Rural Voices for Climate Change

On March 30, the Center for Rural Affairs co-hosted an agriculture and climate discussion panel with Iowa Interfaith Power and Light, University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education, Bethesda Lutheran Church, and Citizens Climate Lobby. This event featured perspectives from faith, agricultural, and scientific communities. It offered a space for frank conversation about the impacts of a changing climate, and our responsibility to be good stewards.

Of the 75 attendees, many agreed the need to build awareness in rural communities is pressing. Floods, droughts, fires, and mudslides have been widespread. Climate-driven disaster clean-up alone cost taxpayers nearly $100 billion in 2012. Yet we aren’t talking nearly enough about impacts, adaptations, and solutions. 

Climate change threatens the livelihoods of farmers, ranchers, and others in rural communities. We will need to adapt to decreased soil moisture and water availability, the northward spread of pests, potential increase of invasive species, and the dual threat of drought and flood.

Public health concerns from air pollution and extreme, unseasonal temperatures hit hardest on children, the elderly, those living in poverty, and Native American tribes. Carbon emissions from power plants contribute to these problems. But they remain unregulated and unlimited in the U.S.

Though challenging, this is also a moment of opportunity. People are already at work implementing economic and ecological solutions. The adaptive techniques we adopt now can be powerful tools for carving out a hopeful future.

Conservation, practical on-farm efforts, agricultural innovation, a clean energy economy, energy efficiency, and strong regulations on carbon pollution are among common-sense solutions. These efforts also set a conscious course to ensure clean air and water, resilient and sustainable food production, and health for future generations.

We are called on to be good stewards. It’s time to protect the places we call home, the resources we depend upon, and the way of life we cherish.

Future discussion panels and advocacy trainings will be held in Iowa and Minnesota later in May and early June. For more information email

Feature image: A great crowd turned out at our first climate discussion held in Ames, Iowa. | Photo by Lauren Kolojejchick-Kotch