Report: Global warming to put heat on Midwest
|Posted 8/28/2009 5:12 PM|
In just the next 40 years, if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at their current rate, average temperatures are expected to rise by more than 5 degrees across much of the USA, with the greatest temperature increases expected in Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri and Illinois.
“The surprise was that the biggest changes were in the Heartland and the Great Plains,” says Jonathan Hoekstra, director of climate change for the Nature Conservancy. So far, he said the western USA has been the area that has seen the most warming.
The changes will be even more dramatic by the end of the century. “In many states across the country, the weather and landscapes could be nearly unrecognizable in 100 years,” he adds. By 2100, states such as Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota could see average temperature increases of more than 10 degrees.
According to the report, some of the impacts Americans could see by 2100:
— America’s $200 billion agriculture industry could face serious threats as higher temperatures dry out soil and shift production patterns.
— The dairy industry could suffer significant declines, since dairy cow productivity starts decreasing above 77°F.
— Many states could lose their official birds as they move out of state in search of cooler climates — including the Baltimore oriole of Maryland, black-capped chickadee of Massachusetts, and the American goldfinch of Iowa.
This was the second report this week to highlight the threats posed by global warming in the USA. On Tuesday, the National Wildlife Federation reported that strong heat waves in coming decades will adversely affect cities and farmers and threaten wildlife with extinction.
The reports come just before debate on a major climate change bill resumes next month in Congress.
And a year and a half later, it’s this:
Winter storm smacks cities, businesses
By Judy Keen,
Feb 2, 2011
Power companies worked to restore electricity. Road crews cleared snow that closed interstate highways across the Midwest and Plains. Thousands of flights were canceled after more than 20 inches of snow fell in several states. In Chicago, 20.2 inches piled up — the city’s third-worst snowstorm ever.
Lee Thomason will be dealing with the storm’s fallout long after the roads are plowed. He owns Thomason Express, a trucking company based in Marion, Ill., that has 50-75 trucks on the road. This storm and those that preceded it this winter, he says, “just kill the bottom line.”
When bad weather hits, truckers can be late picking up or delivering loads, disrupting schedules. Some customers won’t wait for a tardy truck and hire someone else.
On Wednesday, Thomason says, two trucks here couldn’t deliver their loads after the company receiving them closed. Three trucks were stuck in an ice storm in Weatherford, Texas. Storms “affect everything. It’s just a domino effect,” he says.
This was the seventh major winter storm to hit portions of the USA over the past six weeks, according to the Weather Channel. With more than six weeks of winter left, several cities — including Chicago, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and New York City — have had snowier-than-average winters, the National Weather Service says.
Beth Ann Bovino, of Standard & Poor’s, says the loss of productivity caused by weather can affect the economy but probably won’t slow the recovery.
Bad weather means construction workers get smaller paychecks and have less to spend, she says, and manufacturing slows temporarily when factories are forced to close. “The storms are certainly going to be a hit, but it seems unlikely that it would stop or curtail sharply the upward trend,” she says.
Mary Ellen Balchunis, a La Salle University political scientist who analyzed snow costs when she was an aide to former Philadelphia mayor Wilson Goode, says cities and states with tight budgets cringe when big storms approach.
On the other hand, she says, bad weather can create short-term jobs such as snow-removal work.
Scores of factories, shopping malls, restaurants and other businesses remained closed Wednesday. City, county and state government workers stayed home. Kim Freely, spokeswoman for Sears and Kmart, says 49 stores were closed Wednesday in the Midwest and South; 62 more opened late.
Ellen Cohen, who works at a Chicago clothing store, was dismayed to learn it would be closed Wednesday. “Snow day means no pay,” she says.
QuikTrip, based in Tulsa, felt obliged to keep its 570 convenience stores in nine states open, spokesman Mike Thornbrugh says. “People depend on you.”
It wasn’t easy: Some employees worked double shifts, some stayed in hotels near their stores, and some who couldn’t get to their store were told to report to the one nearest their homes instead.
Still, Thornbrugh says, “we’ve been crushed by this storm.” The kitchen that makes the stores’ prepared food in Tulsa closed because of snow there, and trucks are having trouble making deliveries in Dallas and elsewhere.
Tom Pientok, president of Apache Hose & Belting Co. in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, opted for worker safety over the need to meet weekly output goals.
Employees on Tuesday’s second shift were told to leave early when the weather worsened, and the 130 people who work the first shift reported at 10 a.m. Wednesday instead of the usual 5 a.m. Company facilities in St. Louis, Kansas City, Mo., and Romeoville, Ill., also curtailed hours because of the storm.
Pientok says lost productivity will be made up by longer workdays and a Saturday shift. “Our biggest productivity hit,” he says, “is that we’ve got 20 guys out shoveling snow” that’s covering goods stored outside.
Dealing with weather challenges, Pientok says, “is part of the cost of doing business.”