A good place to start is to talk to local people who have lived in the area for a long time. What have they noticed about changes? In the southern Illinois area, people will tell you they have noticed a change. It’s gotten warmer longer, rain patterns are different, and extreme weather is more of a concern.
Of course there has been a ton of work done by scientists as well. Much has been modeled and re-confirmed again and again by scientists working on this problem. It’s not certain exactly what will happen but we can say with a lot of certainty what the most likely changes will be, and how severe they will be. There are still some big unknowns though, called “tipping points,” where it’s feared that if we pass certain points we won’t be able to get back no matter how much we reduce emissions. At any rate, we can look at the National Climate Assessment that came out in 2018, produced by the US government. If we read the report chapter on the Midwest, we can learn the following:
Extreme heat, heavy downpours, and flooding will affect infrastructure, health, agriculture, forestry, transportation, air and water quality, and more. Key issues:
- Impacts to Agriculture
- Forest Composition
- Biodiversity and Ecosystems
- Human Health
- Transportation and Infrastructure
- Community Vulnerability and Adaptation
Please visit the link to the chapter on the Midwest for much more detailed information.
Another section of the National Climate Assessment looks at the affects of climate change on rural communities. Much of southern Illinois is rural. Here’s what we find in the chapter on Agriculture and Rural Communities:
Rural communities are highly dependent upon natural resources that are affected by climate change. These communities also face particular obstacles in responding to climate change that increase their vulnerability to its impacts. Key issues include:
- Reduced Agricultural Productivity
- Degradation of Soil and Water Resources
- Health Challenges to Rural Populations and Livestock
- Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity of Rural Communities
Please visit the chapter on rural communities for more detailed information.
Chapter 29 of the report talks about mitigation activities that are already underway across the US: