Indiana faces a unique set of challenges triggered by rapid environmental change. These challenges threaten the vitality of Hoosier businesses, agriculture, jobs, and physical well-being.
We know our climate is warming, causing heavier spring flooding and hotter, drier summers. But these visible effects of climate change also give rise to less obvious environmental changes. Growing seasons are shifting. New migratory patterns are emerging. The topography of Indiana's landscape is changing. The effects are cumulative and wide-ranging. They impact not only our local ecosystems, but also our economy and health. And they threaten to change key pillars of life in our state.
Our Challenge: By the Numbers
- In the last 5 years alone, extreme weather events have cost the state $6 billion
- Heavy rain events have increased 37 percent over the last half century, adding considerable volatility to crop yields and overall production
- Temperatures across Indiana are projected to rise by about 4 degrees by mid-century, jeopardizing the nearly $6 billion generated by corn and soybean production each year
- Shorter, less intense winters have contributed to a startling 430% increase in documented cases of Lyme disease since 2001
- The Great Lakes are projected to rise as much as 7 degrees by 2050 and 12 degrees by 2100, reducing water quality, causing more algal blooms, and harming fish populations
Together, Indiana University is leading a collaborative effort to create and implement a bold plan. We are proactively preparing for environmental change, delivering actionable solutions to communities across the state of Indiana.
Results for Hoosiers
Community Specific Plans
We will take our research out of the laboratory and into the field, pasture, office, factory, daycare, and backyard. Our findings will help government officials implement city-specific plans for environmental resilience. We can build greener, more prosperous communities that are more resilient to storms, heat waves, and other extreme weather events.
Key Policy Recommendations
IU researchers will develop future-focused policy recommendations to help Indiana lawmakers balance business goals, development, and sustainability.
Governments and local businesses need to make the right investments in areas like agriculture, industry, infrastructure and public safety. Indiana-specific data will help researchers identify practical, sustainable, and economically viable investment strategies with a net benefit for all Hoosiers.
First Key Steps
- Create forecast tools, such as the Hoosier Resiliency Index (HRI), to track the readiness of Indiana communities and regions to respond to the immediate and long-term elements of environmental change.
- Establish an Environmental Resilience Institute serving as a locally-focused center for the study of social and ecological responses to environmental change.
- Execute pilot projects that apply our findings with a variety of cross-sector community partners. With the Indianapolis Office of Sustainability, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, and Citizens Energy Group, we will pioneer a new model for water re-use in Pleasant Run Creek. And as part of the Lower Wabash Landscape Conservation Team, we will help farmers and land owners determine returns on crops and timber based on forecasts of soil and water conditions.
The Team That's Addressing It
To effectively target and combat these threats, IU is deploying an interdisciplinary team of world-class researchers led by Ellen Ketterson, distinguished professor of biology. The research team will engage all sectors-government, business, nonprofit and community leaders to mitigate and prepare for the real-world impacts of environmental change. Our partners include Cummins, Citizens Energy Group, the Nature Conservancy, and government officials representing a cross-section of our Hoosier state.
Together, this core research team will engage all sectors-government, business, nonprofit and community leaders to mitigate and prepare for the real-world impacts of environmental change.
We are facing very real threats to Hoosier livelihoods. If we're going to be a 'state that works,' we need to be a state that's prepared for what's to come.Ellen Ketterson
Description of the following video:
There is a rhythm to our natural world. The timing. Everything in harmony with the orchestra of life. But the beat is changing. Familiar patterns are changing, eco systems are altering in the farthest corners of our planet and right here in the Hoosier state. It means new challenges affecting every single one of us, no matter our faith our profession or our politics. Some of the challenges are obvious, others are more difficult to see, but they are all changing our very way of life. Changing how we eat, our infrastructure, our energy use, even how we breathe. So we do not just have to be prepared to react, we have to be prepared to lead. Prepared for environmental change, is a new initiative sponsored by the Grand Challenges program at Indiana University. It is a group of hundreds of scientists, professors, students, environmentalists, ecologists, business people, public officials and concerned citizens from all walks of life throughout Indiana. People working together to meet the challenges of our world. With predictive modeling, early warning systems, and collaborative pilot projects. And new ideas to plan and build green infrastructure, conserve bio diversity, clean and protect our waterways, and harness the might forces of nature. Becoming a model for other communities facing the same challenges around the world. Because environmental change is one of the biggest tests of our time. It is one of our greatest challenges. Now, right now, it is time to get to work. We can help when we take the lead. For our friends and neighbors, our families, for our cities and town, for all the people around the world, for this singular place we call home. Indiana University Grand Challenges – prepare for environmental change.