U.N. panel: No one will be unaffected by climate change

Jun 19, 2014

A screenshot from a map of climate-change impacts in the Great Lakes region.
Credit Great Lakes Adaptation Assessment for Cities / University of Michigan

*Want to see how climate change will impact the economy of the Great Lakes region? Check out this interactive map from the Great Lakes Adaptation Assessment for Cities at the University of Michigan.

The most recent report on the world’s climate from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows that no one will be untouched by the effects of climate change. Henry Pollack is one of the contributors to the IPCC report.

Pollack said the most important message from this report is that climate change is real. Humans are the principal factor, the consequences are not pretty, and the window for fixing the issue is getting smaller and smaller.

The report is a compilation of reports from experts all over the world.  

Pollack says climate change will affect everyone in different ways depending on where they live. In Michigan we can expect to see lower water levels in the Great Lakes. Earlier growing seasons may eventually occur, which could be problematic if there were an unexpected freeze. The two principle crops in Michigan, corn and soybeans, would also be very vulnerable to high temperatures.

Pollack said the slow rise of sea levels creates the background for intense storms like Hurricane Sandy, and we can expect to see more damage.

So what can we do about it?

“Each individual has contributed to (climate change) and so I also feel each individual can do something that will begin to bring that problem under control,” Pollack said. “We can’t do it individually. We can’t do it all alone.”

Pollack was consulted on a film called Project Ice that looks at the Great Lakes through ice. Pollack says ice plays a big role in lake levels. Lack of ice encourages evaporation. If there isn’t any ice cover in the winter months, the evaporation season becomes year round. No ice cover causes the lakes to get warmer and can precondition them for a big evaporation season in the late summer and fall.

*Listen to full interview above.

–.Bre’Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom.