Great new video from Vote 4 Energy:
The main factor that will determine the economic wellbeing of our children and grandchildren will be the strength of the economy that we pass down to them. This will depend, in turn, on the quality of the capital and infrastructure we pass onto them, along with the level of education we give them, the state of technical knowledge we achieve and the state of the natural environment.
If we cut the deficit by making spending cuts that affect our progress in these areas, we will be making our children worse-off, not better-off. Of course, leaving their parents unemployed for long periods of time will not improve our children’s wellbeing either.
If the deficit has little to with the wellbeing of our children and grandchildren, global warming has everything to do with it. We run the risk of handing them a planet without many of the fascinating features that we had the opportunity to enjoy (for example, coral reefs that are dying, plant and animal species that are becoming extinct, landscapes that are being transformed). Far more seriously, we face the likelihood of handing them a planet in which hundreds of millions of people risk death by starvation due to drought in central Africa, or through flooding in Bangladesh and other densely populated low-lying areas in Asia, as a result of human caused global warming.
Last year at least 7,140 journalists and opinion writers published some 19,000 stories on climate change, compared to more than 11,100 reporters who filed 32,400 stories in 2009, according to DailyClimate.org.
The decline was seen across almost all benchmarks measured by the news service: 20 percent fewer reporters covered the issue in 2011 than in 2010, 20 percent fewer outlets published stories, and the most prolific reporters on the climate change beat published 20 percent fewer stories.
Particularly noticeable was the silence from the nation’s editorial boards: In 2009, newspapers published 1,229 editorials on the topic. Last year, they published less than 580 – half as many, according to DailyClimate.org’s archives.
Here’s what the decline in coverage over the past decade-plus looks like:
Each fall, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and the Iowa Agricultural Statistics Service conduct the Iowa Farm and Rural Life poll. This year’s poll (PDF), which surveyed more than 1,200 farmers in Iowa, included several questions on climate change.
First, survey respondents were provided with a list of statements about climate change and asked to say which they most closely identified with. While 73% of respondents acknowledged that climate change is occurring, there was considerable confusion with regard to the cause:
Just 10% of Iowa farmers acknowledge that climate change is occurring and that it is caused primarily by human activities. Of course, it goes without saying that a vast majority of scientists disagree with this assessment. Just last month, a group of 31 scientists from 22 different Iowa colleges and Universities urged political candidates to accept the scientific evidence on the cause of climate change:
“All major scientific societies and the US National Academy of Science have affirmed that the recent rise in greenhouse gases in the global atmosphere has contributed to changes in our climate,” the letter continued. “We urge all candidates for public office at national, state, and local levels to acknowledge the overwhelming balance of evidence for the underpinning causes of climate change, to develop appropriate policy responses, and to develop local and statewide strategies to adapt to near-term changes in climate.”
In terms of the impact of climate change on agriculture in Iowa, there is also significant confusion among Iowa farmers, as well as considerable uncertainty. On many questions about the impact of climate change on agriculture, Iowa farmers consider themselves uncertain:
The beliefs of Iowa farmers on this topic are out of step with the data, which indicate that climate change will be devastating to agriculture. Both of these findings indicate that farmers in Iowa could benefit from more outreach and education on the cause of climate change and the impacts on agriculture.
But who do farmers in Iowa trust when it comes to information about climate change? The Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll looked at that question as well:
University Extension, the only group trusted on climate change by a majority of Iowa farmers, refers to the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach program. Some other reputable sources of information on the topic, such as environmental organizations, are trusted very little on the topic.
Overall, the findings of this survey suggest that information and outreach from University Extension could be extremely beneficial in educating Iowa farmers about the causes of climate change and its impacts on agriculture. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be happening. On the University Extension’s website, in the section about the environment, climate change isn’t even mentioned. On the right side it lists eight environmental issues under the “environment topics” heading — biorenewable fuels, conservation, forestry, manure/odor management, pesticides and herbicides, soil, water resources and quality, and wildlife and natural resources — but fails to mention climate change or global warming at all.
While I’m glad that several questions on climate change were included in this year’s Iowa Rural Life and Farm Poll, I’m disappointed that one of the one of the sponsoring organizations, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, doesn’t seem to be doing much outreach on the topic, especially given the poll’s findings. Perhaps the findings of this year’s poll, which show considerable confusion among Iowa farmers on the topic, will inspire the Extension and Outreach program at Iowa State University to put more resources and efforts into educating Iowa farmers on both the cause of climate change and the local impacts on agriculture.
Merry Christmas — here are five climate change themed Christmas cartoons.