Iowa scientists issue climate change warning

A group of Iowa scientists is warning that extreme weather events—such as this year’s severe drought—will become more frequent as global temperatures continue to rise.

Those scientists have released an updated “Iowa Climate Statement”.  One of the authors is David Courard-Hauri of Drake University. He says as “carbon pollution” continues to grow, there will be an increase in “extreme wet and dry events” in Iowa.

“Weather varies too much and has too many drivers to attribute any particular event to a single cause like climate change,” Courad-Hauri says, “but there is a clear pattern of crop loss and property damage from increasingly frequent events like flooding, drought, and dangerous storms.”

Christopher Anderson with Iowa State University’s climate science program points to the increased frequency of wet springs in Iowa.

“Since 1981, the likelihood of severely wet springs has more than doubled. What was once a one-in-ten-year wet spring is now occurring two to three times in every ten years,” Anderson says.

Jerald Schnoor with the University of Iowa says agriculture has a role to play in addressing climate change.

“We need to recover energy from anaerobic digestion on farms and landfills, and use the methane from those processes to create—through micro-turbines—electricity,” Schnoor says. “We need to become leaders in biomass, biorefineries and cellulosic biofuels from non-food crops.”

Schnoor says the state needs to move away from the use of corn to make ethanol and use other plant materials like switch grass and corn stalks.

The Iowa Climate Statement is signed by 138 scientists who work at 27 colleges and universities in Iowa.

Radio Iowa contributed to this story.

AUDIO: Excerpts from “Iowa Climate Statement” news conference (9:42 MP3)

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