Climate change brings strange weather, threatens Michigan's forests

CO2 2022/2021 : 417.39 ppm / 414.54 ppm

Dear Michigan Climate News readers,

Climate change is making a real difference in Michigan's weather patterns. Northern boreal forests may not last to the end of the century. And Ann Arbor will vote on whether to study the feasibility of setting up its own municipal utility. That and more in this week's issue.

Enjoy your week!

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

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Strange weather: The climate crisis is driving big changes in Michigan’s weather, producing record-high temperatures and heavy rainfall. Since 2001, metro Detroit has seen nine of the 15 hottest years on record, and six of the ten wettest years have occurred since 2006. Southern areas of the state have seen the largest deviations from historical temperatures, making extreme weather events like heat waves and floods more likely to occur. For example, three of the last ten years in the Detroit area have seen temperatures climb above 85 degrees for more than 60 days, a relatively uncommon occurrence in the preceding decades. These changes could be especially difficult for low-income people who may struggle to afford air conditioning and Indigenous communities whose traditional practices are tied to native plant and animal species, which are threatened by human-induced warming. (Freep)

How can forests adapt: A recent study found that even a small amount of global heating could devastate boreal forests in Northern Michigan. Researchers are trying to determine what can be done to help Michigan’s diverse forest ecosystems adapt to a hotter future. One strategy is assisting the migration of trees from southern Michigan to more northern areas to help ecosystems adjust to a warmer climate. Others focus on limiting the damage to forests from invasive species, diseases and deer browsing. "My hunch is by 2100, we'll lose most of the spruce and fir," said Peter Reich, an ecologist at the University of Michigan who led the study on boreal forests. "We might lose some of the white cedar. The forests will be scrubbier and more open. They may still have a mix of species but will be less diverse.. a few areas that are sandier and drier may even convert to grasslands." (Freep)

City power: Ann Arbor’s City Council will vote this week on funding a study to determine how to supply energy for the city and meet its goal of 100% renewable power by 2030. This could include breaking away from DTE Energy and creating a municipal utility that could enable the city to build more renewable energy. “Municipalization would give the city that pathway. It would allow us to generate as much power as we possibly could within the city and buy renewable power from outside of the city,” said Greg Woodring, president of the group Ann Arbor for Public Power. Woodring said a municipal utility could offer lower rates and more reliable service. But the move could set off a legal battle with DTE and Ann Arbor would likely have to raise taxes to acquire the company’s assets and run its own utility. (MI Radio)

EVs and equity: Bridge Detroit profiled several Black Detroiters working to bring electric vehicle jobs to the city. These include Natalie King whose company Dunamis Clean Energy Partners plans to create 30 jobs at its East Grand Boulevard facility to provide EV charging stations for utilities and businesses. “We will be hiring directly from that community as well as surrounding communities that have historically had environmental justice, environmental racism issues,” King said. “We want to focus there first, and we're committed to at least 50% of our workforce coming from those communities.” Another company, Walker-Miller Energy Services run by Carla Walker-Miller, currently offers energy efficiency services, EV charging stations, and solar panels. The company has also signed a contract to become a Tesla dealer and is consulting with developers and housing complexes on installing charging infrastructure. (BridgeDetroit)

Climate reparations: Roughly a third of Pakistan is underwater after a monsoon season that dropped ten times the average amount of rainfall. Water covers an area about the size of Colorado, and the flooding has killed more than 1,100 people and created around $10 billion in damage. Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s climate minister, says wealthy nations must pay reparations to help the country respond to the climate crisis. “Global warming is the existential crisis facing the world and Pakistan is ground zero–yet we have contributed less than 1% to (greenhouse gas) emissions. We all know that the pledges made in multilateral forums have not been fulfilled,” she said. So far, promises made by wealthy nations have been small. UK foreign secretary and incoming prime minister Liz Truss said the country “(stood) with Pakistan” while promising £15 million for relief efforts. (Guardian)

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