Barbara Schlachter is a founding member of 100 Grannies for a Livable Future, Iowa City Climate Advocates and Citizens Climate Lobby. The following guest opinion appeared in the Nov. 14, 2013 edition of the Iowa City Press Citizen. It is re-printed here with the author’s permission.
November is Remembrance month: All Saints and All Souls and the Day of the Dead, then Veterans Day, known as Remembrance Day in Britain.
Now we are looking forward to Thanksgiving, which is a time of great feasting with many families traveling many miles to do this together and to remember the importance of being family. It seems as though it also ought to be a day of remembering farm families who labor to provide the food for this feasting as well as remembering the earth itself and her blessed bounty.
Harvest time used to be a great occasion for rejoicing because it wasn’t always a sure thing. Many things can go wrong with a year’s crops. Most of us are too far removed, even in Iowa, to appreciate how utterly miraculous and vulnerable our food supply is. But this year we have had some hard reminders: flood and then drought and a report from Iowa scientists that climate change is a rising threat to Iowa agriculture.
Estimates are that we will lose the ability to produce food by 2 percent a decade even as we know that world population still is on the increase.
The Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll released earlier in November reported that fully 75 percent of farmers think climate change is occurring, up from 69 percent in 2011. Yet only 16 percent think human activity is the reason for this. Perhaps the poll was taken before the release of the International Panel on Climate Change’s conclusions that scientists around the world are 95 percent sure that human activity is responsible.
If you believe that climate change is real, but human activity doesn’t cause it, then you will most likely concentrate your efforts on adaptation. There has been a lot of talk lately about our need to prepare for the dire conditions that are coming, which to my mind takes us away from the most important prior question: what are we going to do to reverse them.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) funded by fossil fuel giants like Exxon Mobil and the Koch brothers now say that “Global climate change is inevitable.”
This is different from denying that it is happening, and perhaps we should at least be thankful for that. But they go on to suggest that reducing carbon emissions won’t matter because it isn’t caused by human activity. So they have introduced legislation in a dozen states to repeal renewable electricity standards passed by those states. Fortunately, no state that has passed an RES has ever repealed one.
Iowa leads the nation in wind energy, with nearly 30 percent of our energy coming from those beautiful wind turbines you see when you drive west on Interstate 80. This non-emitting form of energy will make a difference in climate change.
This is mitigation, not adaptation. Both will be necessary, but the most important thing in the long run is to do everything we can to slow and eventually cease our fossil fuel activity.
For this reason I support a fee and dividend program that would tax carbon at its point of origin and return the tax money to the American people. This would create a market-based solution to energy. As the true cost of fossil fuels becomes operative, wind and solar and geothermal would benefit from a more level playing field.
It is a bipartisan strategy that keeps us from putting all our resources into adaptation to what we can never finally ever adapt to, not only because of the trillions of dollars required but also because the earth’s systems that support our food could not finally endure.
Fossil fuel intensive farming might seem to be one of our biggest obstacles in the effort to reduce greenhouse gases. But a report from the UN Environment Program released on Nov. 12 says that there are many ways agriculture can cut its emissions drastically and contribute to environmental sustainability and higher yields.
This is a hopeful direction for all of us.
Senator Rob Hogg is on a climate change tour throughout Iowa. He has been touring the state talking about the impacts and issues that climate change brings to Iowa and what climate change means for America in the 21st century. Senator Hogg will be in Pella and Cedar Rapids this week. See details below.
Join me this Thursday, November 21, at 7 p.m. for my presentation to the Linn County UN Association in Beems meeting room A at the new downtown Cedar Rapids Public Library, 450 5th Ave SE.
The program is entitled “Climate Change –The Defining Historical Challenge of the 21st Century.” It will focus on the international dimensions of the climate issue. The program is free and open to the public.
This event is especially timely in light of the recent devastation by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and the voluntary fasting by Yeb Sano, the Filipino delegate to Conference of Parties trying to negotiate a global climate agreement in Warsaw, Poland.
As Sano told the other delegates there, Typhoon Haiyan was an “extreme climate event,” which has left many of his countrymen without food. He is fasting until a “meaningful outcome is in sight.” He said that “the climate crisis is madness” that needs to be stopped at the meetings in Warsaw.
