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What Climate Change Means to Missouri

Climate Change in Missouri: The hot will get hotter, the droughts longer and the storms and floods more severe. An apt description for our future weather might be “Hell and High Water”.

Post No. 8 of the series is about how climate change could impact Missouri and its residents.

Climate Fact of the Week A new study by Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurance company, reports that the number of natural disasters per year has been rising dramatically on all continents since 1980, but the trend is steepest for North America where countries have been battered by hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, searing heat and drought.

Climate Quote of the Week"Climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and wildfires are not a joke. They're a threat to your future.”  President Obama, September 2012

Previous and upcoming posts are listed below for reference. Past post titles will link to back to the original post.

  1. Why I Write:  How I became interested in the climate issue
  2.  “Global Warming” or “Climate Change”? What do these mean, and what’s the diff?
  3. A Brief Guide to the Climate Debate:  The debate that isn’t
  4. Conversation with Dr. Michael Mann:   Summary of my talk with renowned climatologist Dr. Michael Mann
  5. The Arguments:  The most common arguments and responses
  6. On Our Watch:  Science tells us that climate change is happening now
  7. “We Did It” (Part 1) (Part 2):  This climate change is from OUR activities
  8. Climate Change in Missouri:  How climate change will likely impact our region
  9. Save Money, Save the Climate!:  Simple ideas that save money while reducing CO2 emissions
  10. Our Choice:  What we can do to limit further harm while adapting to the changes to come
  11. Lead!  Climate Change is happening.  The United States can lead, or get left behind
  12. If We Don’t?  Geo-engineering the climate. What is it and why we don’t want to go there
  13. Final Thoughts:  Ethical considerations

 
“What
Climate Change Means to Missouri”

Climate change will impact Missouri in two ways:  Environmentally and Economically. The environmental impact is pretty straightforward, but the economic impact will be up to us. Let’s look at the environmental impacts first and finish with the economic.

Environmental Impacts

The future weather and climate for Missouri is pretty clear.  One need just consider the extreme weather events that we have experienced the past few decades—then multiply it.   

The longer we wait to do something about it, the higher the multiplier.  

The hot will get hotter, the droughts longer and the storms and floods more severe. An apt description for our future weather might be “Hell and High Water”. 

Fred Below, Plant biologist, University of Illinois in Urbana, put it this way:

“It’s like farming in Hell”

The science is simple. The more CO2 in the atmosphere from coal and oil, the more the earth warms. The more the earth warms the more energy that is in the atmospheric system. More energy = hotter weather, longer droughts, more severe storms.

Despite the record heat and record drought this summer, ironically, it’s also getting wetter. It’s just that the rain comes all at once instead of spread nicely throughout the year. Perhaps you have noticed how intense the rainfall is on those rare events when the rains do come—which is why the recent floods have been so bad.

The recent heat and drought can make it easy to forget the record Missouri River floods of 2011 and the historic Mississippi/Missouri floods of 1993.

And of course, Eureka’s own Meramac/Big River floods in 2008.

Unfortunately, the future looks to have many more of these extreme events; however, we can lessen the impact of the extreme weather through effective mitigation and adaptation efforts (another future post). 

I think you may have a pretty good idea of what the future weather will be like at this point so let’s move on to economic impacts.  If you are looking for a more detailed assessment of the climate over the next century, I recommend reading the United States Global Change Research Program- Midwest.

Economic Impact

The economic impact of climate change will be determined by the choices we make.

There will be our personal choices, as well as societal choices. 

On a personal basis, we can take advantage of the inevitable food, energy and food price increases by making wise choices. Improving our home efficiency, buying fuel efficient vehicles, cutting back on meat consumption and driving less will offset much of the higher costs that will result from a changing climate.

I’ll provide more detail on what we can do to save money/energy in the next post.

The societal question about climate change is simple, yet complex.

It’s simple, because climate change presents an incredible economic opportunity to Missouri. It really could be the greatest economic opportunity the state has ever had. Kind of like what is going on in Germany right now. (Germany Is Showing The World How To Become A Renewable Energy Powerhouse).

We can solve climate change, the question is will we? Which brings us to why solving climate change is complex.

It’s complex because coal and energy companies have control over our political system and they won’t like what Missouri’s response to climate changes means to their business models.

So the question we should be asking, is do we let coal/energy companies threaten the climate that our farmers and industries depend on?  Do we let them prevent the economic growth that could result from Missouri leading the effort to reduce the impact of climate change?

Do we let them threaten the climate of our children? 

We can choose to lead, or we let oil and coal companies leave us in the dust.  It really is that simple.

What can you do to help ensure Missouri’s economic and environmental future? 

In a word:  VOTE

As we approach the upcoming election, consider how the candidates would respond to the following three questions;

  1. Do they understand the treat that human caused climate change is to our children?
  2. Do they understand that coal and oil companies are funding campaigns to misinform the public about this clear environmental and economic threat to Missouri? 
  3. Do they understand the economic opportunities that responding to climate change would mean to Missouri?

In short, how well do they grasp the greatest challenge, and the greatest opportunity, that society has ever faced?

Note:  The next post “Save Money, Save the Climate” will present simple ideas that save money while reducing CO2 emissions.

Author's note to commenters: 
This is sure to be a controversial topic and I’m OK with that. I only ask that you keep your comments civil, respectful, informed and related to the particular subject matter discussed. As you can see from the topic list at the beginning of this post, there are plenty to topics to be talked about over the summer. 

I also ask that if you dispute a claim, that you provide a link to a reputable source supporting your claim.

Disclaimer:  I am not a climate scientist, nor do I claim to have scientific expertise in this subject. Scientific claims made in these posts will be sourced only from highly respected scientific organizations

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Steve Reed October 15, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Good post.
Wayne Coop October 15, 2012 at 07:34 PM
How about counter point? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2217286/Global-warming-stopped-16-years-ago-reveals-Met-Office-report-quietly-released--chart-prove-it.html
Larry Lazar October 15, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Wayne, Thank you for response. I wrote about the oil industry funded campaign to misinform the public in an earlier post. Your link is an example that misinformation. There is good publicity, and good money, in dissenting from the accepted scientific views. The reality is that human caused climate change is accepted by every National Academy of Science in the world as well as all of the most respected scientific organizations dealing with climate or atmosphere, including NASA, the American Geophysical Union, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), UCAR and NCAR (Atmospheric Research organizations) Additionally, over 97 percent of practicing climatologists agree with the IPCC assessment—that the earth warming, it’s caused by man and that the consequences will be harmful. There are also many organizations outside of science that agree. Here are a few that you may have heard of: •The Pentagon, US Army, US Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard •All the Major Oil/Energy Companies, including Exxon, Chevron, Shell and BP •All the Major Global Insurance Companies •All the Major Automobile companies , including GM, Ford, Honda and Fiat/Chrysler •The Christian, Jewish, Islamic and religious institutions, including the US Catholic Church •70 of the largest companies in the world, including Coca Cola, Microsoft and Wal-Mart It's happening Wayne. Let's fix it, or the govt will have to fix it for us, and we won't like that.

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