The coronavirus, COVID-19, is to date, a low risk to Australians.
Firstly, it’s spread is currently minimal.
Secondly, 80% of infections are mild.
And yet, a trip to any – and I mean any – suburban supermarket across the nation will tell you a story.
Toilet paper, tissues, wet wipes and hand sanitisers are in short supply.
There surely isn’t a single media CEO who would fail to smile to themselves when they see images of shopping isles devoid of stock.
Fear is great for the otherwise ailing traditional media outlets. Consumption of their product skyrockets, so of course they will capitalise on that. Its hype, which doesn’t match the scenario.
It would be easy for me to follow the long line of commentators who have mocked consumers for their lemming-like behaviour, but I see it differently.
With COVID-19 media has proven that it still has the potential to mobilise communities to take action.
Yet, despite the fact that;
- millions of hectares of Australia are blackened by the 2019-20 bushfires which were quickly followed by flooding storms
- our reef is on the verge of the worst bleaching event on record,
- Australia has the record of the first case of extinction due to climate change,
- rural communities needed fresh water to be trucked in over this past summer,
- scientists have been raising the alarm of climate change for decades,
- banks around the world have started to acknowledge climate change
- insurers factor climate change into their risk analysis, which already impacts on our premiums,
- all the above is in a world 1 degree C warmer and this is just the beginning…
…despite all this, the media flex their muscle to mobilise a mass runout of toilet paper.
It’s almost ironic.
Education isn’t the answer and it never was. A climate denier or scared consumer have access to the best information regarding the scientific reality, be it climate change or COVID-19 and they will still reject it or ignore it in favour of whatever their preferred commentator tells them.
And so, with the bushfires out and the smoky smell washed away by recent flooding, Australians flock to stock up on toilet paper, because, of course, we let journalists do our risk analysis for us.
Today, the journalist tells us how people need to travel further just to find somewhere still stocked with toilet paper – burning more petrol along the way. Tomorrow the journalist will tell us how sewerage systems across the nation are being blocked by all the wet wipes people have been forced to use in the absence of toilet paper.
And still, we do little to nothing to address the climate elephant in the room.