Midwestern states to see harshest warming — if their Senators filibuster a climate bill


I’m reposting this piece by Ryan Grim, which was on the front page of Huffington Post yesterday.  This is a new analysis from The Nature Conservancy of the temperature and precipitation impact on the country of staying on our current emissions path.  The darkest red on the map is where average annual warming greater than 10°F.  The results are very similar to “Definitive NOAA-led report on U.S. climate impacts warns of scorching 9 to 11°F warming over most of inland U.S. by 2090 with Kansas above 90°F some 120 days a year.”  I changed the HuffPost headline since this is really just a map of where warming will be the greatest.  Where “climate change” (including all the impacts) will hit the hardest is a tougher to say, but Florida and Louisiana probably top that list.  To bad three of the four senators from those states are also likely to vote for inaction and hence inundation.

Note:  If you want to see how the deniers mock one more warning of what’s to come, read “Exclusive Weekly Standard Climate Change Projection.

The politics of climate change are difficult in the Senate, it’s often said, because it’s a regional issue: coal state senators are afraid their economies will be driven under if the price of dirty energy rises too quickly.

Climate change is, in fact, a regional issue, but not in the short-term way that the coal senators think, according to new analysis from The Nature Conservancy. The environmental group finds that rural Midwestern states will face the greatest consequences of climate change. The three that will face the steepest rise in temperature — Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa — are farm states whose soil will be significantly less productive as temperatures rise more than 10 degrees Fahrenheit there by 2100.

The rise by by 2050 — only 41 years from now — is also projected to be substantial. (Click here for an interactive map of the analysis.)

The two Republican senators from Kansas, which will be most ravaged by climate change, are unlikely to support legislation addressing it.

Sen. Sam Brownback, who is retiring from the Senate but continues to have statewide ambitions, has said that humanity has a religious imperative to reduce climate emissions, but he has also signed on to the “No Climate Tax Pledge” being pushed by Americans for Prosperity, which opposes climate change legislation. The pledge says that Brownback will “oppose legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue” — which means any of the plans currently being considered.

Sen. Pat Roberts will also be a difficult vote for advocates to score.

In Nebraska, Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson often works to pull legislation in a more conservative direction and Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) isn’t clamoring to support taking action to address climate change. Nelson signed a letter in June, along with nine other Democrats concentrated in the Midwest, saying he couldn’t support the current version of the bill and outlining principles that would need to be met to get his vote.

Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the state that will face the third worst catastrophe, will be a key player on the Finance Committee, which hopes to claim jurisdiction over the distribution of the revenue that will be raised through a cap and trade system. His Democratic counterpart, Sen. Tom Harkin, is a much more likely yes vote.

The consequences to these farm states will be far reaching. As droughts become more common, their soil and climate will begin to look more like their neighbors’ to the south in Texas and Mexico.

The ten-degree rise in temperature in the three states assumes that carbon emissions will continue their rate of increase. If the world’s population somehow manages to reverse greenhouse gas emissions, the temperature is still expected to rise more than three degrees, which would still devastate those states’ economies. A study released Thursday by Columbia University adds further concern about the viability of soybeans, corn and cotton — the expected temperature rise over the next century from even a slow warming scenario could decrease crop yields by 30 to 46 percent.

“To many, climate change doesn’t seem real until it affects them, in their backyards,” said Jonathan Hoekstra, director of climate change for The Nature Conservancy. “In many states across the country, the weather and landscapes could be nearly unrecognizable in 100 years.”

Here is the map from the 13-agency NOAA-led impacts report.

9 Responses to Midwestern states to see harshest warming — if their Senators filibuster a climate bill

  1. GFW says:

    Joe, is there a mistake in the interactive map at the Nature Conservancy that you linked to? If you choose 2050, and compare A2 to A1B, A1B is significantly worse for temps. Is that some quirk? Am I reading it incorrectly? Or did they make a mistake in linking the data to the buttons?

  2. Bill says:

    This map shows the dangers of focusing on only one or two aspects of climate change. According to the map, the tip of South Florida will be the area least affected by higher air temperatures and less rainfall. That looks good until you realize the reason for that is because the tip of South Florida will be under water!

  3. ecostew says:

    The past cannot be used to predict the future:

  4. paulm says:

    It takes more than 4yrs to recover from a decent hurricane. Well were expecting these storms to be reoccurring every 2yrs or so.

    Climate Change chaos is here and now.

    Four Years After Katrina: The State Of New Orleans

  5. Sasparilla says:

    Its sad to think the breadbasket state senators are where they’re at on this issue – considering the effects of the heat will be (and will be felt sooner rather than later).

    Looking down the road, if we blow this and not pass this bill and not get the world on track to address climate change (and there’s a decent chance of it not passing), we’d loose our opportunity to reign things in before the self reinforcing feedbacks take control of things from our hands – these senators will be vilified in the history books of the world for all time as the people who took humanities chance to address this (however weakly) away.

    Its an astounding opportunity for these bozos to have (rarely do US politicians, other than Presidents, have that ability) and I doubt most of them (including the yes voters) have the slightest idea.

  6. jcwinnie says:

    Well, Ryan may be correct. OTOH, the greatest concentration of hot air could be centered in Copenhagen in 100 days once our Senate fails to deliver and the U.S. delegation continues to serve up more image rather than action.

  7. Temperatures over the mid eighties in the Midwest(as this predicts) will have catastrophic effects on our corn and soybeans crops (and anything we make out of those crops…think the Irish were overly dependent on the potato?) The Irish potato famine will look like a iece of cake compared to an 82% drop in these two crops:

  8. Aaron Lewis says:

    I thought the Weekly Standard comic was good considering the forest fire hazard that California faces as a result of beetle damage.

    Not funny mind you, but apt.