Former US President Donald Trump liked to call the coronavirus the invisible enemy. He was right. The coronavirus is invisible to the naked eye. It has killed more than 600,000 Americans and infected over 36 million. It has also killed and infected large numbers around the world. If something is invisible to the naked eye, it means people cannot see it. They will need equipment, such as a microscope. The virus outbreak in the US became a pandemic on Trump’s watch. If something happened on a person’s watch, it means it happened while that person was in charge.
It was also on Trump’s watch that the US developed life-saving vaccines. Trump pressured pharmaceutical companies to quickly develop vaccines. He called it Operation Warp Speed. The expression “warp speed” means extremely fast. Vaccines have stabilized the pandemic but another enemy is threatening the world. This enemy is very visible. It’s called climate change, which has been visible to the naked eye for many years. The world needed to fight this visible enemy together but many world leaders were tardy. The word “tardy” means being late in doing something, such as replying to an email. But used this way, it means slow in taking action.
The tardy response by some countries has enabled climate change to worsen. When scientists first warned of climate change many people, including some world leaders, believed it was not an immediate problem. That explains the tardiness (noun) in dealing with it. But in the past year or two, climate change has struck with a vengeance. The word “vengeance” means to take revenge or to punish someone you believe has done you wrong. To strike with a vengeance means to take action with great force or energy. In the past few years the world has seen wildfires in many countries, snow in places that usually don't snow, flooding in many countries, and drought in others. Is Mother Nature striking back with a vengeance to punish us for being tardy in reducing carbon emissions?
前美國總統特朗普，喜歡叫新冠病毒為隱形敵人。他是對的。新冠病毒確實是肉眼（naked eye）看不見的，它殺了超過六十萬名美國人，感染逾三千六百萬人；它也殺死和感染全球大量的人。若某物是invisible to the naked eye，意即它是肉眼看不見的，需要特別儀器如顯微鏡，才能看得見。美國是在特朗普的治下（on Trump’s watch）爆發新冠肺炎疫情。若某事發生時是on a person’s watch，意即該事情是在那人負責或看管期間發生的。
同樣，美國研發出救人的疫苗，亦是在特朗普的治下（on Trump’s watch）。特朗普向藥廠施壓，要從速研發出疫苗。他稱之為「曲速行動」（Operation Warp Speed）——習語“warp speed”是指極速的。疫苗令疫情穩定下來，但亦有另一個敵人正在威脅全世界，而這個敵人是明顯看得見的，那就是氣候變化，已是多年來肉眼（naked eye）可見的。世界需要一同抵抗這個可見的敵人，但世界各國許多領袖都相當tardy——tardy是指遲延的，例如遲了回覆一個電郵；但在這裏，它是指行動緩慢、拖拖拉拉的。
一些國家應對氣候變化的緩慢（tardy）反應，促使情況惡化。當科學家們率先警告有氣候變化時，許多人，包括一些國家領袖，都認為它並非那麼刻不容緩的問題。這就解釋了他們處理氣候變化時的拖延態度（tardiness，名詞）。然而，在過去一兩年，氣候變化已經struck with a vengeance。Vengeance是指報仇、復仇，或就着某人對你做的錯事令其承受應得的懲罰。To strike with a vengeance即兇狠、猛烈地攻擊。在過去幾年，世界許多國家出現大規模山火，平時不會下雪的地方也下起雪來，還有許多國家遭逢嚴重水災，而另一些國家則經歷旱災⋯⋯大自然是否在猛烈反擊（with a vengeance）我們，懲罰我們在減低碳排放量之上行動緩慢、拖拖拉拉（tardy）？
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