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Opinion: Nebraska deserves a climate change plan to minimize the impact on agriculture

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Patty Pansing Brooks introduced a bill to legislature to require methods for adapting to the impact of climate change.

Lincoln Senator Patty Pansing Brooks recently introduced a bill to the legislature. The bill would require the University of Nebraska Lincoln to “develop an evidence-based, data-driven, strategic action plan to provide methods for adapting to and mitigating the impacts of climate change.” This is the right thing to do.

We are currently in the middle of a frigid winter. The sub-zero temperatures lead to arguments that climate change is not happening. These arguments are illogical. The temperature you are experiencing outside is related to climate change. This cold does not mean that global warming isn’t real.

The Union of Concerned Scientists releasedan article discussing the relationship between these temperatures and the changing climate. There are some first ground rules that we need to explain:

First, the weather is what is going on outside on Doane’s campus right now. It could either be snowing or raining or sunny, but it is currently happening.

Second, the climate is a pattern of the weather that is measured over decades.

These two important facts are paramount to the debate over climate change. The climate is changing and getting warmer. This does not mean that it cannot get cold or it cannot snow at high elevations and latitudes. According to the article, the United States sits at a “complex interplay between the upper atmosphere conditions over polar regions and mid-latitude conditions over the oceans and on land.”

There are other contributors to the weather. Massive weather systems, ocean patterns, winds, Arctic sea ice and the jet stream all play a part.

The severe cold we are experiencing right now is due to the earth’s tilting on its axis, not the lack of global warming.

Climate change disrupts seasonal weather patterns regardless of the Earth’s tilt.

This is why Senator Pansing-Brooks’s bill is essential for the state of Nebraska. Especially if Nebraska wants to continue to be a leader in the agriculture sector. The bill focuses on the “projected economic losses can be minimized and economic gains realized by Nebraskans taking appropriate adaptive and mitigative strategies.”

Climate change is altering the weather. It makes the more common weather events more severe. Studies have shown that climate change was a key factor in Houston's abnormal rainfall during Hurricane Harvey.

Global warming means that the air in the atmosphere is hotter. Hotter air brings more chances of higher precipitation. This is because hot air holds more water. This means that there will be heavier rains during average storms.

The article says that “the amount of rain or snow falling in the heaviest one percent of storms has increased nationally over the last half century—with the largest increases in the Northeast, Great Plains, Midwest, and Southeast.”

Furthermore, areas of the country today that are experiencing upwards of 71 percent increase in the snow and rainfall during the heaviest storms. That’s 71 percent more than expected. These conditions can be expensive with snow removal and damages. The cost will fall on the taxpayers.

Hurricane Harvey happened because the Houston sewer system was not prepared for the rainfall. These are the costs of climate change. The costs requires us to be better prepared for more extreme weather events. This is vital to the state’s longevity.

A recent study done by the University of Wisconsin has found that the “onset of spring plant growth has shifted earlier in the year over the past several decades due to rising global temperatures. Earlier spring onset may cause phenological mismatches between the availability of plant resources and dependent animals, and potentially lead to more false springs, when subsequent freezing temperatures damage new plant growth.”

These types of weather patterns will harm Nebraska farmers. They deserve to know the costs of the hotter climate. Senator Pansing-Brooks’ bill is essential to assist the longevity of the state.