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Getting Ready for Wilder Weather Ahead

December 5, 2011

YANKTON, S.D. - Heavy snow on the northern plains this past winter followed by drenching rains caused record flooding on the Missouri River. That was followed by a record dry fall across much of the same region. A report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicates that more extremes in weather like those could be on the way.

Steven Hamburg, chief scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund, says we have to figure out how to be ready for those wild swings.

"We need to be prepared for it, in ways that historically we might not have been prepared. And we have to remember that the climate of our youth, and those of us who are a little older, and certainly the climate of our grandparents, is not the climate that our children and our grandchildren are going to see; it is changing, and we can count on that."

While the debate continues on the causes of climate change, Hamburg says that ultimately the response will be much more important than assigning blame.

"There are people who certainly debate it, but I think from the scientific community it's pretty clear that a significant portion of this change is driven by human causes; but in terms of responding to it, it doesn't really matter to know who caused the accident, just that you might have an accident, and you want to be prepared."

Hamburg says responses may include developing new crops to deal with hotter temperatures, and improving flood controls.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD