Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Rural America can lead the charge to benefit from climate change, climate expert says

"One of the nation's most dynamic and high-profile speakers on climate change, Katharine Hayhoe, will speak [tonight] in Iowa about the ways agriculture and rural America can lead on climate change," Chris Clayton writes for DTN The Progressive Farmer. Hayhoe's talk echoes one over the weekend by President Obama, in which he said climate change can create opportunities.

Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, said "she's looking forward to coming to Iowa because close collaborators at Iowa State University are focusing heavily on the contributions agriculture can make adapting to climate change and helping suck carbon emissions out of the air," Clayton writes. She told him, "Agriculture and forestry are really the only two sectors that really have the potential to be not just carbon neutral but carbon negative."

"Longer term, ten or 15 years out, we’re going to see a price on carbon because carbon has already been ruled to be a pollutant by the Supreme Court," Hayhoe told Clayton. "Every single other pollutant that people emit—they have to pay for the pollution and the cleanup costs. Carbon is the only one where the polluters don't have to pay for the cleanup costs."

Putting "a price on carbon benefits Iowa farmers because of cropping practices that can sequester carbon," Clayton writes. "No-till planting and cover crops certainly has been highlighted as ways to build carbon in the soil rather than releasing it. Hayhoe told him, "This whole range of things that can be done in agriculture actually reduce carbon as well as take carbon out of the atmosphere. If there is a price on carbon, then there is a benefit to storing that carbon."

While science tells us it's getting warmer, "far too many people believe the negatives of shifting away from fossil fuels outweigh the positives," Clayton writes. "Moreover, they argue that acting on climate would put the U.S. at a disadvantage internationally, though China reported just last month that the country reduced its carbon emissions 2 percent in 2014 while growing the GDP 7 percent."

Hayhoe said "the people who stand to benefit are those who get on board with a greener economy, Hayhoe said, particularly in the Midwest and Great Plains," Clayton writes. She told him, "All of the resources for this new economy are in middle America. So we have been letting our politics inform our economic choices instead of letting our economic choices inform our politics. That is a really strange place to be in." (Read more)

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