Skip to main content

As climate changes, Minnesotans are more at risk from Lyme disease, flooding

Minnesota is not making enough progress reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a report says.

Urgent action is required to address the impact of climate change in Minnesota, which is already experiencing more "mega-rain" events and cases of Lyme disease due to warmer temperatures.

That's according to a report card from Minnesota's Environmental Quality Board, which ranks the state based on five environmental criteria to show which areas need serious attention.

Minnesota is performing worst in changing climate, with the report card saying the state is not doing enough to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that have contributed to a 3-degree rise in nighttime low temperatures over the past 120 years.

The impact of this, which is likely to worsen unless circumstances improve, is that Minnesota is experiencing more "mega-rain" events that cause devastating floods in parts of the state, as well as attracting more Lyme disease-carrying ticks to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

The study says that Minnesota has had seven "mega-rain" events in the past 16 years, compared to just four between 1973-2000.

"With more warming expected, Minnesota should be prepared for a continued increase in these devastating storms," the report says.

Instances of tick-borne Lyme disease have also shot up, with infection rates of 50-plus cases per 100,000 people reported in 12 Minnesota counties between 2008-2013, compared to just four counties between 1996-2001.

State needs to do more to reduce emissions

Minnesota is currently not making enough progress to meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 30 percent by 2030, which is set out in the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007.

Steps are being taken to reduce emissions caused by fossil fuel use. Minnesota's biggest utility, Xcel Energy, is shutting down two units of its Sherco coal plant over the next 10 years, while boosting investment in solar and wind power.

But that alone won't be enough, with the state striving to achieve emission reductions of 80 percent by 2050, this will "require policies well beyond those already in place at the federal or state level," the report says.

One area in which fossil fuel use is getting worse is transportation. The growth of cars on state roads has caused vehicle emissions to slightly increase over the last six years, despite the improved fuel efficiency of newer vehicles. Transit ridership is up, the report says, but not at a fast enough rate.

Minnesotans are also being called on to reduce their carbon footprints by reducing fuel use, vehicle emissions and how much electricity they're using on appliances, lighting or electronics to help the fight to reduce greenhouse gases. It urges consumers to buy energy efficient products going forward.

The Pioneer Press reportsthe final version of the report will provide a foundation for the Minnesota Environmental Congress in February.

Next Up

brian ingram

Woodfired Cantina closes at Keg and Case in St. Paul

Restaurateur Brian Ingram is focusing on growing his other concepts.

giant bear

Video: 'THE fattest bear we have ever seen' spotted on MN trail camera

"This might be THE fattest bear we have ever seen in our area," researchers said.

u.s. attorney

Guilty plea from man who stockpiled guns, equipment to make bombs, drugs

Prosecutors say he had multiple guns, items to make weapons and pipe bombs, and lab equipment to make drugs.

polaris Ranger XP Kinetic

Here is Polaris' new electric Ranger off-road vehicle

The Minnesota-based company unveiled the electric UTV on Wednesday.


MN women's soccer team narrows name, logo options to final 3

The winning nickname and logo will be announced in January.

Kirill Kaprizov

2nd period surge leads Wild to fourth straight win

With three goals in the second, the Wild blasted the last-place Coyotes.

Gopher Basketball / R.J. Stephens

Late-tip in helps Gophers pass first big test, improve to 6-0

Luke Loewe's bucket with 2.4 seconds remaining helped the Gophers stay undefeated.


Man, 40, found dead stuck in air duct at his Otter Tail Co. home

The discovery was made by family members Monday morning.

Biden Minnesota visit stream screengrab - 11.30.31

What Biden said during his visit to Minnesota Tuesday

The president spoke at Dakota County Technical College.


President Trump confirms the U.S. will quit Paris climate agreement, for now

America will become just the third country not signed up to the agreement.


Climate change report: More frequent, intense storms for Great Lakes region

A new report lays out a future with more flooding, more heat, and worse water.

CenterPoint wants to offer 'renewable' gas in MN, but what is it?

The utility argues it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Hey Wisconsin DNR, where'd all that climate change info go?

They now say the cause of climate change is up for debate.

Xcel says Trump presidency won't stop plans for cleaner power in MN

Xcel Energy has pledged its plans to reduce carbon emissions in Minnesota will continue, no matter who is president.

Screen Shot 2019-02-13 at 8.47.09 AM

Climate study says by 2080, Minnesota could resemble Kansas

The research says that's the fate facing Minnesota unless we reduce emissions.

President Trump intends to withdraw U.S. from Paris Climate Agreement, reports say

Only two countries in the world are not signed up to the agreement, America could be the third.