During my presentation, I will ask people to support the American Red Cross and other charitable relief organizations to help with disaster relief and recovery in the Philippines. In Cedar Rapids, we know how important charitable help was, along with governmental assistance, after the Flood of 2008. If you are unable to attend but would like to contribute, you can send contributions to the American Red Cross, 6300 Rockwell Drive NE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402.
Pella event: Senator Hogg will speak at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20 in the Cox-Snow Recital Hall on the Central College campus. The event is free and open to the public.
Des Moines, IA 50319
2750 Otis Rd. SE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52403
Rep. Dan Kelley, a state representative from Newton, Iowa, started a petition on CREDO Mobilize, where activists can launch their own campaigns for progressive change. Will you help Rep. Kelley pressure the Des Moines Register to take a stand against climate change denial by signing his petition and sharing it with your friends and family?
The Los Angeles Times recently announced a common-sense policy of refusing to publish letters to the editor that deny climate change. But unfortunately, among major newspapers, the L.A. Times stands out as an exception.
Many newspapers around the country either frequently run letters to the editor that promote climate change denial, or don’t have an explicit policy against doing so. Unfortunately, that includes the paper I read most often — the Des Moines Register.
That’s why I started my own campaign on CREDOMobilize.com, which allows activists to start their own petitions. My petition, which is to Carol Hunter, Interim Editor of the Des Moines Register, says the following:
It is the job of newspapers to inform viewers of factual information, not promote lies about climate change. Implement a formal policy of refusing to publish any letters to the editor or other content that denies climate change.
Here in Iowa, we understand the role renewable energy plays in our future. Of all 50 states, we’re third only to California and Texas in the amount of wind energy we generate, and nearly a fourth of the energy we produce comes from wind. As a state legislator, I’m proud to represent constituents who work at two major manufacturers of wind turbine blades and towers that help other states follow our lead.
But as a faithful reader of the Des Moines Register, living in a state that invests so much in the future of energy, it’s especially disappointing when I see the Register print letters from climate change deniers who want to tie our state to the dirty fuels of the past.
I read the Register because I believe it plays a critical role in our political process by acting as a check against unscrupulous politicians who lie to the public. But by “reporting both sides” and giving climate change deniers equal space to promote their lies, large swaths of the news media have failed to do their job of informing the public.
With the science on climate change becoming increasingly grim and time running out to prevent catastrophic extreme weather events from becoming near-constant occurrences, we can’t afford to let the Register mislead the public by printing errors of fact about climate change.
Last month, the L.A. Times letters editor wrote:
“Simply put, I do my best to keep errors of fact off the letters page; when one does run, a correction is published. Saying “there’s no sign humans have caused climate change” is not stating an opinion, it’s asserting a factual inaccuracy.”
While the L.A. Times’ announcement is a welcome step in the right direction, we need to put pressure on the Des Moines Register to follow suit, given the influence it has on decision makers in our state, including my colleagues at the statehouse.
Will you join me and add your name to my petition telling the Des Moines Register to explicitly reject letters to the editor that deny climate change?
Thank you for your support.
Rep. Dan Kelley
Sign the petition
Our current tax system is unsustainable. Legalized tax evasion allows corporations to be “persons” in the political influence arena, yet excuses them from paying “income” taxes along with the rest of us. Estimates of tax monies lost this way range up to 140 billion dollars annually.
The “Bush” tax cuts have not resulted in jobs or economic growth for anyone except the wealthiest 1% in this country. Real wages and buying power are significantly lower than ten years ago. Trickle down doesn’t.Is there a “correct” percentage to tax formulas? Top tax rates one hundred years ago were near 90%. Currently they are under 40%.
We need to address the damage to our fiscal security done by the financial crisis of 2008. Risky business practices by financial institutions caused the crisis. Those entities were bailed out, costing taxpayers both the damage to the economy plus the money paid to bail said companies out. It is unjust to allow them not to pay the taxpayers back.
We need resolution on paying for our most recent wars. A war tax needs to be implemented before we ask the the poor and voiceless to bear this cost. Many companies and government contractors made tremendous profits off of these wars. They need to pay their share.
We need to remove corporate welfare and subsidies and tax protections for industries that don’t practice good community and conservation values. They cost us real money in the present, and more in the future with their destructive practices.
We need to address our deficit in a comprehensive manner. Ending all social assistance programs alone will not close the gap between income and payments. We need to address the cultural reasons why so many of us are needing assistance. This will mean hard conversations involving childbearing, child rearing and population growth. Ignoring these issues leaves other problems festering.
We need to put aside utopian ideals of low/no taxes and limited government. We live in both local and global communities. We depend on infrastructure. We all need to pay in, to keep costs as low and fair as possible.
The fiscal year 2010 deficit was 1,294 billion dollars. The deficit for fiscal year 2014 is projected to be 744 billion. This is down by nearly half!
We still have a long way to go, and we need to fix more than welfare to get there. There is no fiscal or moral justification for cutting off social assistance before revamping tax rates and corporate welfare.
Laura Twing lives in Cedar county, with her husband and various animal companions.
DES MOINES – Lyon Rural Electric Cooperative, Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative, Osceola Rural Electric Cooperative and Sanborn Municipal Utilities have filed a formal appeal with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asking that the agency reverse their decision to deny federal disaster aid to Iowa following devastating storms, a decision that could also force the repayment of millions in previously awarded aid.
“Our top priority is providing member-consumers in rural Iowa with reliable and affordable power. In order to do that, it’s important that FEMA honor its commitment and their well-established practices,” said Marion Denger, president of the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives. “During the appeal process we will continue to make a strong case showing this decision is an unprecedented reversal of FEMA’s disaster aid policy. With winter storm season approaching, it’s vital that we resolve this issue and give our members the assurance that the federal government will follow their established policy.”
Following a late winter snow, ice and wind storm in April, a federally declared Major Disaster included Lyon, Osceola, Dickinson, Sioux and O’Brien counties. Three of Iowa’s electric cooperatives, a generation and transmission cooperative and one municipal utility suffered damage.
In response to past disaster-related damage, FEMA has followed a policy where visually observable criteria were used to determine if power lines had been damaged beyond the point of repair. FEMA reversed this long-standing policy and denied disaster aid applications following the April storm.
For the first time in the nation, FEMA has stated that disaster aid could not be issued because the affected electric utilities did not conduct comprehensive laboratory testing on every mile of wire on an annual basis. This test is not performed as a matter of industry practice or required to meet any industry or engineering standard. It is also not required by the Iowa Utilities Board, which regulates Iowa’s electric utilities and required them to submit reliability plans and inspection and maintenance plans.
Members of Iowa’s congressional delegation and a coalition of Iowa agriculture, business, and utility organizations had previously requested that FEMA meet with the utilities to discuss the disaster aid denial. Additionally, the governor’s office and the Iowa Department of Homeland Security have raised questions about the agency’s decision.
“The commitment of such a broad group of elected officials and organizations underscores the importance of reversing this decision. It’s the right thing to do for rural Iowa and our member-consumers across the state,” added Denger.
In the wake of 2013’s extreme weather rollercoaster, marked by the wettest spring on record, followed by the second-driest July through September ever, a statewide group of leading Iowa science faculty and researchers will release the Iowa Climate Statement 2013: A Rising Challenge to Iowa Agriculture.
The event will be held at 9 AM on Friday, October 18th, in the south end of the Cowles Library, Reading Room, 2nd Floor at Drake University. Map of Drake Campus http://www.drake.edu/visit/map/
This event is part of the Iowa Climate Science Educators Forum, a meeting of science faculty, researchers and students from Iowa colleges and universities. For more information visit http://artsci.drake.edu/ensp/node/42
The lead authors of the Iowa Climate Statement 2013: A Rising Challenge to Iowa Agriculture include:
Gene Takle, Director, ISU Climate Science Program, Professor of Agronomy, Professor of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, Iowa State University.
