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Global warming will make Minnesota look more like Missouri, U of M prof says

Global warming will make Minnesota look more like Missouri, U of M prof says
Flickr via Jenny Downing

The White House released the third National Climate Assessment report Tuesday, showing how climate change is touching the entire United States. It's a grim prediction of floods and droughts, rising sea levels and receding forests, and it puts the blame squarely on the human species.

The average temperature in Hibbing, for instance, rose 3.1 degrees between 1991 and 2012 when compared to the period between 1901 and 1960. This might not seen like much, but it freaks out climate scientists.

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In the short term, the rise in temperature is a good thing. Warmer weather means longer growing seasons, and rising carbon dioxide will improve the yields of some crops over the next two to three decades.

However, those benefits will be offset by extreme and erratic weather conditions, erosion and declining water quality. In the long term, according to the report, we'll actually see a decrease in agricultural productivity in the Midwest.

By 2100, you can say goodbye to the moose and the pines of the Boundary Waters, says Paul Bolstad, a professor in the U of M's Department of Forest Resources. "It'll look more like central Missouri."

Bolstad was one of hundreds of academics and researchers to contribute to Tuesday's report, which was intended to drum up support for a new White House climate change regulation coming in June. Bolstad classifies climate change as a "slow-moving disaster" and says Minnesota is "relatively less bad off."

But all of those terrible things that threaten coastal cities come with a cost, which we all end up bearing. Short of carbon taxes, there's only so much individuals can do -- drive less and use the AC less often -- without completely rebuilding homes. Non-polluting energy sources must be taken into consideration as municipalities move ahead.

"It's either pay now or pay later," Bolstad says.

-- Follow Jesse Marx on Twitter @marxjesse or send tips to jmarx@citypages.com


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