Missouri, The Show Me State (a nickname that grew out of its people’s devotion to simple common sense), is home to over six million people and covers almost 67 thousand square acres. That land can be divided into four geographic regions. These regions are environmentally distinct. A second nickname for Missouri is the cave state, as it is home to more than 6,000 caves and the only cave restaurant in the US.
Like the rest of the world, Missouri is facing a changing climate and the environmental consequences that follow. The state’s southeastern border is created almost entirely by the Mississippi river and, as rainstorms intensify, flooding becomes a danger. In the Midwest, the amount of rainfall during the four wettest days of the year has increased by 35%, and the amount of water flowing in most streams during the worst flood of the year has risen 20%. About 220 thousand Missourians live in areas with an elevated level of flooding threat.
While flooding is projected to increase in the spring, drought threatens Missouri in summer. States at Risk, a project from Climate Central, predicts that Missouri will see a 70% increase in drought severity by 2050. The consequences are many: droughts narrow channels needed for commercial transport; the 2012 drought caused dozens of barges to run aground Missouri’s Mississippi river shoreline and cost the region more than $275 million, reduce crop yields, and particularly strain farms without irrigation systems.
Missouri consumes almost 10 times more energy than it produces, and the transportation industry accounts for almost one third of that consumption. In 2018, coal remained Missouri’s primary source of energy, fueling about 73% of Missouri’s electricity use. Nuclear energy contributed slightly more than natural gas to Missouri’s electricity needs, 12% as compared to 10%. In 2019, renewable energy accounted for 6% of the state’s energy generation.
In 2008, Missouri voters approved the Renewable Energy Standard, which set as a goal achieving a 15% proportion of renewable energy by 2021. However, the 2019 numbers suggest the state is not on track to meet this goal. Another indicator of stalled progress is the exclusion of the Missouri Renewable Energy Standard Initiative from the 2020 ballot. Missouri has not developed a climate adaptation plan. For drought, in particular, Missouri seems woefully underprepared, as the state has a comparatively high drought risk compared with other state, but ranks extremely low on measures of preparedness.
CREDIT: JOURNEYMAN PICTURES