Jerald Schnoor, Co-Director, Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, University of Iowa
Christopher J. Anderson, Research Assistant Professor, Assistant Director, ISU Climate Science Program, Iowa State University
Greg Carmichael, Co-Director, Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, University of Iowa
Laura Jackson, Director, Tallgrass Prairie Center, Professor of Biology, University of Northern Iowa
Neil Bernstein, Chair, Department of Natural and Applied Sciences, Mount Mercy University
David Courard-Hauri, Chair, Environmental Science and Policy Program, Drake University
Outreach and Community Education Director
Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research and the Iowa Flood Center
The University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA 52242
On Oct. 22 and 23, The Climate Reality Project will connect the dots between carbon pollution and climate change with the global live-streamed broadcast “24 Hours of Reality: The Cost of Carbon.” here’s the link: http://www.24hoursofreality.org.
In Iowa, men and women in the agricultural community are talking about the likelihood of four or five more years of continued drought. Harry Hillaker, Iowa state climatologist, indicated 2013 was the wettest spring on record. He confirmed this summer’s drought conditions in Iowa. Like this year, the prospect for coming years is wet springs combined with long summer periods of little or no precipitation. There is no doubt human activity is contributing to this extreme weather, and that carbon pollution is the driving force behind it.
Not only are extreme weather events happening in Iowa, they are happening throughout the world. Extreme weather has a tangible cost in dollars, and in its impact on human society. 24 Hours of Reality will bring a global perspective to the climate crisis.
There are a lot of reasons to participate in 24 Hours of Reality, and here are three topics of interest in the program:
Chances are, you’re exposed to the cost of carbon pollution in ways you may not even realize— and the bill just keeps getting more expensive. 24 Hours of Reality will provide a tool to calculate the cost of carbon to individual communities.
Climate change can lead to rising food prices in wealthy nations, but in some regions, the consequences can be much more severe, threatening basic food security and leading to political instability in Somalia.
One of the greatest costs of climate change is what it means for our health. The broadcast goes to towns across Australia to witness the consequences of carbon pollution in terms of fire and flooding, and address what such changes mean for the health of ordinary people there and the world over.
24 Hours of Reality will address two key issues: protecting what we hold dear from the effects of climate change, and doing something to address the causes of our carbon pollution. Click here for a link to the 30 second trailer about 24 Hours of Reality.
I hope you will consider viewing part of 24 Hours of Reality on Oct. 22 and 23.
The year 2012 marked the hottest year on record and it looks as though 2013 is going to result in even higher temperatures. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced that a rise in serious hurricanes will accompany the rising temperatures in 2014.
Extreme weather conditions and changing temperatures are not only impacting the environment but are costing taxpayers money. Superstorm Sandy, wildfires on the West Coast and a drought in the Midwest cost U.S. taxpayers over 100 billion dollars last year. Yet some government officials continue to deny the existence of climate change or that human activity is the cause.
The fact is that the Earth is steadily warming and carbon pollution is the primary cause. Climate change related disasters will continue to cause loss of life, property and treasure and will become ever more powerful. Ninety-seven percent of top climate scientists agree that man-made pollution is warming our planet. The decisions we make and the actions we take today will determine how much more warming and climate change our children and grandchildren will experience. Visit RealityDrop.org to get the facts.
Jennifer Herrington lives in southwest Iowa. She is a social worker and a community organizer for Organizing for Action. Her attendance at the Climate Reality Leadership Training in Chicago this summer was “life-changing….My issue has always been health care. Climate change is of course a health care issue. If we don’t address climate change, nothing else really matters – not health care reform, not education, not racism… We have to get this right.”
The Iowa Sustainable Business Alliance (ISBA) and the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) invite you to help change national policy on climate change by acting locally!! ISBA in conjunction with ASBC is hosting this event for concerned and interested individuals, business and civic leaders, educators, and professionals.
When: Saturday, September 28th, 2 pm
What: A free public event to discuss the impact of the changing climate on Iowa’s agriculture, business and energy needs, some strategies for dealing with changes and for inspiring Congress to action. This event is being held concurrently with 10 other similar events across the United States. Attendees will have the option to sign on to a public letter to be published nationally by ASBC announcing that the undersigned businesses, educators, professionals, non profits and individuals strongly support rapid action and sustainable programs to address climate change. This is in line with ISBA strategy of effecting change through numbers. The more attendees and signatures, the more our state and national governments will listen!
