Is Coronavirus a dress rehearsal for what awaits us?

Dr John Hewson will proudly open the 2020 ACNEM Online Conference: Environmental & Viral Disruptors.

Writing in The Guardian this week Dr John Hewson says COVID-19 may be merely a trial run if we continue to ignore the laws of science and climate change.

In his article “Coronavirus is a dress rehearsal for what awaits us if governments continue to ignore science” Dr Hewson praised the world’s ability to change so dramatically in just six to eight weeks and believes it gives us hope if civilisation is to survive and prosper.

Dr Hewson says humans have increasingly caused significant harm to themselves and to the planet by prioritising economic and population growth over environmental and social consequences.

He says COVID-19 has forced countries to work collaboratively and change behaviours and we cannot resume business-as-usual once the threat leaves.

“Our political leaders are throwing ideology to the wind and coming up with policies and fixes that put people before politics. This is an inspiring indication that the global community can embrace essential change. The risks emerging are now varied, global, complex and catastrophic. The solutions need to be national, globally collaborative and multi-disciplinary,” he writes.

Dr Hewson is Chair of the Commission for the Human Future which this week released its report: Surviving and Thriving in the 21st Century: A discussion and Call to Action on Global Catastrophic Risks.

The report identifies ten catastrophic risks to humanity and sees the COVID-19 pandemic as a wake-up call to every man and woman – we need to do things differently.

The report states the pandemic also presents an opportunity to change the way we see our world, how we respond as humans to the self-created dangers we face and the opportunities we can seize or create as we go forward together.
On climate change the Commission writes that unless a global emergency response is implemented to reduce carbon emissions, civilisation as we know it will collapse.

The report calls on people across the world to come together to debate, design and implement innovative strategies to transition to a sustainable world.

They acknowledge the solution to the top ten global risks all require the imposition of measures and economic costs now in order to secure a future.

The report states a systemic failure of governance, undermining of democratic norms, decline in public trust in science and disdain for the truth is leaving the world with a system ill-suited to enabling human survival.

The Coronavirus pandemic took the whole world by surprise and the Commission argues it shows how quickly catastrophic risk can appear and affect everyone.

Dr Hewson believes our unpreparedness means humanity will continue to be ambushed by unforeseen crises.

“We must empower everyone, young and old, female and male, poor and affluent to help build a safe, sustainable human future,” he said.

Hear Dr John Hewson speak at the 2020 ACNEM Online Conference – Environmental & Viral Disruptors. Secure your place at this globally significant event now.