The Effect of Climate Change on Michigan’s Economy

The issue of climate change has become a concern for many people recently and it is a topic of great debate. One impact that is not often considered when thinking about the issue of climate change is the effect it may have on the economy. Those studying its potential effects predict a negative economic response to climate change. It is fairly well-known that climate change will yield warmer temperatures and lower water levels. For Michigan in particular this means that the state’s shipping and water resources will be hindered. This could potentially cost Michigan billions of dollars in losses. This economic effect is especially alarming for Michigan as the state is surrounded by the Great Lakes and thus has a lot to lose if problems occurred within its shipping infrastructure. Not only will this cost Michigan money in terms of lost trade but the state will also suffer significantly when it comes to employment for its residents. A decrease in port traffic means a decrease in the need for employees, creating more unemployment for the state and a worsened economy. Experts suggest channel dredging as an option to alleviate the potential issues that may occur in waterways due to climate change. This option, however, is an expensive one. Dredging would cost hundreds of millions of dollars annually when water levels are falling due to climate change.

Climate change in Michigan may also hurt the state’s economy in terms of agriculture. Precipitation will become less frequent but will occur in more intense downpours when it does takes place. Additionally, higher precipitation levels and warming temperatures contribute to soil erosion. These conditions are not ideal for growing crops. Irrigation will become more difficult as more water will be needed but less will be available. Farmers will have to alter the crops they grow to ensure they can survive in these unusual conditions. Even so, money will inevitably be lost due to a high percentage of crop loss. Though it appears that climate change will have a negative impact on our state in the years to come, being aware of these potential problems is the first step in implementing a plan to alleviate them.

Julianne Butler



4 responses

  1. I think you really hit on some key points. Many people just focus on the affects that climate changes have on the atmosphere, without really knowing how it can affect the economy. The Great Lakes provide 95 percent of the United States’ water supply, so it’s extremely important to make sure we do everything in our power to keep it healthy and clean. But more importantly you hit on a key issue of the water level lowering, which could affect the shipment of goods. I think mitigation becomes very important since this could potentially raise the unemployment rate in Michigan, which already has one of the highest in the United States. How people choose to help will play an important part in helping Michigan’s economy. Sometimes it’s as simple as recycling or decreasing the consumption of electricity and gas. The less gases that are emitted into the atmosphere, the less extreme weather conditions we would have. In terms of agriculture, I think it’s important for Michigan to take advantage of the 19 million acres of forests. Michigan should establish “nutrient-trading” programs to reduce water pollution and heat-trapping emissions. It would also help if we improved soil management on our farmlands such as no-till, low input, and use of cover crops can enhance short-term soil carbon storage. There are substantial opportunities in storing carbon in trees and forest soils, as well as avoiding new emissions. Protecting and restoring native forests and reduced-impact logging can both increase carbon storage and provide biodiversity and other environmental benefits.

    Emily Bildson

  2. I think the relationship between the climate and the economy in the Great Lakes is something that deserves more attention than it appears to be receiving. Michigan has some of the highest levels of unemloyment of any of the states and this is an issue that needs to be adressed. The strategy of dredging while being expensive is going to end up being beneficial to more people than it is going to hurt. Not only will the dredging help the shipping of goods on the water ways but it will effectively bring more jobs into the region that are desperatley needed. The money that is going to be spent on a project of this magnitude is also going to stimulate the economy. I think that the Great Lakes are an excellent asset to the state of Michigan as well as all the surrounding states and should be utilized to its full potential. I think that if we are responsible with our use of the lakes and protect the fragile ecosystem that exists we should be able to help boost the economy and effectively bring Michigan out of its current economic despair.

    Eric Allman

  3. This article definitely brings attention to the affiliation of climate and the economy. Healthy maintenance is extremely important for Michigan’s Great Lakes, as they are our largest water supply. Since the water level lowering could likely affect the shipment of goods and increase the unemployment rate, the way in which people chose to partake in this situation is vital. I think the ‘dredging’ strategy will be extremely beneficial because it has the power to stimulate the work force which is severely needed. This project will also stimulate the economy because of the amount of money being spent to enforce it. If we are responsible in the way we protect our Great Lakes and our use in it’s ecosystem, the economy will likely bring Michigan back to an economic revival.

    Frances Allen

  4. The factors that are effecting the great lakes do not seem to be brought up enough in current issues and events. It is indeed effecting the economy in Michigan. I have seen the dredging take place and I think it is a good way to help the water level, but I also agree that the cost is a burden. We need to keep the great lakes clean and not polluted, because it provides our drinking water. The lakes are also home to many organisms, and pollution will effect the entire ecosystem. Another aspect to consider in terms of the economy, is in the tourism industry. Many people come visit the Great Lakes during the summer and expect clean lakes. The tourism industry will be lowered which will bring in less money to the economy.

    Katherine Palmisano

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