10 things I learned from the 2016 Nebraska Conservation Summit

The panel discussed the overview of climate change’s impacts on Nebraska. (Diana Marcum/UNL)

On December 7, 2016, Creighton University held the 2016 Nebraska Conservation Summit. The Nebraska League of Conservation Voters and the Nebraska Conservation Education Fund, along with speakers and panelists from the University of Nebraska, The Nature Conservancy, Nebraska Game and Parks, hosted the Summit. The purpose of this summit was to discuss the significance of climate change and the impacts it can and is having both globally and here in Nebraska.

  1. Nebraska, on average, annually warmed approximately 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit, likely as a result of global warming, according to data collected from 1895 to the present by State Climate Director Martha Shulski.
     
  2. Shulski and others conclude the projection of Nebraska’s future climate includes temperature rises between 4-5/8-9 degrees Fahrenheit if climate patterns continue as they are currently.
     
  3. Plant species and the increasing distribution of vector born diseases have been shifting north because of climate change and the resulting new distribution of warmth in the northern regions, according to both Dr. Ali Khan of the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Rick Schneider of Nebraska Game and Parks.
     
  4. Because of this northern shift of plant species there has been an emergence of new insects and different migration patterns in regions unseen by them before.
     
  5. Nebraska is losing plant species because of unsuitable land spaces as a result of climate change and the dramatic weather events that follow.
     
  6. There have been notable changes in natural community composition in not only Nebraska but globally as well; species are changing individually as an adaptation to climate change.
     
  7. Because of climate change, spring has been appearing earlier, causing greening and flowering sooner which has been a process agricultural production has had to adjust to, as stated by University of Nebraska’s Tala Awada and Terry Mader.
     
  8. Dr. Khan also discussed how diseases from Southeast Asia have been traveling to the Pacific Northwest because of warmer waters caused by the rise in atmospheric temperatures from climate change.
     
  9. There has been an increase in mental health issues as well that could be correlated with the climates changes; for example, as the temperature rises, anger rises, according to research by UNMC.
     
  10. Finally, a statement made by Dr. Khan at the end of his presentation that stood out to me was that climate change is more than just a scientific issue; it is also a moral, ethical and social issue.
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