Consider this thought experiment:
The problem of _____ [insert problem] will cause major upheavals in life as we know it and possibly extensive deaths in _____ [insert amount of time].
What is the difference between filling in the blanks with “coronavirus pandemic” and “a few days,” versus “climate change” and “a few decades”?
Both statements can be supported with scientific studies, public opinion polls, and direct personal experience. The puzzle is why communities have absorbed one pile of information about an incoming threat and taken action, while a more comprehensively studied and considerably larger but different threat remains mired in political limbo.
Journalists can take some credit for keeping the coronavirus outbreak in the public decision space, when many world leaders insisted the world could carry on as normal. We have had considerably less success drawing attention to climate change challenges. By almost any measure, the threats may be near to or even equivalent in death tolls, economic upheaval, and social disruption. The only difference may be time, days versus decades.