A national climate report issued Friday predicts a bleak picture for the state and region as a result of climate change: increased flooding, hotter temperatures and intensified storms – all of which can hurt the agriculture industry, infrastructure and human productivity.
St. Louis Public Radio's science and environment reporter Eli Chen joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh to expand on how climate change is affecting the state, as well as what is being done to try and prevent its most harmful effects.
“The report puts real dollar numbers on how much it will cost us. So for example, the report notes that climate change could cost the region’s economy $10 billion by the middle of the century due to premature deaths [and] loss of work hours,” Chen said.
“As storms intensify and become more frequent in the Midwest, scientists are expecting that it could cost us [more than] $500 million by the end of the century,” she added, noting that without major technological advancements the “agriculture productivity could plummet to levels last seen in the 1980s.”
John Hickey, director of the Missouri chapter of the Sierra Club, also joined Thursday’s program and discussed why the Midwest is so vulnerable to climate change’s burdens, citing the lack of clean-energy implementation. He gave an example on how higher temperatures are affecting children.
“So we have dirty air, and when temperatures are higher, that dirty air is more impactful on human health,” Hickey said. “The city of St. Louis has triple the rate of childhood asthma visits to the emergency room than the state average; so we’re seeing a layering-over effect – hotter temperatures from climate change, plus dirty air, means more childhood asthma.”
While many scientists have reported on the changes in the atmosphere, there are still those who deny those findings, including President Trump.
“It’s hard for people to understand things that aren’t in their financial self-interest. Trump is raising a lot of money from the fossil-fuel industry, so if he actually believed the federal scientists, it would be harder for him to bankroll his campaigns with oil money, gas money, coal money,” Hickey added.
Listen to the full conversation, including questions and comments from listeners:
St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Alex Heuer, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Xandra Ellin give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.