There is no denying that we are living through one of the greatest societal challenges in recent memory. It’s impossible to list all of the difficult choices and changesthe loss, the sacrifice, the uncertainty, the fear — forced upon us by COVID-19. As everyone continues to adjust to a changed world, we have been sharing a few questions. What has the scourge of COVID-19 revealed to us? Will any of these hard-won lessons help us as we turn to face the potential calamity of climate change that looms on the horizon?

As everyone continues to adjust to a changed world, we have been sharing a few questions. What has the scourge of COVID-19 revealed to us?

Some lessons have been bitter. Here in the U.S., we have seen the cost of failed leadership. As the pandemic began its global march, President Donald Trump failed to act quickly and decisively, likely increasing its toll and worsening our pain and suffering. As he has done with climate change, Trump failed early on to embrace or even understand sound scientific consensus about what must be done to protect this nation and its people.

At the same time, we’ve been fortunate to witness the inspiring power of people doing the right thing. Millions of Americans have willingly sheltered in place to protect their families and communities. Led by the leadership of many governors, many different Americans have become front-line workers — doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians, of course, but also grocery store staff, food bank volunteers, warehouse workers and postal carriers — battling COVID-19 on our behalf at their own peril. Several industries have repurposed their production capacity to make much-needed masks, ventilators and hand sanitizers, and some of our largest corporations have donated crucial health supplies where they are most needed.

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There have also been some pleasant surprises. As many of the world’s transportation and industrial sectors have reduced operations, there has been a remarkable decline in global levels of carbon dioxide emissions. Of course, the cost in life and livelihood negates any celebration. Nonetheless, there is no denying that we have gotten a very real glimpse of the potential for global environmental repair.

Make no mistake, the worst of climate change awaits us in the near future. The incremental and sporadic nature of climate change has not thus far motivated the sort of rapid response we have seen with COVID-19. Where does this leave us? Do we wait until the predicted droughts lead to global famine? Do we turn our backs on nations forced to uproot millions from coastal areas? Clearly, inertia is unacceptable.

COVID-19 has shown us the power of sound science, true leadership and early action. We must honor this knowledge if we want to avoid what is coming.

COVID-19 has shown us the power of sound science, true leadership and early action. We must honor this knowledge if we want to avoid what is coming.

Certainly, the task is daunting. There are global entities unwilling to adjust their profits for the greater good, and many of the worlds’ governments, including our own, have been slow to protect the well-being of future generations. Better treaties, better economic incentives, cleaner technologies, more motivated political leadership and the power of collective action by everyday people — these are but a few of the big changes that are necessary to blunt the worst of the climate change curve. Underlying these necessary changes is the need for a deep shift in our values and priorities, a shift strong enough to wrest control of environmental policies held hostage by stakeholders desperately clinging to their profits and power.

Big cultural shifts do not begin with treaties, laws and policies. They start on the ground and in the hearts of people. It is often said that if you capture hearts, minds will follow. In this way, stories and narrative strategies can be uniquely powerful. Throughout history, stories have played an important role in inspiring people to confront the challenges of their day. We hope to further this goal by making and supporting film and media projects that highlight stories of good citizenship and strong leadership.

As COVID-19 began its lethal march across our nation, most Americans embraced scientific consensus and understood that collective grassroots action could protect us from the worst-case scenarios. This actionable wisdom should be at the core of our fight against climate change. If we come together to do what we can, we can and will blunt the curve of climate change and create a better world for the many generations to come.

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