The sun rises over a sugar beet field in the Saginaw Valley.
Saginaw Valley sunrise The sun rises over a sugar beet field in the Saginaw Valley. © Jason Whalen/Fauna Media


Like Climate, Times Are Changing

East Lansing, MI

By Helen Taylor, state director for The Nature Conservancy in Michigan

Earlier this week, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued three executive orders related to state departments that focus on our environment and natural resources. While transition brings its challenges, this is a step in the right direction.

We applaud Executive Order 2019-12 in particular. This enters Michigan into the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of governors from 19 other states that have committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Here in Michigan, we are seeing real and costly consequences of climate change already, even though the impacts may not be quite as dramatic yet as in other parts of the country. Last year, we saw intense rainfall events around the state, with damages such as ruined roads and crops in Saginaw and Bay Counties. And, later in the summer, we witnessed an increase in severe storms, which washed out roads in the Keweenaw Peninsula that will take several years to repair. In Detroit, flooding from storms is increasing, damaging private property and sending more runoff into the rivers and lakes near the city.

The best information we have tells us that doing nothing about climate change is not a viable option. A person who chooses to smoke despite the risk gambles mostly with their own life, but those who would ignore climate change and its impacts are risking the future of the entire country, indeed the planet. They are gambling with your future and mine, and most importantly the future of our children. It’s time to reject the “do nothing" attitude and act now on climate, and we are happy to see that Governor Whitmer agrees.

The good news is that nature is not the problem, but actually part of the solution, and can play a vital role in our eventual recovery. From forests to farm land, our natural resources here can help nature replenish and rebalance with a little help from science and sustainable management. We are pleased Governor Whitmer is making these important issues like safe, healthy water and climate change such a high priority and we look forward to working with her and her administration.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.