Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Mississippi River Mayors Urge Action On Climate Report

Posted By on Tue, Nov 27, 2018 at 9:58 AM

click to enlarge Paddlers push their boats down the Mississippi River during a running of the Outdoors Inc. Canoe and Kayak Race. - JOE ROYER
  • Joe Royer
  • Paddlers push their boats down the Mississippi River during a running of the Outdoors Inc. Canoe and Kayak Race.

States and cities along the Mississippi River will see billions of dollars worth of climate-related impacts unless “major changes” are made in the near term, according to a group of 85 mayors in cities and towns up and down the river.

The Congressionally mandated fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA) paints a bleak picture for the Mississippi River Valley and the entire Mississippi River Basin with rising temperatures and rising waters.

Mayors with the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative (MRTCI) said Tuesday that “infrastructure, manufacturing, agriculture, and vulnerability are all implicated in this new report with effects alarming to even mayors that have been dealing with these impacts for a number of years already.” The group has pushed for changes to fight climate-related catastrophes in the region since 2012, the group said.

“The first duty of government is to help ensure the safety and health of the people it represents, so leaders should heed the report’s calls for action,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey in a statement. “Minneapolis is already charting a course toward 100 percent renewable electricity.

click to enlarge Mud Island is submerged under the Mississippi River during the flood of 2011. - WARD ARCHER
  • Ward Archer
  • Mud Island is submerged under the Mississippi River during the flood of 2011.
“To better protect the Mississippi River – a major force for economic justice and a key source for drinking water – we need to partner with communities, neighboring jurisdictions and states by following the data and taking meaningful steps to curb climate change.”

The Mississippi River Corridor has already sustained over $200 billion in disaster impacts since 2005, according to the MRTCI, with six of the 10 Mississippi River states incurring more than $10 billion in losses for each state.

Bettendorf, Iowa Mayor Bob Gallagher said, though he thought he was prepared, “I was taken aback by some of the findings in the report.”

“The NCA states the annual cost of adapting urban storm water systems to more frequent and severe storms is projected to exceed $500 million for the Midwest by the end of the century,” Gallagher said. “More important to my state of Iowa, the assessment says projected changes in precipitation, coupled with rising extreme temperatures before mid-century, will reduce Midwest agricultural productivity to levels of the 1980s without major technological advances.”

In Memphis
Cities in the Southeast are experiencing more and longer summer heat waves, according to the NCA. Of the five cities already reporting more extreme heat waves, three of them are in the South — Birmingham, Raleigh, and New Orleans.
“The urban heat island effect (cities that are warmer than surrounding rural areas, especially at night) adds to the impact of heat waves in cities,” reads the report. “Southeastern cities including Memphis and Raleigh have a particularly high future heat risk.”

  • National Climate Assessment 2018

Transportation infrastructure is particularly at risk in Memphis, according to the NCA.

“An extreme weather vulnerability assessment conducted by the Tennessee Department of Transportation found that the urban areas of Memphis and Nashville had the most at-risk transportation infrastructure in the state,” reads the report. “Increasing precipitation and extreme weather events will likely impact roads, freight rail, and passenger rail, especially in Memphis, which will likely have cascading effects across the region.”

“The front lines”
The MRTCI have written and delivered infrastructure plans to Congress to protect the area’s natural infrastructure and its built environment.

“We’re on the front lines of these impacts,” said Davenport, Iowa Mayor Frank Klipsch. “We urge lawmakers to take the NCA very seriously and appoint a national commission to develop a set of immediate and near-term recommendations for Congress and state administrations.”

The Trump Adminstration released the report on Black Friday. President Donald Trump said he does not believe the report’s warnings that climate change will have major economic impacts for the U.S. economy.

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