Climate report paints dire future for Great Lakes

A new report from 13 federal agencies was just released, with startling possible future impacts on our region.

Image Source: MGN

It mentions an increase in algal bloom in Lake Erie, more disease, and more angry weather. Not everyone is on board.

President Donald Trump: "I've seen it, I've read some of it, and it's fine."

President Trump: "Yeah, I don't believe it."

Reporter: "You don't believe it?"

Mr. Trump: "No. No, I don't believe it."

But the science comes from President Trump's own people.

It may not seem like it on a frigid day, but the growing season is getting a lot longer. In the short term, that's a good thing. But the new federal report says the Midwest will warm faster than any part of the country.

“The increases in heatwaves and droughts will more than offset any benefits we get,” Dr. Scott Heckathorn said.

Dr. Heckathorn spends his time in this University of Toledo greenhouse, researching how heat and drought stress our plants. And here's why everyone should tune in:

“Almost all of our food comes from plants, or from animals that eat plants: about 95% globally,” Dr. Heckathorn said.

Ohio farmers may still plant soybeans, but a soybean designed for places like Mississippi. Some cultivars from southern climates have already been adopted locally.

“It doesn't take much of a heat wave or a drought to drop crop yield in a region or a whole state by 20 and 30 percent. And then you're talking real money,” Dr. Heckathorn said.

Money is where Dr. Onur Sapci comes in. He’s an economist at UT focusing on climate change and its real-world impact.

“We are responsible for climate change and we have to do something very soon to prevent it,” Dr. Sapci said.

Droughts, floods, wildfires, and heat-waves. He said this will add up on your grocery bill, following swings in food costs. The IRS may come calling, no matter who's in office.

“In order to prevent climate change, we will be seeing more taxes,” Dr. Sapci said.

That’s not all: Heckatorn said a warmer climate means less nutritious food, too.

“The concentration of protein and other nutrients goes down when you grow plants under high CO2,” Dr. Heckatorn said.

“Another important impact of climate change is on the health of humans,” Dr. Sapci said.

And two of those health concerns in the Midwest: an increase in West Nile Virus and in Lyme Disease-carrying ticks.