • There is much that can be done in a positive way, not just cutting down on ruining the planet. We can also have our politicians invest enormous amounts of money into creating alternative green energy. Once, nuclear energy was the enemy of life and survival. The time may have arrived for clean safe nuclear energy. Nuclear, solar, wind, and tide energies have hardly been harvested. The time is now.
  • Stop addictions. Not just (as I explained above) addictions to meat, comfort, consumerism, entertainment, being show-offs, etc. No, we also need to stop drug addictions (including coffee, alcohol, psycho-pharmaceutical junk, etc.) and learn to listen to each other instead. Complain how tired you are, cry, yawn, and get energy that way. How could we fight world pollution well while polluting ourselves?
  • Last but not least, we all can show, teach (by example) and demand an end to disrespect. We need respect for all (including self), for all creatures, for nature, the environment, the oceans, the climate. One doesn’t need to be a bigwig to have or receive powers to do that.

There may be no future generations to ask us how come we didn’t do anything. But how do we face ourselves in the mirror today if we do none?

The opening clip was updated with a better short report.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach and lehavdiel bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, GLBTQAI, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quit a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500st blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * NEW: To see other blog posts by him, his overspill blog you can reach by clicking on the Website icon next to his picture at the head of every post. There you may find precursors to later TOI blog posts, addition or corrections of published TOI blog posts, blog posts the TOI will not carry and some thoughts that are too short to be a TOI blog post. Also, the TOI only allows for one blog post per blogger per 24 hours. Sometimes, he has more to say than that. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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