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Midwest's corn and soybean crops threatened by climate change
Illinois Ag Connection - 11/17/2023

The National Climate Assessment's latest report reveals alarming threats to the Midwest's agricultural powerhouse status. With over a third of the world's corn and soybeans produced in this region, climate change is causing severe challenges.

Excessive moisture and drought are projected to disrupt corn yields, impacting the livelihoods of farmers and the global food supply chain. In addition to agriculture, urban life in the Midwest is increasingly complicated by the rising frequency and intensity of rainfall and resulting floods.

This comprehensive report, mandated by Congress, is the result of collaboration among 750 climate scientists and experts and includes multimedia elements such as a podcast, art exhibition, and a poem by U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón. The consensus is clear: without significant reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions and a focus on adaptation, the climate crisis will worsen, with rising sea levels, soaring temperatures, increased flooding, and wildfires.

The report serves as a crucial resource for cities and states seeking fact-based evidence to address climate challenges. For instance, it can help water utility managers design more resilient sewer systems in response to extreme rainfall.

Compared to the first half of the 20th century, the Midwest has become warmer and wetter, with increasing precipitation as temperatures rise. This results in wetter springs and winters and more variable summers. Recent months have seen record-breaking heat, emphasizing the urgency of climate action.

Extreme weather events, such as severe flooding in Chicago, have led to substantial federal flood relief efforts. The frequency of costly state and federally declared disasters is on the rise, occurring approximately every three weeks compared to every four months in the 1980s.

Despite these challenges, there is hope. U.S. emissions have decreased since their peak in 2007, and communities are increasingly adopting measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change. In the Midwest, renewable energy production has surged by over 275% in the past decade, offering the potential for millions of new jobs.

Efforts to combat climate change have also increased significantly, with a focus on electrification, energy efficiency, climate-smart agriculture, and green infrastructure. Illinois leads the Midwest in these initiatives.

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