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Climate change

November 23, 2012
Estherville Daily News

Dear Editor:

One year ago, a group of Iowa scientists collaborated to prepare a position statement on climate change in which we expressed our concern regarding this environmental issue. This statement was signed by numerous state scientists and was disseminated to political candidates running for office in this fall's election. In the midst of this summer's extremely severe drought, this group once again collaborated to produce a position statement on climate chance and the drought of 2012.

Unlike the first document that was disseminated only to political candidates, this summer's statement was prepared for dissemination to the citizens of Iowa. I urge you to read the following statement with an open mind and consider the information presented in it. Keep in mind that his is the product of a group of scientists who live in Iowa and work for institutions and businesses with the state

Iowa Climate State-The Drought of 2012

As science faculty and research staff at Iowa universities and colleges, we have confidence in recent findings that climate change is real and having an impact on the economy and natural resources of Iowa. We feel that it is important for citizens of Iowa to understand its implications. Iowans are living with climate change now and it is costing us money already. The drought that we are currently experiencing is consistent with an observed warmer climate, although scientists cannot say with certainty that the drought of 2012 was caused directly by human activities. The following observations support the case that more droughts and floods are likely in the future.

1.Globally over the past 30 years, there is clear statistical evidence that extreme high temperatures are occurring disproportionately more than extreme low temperatures. The climate likely will continue to warm due to increasing global emissions and accumulation of greenhouse gases.

2.In a warmer climate, wet years get wetter and dry years get dryers. And dry years get hotter - that is precisely what happened in Iowa this year. We can expect Iowa to experience higher temperatures when dry weather patterns predominate. The latest science, based on overwhelming lines of physical evidence, indicates we can expect dry periods to be more frequent as soon as the 2020s.

3.Iowa also has experienced an increasing frequency of intense rains over the past 50 years (Iowa Climate Change Impacts 2010,, likely due to a higher surface evaporation in a warmer world. Because of these extremes in precipitation (drought and flood), Iowans will increasingly need infrastructure to adapt to climate fluctuations while developing and implementing mitigation.

As global citizens, Iowans should be a part of the solution. We can prosper, create jobs, and provide an engine for economic growth in the process (Iowa Climate Change Advisory Committee 2008 report, Iowa should lead innovation in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improve resilience in agriculture and communities, and move towards greater energy efficiency and increased use of renewable energy.

As one of the 138 scientists who worked on this project and who have signed this statement, I am concerned about this issue and the impact that it will have on me and the rest of the citizens of Iowa. Hopefully, this statement will open channels for an honest and unbiased discussion on climate change and serve as a beginning point for a better understanding of the science behind this environmental concern. If we choose to ignore what the vast amount of data that has been obtained by scientists who are studying climate change is telling us and continue to write this issue off as a hoax, we are doing a huge disservice to both ourselves and the rest of humanity.

Gary S. Phillips, Iowa Lakes Professor

Environmental Studies




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