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Iowa’s Culture of Climate Change

Harvesting Soybeans

Harvesting Soybeans

David Biello of Slate wrote an opinion piece in Newsday titled, “Why Don’t Farmers Believe in Climate Change,” on July 16. Link to the article here or here, but here’s a spoiler alert: it’s the Farm Bureau. I commented on the article, but my comment was removed because it violated Newsday’s conditions of use. It’s their world. What’s a blogger to do? If you’re reading this, you know the answer.

In the article, Biello wrote, “take, as an example of skepticism, Iowa corn farmer Dave Miller, whose day job is as an economist for the Iowa Farm Bureau. As Miller is happy to explain, it’s not that farmers in Iowa don’t think climate change is happening; it’s that they think it’s always been happening and therefore is unlikely to have much to do with whatever us humans get up to down at ground level. Or, as the National Farm Bureau’s spokesman Mace Thornton puts it: ‘we’re not convinced that the climate change we’re seeing is anthropogenic in origin. We don’t think the science is there to show that in a convincing way.'”

If there is a record drought like last year, large farmers will capitalize the loss over a period of years, plow the crop under and start over next season. For them, it’s just another aspect of dealing with farming as a business. This attitude is consistent with what I experienced when listening to row crop farmers in Iowa.

The idea, “they think it’s always been happening and therefore is unlikely to have much to do with whatever us humans get up to down at ground level,” is ridiculous. Climate change doesn’t just happen— it happens for a reason. And today, the main reason is carbon pollution from dirty energy like coal, oil and natural gas.

I encourage you to read the article if you are interested in the interface between Iowa farmers, the Farm Bureau and the environment. There is a lot to learn before Iowa makes progress in protecting our environment. Some say the Iowa Farm Bureau runs the state of Iowa. I say it could only do so in a vacuum of action from people whose views are closer to the reality of climate change.

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