The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to one of the most challenging global crises of our time, already resulting in a tragic loss of lives and livelihoods for so many around the world as I write in April 2020. It is a poignant reminder of how our societies and economies are so deeply vulnerable. A health pandemic, like climate change, can affect anyone. However, we know that the poor and marginalized will suffer the most.
In Indonesia, climate change is already a pernicious threat. More than 30 million people across northern Java suffer from coastal flooding and erosion related to more severe storms and sea level rise. In some places, entire villages and more than a mile of coastline have been lost to the sea.
As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States continues to rise and more and more Americans are told to stay home, the true extent of this crisis is becoming more apparent daily. Our immediate focus is on the health and safety of our families, our neighbors and the nation as a whole, as it should be. I can only imagine the suffering of people who have already lost a loved one to the virus or have a parent in a nursing facility where an outbreak has occurred. We need to do everything we can to protect the lives of all Americans.