Environment News

Bipartisan discussion: let’s talk about climate change

The Center for Rural Affairs strives to advocate for pragmatic, well-researched solutions to problems that impact rural areas. As such, we employ a politically diverse staff and work with rural people from all over the political spectrum.

Climate change is an issue that deeply impacts rural areas, but is often difficult to discuss in rural communities. Two of our policy staff who come from different political perspectives recently sat down to have a congenial conversation about this topic, and see where their beliefs and values intersect.

Leaving rural America behind. Again.

A week after releasing a budget proposal that would slash funding for USDA rural development, cut farm conservation programs, and exacerbate hunger in rural communities, President Trump announced the U.S. is pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord. The accord is a landmark international commitment to limit climate change below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees F), a dangerous ecological “tipping point.”

Farmers and ranchers apply climate data

For farmers and ranchers, climate and weather are not “new trends” as much as they are experiences of day-to-day reality. There is quite a lot of data available on climate change and no lack of controversy over that same data.

Here at the Center for Rural Affairs, we support farmers and ranchers who work in an ever-changing climate. Our recent conservation learning circles for women farmers and landowners have included guidance in sorting through climate data and making it applicable. Farmers can then study their impacts and prepare for the future.

Rural Americans as Climate Champions

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to spend about 18 months in Tanzania - a country in East Africa where about 80 percent of the population relies on farming as a primary occupation. One day I was relaxing in the lobby of a YWCA and struck up a conversation with a young Tanzanian man who came from a farm family in the nearby foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro. He described how his community relies on annual snowmelt from the mountain to provide drinking water and to irrigate their crops. He also described how, year after year, the snowcap on Kili was shrinking and causing a corresponding decrease in food and water security. What would they do, I asked, when the snowcap disappeared altogether? I will not forget the look on his face as he responded, “we don’t know.”

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