If you appreciate our in-depth reporting and you can help us pay for it, please become a recurring donor to Planet Detroit.

*You can always find past Michigan Climate News stories and subscribe to new ones on Bulletin, and you can keep up with us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter! Got an idea for a Michigan climate story? Pitch us here.*


Michigan’s warming Octobers: Nationally average fall temperatures have warmed by as much as 3.2 Fahrenheit since 1970 in some places, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Across the country, where 95% of cities have grown warmer since 1970, increasing the likelihood of public health threats like mosquito-borne disease, heat-related illnesses, pollen allergies, and air pollution. Nationally, the greatest fall temperature increases were seen in the West, with Reno experiencing 7.6 F of warming and Las Vegas seeing a 6 F increase. In Michigan, Detroit showed the largest fall temperature increase of the cities that were tracked, Traverse City showed an average increase of 2.7 F and Grand Rapids increased by 2.6 F. (Climate Central)

Faded: A warming climate could also change how fall looks in Michigan, diminishing the vibrant colors of turning leaves. Warmer temperatures could delay the color change and other stressors like drought and excessive moisture–which are associated with climate change–cause trees to drop their leaves quicker and produce duller colors. (Channel 4)

Mapping the crisis: A mapping project from the Guardian helps show what’s at stake for a warming planet, by illustrating the difference between various degrees of global heating. “We are conducting an unprecedented experiment with our planet,” said Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University and chief scientist at the Nature Conservancy. “The temperature has only moved a few tenths of a degree for us until now, just small wiggles in the road. But now we are hitting a curve we’ve never seen before.” Although Michigan may be less at risk for some impacts like heat waves, according to this model, the likelihood of wildfires and crop failures in the state could increase significantly at 2-3 C of warming. (Guardian)


Tree court: A ruling by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals against Canton Township’s tree ordinance could have a chilling effect on municipalities looking to protect trees, one of the best strategies for mitigating climate change impacts like heat and flooding in cities. Canton Township had ordered a business that cut down more than 150 trees on their property to replace them or pay $47,000 into a community tree fund. The court found that the township failed to properly assess the burden to the property owner. “It really only impacts this one company in terms of direct scope,” said Sean Hammond, policy director at the Michigan Environmental Council, which filed a brief supporting the ordinance. “But, it sends a message to a lot of other places about how valid their tree ordinances are.” (Michigan Radio, NY Times)

See @MichEnvCouncil's post on Twitter.

High wages: $272,251. This was Marathon Petroleum chief executive Gary Heminger’s bonus for “excellence in environmental, personal safety and process safety improvement” in 2018, the same year one of the company’s underground pipelines spilled 1,400 gallons of diesel fuel into an Indiana creek, endangering a population of freshwater mussels. And Marathon’s Detroit refinery had multiple air quality violations between 2017 and 2019, resulting in a more than $500,000 settlement with state regulators. A Washington Post investigation shows that several oil and gas companies awarded bonuses to executives for meeting environmental goals during years when their companies’ caused major environmental incidents or their emissions went up. Activists promoting corporate accountability argue that these bonuses are a small part of compensation packages and do little to encourage environmental responsibility. (Detroit News, WaPo)

Monitoring the lakes: An Op-ed in the Chicago Tribune argues that Great Lakes communities need to invest in monitoring technologies–similar to those used to track air quality and detect wildfires in the West–in order to protect shorelines, drinking water and commerce from the disruptions of the climate crisis. These technologies could help monitor things like toxic algal blooms that threaten drinking water or wastewater contamination that can require beaches to close. (Chicago Tribune)


Climate talk: The British Consulate-General Chicago and the Consulate of Italy held a meeting in Detroit last week in coordination with this year’s Conference of the Parties or “COP26'' global climate event in Glasgow, Scotland. Liesl Clark, director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, spoke at the event with representatives from the auto industry and others. Clark emphasized the quality of life benefits that residents would see from climate actions like investments in mass transit and electric vehicles. “When we talk about it as leaders, we need to communicate about the benefits to average Michiganders which are, you know, it’s clean air, it’s public health, it’s jobs,” she said. (Great Lakes Now)

No access: Meanwhile, Indigenous leaders from around the world have said that COP26 is largely off-limits for them on account of COVID restrictions that prevent them from getting to Glasgow or because the meeting’s complex bureaucracy keeps them from meeting other leaders on an equal footing. While Indigenous people make up 5 percent of the global population, they manage 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity. “For centuries, Indigenous peoples have protected the environment, which provides them food, medicine and so much more,” wrote Hindou Oumarou, president of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad. “Now it’s time to protect and benefit from their unique traditional knowledge to bring concrete and natural solutions to fight climate change.” (Indian Country Today)


What questions do you have about the environment and climate change in Michigan? Please let us know by reaching out to me at nina@planetdetroit.org. NOTE: Please don't reply to this email, it will go into a digital netherworld, never to be seen again. We hope that changes soon!


SIGN UP for Planet Detroit's free weekly email newsletter

Our reporting 

runs deep.

Get our weekly free local enviro + health newsletter in your inbox with Planet Detroit.

Scroll to Top