Climate change could lead to increased mosquito, tick populations in Iowa

Nick Fetty | August 21, 2014
Environmental advocates warm that mosquito and tick populations in Iowa could increase because of climate change. (naturegirl 78/Flickr)
Environmental advocates warn that mosquito and tick populations in Iowa could increase because of climate change. (naturegirl 78/Flickr)

A report by the National Wildlife Federation released earlier this week finds that climate change could lead to an increase in mosquito and tick populations as well as stronger strains of poison ivy and more green algae blooms.

These effects will likely have a direct impact on the Hawkeye State. Iowa has seen increased amounts of rainfall precipitation and higher humidity levels in recent years, much of which can be attributed to climate change. Cases of West Nile Virus – the mosquito-borne illness that can lead to fevers and even death – have also been on the rise in Iowa in recent years. There were nine cases of West Nile Virus in Iowa in 2011 and by 2013 that number had increased to 44.

Higher temperatures and greater levels of precipitation will also affect other blood-sucking pests such as deer ticks, an insect that can withstand mild winters. More than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported each year in the U.S.

These climate changes will not only affect insect populations but also plants. Increased carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels is expected to cause poison ivy to spread more easily and also be more potent. Green algae blooms have also been problematic in Iowa and this too is expected to worsen.

To combat these issues, the report calls for a reduction in carbon pollution through more efficient utilization of renewable energy sources as well as the implantation of certain safeguards for wildlife and wildlife habitat.

Iowa Wesleyan College strives for sustainability with geothermal energy

Photo by Peter Nijenhuis, Flickr

By replacing their dated central steam system with a geothermal energy system, Iowa Wesleyan College in Mt. Pleasant will lower their carbon emissions while saving money.

The Iowa Association of Independent Colleges and Universities reports that the implementation of a geothermal system is well worth its $4.9 million dollar cost in the long run:

“After extensive research and planning, we are ready to implement this comprehensive energy project, which will provide energy efficiency ratings in the mid-90th percentile,” said IWC President Dr. Jay Simmons. The energy efficiency improvements will reduce Iowa Wesleyan’s carbon emissions by more than 1,390,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. That is the equivalent of removal of emissions from more than 117 cars annually, or the planting of more than 186 acres of trees annually, according to the system manufacturer.

“In addition to the significant positive impact this system will have on the environment, it will also provide a huge reduction in expenditures for the College,” Simmons said. Annual energy and operational savings are projected to be more than $400,000 a year. Continue reading