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Flattening That Other Curve

Most people have seen the graph exhorting citizens to lessen the spread of coronavirus in order to prevent a surge from overwhelming our health system. We have to "flatten the curve" by acting boldly now in order to lessen imminent calamity. This graph is necessarily simplified because it is a generalization without specific data. Nonetheless, the validity of the predictive science remains.


In practice, we assign real numbers to the graph. Today, for example, most news media are reporting the rise of cases and deaths from coronavirus, with our objective being to blunt the steepness of the pandemic curve.

Screen grab from MSNBC 2020 March 26.

The Other Curve

A glaring question confronts the current Administration and Congress. Since we are now totally reliant upon and embracing science to tackle coronavirus, will they act with zeal and integrity on the scientific consensus about climate change?

The amount of CO2 in our atmosphere that scientists decry is skyrocketing similarly to the case load on the front end of the pandemic.

Below are three time frames which all clearly indicate we're entering an unprecedented spike in physically measured CO2. This is genuine data plotted with scientific rigor. The first graph is going back to 1750, with the past few decades showing exponential growth.

CO2 curve, 1750-2020; image courtesy NOAA

Looking back 2,000 years, the data curve suggests how severe the slope is that we now need to counter.

Image: World Economic Forum

Going back further yet, a stunning NOAA video examined in earlier blog post Slippery Ice of Climate Change shows the curve on a time frame of 800,000 years.

For the same reason models inform us on how to act boldly on the coronavirus, we need to act boldly on climate change and blunt the curve. For insight on how to move beyond--not just slow but reverse global warming--see the comprehensive plans outlined in Project Drawdown.

Earth is the epitome of a health care provider to its denizens. Failure to flatten this curve will condemn generations of people to a future that is as scary, disruptive, costly, injurious, deadly, and perhaps sudden as any pandemic. When will we learn?

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