The Year Without a Summer. It was 1816 and a climatic event of epic magnitude struck the northern hemisphere. Due to volcanic eruptions and high-altitude dust, the sun’s warmth was blocked enough for a year to cause cold temperatures in the northern hemisphere.

New England got hit hard. There was killing frost all summer and there were almost no crops. This was an era of subsistence farming so there was widespread hunger and deprivation (and no modern social safety net). Social upheaval resulted in the start of farm abandonment in New England and New York as desperate families moved west to the prairie territories.

I think of this as I consider the effect of coronavirus on our tourist season and the social and economic wreckage that could result. What kind of balance between public health and economic recovery can we achieve? I hope we don’t have a year of without a summer.

James T. Nelson

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