Dr. David Karowe

A new study into climate change reveals major economic and ecological consequences for Michigan.

The study suggests that if climate change continues as it has the great lakes state could look very different by 2100.

According to David Karowe, a Professor of Biological sciences, climate change could have unwelcome impacts on Michigan.

“There are a lot of ways climate change could affect Michigan and most of them will be unpleasant,” Karowe said, “Climate change is likely to have major adverse economic impacts on our state through problems with our tourist industry and agriculture.”

According to Karowe, because of Climate change, it decreases the cold water and increases the warm water in lakes and because sport fish such as salmon and trout thrive in cold water there could less of them which means not as much incentive to come to Michigan.

Forests are also a big challenge when it comes to climate change because certain kinds of trees won’t be able to cope with our changing climate.

“A lot of the trees that we have here will likely not survive,” Karowe said.“The two species that are iconic in Michigan are sugar maple and white pine and both of those are predicted to decreased by nearly 70% under business as usual.”

If we keep continuing along business as usual there could be more consequences according to Karowe. including the effect on human health and heat waves which could become more common.

Climate change will have a big impact on our planet if we continue on the same path we’re on. However, Karowe believes there are things we can do in our lives to not see as big of an impact down the road.

“There’s a lot that we can do and economically it makes all the sense in the world to do as much as we can,” Karowe said. “In our personal lives, we can reduce our own carbon footprints, we can do that by energy efficiency and conservation strategies, while our energy is coming mostly from fossil fuels, use less of it.”

This can range from turning off lights to buying an electric or hybrid car as well as taking out beef from your diet and substitute chicken in order to reduce your carbon footprint, according to Karowe this minimizes damage while figuring out how to replace fossil fuels with other energy sources.

Karowe believes young people will suffer most from the effects of climate change and he hopes students will realize this.

“My hope is that students and other people will realize that it’s your future that’s being stolen at this point by living off of fossil fuels. We are condemning you to have a future that is

likely to be very unpleasant,” Karowe said. “The alternative if we were to switch very rapidly over to green energy sources then your future would be not only a whole lot better but in many ways a lot better than today.”

Climate change has become a big issue over the years, however he believes our government officials are making bad decisions. He believes the issue has been successfully politicized and that they know how bad the issue is but they fail to act.

Some of the efforts that are being made to make students aware of the issue include a minor in climate change studies in which WMU is one of few universities to offer this according to Karowe. He personally gives around 15 talks about climate change every year and other professors are doing the same thing.

According to Karowe, we’ve been in climate cycles for 2 million years but we are experiencing a totally different kind of climate change than ever before. He acknowledges that the science is clear and it can’t be natural factors and he says the warming occurring now is because of human activity, greenhouse gas emissions and cutting down forests. He also says it’s in everyone’s best interest to minimize climate change.


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