STACKER — The latest United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is yet another reminder of the dire effects of climate change. While climate projections often look to the future when discussing the worst impacts of climate change, we are in fact already experiencing its effects across the United States. To better understand how climate change is impacting the country, Stacker compiled a list of the impacts of climate change in every state, using local and national news stories, government reports, and scientific journal articles.
While these impacts are weather-related—for example, heat waves, droughts, or storms—individual weather events cannot be attributed to climate change on their own. Rather, it is when these events are seen within larger trends that they can be understood as part of a pattern that has come out of the changing climate.
Keep reading to learn about how your state has been impacted by climate change, or read the national story here.
North Dakota: Mega-drought
North Dakota is currently experiencing a mega-drought, and it’s gotten so bad that it’s being compared to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. The drought has forced ranchers to sell off their herds, and it’s been so dry that they haven’t been able to grow their own hay. They are worried that they won’t have enough food to keep their remaining cattle alive through the winter. Thanks to climate change, North Dakota is almost 2.5 F warmer than it was 100 years ago, leading to more frequent erratic swings in weather.
Across the country, there are trends of rising temperatures, storms of increasing frequency and severity, and more erratic precipitation patterns, causing disruptions to the food systems and sometimes even resulting in death. While the U.S. government has set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030, it is clear that the climate emergency is already taking place, and along with emissions reductions, mitigation of the impacts of climate change must be prioritized as well.
Read below to see how other states in your region have been affected by climate change.
Minnesota: Changes to the wild rice harvest
Wild rice is a sacred food for the Anishinaabe, who live across northern Minnesota along with Wisconsin and Michigan. This year, the region saw a historic drought, which actually helped yield more wild rice than in years past. However, because of the drought conditions—and while the rice did grow more easily—it was more difficult to access the wild rice and harvest it this year. The harvest is done by tribe members navigating shallow water beds in a canoe and using sticks to knock the rice grains into the boat. But because water levels were so low this year, some areas could not be accessed by boat and the wild rice could not be harvested.
Montana: Glacier National Park is losing its glaciers
Montana’s Glacier National Park is famous for its beauty, and of course, for its glaciers. However, due to warming temperatures, the park is losing its glaciers—and fast. Right now, the park has 25 glaciers remaining, a stark contrast from the 150 that existed there in the late 1800s. And the numbers will continue to drop, as scientists predict that the park’s glaciers could completely disappear within the next two decades.