Who: To start off the discussion (Iowa Sustainable Business Alliance) asked a few Iowa leaders to step forward and share their experiences of how they have been affected, to speculate on the future impact, and outline what steps they are already taking to prepare, offset, avert predicted climate changes. Francis Thicke, Robbie Gongwer, Robert Yoder and more will speak. Also, we will want to hear from you! What are your concerns? What have you been doing to address climate change for your business or profession?
Where: Green Building Supply 118 W Burlington Ave, Fairfield, IA
**Locally made pies topped with organic Radiance Dairy cream will be served!**
More about our speakers:
Francis Thicke – Francis is the owner/operator of Radiance Dairy - an organic, grass-based dairy located near Fairfield, Iowa, with on-farm processing facilities in which cream-line milk (whole, 2%, and skim), whipping cream, yogurt, and cheese are produced. Francis has a Ph.D. in agronomy and served at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., as the National Program Leader for Soil Science for the USDA-Extension Service. Francis and his wife Susan returned to full-time farming in 1992. More
Robbie Gongwer – Co-owner of Ideal Energy. The Ideal Energy team has been leading the sustainability revolution for over 20 years through educational programs, off-grid village design, high performance building design, sustainable solutions for remote regions, and installation of renewable energy systems. They design and install clean, safe renewable energy systems, and advise on overall energy performance. Find Ideal Energy on Facebook.
Robert Yoder – owner of YODER’S NATURAL FARM of Bloomfield, Iowa. Yoder’s Natural Meats has even been certified as Animal Welfare Approved, a rigorous standard of animal husbandry to achieve. He uses heritage breeds of cattle and chickens, and employs them in an integrated manner which mimics nature’s way of succession in the food chain.
Iowa Sustainable Business Alliance
Wednesday, the Washington Post published an Ezra Klein interview with former vice president Al Gore, titled, “Al Gore explains why he’s optimistic about stopping global warming.”
Gore finds there is reason to be optimistic that public sentiment is changing regarding the rapidly increasing amount of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere and the fingerprints of man-made pollution found in severe weather occurring around the world. While climate deniers get upset, even outraged when people mention this fact, Gore believes it is possible to win the conversation on climate change. What does he mean by that? He explained,
I think the most important part of it is winning the conversation. I remember as a boy when the conversation on civil rights was won in the South. I remember a time when one of my friends made a racist joke and another said, hey man, we don’t go for that anymore. The same thing happened on apartheid. The same thing happened on the nuclear arms race with the freeze movement. The same thing happened in an earlier era with abolition. A few months ago, I saw an article about two gay men standing in line for pizza and some homophobe made an ugly comment about them holding hands and everyone else in line told them to shut up. We’re winning that conversation.
Winning the conversation on climate change means making it socially unacceptable to deny the science of man-made global warming pollution. According to Gore, “the conversation on global warming has been stalled because a shrinking group of denialists fly into a rage when it’s mentioned.” Focus on the word shrinking.
“… in spite of the continued released of 90 million tons of global warming pollution every day into the atmosphere, as if it’s an open sewer, we are now seeing the approach of a global political tipping point.”
According to Gore, it has already begun among politicians, including conservatives, who have grown weary of politicization of the science of global warming by climate deniers.
Another reason for optimism is the sharp and unexpectedly steep decrease in prices for electricity produced from wind and solar, providing a financially viable alternative to fossil fuels.
Some people really dislike Gore and what he represents. The film “An Inconvenient Truth” prompted some of this reaction,
The single most common criticism from skeptics when the film came out focused on the animation showing ocean water flowing into the World Trade Center memorial site. Skeptics called that demagogic and absurd and irresponsible. It happened last October 29th, years ahead of schedule, and the impact of that and many, many other similar events here and around the world has really begun to create a profound shift.
The truth about the man-made contribution to climate change is out. As it is understood, Al Gore’s optimism is expected to be vindicated.
Read the entire Ezra Klein interview with Al Gore on the Washington Post site here.