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Iowa Ag, Business, Faith Leaders to Discuss Climate Change

PHOTO: This farm field was among those across Central Iowa that was flooded by heavy rains in 2013. Photo credit: Carl Wycoff
PHOTO: This farm field was among those across Central Iowa that was flooded by heavy rains in 2013. Photo credit: Carl Wycoff
March 20, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa – With the increase in droughts, floods and other weather extremes related to climate change, a new push is on across Iowa to take meaningful action.

Matt Russell, a farmer in Marion County and state food policy project coordinator at Drake University Agricultural Law Center, says there is a tremendous opportunity for farmers in Iowa to make a significant impact on carbon pollution.

"We can be better conservationists in terms of conserving energy and not using as much energy, using as much carbon-based fuel,” he stresses. “But even more importantly we can actually put practices on our farms that will sequester that carbon back into the ground."

Russell will be a featured speaker at an upcoming panel discussion on the impacts of climate change to be held March 30 at Bethesda Lutheran Church in Ames.

The gathering, Russell says, also will include members of the state's faith, academic, environmental and small-business communities.

"What you're seeing is, is a lot of people from lots of different walks of life, lots of different professions, lots of different businesses and lots of different interests, really wanting to be engaged on climate change,” he explains.

“And I think the agriculture community in Iowa is interested in being part of the solution, and so it makes sense for us to be talking with all the folks involved in this effort."

Among the groups sponsoring the discussion is the Center for Rural Affairs.

Lauren Kolojejchick-Kotch, energy and climate organizing fellow at the Center, says addressing climate change is not only vital for protecting the environment, but also the economy.

"Climate change is already harming Americans all over the country, and cleaning up after climate-driven disasters last year alone cost taxpayers nearly $100 billion,” she points out. “In fact, the federal government spent more taxpayer money on the consequences of extreme weather than on education or transportation."

Kolojejchick-Kotch says if climate change is not addressed, the coming years will see decreased soil moisture and water availability, the northward spread of pests and potential increase of invasive species and the dual threat of drought and flood.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA