Caught between supply and demand

Local Column Marietta Times May 9, 2020

By David E. Ballantyne

Little in my experience prepared me for a Pandemic. I am an engineer by training; thus, a student of science.

I have high respect for the methods and principals within science.

Of course, those methods and principals are applied by humans.

Thus, show me the data and the evidence.

But we all largely know that it is just a matter of time until science finds a vaccine for coronavirus-19.

In the meantime, it is a nuisance for most of us and a tragedy for some.

I support learning our lessons for adapting to the nuisance.

Parallel to the Pandemic is Climate Change. I am a Climate Activist.

I have studied the evidence and as an engineer and a student of science, there is no doubt in my mind but what Climate Change is a threat of equal gravity as the current Pandemic.

Science indicates that Climate Change is largely caused by carbon emissions trapping heat in the atmosphere.

The bulk of the change in these emissions is due to human use of Carbon Fuels.

These fuels are used for generating electricity, fueling internal combustion transportation engines, home and building heating and cooling and industrial processes for making products such as metals, plastics and cement.

As with the Pandemic, addressing Climate Change requires behavioral changes to avoid risks — changes which are an inconvenience; but, if not avoided are a tragedy for some of us. And with both issues, behavioral changes require the need for “building public will” to convince people to accept the changes required to address avoiding risk.

Those behavioral changes address the supply/demand balance for the Virus or for Carbon Emissions.

Climate Scientists have for years called for global reduction in Carbon Emissions without substantive success.

However, over the past three months, when a good portion of the global population have been sheltering in their homes, Climate Change inducing Carbon Emissions were substantively reduced — by not driving automobiles and not using public transport, particularly airplanes.

Air quality improved and air pollution induced illnesses declined.

And, what we also learned was that certain segments of the population are significantly disadvantaged to the risks.

For Climate, we call them refugees.

For the Pandemic, we call them old, ill or poor. Addressing it is a matter of Public Will and Human ingenuity.

And a merger of Science and Human Desire.

I think addressing it can be done without giving up our accustomed lifestyle.

And, we have seen surprising bipartisanship in the past three months.