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Great Lakes Communities and Ecosystems at RiskThe Regionspacer
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Confront the Challenge
• Climate in the Region
• The Report
• Technical Background
• For Teachers

Explore the Impacts
• Overview
• Migrating Climates
• Water Resources
• Sense of Place

Discover the Solutions
• Overview
• Solutions where we Live
• Reducing our Emissions
• Managing our Response
• Ten Personal Solutions

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Climate Change in Minnesota
Loon
Introduction
Climate Projections
Agriculture
Forests & Wildlife
Human Health
Lakes, Streams, & Fish
Property and Infrastructure
Recreation & Tourism
Water Supply & Pollution
Wetlands & Shorebirds
Climate Solutions
Resources & Links

Climate Change Solutions
Climate change is occurring mainly as a result of humans adding large amounts of heat-trapping gases, such as carbon dioxide, to the atmosphere. The good news is that practical solutions exist today to address this growing problem, and people in Minnesota can help in many ways. Although some warming is inevitable—as past heat-trapping gas emissions will continue to have a warming effect for decades—the most extreme outcomes for Minnesota can be avoided if responsible measures are taken locally, nationally, and internationally.

Three complementary approaches are needed to address the challenges that a changing climate poses to Minnesota:

Reduce heat-trapping emissions in Minnesota
Powerplants and motor vehicles account for more than half of heat-trapping emissions in Minnesota. Identifying the major sources of heat-trapping gas emissions thus helps Minnesota to tackle the problem at the source and to find the most appropriate ways for Minnesota to minimize its contribution to this global problem. By improving the efficiency of our appliances and vehicles, pursuing smart growth strategies, improving land-use practices, and supporting renewable energy generation, we can significantly reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases.

Power plants alone account for nearly one-third of total emissions, due to the state's heavy reliance on coal. Support from energy policies that promote renewable energy can significantly reduce heat-trapping emissions in Minnesota and would also support the development of renewable energy sources, and further encourage investment in energy-efficient technologies and cleaner burning fossil fuels. These global warming solutions have several other valuable benefits including cleaner air, economic development, and job growth.

Minnesota currently has in place a "renewable energy objective". This objective is presently a voluntary measure but should be changed to a requirement with gradually increased standards over time to ensure that all electricity suppliers provide 20 percent of their electricity from clean, renewable sources such as wind, solar, and bioenergy by 2020. You can learn more about these and other solutions in Global Warming Solutions: Reducing Heat-Trapping Emissions in Minnesota.

For Additional Information from UCS, see
UCS Clean Energy Program
UCS Clean Vehicles Program
State Clean Energy Maps and Graphs
Renewable Energy and Agriculture: A Natural Fit
Clean Energy Blueprint Benefits Farmers and Rural Economies

Minimize human pressures on the environment
Reducing or minimizing human pressures on the environment often results in long-term economic benefits that outweigh the initial cost. Moreover, reducing or minimizing pressures from land use, pollution, and other disturbances on the environment takes away some of the stresses that make ecosystems more vulnerable to climate change. Thus, while we and the environment benefit immediately from reducing these pressures, protective measures are indispensible in helping ecosystems and people become more resilient in the face of climate change. These benefits include flood protection, human health benefits from water and air purification, improved agricultural and forestry productivity, water supply security, safeguarding of habitat for native plants and animals, aesthetic benefits, and recreational opportunities. The following are key strategies for reducing human stresses:

  • Air Quality Improvements
  • Water Quality Protection and Demand/Supply Management
  • Urban and Land Use Planning
  • Habitat Protection and Restoration

To learn more about each of these options, see:
Managing our Response, or download
Minimizing Human Pressures on the Environment.

Plan for the impacts of climate change
Although there are many steps we can take to reduce the severity of climate change, some changes are already underway and will continue for decades or more. Therefore, society must begin planning and preparing to manage future impacts that cannot be avoided. Such actions include: protecting wetlands—which provide key flood control services and improve local water quality; examining adaption options in the local fisheries, agricultural and forestry practices, as well as improvements in the health care system to accommodate changes in the climate and environment.

Changes in climate variability and weather extremes will need to be taken into consideration when implementing emergency management plans, zoning, and building codes. Resources will be needed to provide increased relief from the heat to the very young, the poor, and those whose health is already compromised. Such measures are particularly important in urban areas. These and other steps for planning for climate change in the Great Lakes region are highlighted in Managing the Impacts.

For a graphical overview of various solution options, please see the Solutions where we Live feature.






Photo Credits:
Loon -- US Fish and Wildlife Service, Art Weber.
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