In a study that was recently completed at Resources for the Future, the impacts of a future change in climate on the total economy of the Missouri–Iowa–Nebraska–Kansas (MINK) region were assessed, as were the possibilities of response (including adaptation) to the climatic change. Impacts on agriculture, forestry, water resources, and energy, were emphasized. The study was future-oriented, focusing on the year 2030, by which time the effects of ‘greenhouse’ warming may be felt. The records of the AD 1930s were used to provide an analog of the kinds of climate change (warmer and drier) that climate models predict will occur in the MINK region.
Our results indicate that impacts of the projected climate change on agriculture, at least in the future, are expected to be profound, but that likely-to-be available technologies should facilitate substantial adaptation; that current water-resource limitations in the region would be exacerbated and lead to an eastward shift in irrigation; that impacts on forestry would be severe, and that opportunities for forestry adaptation would be very limited unless biomass production were to become economically viable; and that the net impacts on energy supply and demand would be small and adaptation to them relatively simple.
Climate change in the MINK region could, of course, go somewhat beyond the conditions represented by the AD 1930s analog, in which case the findings of this study may be too optimistic. However, the future-oriented ‘MINK methodology’ is not scenario-dependent, and can be used to test other, more severe (or benign), scenarios as well. Further, the capacity for adaptation to climate change demonstrated in this study, may remain applicable even in more stringent circumstances.