Climate change and its effects on natural resources

The impact of climate change and the growth in population is putting stress on the world's natural resources. Learn how MSU Extension is helping to tackle this growing problem.

Climate change and a rise in the human population have put stress on virtually all of our natural resources, making these resources increasingly scarce or certainly more expensive to source. The resulting complexities of the issue plague us from multiple sides. On one front, we battle the loss of species as some in the scientific community think we are in a current period of mass extinction. On another front, we struggle to maintain environmental ecosystems that are threatened by invasive species, urban sprawl and an increased demand for resources.

Consider the added pressure from climate change: a shifting of weather patterns and large variations in climate puts stress on crops and animals. Although hurricanes and major flooding have always been a concern, they seem to happen more often now and this increase in the number and intensity of storms causes major damage to our land resources and economy. In addition, droughts and wildfires are lasting longer and are more intense, which again can cause major crop loss and have a direct effect on the economy.

As these types of events affect our food and energy supplies, it becomes increasingly problematic as we now have more mouths to feed, more energy needs and a growing need for economic development. The growing populations need clean water, food to eat and energy to power their lifestyles. Therefore, managing our resources is essential for the health of our communities and the world.

Helping to tackle these natural resource issues is Michigan State University Extension. MSU Extension provides assistance and resources around important areas such as conservation, efficiency and green energy. For example, MSU Extension can teach you how to save money and resources at work and at home. Another important topic, especially in Michigan, is water quality. Hot button issues such as Asian carp, zebra mussels, wetlands and water pollution are a few areas MSU Extension is focusing on to help bring back and maintain the health of one of our most significant resources: our lakes and rivers. Another important resource of focus is our forests. The MSU Extension forestry management group is working to solve problems with sound conservation practices that educate both locally and throughout the world.

The impact of climate change and the growth in population will only continue to heighten with time. Whether our resources are limited, like oil, gas and coal, or renewable, education and action are key to managing our future resources. MSU Extension is supporting these efforts with programs and resources for Michigan residents and those elsewhere. For more information about these programs and events, view the natural resources section of the MSU Extension website.

This is the fifth article in a six part series about Extension for the future. Other articles in this series include: Feeding the people - now and in the future, New technology takes flight at MSU Extension and Obesity in America: Unhealthy generations to come. Stay tuned for the final article in this series regarding global education and business.

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