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Johnson, Thune call for action against climate change

A blockbuster report issued this week on climate change has South Dakota's U.S. senators saying policymakers need to guard against harm from climate change.

"The report is a call for us to take real action on climate change," said Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D. "The report shows that climate change is affecting every part of the country. The assessment provided a much needed look at the effects of climate change on rural communities."

Climate change will bring more drought, fierce storms and searing heat to the Great Plains, causing hardships that will test the region's legendary capacity to cope with severe weather, says the report by the National Climate Assessment.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., departed from the oft-repeated conservative mantra that climate change science remains inconclusive and said that policymakers have a duty to mitigate harm even while volatile weather has long occurred around the planet.

"This shows the importance of doing everything we can to mitigate those impacts," Thune said of the report. "We do have to be particularly attuned to climate, and we should be doing everything we can from a policy standpoint to make sure we aren't contributing to the problem."

At the same time, Thune said he understands some of the science has not been settled.

"There is consensus on some of those issues and not on others. I know there's conflicting science. Over time, historically, weather has always been volatile in our part of world," Thune said.

Both Thune and Johnson said perhaps the greatest economic impact of climate change in South Dakota would be on the agricultural economy. Thune said that volatile weather has always been a major factor for farmers and in South Dakota.

"I would subscribe to the idea that there's an awful lot of volatility with the weather inthe Upper Plains. It's the hardest place in the country to predict the weather because lends self to more erratic and volatile weather patterns," Thune said. "I think we always have to pay attention to weather patterns. Our economy depends upon the weather, as long as agriculture is our No. 1 industry."

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