Humanities in Class: Webinar Series

The Language of Climate Change in an Age of Global Syndemic

Joni Adamson

Lead Scholar: Joni Adamson (Fellow, 2018–19; President's Professor of Environmental Humanities)

April 22, 2021

In a COVID-19-affected world, the language of climate change must now illuminate the connections between climate change and contagions of various kinds, both biological (in the conventional sense of epidemiology) and anthropogenic (human drivers of global warming). For example, accelerating climate change often exacerbates the effects of poverty, displacement, and increased food insecurities, with significant feedbacks that ultimately influence malnutrition and other health crises affecting specific groups of people at a particular time and place. These factors, in turn, can become the complex “underlying conditions” exacerbating a pandemic. In this webinar, we will consider how the groundwork and main arguments put forward in a 2019 <em>Report of The Lancet Commission</em> on the mutually intensifying links between obesity, malnutrition and climate change provide a reasonable basis for understanding the present COVID-19 pandemic, arguably, as a “global syndemic”—a relatively new term that the authors of the report define as a “synergy of epidemics” that “co-occur in time and place…[and] interact with each other to produce complex” pathological conditions “that share common underlying societal drivers.”

Subjects: Medicine; Environment and Nature; Climate Change; Globalization; Health; COVID-19; Environmental Justice; Epidemiology