Climate Change in Missouri: MU Extension hosts Dr. Thomas W. Blaine in an online session

Get the facts about climate change in Missouri and the economic impact it can have on agriculture.

  • Published: Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021

At 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2, University of Missouri Extension will host a free webinar on climate change. Registration is available on the MU Extension website at bit.ly/BlaineClimateChange.

“Climate change is not going away,” says MU Extension horticulture specialist Robert Balek. Join MU Extension and Thomas W. Blaine, associate extension professor at Ohio State University, to get the facts about climate change in Missouri and the economic impact it can have on agriculture.

Global warming is a subject that raises a lot of questions. When scientists inform the public that humans are causing global temperatures to rise, people often ask, Hasn’t global temperature always fluctuated? After all, it is well known that during the last ice age, which ended about 10,000 years ago, most of what is now the northern United States was covered with massive glaciers. Something caused that global cooling, and when the ice age ended, something caused massive global warming – and none of it was humans. So why the concern about global warming now? Isn’t it likely that the warming is natural and not caused by humans at all?

“These are all great questions, and the public deserves answers to them,” said Blaine, who will be speaking virtually via Zoom. “The way that I structure my presentation brings a lot of satisfaction to audience members who do not believe these kinds of questions have been adequately answered or explained by the scientific community. I present a history of earth’s climate, explaining why temperatures have fluctuated so much in the past. We go over the era of the dinosaurs, the ice ages, you name it, we cover it. It turns out that audiences just love learning about Earth’s natural history – it’s a lot of fun.”

Another set of questions goes like this: Hasn’t Earth been much warmer than it is now for most of its history? Isn’t it true that in the area that is now Missouri, the climate was tropical – about like Central America today? If that is true (and it is), then why worry about a few degrees warming in the next 50-100 years?

“Again, the fact that Earth is currently in an icehouse as opposed to its normal condition of a hothouse is something that I carefully explain in my presentation,” Blaine said. “How these changes came and went is something on which I focus as well. It answers a lot of questions people have. This is important, not only because it clears up a lot of the confusion about what is at stake now, but it also gets people interested in science. Basically, I think that any program that increases scientific literacy among the public is a good thing. That’s why I went into extension.”

Also included in the presentation is a discussion of how the climate is currently changing in Missouri and what the next few decades are likely to bring, with a special focus on agriculture.

“The sector that is being most affected by climate change is agriculture,” Blaine said. “Many of these changes have been benign and even beneficial to some portion of agriculture. Many of the changes we are seeing present important challenges as well as opportunities for agricultural producers. Farmers are resilient and can adapt to changes well, but they need current information to do so effectively. Extension’s role is in providing that information. We have a long history of working closely with the agricultural sector. I want that to continue.”

Hosting the presentation on behalf of MU Extension Labor and Workforce Development are Amy Patillo and Matt Pezold.

For more information, contact Patillo at [email protected].

Writer: Amy Patillo

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