New climate committee gathers info on how to protect Minnesotans

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By Matt Doll – Minnesota Environmental Partnership

This week, the Minnesota House of Representatives’ Energy and Climate Finance and Policy Division committee took testimony from some of Minnesota’s top scientists on the effects of our greatest threat – climate change – and some of the steps Minnesota can take to face this challenge. This committee is the first in Minnesota’s Legislature to have “climate” in its name, and is expected to shape climate action legislation later in the session.

Scientists and physicians warn of inaction’s consequences to MN health and well-being

On Tuesday, University of Minnesota experts Dr. Mark Seeley, Dr. Tracy Twine, and Dr. Peter Reich explained some of the observed predicted weather and land impacts on Minnesota due to climate change, particularly increased rainfall and hotter temperatures in all seasons. These changes, they explained, will significantly alter Minnesota’s agriculture, wildlife, and communities, requiring our state to tackle both carbon emissions and climate adaptation to protect our residents’ well-being.

On Thursday, Dr. Laalitha Surapaneni of the University of Minnesota Medical School testified on the health effects of climate change that Minnesota is already experiencing, and which will continue to rise as the climate warms. Worsening respiratory diseases like asthma and allergies are some of the most prominent impacts, as the pollen season lengthens and air pollution is exacerbated by hot weather. Dr. Surapaneni also explained how insect-borne diseases like Lyme disease are becoming more of a threat in Minnesota, where previously the cold weather has helped to keep ticks and mosquitos at bay. Further testifiers emphasized the impacts on all sectors of life in Minnesota, and stressed the need for resilience to the changing climate.

The takeaway: The challenge is daunting, but Minnesota should remain undaunted

In these hearings, scientists painted a disturbing picture of what is already happening to Minnesota, but their message to lawmakers was not one of futility, but of a need for action. Minnesota will continue to change with the warming climate, but by moving forward with renewed commitment to cut our carbon emissions, we can do our part against further warming and show needed leadership on the global stage. By investing in green infrastructure and sustainable cities, we can help make sure that Minnesotans weather the changes yet to come.

We’re encouraged by the presence of sound science and appropriate urgency in this committee, and we hope that it leads to strong climate action from Minnesota’s Legislature. During the session, we will continue to share with lawmakers what we’re hearing from Minnesotans: climate action can’t wait. This is Minnesota’s time to lead.

Watch video of the Energy and Climate committee’s hearings.

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