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  • Alexis Rindner

The Midwestern Experience of Climate Change

The urgency to stop the climate crisis is ever-growing. People are flocking to the streets to protest the current government standards and demanding wide-spread change. Many live in cities, typically on the coast, but this ignores a large group that is being greatly impacted by the ever-changing climate. Midwestern America is full of agricultural and industrial production. In fact, their regional domestic product accounts for 2.6 trillion dollars worth, about 19% of the national total. Climate change is proving to be a more imminent reality to farmers in the region who are experiencing increased rainfall of about 30% leading to the flooding of their farmlands. This growing challenge cannot be ignored, as it is affecting the global economy of America as well as millions of people’s livelihoods in the region.

The issues facing middle America are exacerbated by the very nature of its economy. A basis in energy-intensive economics leads to the emittance of “a disproportionately large amount” of greenhouse gases in the region causing an average of 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit increase in yearly temperature. High-temperature increases induce stress on livestock and can damage plant life. Weather variability coupled with climate change could decrease potential yield by 15-20%, greatly affecting the national economy. There is room for improvements in the Midwest in order to reduce the effects of climate change, yet for it to be implemented, the region can no longer be ignored. More attention must be brought to the area to reduce climate impact.

Now it can be said that higher temperatures can accelerate plant growth along with an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. However, this ignores the idea that temperature and carbon dioxide levels are rapidly increased. At a certain point, the temperature will become too extreme to foster plant growth which will destroy any chance for harvesting crops. An increase in carbon dioxide levels will lead to more negatives that would outweigh the positive of greater plant growth. For one, the carbon dioxide levels would increase temperatures causing the first issue of extreme temperatures. Secondly, there will be an increase of pests brought on by humidity which will demolish crops and livestock. Thirdly, it would disrupt numerous non-agriculturally based sectors, such as the health-care sector and the retail sector. The effects of climate change are not centralized and will spread globally. This outweighs any initial crop benefit.

Switching to renewable energy could help alleviate the consequences of climate change. With the abundant winds and plains available, the Midwest could easily produce gigawatts worth of clean energy to power the region and beyond. Plant-based fuels are also an option for the agriculture-heavy region. Cleaner energy can reduce greenhouse gases which in turn would stunt the temperature increase. Weather variability could decrease allowing for a lower risk of farming and other agricultural practices. There is a wide variety of solutions out there to help curb the climate crisis. Reducing its effects in one region will have a large-scale global impact. Everything can make a difference.

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