Climate Change Makes Extreme Weather Like Duluth Flooding More Likely

As the Minnesota legislature prepared to meet to agree on aid for Duluth following this summer’s floods that submerged parts of the city, DFL lawmakers agreed that Climate Change will cause more extreme weather events such as these floods, and lawmakers have to be prepared.

“Climate change stacks the deck toward more extreme weather events, more droughts, more floods and more significant rain events, which is what we saw in Duluth,” said Rep. Kate Knuth.

“The vast majority of Americans understand that climate change is real,” said Duluth Mayor Don Ness. “We just had a 500-year rain event, and unfortunately we’re seeing that 500-year, 1,000-year rain events are becoming more common, and that’s not by accident; there’s science behind that.”

“As policy makers we have to come to terms with dealing with the severity of these storms and the aftereffects of global warming. … Clearly when we see this type of damage we understand that it’s not something we’re gonna be able to ignore as Mother Nature puts it in front of us time and time again.”

Yet GOP Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem cast doubt on whether Climate Change was to blame for the Duluth floods, reaffirming that this has become a partisan issue even in Minnesota, where former Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty once spoke of the dangers of man-made global warming.

“It’s way beyond me to know whether it’s climate change or not, but weather systems move through, they cause damage, and the legislature is stepping up,” said Senjem.

Knuth says climate change didn’t used to be a partisan issue, but fossil fuel interests have spent money to cast doubt and make it a partisan wedge issue.

Video of Knuth remarks to the House of Representatives

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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