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What climate change means for Hennepin County

What causes climate change

Climate change is caused primarily by humans burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, for energy to power buildings, fuel vehicles, and create goods. Burning fossil fuels for energy releases excess greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, most notably carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), and methane (CH4). The buildup of excess greenhouse gases acts like a blanket that traps heat around the world, disrupting the climate.

For more information on how climate change works, see climate change evidence from NASA.

Car driving through flooded streetsHow our climate is changing

Minnesota’s climate is already changing rapidly and will continue to do so. Our region has gotten much wetter and warmer, driven by more frequent heavy precipitation and warmer winters.

The variability in weather that Minnesota is known for between warm and cool and wet and dry will still be a staple of our climate, with projections showing that in some ways the climate will become more variable. This increased variability puts increased strain on residents, communities, businesses, county operations, and the natural environment.

Learn more about climate change in Minnesota from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Mom with daughter on a bike picking out food at a farmers marketOur lives depend on a stable climate

A functioning, stable climate serves as the foundation of our lives. Our health and safety, water supplies, food systems, access to healthy air, and where we are able to live all depend on a stable climate.

Climate change is the ground shifting under our feet, challenging our capacity to grow food, changing the diseases and pests we have to deal with, disrupting our communities, and threatening our health and safety.


Local impacts of climate change

Climate change impacts everyone’s health and well-being. Health and livability impacts of climate change the county anticipates preparing and responding to include:

  • Increases in air pollution
  • Flash flooding and groundwater flooding
  • Extreme heat and cold
  • Increases in pests and disease
  • Mental health issues such as anxiety, stress, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder

The impacts of climate change are not experienced equally. Like other environmental justice issues, data shows that people of color, low-income families, and residents with disabilities contribute least to the problem of climate pollution, but these residents are the most at risk from negative climate impacts.

Impacts that residents are experiencing

In a feedback survey on the Climate Action Plan, the most common effects of climate change that residents are already experiencing include:

  • Stress or anxiety due to worrying about climate change
  • Changes in activities due to extreme, severe, or weird weather
  • Increase in pests, such as ticks and mosquitoes
  • Needing to deal with extreme heat or cold
  • Impacts on activities caused by poor air quality

Who is most impacted

This map was created to understand where those who will be disproportionately impacted by climate change live. The map will be used to inform decision making and priorities. This will build on the county’s use of a race equity impact tool to create a more robust picture about the impact of a policy, program, or budget decision.

Variables included:

  • Asthma hospitalization rates
  • COPD hospitalization rates
  • Households with no vehicle
  • Limited English language proficiency
  • Median household income
  • No high school degree
  • People of color
  • Population age 5 and under
  • Populations below 185% poverty threshold
  • Population density
  • Population age 65 and older
  • Population with any disability
  • Renter housing units
  • Unemployment rates

Learn about climate change impacts

Air quality
Disruptions to ecosystems
Extreme heat and cold
Flooding and water quality
Mental health and well-being
Increases in diseases from ticks and mosquitoes