Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

May 11, 2014

George Weeks: Obama focus on Midwest climate change threats

The Obama Administration last week released a call “for urgent action to combat the threats of climate change” that included specifics on Michigan and other Midwest states.

Calling it the “most comprehensive scientific assessment ever generated of climate change in every U.S. region and major sectors of the U.S. economy,” the White House  reported in its 829-page quadrennial National Climate Assessment that:

“The Midwest’s agricultural lands, forests, Great Lakes, industrial activities, and cities are all vulnerable to climate variability and climate change. Climate change will tend to amplify existing risks climate change poses to people, ecosystems and infrastructure. Direct effects will include increased heat stress, flooding, drought, and late spring freezes.

“Climate change also alters pests and disease prevalence, competition from non-native or opportunistic native species, ecosystem disturbances, land-use change, landscape fragmentation, atmospheric and watershed pollutants and economic shocks such as crop failures, reduced yields, or toxic blooms of algae due to extreme weather events. These added stresses, together with the direct effects of climate change, are projected to alter ecosystem and socioeconomic patterns and processes in ways that most people in the region would consider detrimental.”

That last paragraph is quite a mouthful.  This mere scribe doesn’t fully grasp climate change impact on  “ecosystem and socioeconomic patterns.”  But then there has been a good deal of national uncertainity and controversy in the debate about climate change.

As the Wall Street Journal said editorially, “it shouldn’t surprise that after reforming health care and raising taxes, the White House is now getting the global-warming band back together, though it is merely playing the old classics of unscientific panic.”

The Journal concluded: “If liberals are wondering why the public is skeptical, one reason is because politicians are abusing science.”

Nonetheless, the White House report said Michigan and its neighbors have been impacted by weather extremes that will escalate. Example: Rainfall 30 percent above average.

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