WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - According to the most recent government report on climate change, the Midwest will be hit the hardest over the next few decade. This does not exclude the Hoosier state.
Jeff Dukes and his team at the Purdue Climate Change Research Center are looking into those impacts.
"We're in the middle of conducting the Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment,” he said. “We've already released seven reports on different aspects of climate change."
The published reports focus on Indiana’s past and future climate, tourism and recreation, maintaining Indiana’s urban green spaces, aquatic ecosystems in a shifting climate, agriculture, and health.
"I really care about what kind of planet we pass on to our children and our grandchildren,” said Dukes, who has been director of the Purdue Climate Change Research Center for the past four years.
His research shows that by the middle of the century, Indiana's climate will be five to six degrees warmer. It may not sound like much but Dukes says that change will have consequences, especially on our health.
Including bringing new diseases to our area.
"We have more potential for tropical mosquitos to live here,” he said. “Mosquitos that haven't been here much in the past but can expand their range, and also under warmer conditions, the tropical diseases can replicate faster."
A rise in temperatures means our air quality gets worse.
"If you have the same emissions going into the air the reactions that produce smog basically happen faster so that has real consequences on people who have asthma or other respiratory problems," he said.
Warmer temperatures also means fewer of those mild, nice outdoor days.
"Here in Indiana, by mid-century, we are expected to lose three to four weeks of the nice days that we get," he said.
This will have an impact on farmers, when they lose important days suitable for spring fieldwork.
Indiana tourism businesses will also have fewer days of operation with more extreme heat.
He said we can only expect real change when our cities and institutions make an effort to make real change. And that here in the Lafayette area, we aren’t quite making the cut.
“I think in this area, we are talking about it, which is good, but there is more action we could be doing,” he said. “Seeing more LEED certified buildings go up is encouraging, because that shows someone is thinking about the environment”
He believes this shouldn’t be a bipartisan issue.
“There are ideas on the conservative side and ideas on the liberal side, and neither is better or worse than the other, it’s a matter of making sure we are doing something,” he said. “It’s when we stop talking about it and ignore the problem that this becomes a worse issue.”
Dukes said change comes from policy makers supporting green initiatives, on either side of the aisle, from people getting educated on climate change, and thinking of small ways to make a difference.
"We're not going to affect the climate in the short term with those actions, but later in the century, we're going to make a really big difference,” he said.
There are still four more reports to come out before the Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment is complete. Those will come out in 2019.