How Climate Change Will Affect the St. Croix Valley

By Jerry Dirks, Sustainable Stillwater MN


At this point we’re all bracing for the worst in climate change, although there is a small window to avert disaster. So you might as well know what’s coming.


Two reports about climate change have been published recently. One from the University of Minnesota and the other one from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at the United Nations.


The Minnesota study says that says winters are warming faster in Minnesota than in any other state and could be as much as 11 degrees F warmer by the end of this century.


Our addiction to fossil fuels and methane pollution affects the lives of billions of people around the world, despite efforts to reduce it, says the latest IPCC report. Just a 1.5 C degree rise in temperature would disrupt and destroy life as we know it.


Australian bush fires burned more than 28 million acres. Unprecedented numbers of animals were killed in Australia, including an estimated 5,000 koala bears. There are now devastating fires in California and in the Boundary Waters. There have been wildfires in all those places before, but the number, intensity, and size has increased.


Floods and droughts, heatwaves, and severe weather are more frequent. For the United States, 2020 was an historic year of extremes. There were 22 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters across the country that cost the nation a combined $95 billion. That’s just the billion-dollar events.


So, what can we expect here?


The St. Croix River will get warmer in the next few decades as climate change causes hotter, wetter springs and drier summers – ideal conditions for algae, according to new data from the U.S. Geological Survey.


A changing climate will impact the entire watershed of the St. Croix River, according to the St. Croix River Association. Increases in mean annual temperature, precipitation, extreme heat events, and storm frequency and intensity are projected for the region around the river. Warming water temperatures may cause harmful changes to aquatic life. Native animals and plants may become more stressed, increasing the potential for invasive species to take hold. Increased heavy rains may cause flooding, triggering stream bank erosion and an increase in the runoff of pollutants, their statement says.


Yes, there is a small window of opportunity to avert these changes by moving to clean energy, reducing our carbon footprint, and taking personal responsibility. None of us alone can reverse climate change but our collective will needs to be harnessed to get the changes required urgently to save our climate. Pay attention to what your lawmakers are doing – and NOT doing. Vote for people who trust the science. Make changes in your personal life. The latter is the easiest. Two great places to start are at SustainableStillwaterMN.org/best-practices and CleanAirPlan.com.

Let’s act together before it’s too late.


Sustainable Stillwater MN is a 501c3 nonprofit with a mission to think globally, act locally.

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