Thanks to Editor Bob Uphues for his March 30 article in the Landmark on the effect of climate change on local trees (“Climate change a threat to maple trees, forester says”). Brookfield Forester Victor Janusz and Riverside Forester Michael Collins shared how maple trees in our area are particularly vulnerable to adverse weather such as extreme winter cold, wet springs and summer drought. The effects of climate change may have other severe and dangerous effects for Midwest plants in the future.
I asked Dr. Peter Raven about the effects of climate change on Midwest flora at a webinar last year. Dr. Raven is an expert on plant evolution and is the emeritus director of the Missouri Botanical Garden. I expected he would talk about danger to rare local plants, but his answer was surprising.
He indicated that if measures were not adopted to limit greenhouse gas emissions, the climate of the Midwest would resemble that in Georgia now, within 10 or 15 years. The result is that crops such as corn and soybeans would be endangered.
I suppose we could adapt by planting different crops in the corn belt, just as foresters can chose a new variety of urban trees, but the economic damage to agriculture would be significant. It is evident that climate action is necessary now and that legislation in Washington and other capitals around the world is needed to address the problem.
The current geopolitical crisis in Europe has led to calls for increasing U.S. production of fossil fuels to offset Russian sources, but we should not make large commitments to long-term increase in fossil fuel use. Accelerating the development of sustainable energy sources is a more important long-term goal.
Rick Swanson, Brookfield