Climate change and the baby formula supply chain

CO2 2022/2021 : 421.15 ppm / 419.09 ppm

Dear Michigan Climate News readers,

This week's news: Another heatwave hits southern Michigan, Bay Port Fish Company reckons with climate change, and climate change impacts the baby formula supply.

And in this week's climate solutions feature, we talk with medical student Taylor Barrow and Dr. Lisa Del Buono, founder of Michigan Clinicians for Climate Action, on the linkages between health and climate change. Join us this Friday, June 24 @ noon for a Live conversation on our Facebook page with Del Buono and Barrow — REGISTER HERE.

Have a great week!

— Nina Ignaczak, Editor of Michigan Climate News

p.s. Let us know what you want to see in this newsletter by taking our reader survey!


Heatwave part deux: Michigan is facing another heatwave this week, following last week’s record-setting temperatures. According to the National Climate Assessment, U.S. cities are seeing an average of six heatwaves a year, three times the number that occurred in the 1960s. Detroit opened several cooling centers last week. But with more than a dozen libraries still closed, the city has fewer spaces available for cooling than several years ago. Planet Detroit has compiled a load of information and resources to help residents stay cool and prevent heat-related illnesses. Experts note that infants and young children up to age 4 and those over 65 or with underlying health problems like cardiovascular and respiratory issues are at elevated risk during heatwaves. (NY Times, Detroit News, Outlier, Planet Detroit)

Keeping the AC on: The early heat waves impacting Michigan raise concerns about the state's power supply. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) previously said the region could suffer outages this summer due to increased energy use for air conditioning and other factors. But the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), which regulates investor-owned utilities in the state, says these companies are required to prove they can meet peak demand four years into the future, a stricter requirement than neighboring states. However, if other states have problems meeting demand, MISO could require Michigan to help by supplying extra power. Still, the more significant threat in Michigan is likely the vulnerability of power lines to storms and downed trees. Extreme weather has increased outages by 67% since 2000 across the United States, and Michigan has experienced more power failures than any other state. (Bridge)

Waste not: A Detroit nonprofit is looking to use composting to reduce the methane emissions from food waste. Ricky Blanding, CEO of Soil Scraps, and his team collect food waste from restaurants and compost it on a quarter-acre site in Detroit, working in partnership with the group Blight Busters. Roughly a third of the food in the U.S. goes to waste, and if it ends up in a landfill, it breaks down without oxygen and generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Composting breaks this cycle, trapping carbon and generating a nutrient-dense soil amendment containing abundant microorganisms. (Detroit News)

‘Climate change sucks’: The Bay Port Fish Company in Michigan’s Thumb is one of many businesses affected by climate change and declines in Great Lakes fisheries. The company hasn’t fished for yellow perch for two years, and white fish harvests have declined. Since the 1950s, ice cover on the lakes has dwindled, water temperatures have increased, and major precipitation events have become more frequent, creating problems with runoff and pollution. “Climate change sucks,” said Brian Seiferlein, an ice fishing guide on the Saginaw Bay who has had to deal with the shrinking ice cover. Whitefish populations in all the lakes had increased in the 1980s and 1990s, recovering from issues like pollution and overfishing. Yet, they now appear to be in decline again. Jason Smith, who works for the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, has been using aquaculture to try and replenish whitefish stocks. He believes more must be done to reduce pollution pressure on fish, and ocean-going freighters, which can bring invasive species, should be banned from the Great Lakes entirely. (Freep)

Time bombs: Climate change and rising water levels on the Great Lakes could threaten legacy industrial sites on the Lake Michigan shoreline, according to a report from the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC). "Some of those legacy old industrial facilities were built and sited along the shoreline, 30, 50, 60 years ago, when water levels were much lower, and environmental protections were lower," said ELPC attorney Howard Learner. "Frankly, their location, and the materials they're handling, if they're toxic or hazardous, was based on outdated data." Wastewater treatment plants, nuclear waste storage facilities, coal plants, and superfund sites are among the locations that could be subject to flooding. Learner says that funds from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative need to be used to clean up toxic sites and restore wetlands to mitigate threats. (MI Radio)

Our dumb year: After much of the country ran low on baby formula, Sturgis's recently reopened Abbot baby formula plant had to close because of flooding. Abbot controls roughly 40% of the U.S. formula market; half of this was manufactured at Abbot’s Michigan plant in Sturgis. In the past two years, Abbot’s profits nearly doubled from $3.6 billion to $7.1 billion, money used to enrich shareholders while the Michigan plant fell into disrepair. The latest incident shows how the dangers of market consolidation and lax government oversight can combine with disruptions like extreme weather and flooding, which are expected to become more frequent with climate change. (NY Times, Vox, Guardian, Yale Climate Connections)

Minority rule: Conservative efforts to limit the federal government’s ability to control climate-warming emissions could bear fruit this month as the Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision that reduces the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate carbon dioxide pollution from power plants. Conservative litigators are looking to use the court to further curtail the EPA’s power, making it harder to regulate tailpipe emissions or consider climate costs when evaluating oil pipelines or other projects. Although Democrats have won the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections, Republicans have nevertheless been able to take control of the nation’s highest court, a state of affairs that critics say puts it out of touch with a majority of Americans. (NY Times, Atlantic)


Detroit medical student hopes for health care model that factors in climate change

Taylor Barrow, a third-year medical student at Wayne State University.

Native Detroiter Taylor Barrow spent a decade on the East Coast as a social worker after college. She often felt overwhelmed by her caseload and lack of resources, especially when faced with systemic issues like poverty and pollution that she knew were impacting her clients’ health. “I was burned out, but I also felt like I was up against a wall in terms of the care that I could give,” Barrow told Michigan Climate News. “Then I kind of flipped tracks and began the med school journey.”


Join us this Friday, June 24 at noon on Planet Detroit’s Facebook page for a Live conversation on Health & Climate Change with Dr. Lisa DelBuono, founder of Michigan Clinicians for Climate Action and Taylor Barrow, a third-year medical student at Wayne State University REGISTER HERE

What questions do you have about the environment and climate change in Michigan? Please let us know by reaching out to me at or hit reply!


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