UNL plans separate state report that will include human impact on climate change - Omaha.com
Published Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 11:13 am
UNL plans separate state report that will include human impact on climate change

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln said it will issue a report that includes the role of humans in climate change — now that the state's climate committee apparently plans to exclude the impact of humans in a separate study.

University officials on Friday said that they will complete their own unrestricted study by September 2014 so that its publication coincides with anything released by the state.

Earlier this week, the Department of Agriculture and its climate committee issued a bid document requesting information on how to do a climate study but stipulated that it examine only natural internal and external forces.

The problem with this approach, said UNL climatologist Don Wilhite, is that it becomes an examination of distant events such as the next ice age. It doesn't study current trends that pose an immediate threat to farmers and ranchers.

Humans are the dominant cause of the warming that has occurred since the 1950s, according to the latest review of the scientific literature, a September 2013 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In Nebraska, warming is contributing to a number of subtle but accelerating changes, including hotter days and warmer nights, decreased snow cover and longer growing seasons.

While some of this has benefited agriculture, research indicates the trend line points toward conditions that will inject more chaos into the weather and diminish crop yields.

Ronnie Green, vice chancellor for UNL's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said he decided to set aside money for the university study because the issue is vital to Nebraska's future.

“For the good of the state, we need to know the full breadth of the science,” Green said. “Our scientists are absolutely correct (in objecting to a limited study), and I support them.”

To the extent that the university is at odds with some legislators and members of the executive branch, it is a situation that it comes to reluctantly, Green said.

The university will not conduct new research but instead will summarize the results of a wide range of existing studies. This is a common method for assessing the state of science on a topic.

For the most part, the university's faculty will absorb the work involved, although Green has set aside $20,000 to hire someone to gather the studies.

State Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm, who sponsored the bill authorizing the state's study, applauded the university's decision.

“It's exactly the kind of science we need from the university. I'm just disappointed the money isn't going to come from the Legislature,” he said.

Haar said the study as bid by the Agriculture Department and its climate committee does not reflect the intent of his bill.

He sent a letter this week to the 31 senators who voted with him on the bill, asking that they sign a letter supporting his position that legislative intent has been thwarted; about one-third of them have done so.

Bobbie Kriz-Wickham, the Agriculture Department's assistant director, said she believes she did reflect legislative intent in the way she wrote the definition of climate change in the study proposal.

Contact the writer: Nancy Gaarder

nancy.gaarder@owh.com    |   402-444-1102    |  

Nancy writes about weather, including a blog, Nancy's Almanac. She enjoys explaining the science behind weather and making weather stories relevant in daily life.

U.S. House incumbents have deeper pockets than their challengers
Nancy's Almanac, April 17, 2014: Trees save money
Ex-Iowan behind landmark free speech case recounts story in Bellevue
Teen killed at Gallagher Park was shot in head as he sat in SUV, friend who was wounded says
PAC funded by Senate candidate Ben Sasse's great-uncle releases Shane Osborn attack ad
Gov. Heineman signs water bill; sponsor calls it 'landmark legislation'
A recap of what got done — and what didn't — in the 2014 legislative session
After all his bluster and bravado in the courtroom, Nikko Jenkins found guilty of 4 murders
New UNO center strengthens ties between campus, community
Senate candidate Shane Osborn to include anti-tax activist Norquist in telephone town hall
Gov. Heineman calls 2014 a 'very good year for Nebraska taxpayers'
High school slam poets don't just recite verses, 'they leave their hearts beating on the stage'
Attorney: Man accused of trying to open plane's door needs psychiatric evaluation
49-year-old sentenced to 40-50 years for attempted sex assault of child
Brothers looking for pot sentenced for violent home invasion
At Boys Town panel, experts stress it's never too early to educate children
Kelly: New $24M UNO center embodies spirit of newlywed crash victim
Arrest made in teen's shooting death at Benson's Gallagher Park
Section of 50th Street to close for bridge demolition
Rather than doing $250K in repairs, owner who lives in lot behind 94-year-old house in Dundee razes it
Plans for new $16M YMCA in Council Bluffs at 'critical juncture'
Woodmen request would take nearly $40M in valuation from tax rolls
With fixed AC, Fort Calhoun's nuclear station ends brief shutdown
Windy day could make driving difficult on east-west roads
Richard Brown steps down as Charles Drew Health Center CEO
< >
Kelly: Creighton's McDermotts put good faces on an Omaha tradition
A comical roast Wednesday night in Omaha brought fans of Creighton basketball laughter by the bucketful. This time it was McJokes, not McBuckets, that entertained the Bluejay crowd.
Kelly: New $24M UNO center embodies spirit of newlywed crash victim
Jessica Lutton Bedient was killed by a drunken driver at age 26 in 2010. Thursday, the widowed husband and other family members will gather with others at the University of Nebraska at Omaha to dedicate a permanent memorial to Jessica.
Breaking Brad: How much would you pay for a corn dog?
The Arizona Diamondbacks have a new concession item: a $25 corn dog. For that kind of money, it should be stuffed with Bitcoin.
Breaking Brad: Pothole repair crew gets stuck in a pothole
In East Lansing, Mich., a pothole repair crew got stuck inside a pothole. How did this not happen in Omaha?
Breaking Brad: What do the moon, Colorado senators have in common?
How about that "blood red" moon Monday? It was as red as the eyes of a Colorado legislator.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Dr. Welbes Natural Health Clinic
$129 for 2 LipoLaser Sessions with Additional Complimentary Services ($605 value)
Buy Now
< >
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »