Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - October 20, 2017 


In focus on our Friday Rundown; the U.S. Senate takes a first step towards passing major tax cuts; holiday help wanted as retail and restaurant job opportunities abound; plus, we report on a website that helps new moms take 12 from work.

Daily Newscasts

Report: Midwest Infrastructure at Risk from Climate Change

Michigan's iconic bridges are just some of the infrastructure vulnerable to the effects of a warming climate. (AcryllicArtist/morguefile)
Michigan's iconic bridges are just some of the infrastructure vulnerable to the effects of a warming climate. (AcryllicArtist/morguefile)
October 13, 2017

LANSING, Mich. – The perils of climate change aren't limited to hurricane-prone areas, as a new report warns the threat could wreak havoc on the Midwest's transportation and infrastructure systems.

Study author Mary Craighead of the Midwest Economic Policy Institute wants policymakers to understand the potential costs and consequences of a warming climate and says they need to be proactive to protect communities and the economy.

The report finds the average air temperature has increased by more than four degrees since the 1980s, with a 27-percent increase in the number of days of very heavy rain since the '50s.

"The higher temperatures and the stronger storms can reduce the lifespan of roads, bridges," Craighead said. "They can cause railways to buckle. Flooding, obviously, is a huge issue that can impact the flow of traffic, the flow of freight, which would impact our economy."

Flooding is a key issue because there has been a steady reduction in ice coverage on the Great Lakes, and more frequent freeze-thaw cycles. Craighead points to more power outages, and adds the Midwest is a net distributor of electricity to other regions. Floods, high winds, ice, snow and storms can damage facilities and above-ground transmission lines.

The study recommends limiting development in low-lying areas that already have experienced storm-related damage, and updating heat and rainfall standards used in the project-design process.

"It's just going to keep getting worse," she warns. "So, it's time we really need to stop debating it and start actually taking action and planning for it in the future, so that we don't have to deal with the ramifications after the fact, we can actually plan for it ahead of time."

The study does note Michigan is one state where the Department of Transportation has pursued asset-management programs to address climate change and assess vulnerabilities. National infrastructure needs are expected to top $2 trillion by 2025, according to the report.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI