Climate Change & Pandemic Perspectives for 2020 Mass Envirothon Teams

Hello Envirothon friends – 

I set out to find some interesting resources for 2020 teams planning Envirothon presentations, and ended up straying far afield.  Some diverse perspectives are linked below.  I don’t agree with everything you’ll find there.  My goal was to give a sense of the explosion of thinking that this unusual time is generating.  I’ve set up three broad categories:  Science, Journalism, and Opinion.  If you have more articles or categories to add, please send me the links!

Will Snyder / Mass Envirothon Steering Committee / UMass Extension/4-H 





All Hazards Emergency Preparedness for Drinking Water Systems

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

This page provides links to non-EPA web sites that provide additional information about Emergency Preparedness for Drinking Water Systems.  During a natural disaster or pandemic emergency, it should be assumed that water systems could have severe shortages in staffing and disruptions in the supply chain. There is also potential for disruption of communications, transportation, services, utilities and public safety. The most important step for water systems is to update their emergency response plans and to evaluate critical functions and how those would be covered in a disaster or pandemic situation.


 Climate change and human health – risks and responses. Summary.

United Nations/World Health Organization

Today, worldwide, there is an apparent increase in many infectious diseases, including some newly-circulating ones (HIV/AIDS, hantavirus, hepatitis C, SARS, etc.). This reflects the combined impacts of rapid demographic, environmental, social, technological and other changes in our ways-of-living. Climate change will also affect infectious disease occurrence (1).

The real reason why coronavirus models can get it ‘wrong’

Grist Magazine

“You could have the very best physical model in the world, but if you get future human behavior wrong, you’d end up with a pretty bad future projection,” said Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist at the Breakthrough Institute. “The uncertainties in climate change to our choices as individuals and as societies matter just as much — if not more — than the uncertainties in the physical climate system that we’re trying to model.”


The Next Pandemic Could Be Hiding in the Arctic Permafrost 

The New Republic

Global warming could unearth ancient microbes. Will we be as unprepared as we were for the coronavirus?




 Climate Change Won’t Stop for the Coronavirus Pandemic


The next several months could bring hurricanes, floods and fire, on top of the pandemic currently raging through the country. How do you shelter in place during an evacuation?

Coronavirus has wiped out 106,000 clean energy jobs so far. Can the US get them back?

Grist Magazine

In early March, when COVID-19 cases began popping up across the U.S., the Philadelphia-based company Solar States was having a really good year, with at least six months’ worth of contracts already lined up. The 30-person company installs solar panels on homes and commercial buildings and hosts workforce training programs for high school students and unemployed Philadelphians, often hiring its graduates.  The fallout happened fast. . . .


 Key Investments Can Build Resilience to Pandemics and Climate Change

World Resources Institute

To manage the twin threats of the coronavirus pandemic and climate change, building resilience against both is imperative and urgent. We are going to have to multitask on this one, as delay will cost lives and livelihoods.  But how to do so, in the face of a recession, falling government revenues and huge pressure on public budgets to fund multiple priorities? Investments in COVID-19 response and in climate change resilience must work together and reinforce each other, rather than compete for resources. Here are three ideas on how to do it.


The world is coming together to fight coronavirus. It can do the same for the climate crisis


While the coronavirus pandemic and climate change are inherently different issues, they share two important characteristics: both are global crises that threaten the lives of millions of people.  Yet only one crisis has inspired widespread, drastic action from countries across the globe.


The Green New Deal, explained

YouTube – Vox (recommended for high school by the MTA)

What’s actually in the Green New Deal?





A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

YouTube/The Intercept (recommended for high school by the MTA)

What if we actually pulled off a Green New Deal? What would the future look like? . . . Set a couple of decades from now, the film is a flat-out rejection of the idea that a dystopian future is a forgone conclusion. Instead, it offers a thought experiment: What if we decided not to drive off the climate cliff? What if we chose to radically change course and save both our habitat and ourselves? . . . It’s about how, in the nick of time, a critical mass of humanity in the largest economy on earth came to believe that we were actually worth saving. Because, as Ocasio-Cortez says in the film, our future has not been written yet and “we can be whatever we have the courage to see.”


Heartland Institute accuses ‘climate alarmists’ of exploiting COVID-19 pandemic to advance agenda

Fox News

The conservative Heartland Institute released a report on Tuesday in which it criticized leading politicians, activists, and media outlets of using the coronavirus to push their environmental agenda:   News – The Pandemic or the Recession: Which is More Costly? The United States has taken unprecedented actions to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus and the illness it causes, COVID-19. How bad will this be for the economy?


Coronavirus Lessons: Fact and Reason vs. Paranoia and Fear

RealClear Politics

Given the most recent mortality rates and modeling, it appears that the death toll in America from coronavirus will end up looking a lot like the annual fatality numbers from the flu. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Washington state is now projecting 68,841 potential deaths in America. It is also estimating lower ranges than that. The flu season of 2017-2018 took 61,099 American lives. For this we have scared the hell out of the American people, shut down the economy, ended over 17 million jobs, taken trillions of dollars out of the economy, closed places of worship, and massively disrupted civic life as we know it. Some of our major public officials tell us, still, that there will be no returning to a status quo, that we will have to get used to a new normal. We strongly disagree with that mindset. . . . A panic and hysteria over a pandemic that does not look to be what so many frightened us into thinking has radically degraded this country. What should be the major lessons learned here?


Arundhati Roy: “The Pandemic Is a Portal”

Financial Times (a link from YES! Magazine)

Whatever it is, coronavirus has made the mighty kneel and brought the world to a halt like nothing else could. Our minds are still racing back and forth, longing for a return to ‘normality,’ trying to stitch our future to our past and refusing to acknowledge the rupture. But the rupture exists. And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normality. . . . Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.