‘Can COVID-19 Solve the Climate Crisis’ by Phil Yeats

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to find 5 words in a news article that jump out at you. Write a story using those words.


I picked these words, climate change, CO2 emissions, coronavirus, pandemic, and isolation from a news report commenting on the impact of the current pandemic on carbon emissions. I imagined a conversation between several of the graduate students in the climate change novel I’m working on when they were in high school. My novel begins in 2027, and this story takes place in the spring of 2020 at the height of the coronavirus lockdown.

For information on The Road to Environmental Armageddon, my climate change novel in the making for many years, visit my website (https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com) and read the posts in the Road to Environmental Armageddon category.


Can COVID-19 solve the climate crisis?

Phil Yeats


The conversation happened via email chat. It was more like an argument than a normal discussion, but this wasn’t a normal time, and we weren’t normal teenagers. We were the four most dedicated members of our school’s environment club and trying to keep things going by meeting online. School was closed and the coronavirus pandemic had everyone in forced isolation.

A newspaper article about decreases in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the pandemic-generating a slowdown in the global economy triggered the discussion.

“That proves the climate change crisis is false, perpetuated by guilt-ridden liberals looking for reasons for self-flagellation and pleasure denial,” John wrote.

I stared at my computer screen, and I’m sure, the others did too. John’s big words and bizarre right-wing intellectual concepts came from reading conservative blogs. Not sites catering to yahoos, but ones favoured by climate change deniers who wanted to give the impression they thought about the problem.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked.

“That Draconian solutions aren’t necessary,” John responded. I imagined him assuming one of the threatening poses he often used to reinforce his arguments. “If a natural event like the coronavirus outbreak lowers CO2 emissions by twenty percent and generates pledges for a low carbon path to recovery, it’s not an insurmountable problem.”

“GARBAGE,” I typed. “You suggesting worldwide responses haven’t been Draconian, and anyway, twenty percent is a number some extremist pulled out of the air. It will be like the economic downturn in 2008—emissions will decrease for a few months and bounce up bigger than ever in the next year.”

“Come on Dan, these chats are no fun if you two get into arguments,” Madison said. She was as passionate about the environment as anyone, but hated confrontations. She spent more time defusing arguments, usually ones between John and me, than expressing her ideas. Those attempts at peacemaking often involved touchy-feely stuff to calm John down, but that couldn’t happen when we were stuck in our various houses staring at our computer screens.

Emily, as usual, had the last word. She was our most cerebral member, fascinated by mathematics, and destined to attend some prestigious university on a monster scholarship. “Scientists and engineers have known how to curb carbon dioxide increases for years. It’s not the ability to act, it’s the will. Individuals and their governments, lack the will to act.”


The Spot Writers—Our Members:


Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/


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