Panelists, community members address climate change issues

Thursday, March 13, 2014 | 12:05 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Climate change could disrupt more than just avocado production, panelists said during a discussion Wednesday evening at the Boone County Government Center.

If nothing is done, the rising sea levels and loss of bodies of water, vegetation and wildlife in some areas could create environmental refugees, MU sociology professor Wayne Brekhus said.

Food and water shortages in drought-prone regions could also lead to increased violence and political conflicts because genocides and ethnic conflicts often have environmental roots, Brekhus said.

"People who don't like each other like each other less when there's fierce competition for resources," he said. "As long as there's a lot of resources, we find less violent ways of expressing our dislike."

Five panelists, including Brekhus, discussed climate change at the event that was created to inform attendees about the effects of climate change and discuss possible solutions. Organized by Mid-Missouri Peaceworks, the event was co-sponsored by other community organizations, including Renew Missouri, Mizzou Energy Action Coalition, Osage Group Sierra Club Citizens Climate Lobby and Democracy for Missouri.

The effects of climate change are not limited to humans, however. They have also affected wildlife, said panelist Jane Weaver, who is the director of environmental studies at MU.

Certain parts of the Ozarks Forest have seen a 15 percent species reduction in mice, insects and spiders, she said. Eventually the oaks in the forest will die, leaving the area vulnerable to more forest fires. Shortleaf pines will replace the oaks.

"It's already true that the forest our children experienced are not the forests we knew," Weaver said, adding that in a few generations there may not even be forests.

Droughts and more extreme seasons are already taking a toll on Missouri agriculture and could continue to get worse, MU rural sociology professor Mary Hendrickson said.

As the years go on, the northern half of North America will become the part that sustains most of the continent's agriculture, she said. This trend will affect Missouri and the rest of the Midwest and South, but the U.S. has a better chance of adapting than developing countries.

"Soy beans, for instance, are grown in North Dakota now. That's crazy," Hendrickson said.

The group suggested solutions for the public, including installing newer energy-efficient appliances, minimizing vehicle use and continuing education efforts.

Supervising editor is Elise Schmelzer.

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Skip Yates March 13, 2014 | 1:50 p.m.

Political ideologues not scientists. Not one person on that panel would question other evidence disputing the global warming/climate change agenda. I hope they are all now paying their fair share of tax on their carbon footprint. There are models where you can figure out your carbon footprint,of course, those models are based on whatever the model developer says it is, not science. CarbonClix, or other sites, can help them get started. I'd think Mid-Missouri Peaceworks, Democracy for Missouri,etc. could donate as a group.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 13, 2014 | 2:14 p.m.


The word "pontificate" originates from a specific branch of Christian religion, but not in its present usage!

I don't think these people have a clue as to what it takes to prepare all the the creature comforts they enjoy and have no desire to do without.

I'd like to be able to reduce industrial carbon dioxide emissions tomorrow by at least 30%. Maybe these dime store geniuses can tell me and other engineers how we can do that and still maintain our "modern" society. There's a difference between TALKING and DOING - a huge difference!

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 13, 2014 | 2:40 p.m.

Ellis: "... and still maintain our "modern" society"

I've believed the opposite of "modern" is the hidden agenda....for a couple of decades now.

(Report Comment)
Skip Yates March 14, 2014 | 2:49 a.m.

Ellis: My second sentence doesn't make sense...should have said "Every person on that panel...". Got in a hurry. But just thinkin'..I might qualify as having a negative carbon footprint. I maintain a small forest that eats up bad air and produces life-giving oxygen...shouldn't there be a program where I get direct payments for that? I'm sure EPA, USDA and the IRS could come up with something.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 14, 2014 | 3:35 a.m.


Your small forest SHOULD qualify, but you, like the rest of us, are not one of those beautiful, caring people who qualify for ecological sainthood. That must be truly wonderful.

We're just the pathetic schmucks who for years now have worked to keep the present system from crashing (due to overloading) so that those saints may enjoy their heating, air conditioning, expensive or inexpensive toys, metals, ceramics, chemicals, etc.


As for compensation, I'm sure that if you're willing to be patient some agency in Washout, D. C. will come up with a program. They DO love their programs!

(Report Comment)

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