This weekend, we got the long-anticipated first big snowfall of the year making winter seem a little more real here in Minnesota. Waiting for that snow after a steamy summer and witnessing the devastation of Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast, the impacts of a changing climate are becoming all too real.
Real for more than just humans too. This week, Minnesota Public Radio reported the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) seeks to add moose as a “species of concern” at least in part due to climate change.
” I think most significantly, climate change, frankly, is having a huge impact on moose.” – Rich Baker, MN DNR Endangered Species Coordinator.
(Image source: USDA Forest Service)
Superstorms and historic droughts are part of the overall trend of climate disruption. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its Climate Change Indicators in the United States 2012 report noting these key findings:
- 2001-2010 was the warmest decade on record worldwide;
- In recent years, a higher percentage of precipitation in the United States has come in the form of intense single-day events;
- Between 2000-2011, roughly 30-60% of US land area experienced drought conditions at any given time;
- Arctic sea ice has declined 49% below the 1979-2000 historical average;
- The average length of the growing season in the lower 48 states has increased by nearly two weeks since the beginning of the 20th century;
- Bird species in North America have shifted their wintering grounds northward by an average of 35 miles since 1966, with a few species shifting by several hundred miles;
- Over the past 30 years, more than 7000 Americans were reported to have died as a direct result of heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke.
While the political debate continues to stand in the way of efforts to address greenhouse gas emissions associated with climate disruption, the scientific debate over human-induced climate disruption has been over for a long time. No scientific body of national or international standing has maintained a dissenting opinion; the last was the American Association of Petroleum Geologists in 2007. Yet, efforts at the state, national and international level continue to stall, or progress more slowly than science recommends, which means we will continue to see climate change and its impacts unless we rise to the challenge of reducing 80% of our greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
(Image source: MN Environment and Energy Report Card)
Minnesota passed the 80% by 2050 goal as part of the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007; however, according to the recent Minnesota Environment and Energy Report Card greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise in the state. Globally, emissions are up 3%, but the United States emissions are down 2%
(Image source: GreenGrok Blog)
Moving away from dirty coal as an energy source is a big reason why the US emissions are down. It’s time we get serious about broad action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at every level — as individuals, businesses, communities, Minnesota, United States and the United Nations.
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