November 22, 2014

Report: Global climate change is behind extreme heat

A new report from an environmental watchdog group the says the long drought Nebraska’s enduring is a clear sign of where the state and region are heading under climate change.

Doug Inkley, senior scientist with the National Wildlife Federation, says the heat waves we’ve experienced for months are just the first piece of the puzzle.

“We now have a record low amount of ice in the Arctic and we have a record amount of icemelt in Greenland,” Inkley says. “You put all three of these together and global warming is extremely apparent.”

Inkley says some scenarios we’re seeing this summer, including large fish kills reported across Nebraska, also lend insight into what wildlife face in the months to come.

“We have thousands of fish dying because the water is simply too warm for them,” Inkley says. “Wildlife throughout this coming winter will be stressed because the productivity of the natural foods they eat is way down because of the drought and they could easily starve to death.”

Inkley says the same conditions are contributing to devastating wildfires, crop damage and an influx of destructive pests and the diseases some carry, like West Nile virus. The group’s report says the past 12 months are the hottest ever recorded in the U-S.

In terms of financial impact, the report notes the cost of battling wildfires, now about three-billion dollars a year, has tripled since the 1990s.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton