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Weathering the Climate of Fear

How do we resist the dark clouds of panic and pessimism that threaten our planet?

By Antonella Pedley

What a difference a couple of weeks makes, I thought after talking to an elderly relative by phone about the social upheaval of COVID-19. She is 86, resides in the center of a European capital, and lived through the Second World War. Not even then, she remembered, were the streets so deserted (except when they were being bombed) and the civil restrictions so harsh as they have been due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further south, a BBC reporter landing in Rome described the “cold blast of fear” felt everywhere, from the airport to the eerily empty tourist attractions, normally bustling with visitors. “Has there been an ordeal as all-encompassing, frightening, and devastating as the one Italy faces from coronavirus?” she asked.1

As I write, the insidious COVID-19 virus spreads globally, infecting millions, killing thousands, sending stock markets into nose-dives, knocking out economies, and sowing panic. No one dares to predict how

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  1. 1. “Coronavirus: Life in Rome under Lockdown,” BBC News, March 24, 2020.

  2. 2. “Visualizing the History of Pandemics,”, March 14, 2020.

  3. 3. “The Man Who Saw the Pandemic Coming,”, March 12, 2020.

  4. 4. Michael Greger, “Pandemics: History & Prevention,”, March 27, 2020.

  5. 5. “Hundreds of Temperature Records Broken,” BBC News, Oct. 9, 2019.

  6. 6. “Climate change,” BBC News, July 24, 2019.

  7. 7. Terrified of Climate Change?” TIME, Nov. 21, 2019.

  8. 8. Ibid.

  9. 9. “The Harm from Worrying about Climate Change,” BBC, Oct. 10, 2019.

  10. 10. “The ‘Climate Doomers,’” BBC News, March 16, 2020.

  11. 11. “The Couples Rethinking Kids,” BBC, Oct. 1, 2019.

  12. 12. “Meet the Londoners Staying Childless,” Evening Standard, March 18, 2020.

  13. 13. “Gordon Brown Calls for Global Environment to Tackle Coronavirus,” The Guardian, March 26, 2020.

  14. 14. “In the Battle Against Coronavirus,” TIME, March 15, 2020.

  15. 15. “Pope Francis Sends Message of Hope,” Catholic News Agency, March 25, 2020.

  16. 16. “The World Is Coming Together to Fight Coronavirus,” CNN, March 27, 2020.

  17. 17. “The Sabbath in an Era of Climate Change,” Green Sabbath Project, Feb. 10, 2020.

About the author

Antonella Pedley lives in Sweden and holds an MA in Ancient Religions from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.