This is Dr. Emily Schoerning with AR, and we’ve got your 2050 climate forecast for the Midwest. Now, if you’re in the Midwest, I have good news for you. And if you’re not in the Midwest, you might want to listen up to this one, because this region has some pretty manageable risks.
As we come up on our known forecast, looking at America 2050, the Midwest is still super habitable. Let’s take a step back. The Midwest. Flyover country. Why don’t people want to live here, anyway? Let me tell you. Because it’s nasty here. We have every kind of bad weather, we have gigantic floods like, all the time, we have tornados, and you have to shovel snow, and there are a shitload of bugs. And what’s great about 2050? We’re gonna keep having all that! The snow AND the bugs! The bottom line is, a lot of things here are gonna do their best to kinda stay the same. We’re looking at changes. We’re looking at challenges. But in the Midwest, the challenges we’re facing are not catastrophic. If we face them head on, those challenges we’re looking at are what a person might call opportunities.
In the Midwest, we’ve been having a lot more of those extreme storms. Drop like 2 inches of rain on you in an hour, coming in sideways, wasn’t even forecast that afternoon, those kind of storms. I’m afraid I gotta tell you, by 2050 those are going to be worse and that’s pretty much what you’re gonna see for rain. So we’ve got two problems to face there: improving drainage infrastructure, and preserving water to put on your plants from when it’s been a couple of weeks from your last storm.
Those of you who live in relationship with the land, I bet you are listening to me thinking that I am missing one big point when I talk about these rains. And I promise I am gonna get there. It’s what these rains do to our soil. You are going to lose all the chemicals you’ve applied, they’re going to go right down the watershed, you are going to lose a lot of work you put in, and you are going to lose soil. And folks, we are using up our soil. That soil in the Midwest is our most precious resource, and the fate of our region- the fate of all those people we feed- is going to rest on what we do to preserve, defend, and rebuild our soil.
Current projections, the government thinks we’re going to get knocked back to 1980’s productivity levels in agriculture. In the Midwest- and us and our friends in the Northern Plaines, our agricultural output is going to be even more important than it was before- you might remember or have heard tell that our corn outputs were already remarkable in the 1980s. A typical farmer might be feeding a hundred and twenty people in the 1980s. That means that the Midwest has the potential to keep feeding America. And I have faith in our farmers’ abilities to keep trying new things, finding out what works. We have a tolerable productivity forecast here, and if we dig into that, if we make sure to save the soil, we can do a lot of good here.
Folks in cities and towns, you might wanna know, what should you do to prepare? Like I said earlier, focus on those water problems. And especially in developed areas, it is gonna get hotter in the summers, so you are going to want to think about cooling. You wanna know how hot it’s going to get, you should check out or request a local forecast, there’s a lot of variability in the region. Some of us, the heat we’re looking at is pretty serious, and it’s going to be that humid heat that can be a real health problem. Access to cooling is going to be important not just for keeping people healthy, but your larger animals, too.
And cooling, it’s worth saying, cooling is not just about air conditioning. You can help cool your land, help cool your whole community, and capture carbon, by planting more trees. You want trees in 2100? We gotta plant those trees today. I read some info from the USDA, from the forestry division, indicates the Midwest could lose 40% of our tree cover by 2050 if we don’t plant new types of trees. You have a little yard? You need to find some heat-tolerant, water-stress tolerant trees, and you need to plant them. Those are gonna be the trees two generations down. Those kids, they are gonna need different trees than you have growing in your yard right now. And if we don’t plant those trees now, there won’t be enough trees to shade those kids. We can act now. We can give them cover. Keep this a nice place to live.
So let’s take a second to wrap this up. Midwest climate forecast: 2050. It’s gonna be a fair amount warmer in the winter, but still freeze in most of the region. It’s gonna be a bit warmer in the summer, but not, like, scary-hot. The big thing to think about: water. Extreme storms, and the infrastructure to handle them. And our soil. We gotta love our soil. We gotta protect it. And we gotta defend it.
This is Dr. Schoerning with AR, signing out. Please help get the message out there. There is hope. We can prepare for what’s coming. Let’s get ready.