Michigan's northwoods threatened by climate change?

CO2 2022/2021 : 417.39 ppm / 414.54 ppm

Dear Michigan Climate News readers,

We just got back from a hike through pine and fir forests along Lake Superior and were greeted with new University of Michigan research shows that these boreal forests may change quickly due to climate change. In other news, we've got the climate bill unpacked and a big new solar energy deal.

Enjoy your week!

— Nina Ignaczak, Editor of Michigan Climate News + Planet Detroit

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Unpacking the “climate” bill: The Inflation Reduction Action, which includes $369 billion in tax incentives to fight climate change, could bring “thousands” of jobs to Michigan, according to U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow. Michigan automakers and semiconductor manufacturers could be winners from a measure that provides rebates for electric vehicles, energy-efficient appliances and solar panels. Experts have said the bill could reduce U.S. emissions by 40 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, but the legislation also includes provisions for the federal government to lease land for oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. Whitney Gravelle, president of the Bay Mills Indian Community, said the bill was “a small step in the right direction” but added, “we must move away from fossil fuels altogether to build a future worthy of our children.” Environmental advocates have also raised concerns about a permitting reform side deal that was agreed to by Democratic leadership, which could make it easier for polluting industries to move into communities. (Bridge, American Prospect)

Industry moves: Ford Motor Company and DTE Energy announced a deal to meet all the automaker’s energy needs with wind, solar, hydroelectric and nuclear energy by 2025. DTE will add 650 megawatts of solar to meet this demand, increasing its total solar generation by 70%. The company says this will put its Michigan facilities ten years ahead of its global goal to power its facilities entirely with renewable energy. DTE will receive about $120 million a year from Ford, which could help build solar infrastructure. The utility says it needs 6,000 acres of land for solar farms to meet this new demand. (Freep, Detroit News)

Northwoods in decline: The boreal forests covering much of Canada and Alaska and northern portions of Minnesota, Michigan and Maine could be significantly compromised by even a small amount of heating, according to a study led by University of Michigan ecologist Peter Reich. These forests are dominated by conifers like spruce, fir and pine that are extremely vulnerable to climate change, especially if it leads to less rainfall. “Forests in Michigan that might not be growing as well aren’t going to be scrubbing as much carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and holding it in their wood or in the soil,” Reich said. “…And that’s going to be causing the climate to change faster.” Although boreal forests are already seeing changes, Reich has stressed that these ecosystems are resilient, and slowing climate change could allow a hybrid forest to emerge where hardwood species like oaks and maples offset some of the declines among other species. (MLive, WDET)



What is 'carbon fundamentalism' and why do justice advocates oppose it?

Join Planet Detroit’s managing editor as we talk with Michelle Martinez, inaugural director of the Tishman Center for Social and Environmental Justice at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment & Sustainability. Martinez has 15 years of experience of practicing environmental justice in her hometown Detroit. Most recently she served as Executive Director of the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition; she is a founding member of the Coalition and continues to serve on the board. Michelle also serves on the Board of Directors of We the People Michigan, and is a contributing columnist to Planet Detroit, an online publication serving Detroit audiences with climate and environmental news.

We’ll talk about climate change, carbon justice, and why Martinez and other justice advocates believe a “carbon fundamentalist” approach will only get us so far in the fight against climate change.


Michelle Martinez, Director, Tishman Center for Social and Environmental Justice at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment & Sustainability

Moderated by Nina Ignaczak, Editor, Planet Detroit and Michigan Climate News


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 or hit reply!

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