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The Heat Is On: Report Shows Impact of Climate Change For MO

PHOTO: Scientists say warmer temperatures attributable to climate change will take an increasingly large toll on Missouri's livestock, which are susceptible to heat stress. Photo credit: B. Walsh.
PHOTO: Scientists say warmer temperatures attributable to climate change will take an increasingly large toll on Missouri's livestock, which are susceptible to heat stress. Photo credit: B. Walsh.
May 6, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - If it has seemed like Missouri's summers are getting warmer and the spring storms more frequent and severe, there's a reason, and it's called climate change. That's according to the third National Climate Assessment report, which is out today. With more than 100,000 farms and many historic riverside cities and towns, there's no doubt Missouri has been shaped by its climate.

According to one of the report's co-authors, senior scientist Kim Knowlton, Natural Resources Defense Council, there should be no doubt about humans' effects on that climate.

"Based on the evidence, more than 97 percent of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening. This report helps detail for people just what that means in your backyard," Knowlton says.

Experts say that because of climate change, over the next several decades Missourians will experience greater health risks from increasing dangerous heat waves, storms, flooding, waterborne illnesses, infectious diseases, declining air quality and drought.

Knowlton says because climate change already is occurring and some amount of additional warming is inevitable, Missourians must simultaneously prepare for higher temperatures and heavier rains, while aggressively working to reduce emissions.

"It's really important to point out that no one in the country or the planet is going to be untouched by the effects of climate change," she warns, "but there's so much more we can do right now to limit heat-trapping carbon pollution and to get better prepared."

The report also highlights the effects of climate change on Missouri's agricultural sector, pointing out that with warmer temperatures, crops and livestock will face substantially more heat stress, decreasing yields and productivity. Scientists say warmer winters and a longer growing season will also enable pests such as the corn earworm to expand their range in the state.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO