Peter Cannavò

It’s time we recognized our mutual vulnerability,” an essay by Professor of Government Peter Cannavò, appeared on The Hill’s website on Aug. 3. Focused on the threat of climate change, the piece compared our shared exposure to devastating possibilities with that of the coronavirus.

“Addressing the climate emergency will entail policies that disrupt and transform business as usual — indeed the fundamental ways in which we use energy and other natural resources — and require at least short-term sacrifice,” Cannavò wrote. “To summon the political will to enact these policies, we will need to acknowledge our shared vulnerability. … It prompts us to come together as a self-governing political community and exert some control over our circumstances and fortunes. We should have learned this lesson with COVID-19.”

Addressing the presumed sense of invulnerability held by some to the effects of both climate change and the pandemic, he added, “Climate change is coming for everyone. Neither liberal nor conservative politicians in Washington, D.C., could escape air quality alerts, as dangerous levels of smoke drifted thousands of miles from raging wildfires out west.

“We need to drop pretensions of invulnerability, reject rugged individualism, and get real about the need for concerted, collective action,” Cannavò asserted. “… Only by doing so can we can take on the climate emergency and have some hope of saving ourselves and managing our own future.” 

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