The world has been devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Almost all countries declared lock-downs to limit the spread of the virus. Businesses stopped, airports were closed and industries closed.
Here in Uganda, the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were enacted into law by our parliament, the situation that followed was a full year of silence like the world had ended.
People behaved. The lifestyles changed to be safe from the pandemic. Some people were adamant to observe the SOPs and contracted the disease, some even died.
In the same way, climatic change is slowly eating up mankind. In Uganda for example, the rains have changed season, when it rains, it is too heavy and people’s homes and lives have been lost in Bududa, Kamwenge, Kasese and other hilly areas. If countries do not take drastic action soon, there could be serious consequences in the next few years.
The question remains; why aren’t people reacting to climatic change with the same urgency as Covid-19 yet these catastrophes are equally claiming many lives and destroying property?
First of all, people overvalue benefits in the short term as compared to benefits in the long term. On the contrary, investors want to save money today by relying on methods of production that involve use of charcoal rather than innovating sources of environment-friendly energy, even those that are more cost-effective in the long run.
More so, it takes a long time before signs of climate change become obvious to people, than it was with the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic. People are much better with obvious threats like that climatic change than they are with threats that escalate quickly like that of Covid-19
Third, many effects of climate change are distant from most people. Our people in Uganda conceptualize things that are psychologically distant from them as abstract; these maybe, take a long time to occur, or happen in very far distances, like outside Uganda. As for Covid-19, it was conceptualized as psychologically being close. When there are weather disasters that are probably a reflection of climate change like floods, landslides and heavy storms, they tend to happen far away from where most people live. As a result, most people are not forced to cope with the facts of climate change, but rather they treat it as an abstract concept. And abstract concepts simply don’t harass people to act as forcefully as specific ones do.
Fourth, the future is always more uncertain than the present. That is one reason people value the present so much more strongly. Here, agriculturalists would rather till the available land without rest, a charcoal burner wants money today than the timber in the future. In the case of climate change, so many people believe that it is a spiritual punishment from God for disobedience, hence, they don’t even believe that climatic change will affect mankind the more in the future
All in all, climatic change is real like it is the case with Covid-19. It is supposed to be a collective responsibility, like we study it in Entrepreneurship Education to nurture nature so that we can live a health life decades over.