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No More Outdoor Hockey?

I grew up in the Midwest, splitting time between the Detroit and Chicago metro areas. I have a deep love for the area and Midwesterners in general. Summers were spent on lakes, winters sledding, playing snow-football, snowmobiling, and finding any way I could to spend time outside on many cold, dark afternoons.

Hockey was my favorite winter pastime. There were few rules to our games on the pond by my house, except for “no lifting” – meaning no shooting the puck higher than an inch or two off the ice. We barely wore pads, even though there are few things that hurt more than being smacked by a hockey puck on a bitterly cold day, and we lost more than our fair share of pucks to the snowbanks outside of our handmade rink walls. I’ve been thinking a lot about those games as we prepare to release the second report from the Risky Business Project which predicts, among other things, that outdoor hockey could become a thing of the past for some Midwesterners.

The report, “Heat in the Heartland,” focuses on the Midwestern states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri. It will be released on January 23rd at an event at the Economic Club of Minnesota with Risky Business Project co-chair Hank Paulson (the other co-chairs are Next Generation co-founder Tom Steyer and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg) and Cargill Chairman Gregory Page presenting the findings. You will be able to watch a webcast of the event here.

There are, of course, many things more serious to worry about than fewer opportunities to play outdoor hockey in a warming world. The findings of this report are sobering and clearly make the point that, absent quick action to reduce carbon emissions and stepped up efforts at adaptation, the Midwest as we now know it will look radically different than it does now. There are major implications for health, labor productivity, transportation, infrastructure, agriculture and a host of other issues. We hope the report will serve as a wake-up call for businesses in the Midwest and elsewhere, as the business voice is a critical one if we are to make significant progress on climate change.

“Heat in the Heartland” is without question the most comprehensive report that has been produced on the likely impact of climate change in the Midwest. It is a classic risk assessment, which are widely used by the business community, and it provides Midwest business and government leaders guidance on what they are likely to experience if we continue on our “business as usual” path.

Even though I am ever an optimist, I must admit that there are times when it is easy to get frustrated by the slow pace of action on climate change. The science is no longer in doubt, and hasn’t been for some time now. What is needed now is leadership and commitment - with business helping lead the way, I am confident we can get there.

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