“’Uncertainty,’ voiced or unexpressed, describes the mood of this city.” That’s how Harper’s Magazine reporter Donald M. Schwartz summarized the feelings of the people he met on a visit to South Bend.
Schwartz wasn’t writing about South Bend in this season of pandemic and election anxiety. Instead, the year was 1954. Wartime government contracts had slowed to a trickle. Factories were laying off; overtime was a thing of the past. People feared that they might have to leave altogether.
More than six decades later, the city soldiers on and, by some measures, even prospers. But “uncertainty” is exactly what researchers from IU’s Environmental Resilience Institute discovered here earlier this year, as we examined the results of our Hoosier Life Survey — the most complete statewide survey of attitudes toward climate change yet completed in the U.S.
Thanks to a recently completed set of mini-reports that break down HLS findings by metropolitan area, we can see how South Bend/Mishawaka residents compare with their fellow Hoosiers in terms of their knowledge of climate change and extreme weather conditions, as well as their willingness to prepare for these changes that will intensify in the near future.
According to estimates by the Environmental Resilience Institute’s Hoosier Resilience Index, the South Bend/Mishawaka metro’s residents could see more than two months of 90-degree heat by 2050, up from an average of 22 days. Extreme rain events, and associated flooding, will also become more of a problem in the next 30 years. All of this is a result of worldwide temperature increases, or “global warming.”
It’s not scientists who are uncertain about these changes. They generally agree that warming temperatures are the consequences of humans releasing emissions into the atmosphere. They also expect that these environmental changes will come to pass in Indiana.
Rather, it is the public who are in doubt.
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