I traveled to Denver in late July to testify at a public hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon pollution rule. The rule will rein in carbon pollution and curb climate change. I brought your stories – the stories of rural people we know to the hearing.
Stories from people like Matt Russell, a 5th generation farmer from Iowa who feels he’s already experiencing the effects of climate change. He’s worried we won’t be able to meet the needs of a growing population if the agricultural systems we have in place now are no longer viable with a changing climate.
Or Harley Buys, a conventional corn grower from Minnesota who decided to buck convention and now farms with carbon sequestration in mind. He knows it’s his job, as a good steward, to leave the land better than when he started.
Matt and Harley live in the Midwest, a region that includes more than half a million farms producing crops valued at well over a billion dollars each year. If nothing changes, the region will experience yield declines of up to 19% by 2050 and 63% by the end of the century.
That puts people like Matt and Harley out of business. And it is not just a story of the Midwest. The trends hold true from Maine to Arizona. It’s also not just farmers who are concerned.
In Iowa, natural resource administrator Rich Leopold is presented every day with the challenges climate change poses to Iowa’s infrastructure and natural resource health.
We cannot afford to simply adapt to severe flooding and extreme weather. Tribal leaders in Montana tell us they are worried about losing the higher-elevation plants they depend on for medicine and consumption.
Scott Denning, a professor of atmospheric studies in Colorado knows that a changing climate means more frequent droughts, a challenge for small towns and rural communities that rely on this resource.
We don’t claim to speak for everybody, but countless rural people have contacted us to say they care about climate change and they want to be part of the solution.
There is no doubt, farmers and rural people can, and will, adapt. Clean energy and efficiency present exciting economic development opportunities. But you can only hear so much from those like Arlyn Schipper, a grain farmer who feels the biggest issue with climate right now is that there is no awareness.
That’s why we are committed to working with you to change the narrative of this debate in rural America. Fred Abels, an Iowa farmer, says it best, “Climate change isn’t something we can ignore. Now is the time to face the problem head on.”
Together, with you, we are working to do just that. Sign our petition to voice your support.