Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

Southeast Michigan Grappling with New Climate Realities

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Image credit: Russ McNamara

University of Detroit Mercy Associate Professor Nick Schroeck says the region’s response to climate change depends on improvements in transportation and renewable energy.

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Large floods have been devastating Southeast Michigan throughout the summer, and the intensifying storms can be linked directly to a warming climate. Nick Schroeck, University of Detroit Mercy environmental law expert and associate professor, discusses how the region, the country and the world can begin to respond to these weather events without isolating its residents

What we need are very large changes in things like how we generate electricity, how we move people to and from work and from school … how we use our land … We need national and international action.” —Nick Schroeck, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law 

Listen: What will it take to stop Detroit’s massive flooding? 


Nick Schroeck is associate dean of experiential education and associate professor at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. He says our infrastructure can’t keep up with severe weather events. “With warmer air temperatures, the air will hold more moisture and that moisture can lead to more storms, which is what we’re seeing now,” he says.

One solution to deal with floodwater would be to reduce the amount of hard surfaces like concrete in the city, which Schroeck says would let rain soak into the ground. “We have a massive built environment here in Southeast Michigan,” he says. “The water doesn’t have anywhere to go.”

Schroeck says in Michigan, our response to climate change pertains mostly to the transportation and energy sectors. “There are things that we can do here locally to not only slow or mitigate the coming changes we’re seeing … there’s also things we can do with our infrastructure to deal with the extreme flooding.” There are things we can do individually to reduce carbon emissions, but Schroeck says there needs to be a systemic collective response to climate change. “What we need are very large changes in things like how we generate electricity, how we move people to and from work and from school … how we use our land,” Schroeck says. ”We need national and international action.”

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Nora Rhein, Detroit Today Intern

Nora Rhein works with the production team on “Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson” on 101.9 WDET. She’s very proud to be a public radio nerd.

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