Climate lessons from COVID

Climate change experts at Iowa colleges and universities have for 10 years produced annual statements about Iowa impacts of human-caused changes to the atmosphere. This year’s statement comes at the same time another serious crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, is upon us. We can learn from this, as suggested by the statement title, “Will COVID-19 Lessons Help Us Survive Climate Change?”

Unfortunately, in the face of political polarization, some have taken up the strategy of de-legitimizing science, but this distrust in expert guidance has led to preventable deaths and economic damage to working people and businesses,” said Dave Courard-Hauri, chair of Environmental Science and Sustainability at Drake University. See the news release.

More than 230 teachers and researchers at 37 colleges and universities across the state have agreed to a one-page statement describing how the COVID-19 experience should inform how we deal with climate change.

This thumbnail of the statement notes “three important lessons from the current pandemic that apply to our understanding of climate mitigation and adaptation in Iowa”:

— The best available science as described by professional organizations remains by far the most reliable source of information.

— The cost of late action far outweighs the costs of prevention and preparation.

— Building community resilience against multiple threats is critical, especially for the most vulnerable among us.

Expanding on the third point, the statement notes, “Inequity reduces resilience, leaving poor communities, particularly communities of color, disproportionately vulnerable to the impacts of climate-related natural disasters, just as they are to disease.”

The statement concludes with this sentence: “Our smart investments now will better prepare us for the coming decades when extreme climate events (such as floods, damaging winds, heat, and drought) will become more common and more severe.”

David Osterberg is senior environment and energy researcher at Common Good Iowa.

Author: iowapolicypoints

Iowa Policy Points is a blog of Common Good Iowa, a new organization built on a collective 50 years of experience of two respected Iowa organizations — the Child and Family Policy Center and the Iowa Policy Project. Learn more at

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