Recent polling in our home state of Nebraska reveals a trend we have long suspected.
The Nebraska Rural Poll found that 73% of rural Nebraskans believe climate change is happening, 54% think humans are causing it, and 60% of rural Nebraskans think action is needed to address it.
Are you surprised? If so, you are not alone. If you read the news and follow leading farm and rural groups, it’s easy to conclude rural people are not concerned about a changing climate.
Some of the most outspoken deniers of climate change are leading farm and commodity organizations. They argue aggressively against action to address or mitigate it.
More recently the national association of rural electric cooperatives voiced their opposition to administrative action to address the growing challenge.
This attitude puts us on a perilous path. It also drowns out the majority view of rural people.
A silent majority of rural people know that climate change is a serious threat to our future and our children’s future. They know it is a threat to the future of farming, ranching, tourism, and the economic well being of small towns.
When confronted with a challenge, rural people have a long history of pulling together to solve it. This is the collective spirit that raised the first barns. It’s the spirit that put poles in the ground and strung wires to far-flung small towns and rural homes to light the countryside.
Today, small towns and family farms cannot choose whether to deal with the challenges of a changing climate – heat waves and snowstorms, droughts and floods. But we can choose to come together to be part of the solution.
The solutions also offer much opportunity for rural America. New limits on carbon pollution will drive investment in wind and solar energy. This new energy will be built in rural places, bringing economic opportunity home to our small towns. Investments in research to improve the resilience of farm, range, and forest land will boost rural economies faced with drought, fire, and floods.
We recognize the majority of farmers, ranchers, and rural leaders are ready to figure out their role in solving this challenge. As a first step, we ask you – rural leaders – to add your voice to a sign-on letter voicing support for action on climate change.
We need leaders like you to voice your support. We cannot let the rural majority continue to be ignored. Will you add your name?
America’s family farmers, ranchers, and rural leaders are powerful political messengers. The nation can no longer afford to have it appear that farm and rural interests are unified against action on climate. Especially, when the majority, in fact, wants action.
Please contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org, if you would like more information on our work on climate change or to add your name to our sign-on letter.