Report: Midwest Climate Change to be Severe
Thursday, October 12, 2017
INDIANAPOLIS – Parts of the country along the coasts have been battered this year by Mother Nature, and a new study from the Midwest Economic Policy Institute warns that the threat of climate change extends much farther inland and could wreak havoc on transportation and infrastructure systems across the Midwest.
Study author Mary Craighead says policymakers need to understand the potential costs and consequences of climate change, and adds they need to be proactive to protect communities and the economy.
Her report says the average air temperature has increased by more than 4 degrees since the 1980s, and there's been a 27 percent increase in the number of days of very heavy rain since the 1950s.
"The higher temperatures and the stronger storms can reduce the lifespan of roads, bridges,” she points out. “They can cause railways to buckle. Flooding, obviously, is a huge issue that can impact the flow of traffic, the flow of freight, which can impact our economy."
Flooding is a key issue because there has been a steady reduction in ice coverage on the Great Lakes, and more frequent freeze-thaw cycles.
Craighead says there have been more electricity outages, and she adds the Midwest is a net distributor of electricity to other regions.
Floods, high winds, ice, snow and storms can damage facilities and above-ground transmission lines.
The study recommends limiting development in low-lying areas that already have experienced storm-related damage, and updating heat and rainfall standards used in the project-design process.
"It's just going to keep getting worse, so it's time we really need to stop debating it and start actually taking action and planning for it in the future so we don't have to deal with the ramifications after the fact, we can actually plan for it ahead of time," Craighead stresses.
The study says national infrastructure needs are expected to top $2 trillion by 2025.
It notes the state departments of transportation in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Minnesota have all pursued asset-management programs to address climate change and assess vulnerabilities.
get more stories like this via email
The coalition known as "Think Babies Michigan" has secured more than $36 million in funding to offer grants to child-care providers for infants and to…
Nearly 100 school board elections are coming up in Minnesota this fall, with some gaining attention because of the candidates who are running…
The so-called conservative "hostile takeover" of a small, progressive liberal arts college in Florida is seeing some resistance from former students …
High rent prices are draining the budgets of many Nebraska renters, who are paying between 30% and 50% of their income on rent. In some parts of the …
As the federal government nears a shutdown over a budget impasse in Congress, Wisconsin offices that help low-income individuals worry they'll have …
Indigenous leaders are traveling through the Northwest to highlight the plight of dwindling fish populations in the region. The All Our Relations …
Washington performs well in a new report scoring states' long-term care systems. The Evergreen State ranked second in AARP's Long-Term Services and …
A lack of housing options, mental-health challenges and a lack of connections and support have combined to drive an uptick in the number of foster …