Michigan has a deep history shaped by climate change. With borders and great lakes carved and left by receding glaciers, the drastic effects climate change can cause is imbedded in Michigan’s past. But with the glaciers long gone and no ocean bordering shorelines, a state once deeply impacted by climate change might actually be one of the safest refuges from future anthropogenic climate change. According to Popular Science, Michigan could be the most desired state to live in by 2100. With projected sea level rise by the end of the century to be up to 6.6 feet, coastal states and most areas near the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean could be partially submerged, flooded, and uninhabitable.
But what sets Michigan apart from other inland states? The answer can be found in analyzing the potential future of extreme weather events in the United States. States near the ocean are expected to experience twice the amount of category 4 and 5 hurricanes, but that’s just the coast. Inland, with temperatures expected to increase up to 6.5 degrees in the west, the frequency and intensity of wildfires will rise as well. With each 1.8-degree temperature increase, wildfires are expected to burn 650 percent more land.
Additionally, states left unaffected by wildfires and hurricanes are still no match for climate change. With almost the entire country at a greater risk of drought, the Great Plains and other central states will experience serious water shortages, wreaking havoc on both inhabitants and their cropland. Weather changes don’t stop there. Popular Science stated “As air warms, by 2080, the resulting rise in water-vapor concentration will make tornadoes more severe and frequent in the Southeast.”
While these drastic weather changes make many of the United States’ environments less appealing for humans, crops, and other animals, the changes will allow some species to thrive. Throughout the next hundred years, these environmental changes are expected to pave the way for mosquitoes, potentially carrying Zika and Dengue, to expand their habitat through the southern and coastal United States.
While Michigan might be safe from these drastic impacts of climate change that make other places uninhabitable or very difficult to live in, it is still expected to experience changes and threats to a much lesser extent. Michigan is expected to have between 2 and 7 degrees of warming by the end of the century along with lower lake levels, changes in agricultural conditions, and decreased biodiversity.
Although increased temperatures could reduce some cold related injuries, these climate changes will decrease Michigan’s cherry and corn yields along with other agricultural products. With increased heavy rainfall and temperatures, climate sensitive plants will become harder and harder to cultivate.
Finally, while likely a better bet than other states in 2100, according to the Michigan Environmental Council, the increased temperatures and decreased ice coverage on the Great Lakes will enable more evaporation and lake level decrease of up to 5 feet. This loss of shoreline and freshwater will prompt a loss of biodiversity of some of Michigan’s many beloved species. With varying expected effects of climate change from state to state, one thing remains clear, the overall outcome of anthropogenic climate change is overwhelmingly negative.