Editorial: Time to plan for climate change

Published 11:46 am Thursday, December 6, 2012

If you need more proof of the importance of environmental policy, look no further than Lake Superior.

An Associated Press story showed how the Great Lakes were shrinking, causing heavy economic decline for towns situated on each body of water. In other words, drought, rising temperatures and a lack of support for dredging nearby lakes are causing towns in nearby states no lack of trouble. Lake Superior’s water shortage is nowhere near as bad as Lake Michigan or Lake Erie, but the lake that touches Minnesota has a lower water level than the historical average, something that occurs with all too much regularity.

From the state of our rivers and lakes to superstorms like Hurricane Sandy, there’s mounting evidence that all is not well with our environment. Global climate change is, unfortunately, backed up by enough studies and evidence that our leaders need to pay attention to the way we consume natural resources.

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How would Duluth fare if Lake Superior slowly dripped away? How will our farmers make up for lost crops due to more heat and less rain? What systems, programs and checks are in place to stop natural disasters from causing millions of dollars worth of damage every year?

Our neighbor Austin is no stranger to environmental troubles, with a series of strong 50- and 100-year floods in recent memory spurring a massive set of flood mitigation projects for at least the next decade.

Yet our state and federal lawmakers need to consider conservation and climate change efforts as serious issues, especially in light of recent scientific evidence that suggests global warming is occurring faster than we anticipated. It’s time to take a look at what we can do for Mother Nature, lest she wilt away and leave society up the proverbial creek.