Mayewski, Norchi co-author cover story about coronavirus, climate change for Global Geneva

University of Maine Climate Change Institute director Paul Mayewski and Charles Norchi, Benjamin Thompson Professor of Law at the University of Maine School of Law and Fulbright-Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Iceland) Arctic Scholar co-authored the cover story “COVID-19 and climate change: the planet’s twin crises” in Global Geneva, an independent, international print and online journalism publication in the public interest. “While many may not think climate change and disease are similar or even associated, both can evolve rapidly. Fast changes in climate, operating over one to five-year periods and referred to as ‘abrupt climate change’, have taken their toll on previously flourishing civilizations,” they wrote. “The abrupt onset of drought, for example, contributed to the collapse of the Mesopotamian Empire (modern day Syria and Iraq) 4,200 years ago. And in the 800s AD, it resulted in the demise of the Mayan Empire in Mesoamerica.” Today, the authors cite intensification of droughts, floods and storms, millions of deaths annually as a consequence of poor air quality, an increase in vector-borne diseases, species extinction, and food insecurity as some of the consequences of human-induced acceleration of global warming and other climatic impacts. “Climate change not only intensifies the damage caused by COVID-19, but lessens the likelihood of understanding where, when and why such a disease will start in the future,” they write. But with the subsequent significant reductions in industry and transportation due to the coronavirus, Mayewski and Norchi say that “the short-term effects are a reminder of our ability not only to decrease emissions on a sustained basis, but to serve as a reminder that we as humans can do with less.” Moving forward, the authors write, “The twin problems of COVID-19 and climate change require global collaboration and diplomacy amongst countries, international organizations, research institutions, scientists and policy professionals.”