Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 25, 2014

Climate change responsible for Iowa’s strange weather

By John Collins | Nov 01, 2013

To the editor:

I guess I’m not the only Fairfield resident who is fed up with planting a vegetable garden in the really wet spring only to see it dry out completely in the summer.

When any stored rain water is used up the choice is either to spend a lot of money on city water or get a greatly reduced crop.

It turns out that Iowa’s wetter springs and drier summers were predicted by Iowa State University climate experts as far back as the 1980s. Warmer seas in the Gulf are sending more moisture up to us creating the intense spring rains. Jet stream changes are drying the summers.

Iowa’s extreme weather has significantly disrupted agricultural production during the past two years and is projected to become even more harmful in coming decades as our climate’s rainfall patterns continue to change. Waterlogged ground will continue to reduce the days when spring planting is possible and summer droughts will reduce yields.

I am pleased to join the 156 science faculty and research staff from 36 Iowa colleges and universities in supporting the updated “Iowa Climate Statement 2013: A rising challenge to Iowa agriculture,” which discusses the prospects for future Iowa extreme weather events including droughts and floods, and their effect on agriculture.

Iowa’s soils and agriculture remain our most important economic resources, but these resources are threatened by climate change. The intense spring rains are washing more of our soil down the Mississippi River and crop yields are threatened.

It is time for all Iowans to work together to limit future climate change and make Iowa more resilient to extreme weather. Doing so will allow us to pass on to future generations our proud tradition of helping to feed the world. We need to improve resilience in agriculture by moving to more sustainable practices of soil conservation. A shift to organics, for instance, would greatly improve the ability of soil to retain rainwater.

Iowa should also lead innovation in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change. We can do this through fuel efficiency, and more wind, solar and geothermal energy. There are currently some amazing incentives in Iowa for solar energy that refund about two-thirds of installations costs (apply before Dec. 31).

We do have solutions, but to protect our future and our children’s future we have to act quickly.

To see the complete “Iowa Climate Statement” and the list of endorsers, visit www.cgrer.uiowa.edu.

 

– John Collins, Fairfield

 

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