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Scientists Say Climate Change Is Damaging Iowa Agriculture 444

Posted by timothy
from the how-'bout-that-dust-bowl? dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Radio Iowa reports that 155 scientists from 36 colleges and universities in Iowa are jointly issuing a call for action against global warming and calling on the US Department of Agriculture to update its policies to better protect the land. 'The last couple of years have underscored the fact that we are very vulnerable to weather conditions and weather extremes in Iowa,' says Gene Takle, director of the Climate Science Program at Iowa State. Both years were marked by heavy spring rains followed by droughts that damaged Iowa's farmland. 'This has become a real issue for us, particularly with regard to getting crops planted in the spring,' says Takle adding that Iowa had 900,000 acres that weren't planted this year because of these intense spring rains. 'Following on the heels of the disastrous 2012 loss of 90% of Iowa's apple crop, the 2013 cool March and record-breaking March-through-May rainfall set most ornamental and garden plants back well behind seasonal norms,' says the Iowa Climate Statement for 2013 . 'Iowa's soils and agriculture remain our most important economic resources, but these resources are threatened by climate change (PDF)." When the Iowa climate change statement was first released in 2011, 44 Iowa scientists signed on and last year's statement was signed by 137 Iowa scientists. "It's easy to set up a straw-man argument, to say, 'Oh, well climates always change; there have been changes in the past. This might just be natural,' " says David Courard-Hauri. "And often that gets played on the Internet as, 'Maybe scientists haven't thought about the fact that there have been natural changes in the past and maybe this is related.' " Of course scientists have thought about that possibility, says Courard-Hauri, but the evidence strongly suggests the climate is changing faster than could be expected to happen naturally."
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Scientists Say Climate Change Is Damaging Iowa Agriculture

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I take it that they're going to allow us to adapt to climate change this way rather than have to, you know, stop polluting.

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      It's not one or the other. Climate change is happening, most of it is beyond the control of Kansans and they must adapt to the changing conditions as best they can, while doing what little they can to slow the change if you can. Suppose Kansas became carbon neutal. Would that stop climate change in Kansas?

    • KGB is under $1000/lb in California at harvest time (now). The cops have multiple checkpoints on I-80 and I-70 going east. Current estimate is CA grows 60% of the nations sweet leaf.

      Iowa can continue to send money out of state for an agricultural product.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        There are uses to hemp beyond recreational substance or medicine.
        • Hemp growth is incompatible with sensimia growth in the same general area.

          Iowa can have the hemp.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        KGB is under $1000/lb

        How much under? What would a 200lb agent bring? Is that hanging or live weight? What's the price elsewhere? Really don't want to pay California taxes.. So, is the cold war back?

  • by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @02:27PM (#45181987)

    More or less the entire scientific community of the planet has been in a consensus about this for most of the last decade or two and our government still does not give a fuck. Iowa is not going to accomplish by itself what the whole freaking world didn't all together. The only way we'll ever start making progress on climate change is if somebody finds a way to outspend big oil, the car manufacturers, and every other petro-lobby.

    • More or less the entire scientific community of the planet has been in a consensus about this for most of the last decade or two and our government still does not give a fuck.

      AGW is real, in that humans have caused the climate to warm, but that doesn't mean we can or should do anything about it.

      The only way we'll ever start making progress on climate change is if somebody finds a way to outspend big oil, the car manufacturers, and every other petro-lobby.

      Yes, that's the only way, and fortunately that's not

      • Re:not the issue (Score:4, Insightful)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @03:32PM (#45182427) Homepage Journal

        Yes, that's the only way, and fortunately that's not going to happen. When all is said and done, if you could give people a choice between driving their cars and economic growth now, and a few degrees warmer temperatures and a few feet of sea level rise, they are going to prefer driving and growth

        Maybe you shouldn't speak for anyone but yourself.

        I'll bet the same argument was once made when it came to not just shit in the street but to dig a hole out back.

        And the bit about "economic growth" is bullshit. The only "growth" that ignoring climate change guarantees is that of the bank accounts of a handful of energy companies.

        Global warming is inevitable and we better just learn to live with it.

        Did you learn to live with a 640k limit on address space? It appears as though you have learned to live with a very dim view of humanity's ability to innovate. "Solar energy isn't any good and we just need to learn to live with it" and, "Internal combustion engines are here to stay and we just need to learn to live with it" and, "Pumping toxic chemicals into the ground water under extreme pressure is how we're going to keep the lights on and we just need to learn to live with it".

        I will never understand why there is a small but vocal cadre of tech nerds who for some reason believe that we have reached the absolute zenith of technological innovation when it comes to energy, but will gladly engage you in a discussion of the best types of interstellar drives to power ships for colonization of deep space.

        • by stenvar (2789879)

          It appears as though you have learned to live with a very dim view of humanity's ability to innovate.

          Quite the contrary: I think humanity will have no problem coping with warmer temperatures and rising sea levels. I also think humanity will have no problem developing new, clean energy sources.

          I will never understand why there is a small but vocal cadre of tech nerds who for some reason believe that we have reached the absolute zenith of technological innovation when it comes to energy

          Quite to the contrary:

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Nimey (114278)

            Ohhhh. You could have just /said/ that you're of the libertarian religion.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by phantomfive (622387)
      This is the main quote from the second article, which I think captures the entire debate, both because of what it says, and what it does not say:

      “In the scientific community, we have debates on the details,” [director of Iowa State University’s climate science program] said. “But there are very, very few scientists who are active in studying climate science who deny the existence of the role of heat-trapping gases in raising our global average temperatures, and the fact that these heat-trapping gases are produced by humans.”

      Note that he does not say 'scientists agree what will happen as a result of extra CO2 in the atmosphere.' Scientists don't agree on that topic, it ranges from "nothing serious" to "civilization will be destroyed."

      Note that he does not say 'scientists agree on how we should respond to global warming.' Scientists once again don't agree on that topic, it ranges from

      • by aepervius (535155) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @03:42PM (#45182489)
        Stop saying there is no consensus. There is a quasi consensus *on the science*. Once politics , denier, and teh conservative STARTS tio admit that point and stop trying to denie it with all their strength, we MAY take a step toward a solution. But as long as news media trump up some fake "let both side speaks" as if there were two side of the debate, and all the associated shenanigan to refuse admit the science is real, there cannot be any step toward a solution as long as people/politician deny the science. Once that hurdle is gone, solution will be found. But we haven't gone past that step.
        • Stop saying there is no consensus.

          I didn't. I clearly explained which points have consensus and which don't. Read it again.

    • by tp1024 (2409684)

      Well, for a decade or two the entire scientific community agreed that the climate in the western USA had permanently changed. For the better, mind you. That was in the 1870ies and 1880ies. And then ... things went back to normal and all explanations for the supposedly permanent changes that scientists came up with were rendered moot.

      After decades of one-up-manship and changing goalposts for "global warming" ... oh no ... look, they call it "climate change" these days. Of predicting less rain for Germany whe

      • Your problem isn't with the science, it's with the deliberately disingenuous reporting on said science.

        • by tp1024 (2409684)

          No, my problem is also with the deliberately disingenuous science by people who take "publish or perish" as an excuse to put out "scientific" papers according to their news value, instead of their scientific merit.

          The scientific merit of papers in climate science is questionable in any case, since the concept of "replicability" is virtually non-existent. They are not replicable, period. Because the raw data and computer models used are not published and quite jealously guarded, on the grounds of preventing

    • Yes, there's a reason Gore called his slide show of the IPCC reports "An inconvenient truth", it's very inconvenient for people to abandon a coal mine.

      The coal industry funds the bulk of the anti-science propaganda. Washington is the center of the universe for professional climate deniers, all 50 loosely associated (for hire) anti-AGW lobby groups such as the "Heartland Institute", have their headquarters within a mile of K street. They are very good at what they do and I've have had many long debates o
    • by FridayBob (619244)

      ... The only way we'll ever start making progress on climate change is if somebody finds a way to outspend big oil, the car manufacturers, and every other petro-lobby.

      You have my sympathy, but outspending the big corporations is futile. Not to mention that doing so should not be necessary in a healthy democracy. The reason all that money is so effective in Washington D.C. is because of government corruption -- bribery in the form of campaign donations and Super PAC support that is currently legal. As a result, for those in Congress today 94-95% of the time the ability to raise the most money is what got them (re)elected. Moreover, since that kind of money always comes w

  • Damn tree huggers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yusing (216625) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @02:28PM (#45181993) Journal

    The first Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970, to " to create awareness for the Earth's environment and to encourage conservation efforts."

    The phrase "Damn tree huggers" has been heard ever since. Yeah, even in Iowa. So, 40 years of deliberate ignorance and acrimony is coming home to roost? Tough grid.

    • by pitchpipe (708843) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @02:47PM (#45182113)

      So, 40 years of deliberate ignorance and acrimony is coming home to roost? Tough grid.

      Shit. Not only do we see the promotion of ignorance and acrimony on the far right coming home to roost in the area of climate change, we see it in a general distrust of experts no matter the field. Look at the latest government financing 'crisis'. Most of those on the far right were in favor of a government default on the debt. They do not believe the consensus of economists that the results would be really bad. Also, look at vaccines, we're starting to see the results of all of the people who believe that somehow vaccines are harmful so they don't get their kids vaccinated.

      The promotion of ignorance was a useful tool for some of the ruling class to promote their agenda, but now it's really starting to bite them in the ass. Unfortunately it's biting all of us in the ass.

      • It will not affect them, only their voters.

        Our representatives live in an entirely separate world.

    • by JDAustin (468180)

      You ever think about why the founders of earth day choose Lenin's 100th birthday? Because Green is the new Red.

      • Are you saying this is all some complicated ploy by communists in their nefarious quest to redistribute wealth?

  • by rueger (210566) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @02:32PM (#45182033) Homepage
    Is it any coincidence that Iowa is like right next door to Nebraska [slashdot.org], and that both of these stories involve so called "scientists"?

    I smell a conspiracy to pollute our precious bodily fluids. Or communists. Or something.

    And Isn't Area 51 almost also next door to Iowa? You never can be sure, since the government also makes all of the maps.
  • by Fubari (196373) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @02:35PM (#45182049)
    This caught my eye 3 months ago: I was pleasantly surprised to see an article like this in the Wall Street Journal (which I had thought of as more of a mouthpiece for conservative oil interests and thus opposed to this sort of news):
    excerpt:
    U.S. Corn Belt Expands to North [wsj.com] "Warmer Climate, Hardier Seeds Help Crop Gain on Wheat, North Dakota's Staple

    RUGBY, N.D.—Wheat has long dominated the windswept farm fields of the northern Great Plains. But increasingly, farmers here are switching to corn, reflecting how climate change, advancements in biotechnology and high corn prices are pushing the nation's Corn Belt northward.
    ...
    The shift, which is occurring in northern Minnesota and Canada's Manitoba province as well, shows how warming temperatures and hardier seeds are enabling farmers to grow corn in areas once deemed inhospitable to the crop."

    • by Nimey (114278)

      But see, they're spinning climate change as being a positive thing (and, by omission, as not being man-made), so we can still ignore scientists when they say we have to stop polluting so much.

      • by stenvar (2789879)

        But see, they're spinning climate change as being a positive thing (and, by omission, as not being man-made)

        I don't see how that is spinning it as "not being man-made".

        I also don't see how that is spinning it as a "positive thing"; rather, it is saying that we can adapt to climate change.

        so we can still ignore scientists when they say we have to stop polluting so much.

        Scientists can tell us what the consequences of our actions are, but they have no business making policy choices for the nation. That's somet

        • by Nimey (114278)

          1) By omission. Did you read? They call it "climate change" and omit any reference to how it's caused by pollution. That's part of WSJ's staying on the conservative message.

          2) It's implicitly positive that we can grow corn further north now, i.e. over a larger area. Article omits how this implies we won't be able to grow it anymore in southerly regions.

          3) Strawman, nobody's saying that scientists should be able to make policy decisions. We are saying that common fuckwits should pay attention to them de

          • by stenvar (2789879)

            1) By omission. Did you read? They call it "climate change" and omit any reference to how it's caused by pollution. That's part of WSJ's staying on the conservative message

            Fact is that climate change has multiple sources, both man-made and natural. WSJ is correct, and you are attempting to "spin" things.

            It's implicitly positive that we can grow corn further north now, i.e. over a larger area. Article omits how this implies we won't be able to grow it anymore in southerly regions.

            No, it's not "implicitly pos

    • I'm not sure how many farmers in the midwest and southwest are going to be thrilled when the boon in the northern areas of North America are permanently coupled with decreases in arable land in their part of the world.

      But being a Canadian, I think it's great news. The longer the pseudoskeptics funded by the Kochs keep folks blinded, the more likely in a hundred years or so Canada will own the US's ass because we'll be planting grain in the Northwest Territories.

  • No. There will be more food problems. Food prices will increase, so people in poorer countries will starve. Western world will not care, but just buy their food and say something about capitalism having it's way.

    Climate will change and nature will adjust as it did for millions of years. The question is not if the "new" climate will be habitable. It will be. The question is if will fit in.

  • We have had a 50 meter rise in sea level in about 20,000 years. Does that give ANYONE a clue? Do you think any government could have stopped that?

    Egypt was the most powerful nation on earth about 5000 years ago because of its fabulous growing regions. They are now desert caused by NATURAL climate change. Could any government reverse that change?

    Based on lack of Sunspots of late, we may have an inordinately cold hard winter (climate change?) and some areas in the upper midwest already had 20,000 steers f

    • by tp1024 (2409684)

      Not we didn't have a 50 meter rise in sea level in the last 20000 years. We had a sea level rise of roughy 150m in the last 20000 years. Permafrost soil thawed at rates that cannot be repeated these days, because there is so much less of it these days than during the iceage. Temperatures rose by several degrees, deserts didn't expand, there was much more fertile land on the globe that used to look like Siberia or Canada before the end of the ice age.

      Of course, we all know that tundra and taiga have vastly p

  • by RichMan (8097) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @03:16PM (#45182305)

    http://albertaventure.com/2013/06/albertas-farmers-adapt-to-climate-change/ [albertaventure.com]

    “It’s jokingly been said by some people that we’ll eventually become the grape producers of America.”

    The Good:
    One of the ways this is measured is through the boundary for corn heat units, which measures where corn can be grown in the province. The northern boundary for these units has moved up a couple hundred kilometres since the 1910s, and it’s advanced about 50 kilometres since the 1940s.

    The Bad:
    His county was flooded four years ago, but he didn’t get any rain at all in July or August of 2012. “You can go from one wet year to extremely dry with no gradual buildup. Basically you just get hit with it and you have to survive it,” he says. “Nothing is consistent anymore. You think you have things figured out and then it throws a loop at you to say to you, ‘No, you don’t.’

    Follow The Money:
    agriculture-oriented investment funds have taken an increased interest in Canadian farmland?

  • Iowa (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tailhook (98486) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @03:23PM (#45182355)

    Iowa agribusiness has been cultivating more land than ever due to high commodity prices. Between 2001 and 2011 [thegazette.com] Iowa went from under 1700 million bushels of corn to over to almost 2400 million, while soybean is nearly the same during that interval.

    We did not become 40% more efficient at growing corn since 2000. That growth represents more land use; land that was considered marginal when commodity prices were low is now viable. Marginal means flood plain, land with poor drainage or limited access to water. What's actually happened here is that since the marginal land is now in the rotation, farmers incur higher risk of big losses during outlier years.

    Two bad years after apparently 10 good years (at least) is not Climate. It's weather. And "Weather Is Not Climate." Or so I'm told whenever we get a cold spell.

  • I own about 500 acres that I rent out. Last year we had our best yielding soybean crop yet plus the prices were up there. I know we sold most of ours at about $15 a bushel last year and even booked a bunch this year @ $14 a bushel.

    Rice yields last year were up, but not by a large amount. This year's rice looks to be a slight improvement over last year and the beans are still in the field, yet is the most consistent stand I've ever seen in 20 years on the farms.

    The farm income and my work income are about

    • by Nimey (114278)

      Last year Missouri had a really bad drought, especially here in the western part and the area farmers lost their whole corn and bean crops. Where, exactly, is your land?

      • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

        Last year Missouri had a really bad drought, especially here in the western part and the area farmers lost their whole corn and bean crops. Where, exactly, is your land?

        That's probably why he's boasting. If his crop wasn't destroyed and most of everybody else's was, then of course he is going to get top dollar. What is at play there is simple economics of supply and demand. Because of the recent cattle deaths in South Dakota, this should be a good year for cattle farmers, too. Unless, that is, you live in South Dakota.

  • by vikingpower (768921) <exercitussolus.gmail@com> on Sunday October 20, 2013 @04:08PM (#45182621) Homepage Journal

    155 scientists from 36 colleges and universities in Iowa

    That would mean there are more scientists and universities in Iowa than there are in the country I currently live, which is one of the more civilized in Europe. Now I may have been sleeping for all those years, yet....

    • In my experience in the US, every town larger than 300,000 or so has its own community college. That's in California and completely anecdotal, but right now I live in a more heavily populated area (silicon valley), and there are at least three colleges/universities within a 12 minute drive of my house. So 36 doesn't sound completely impossible to me.

      As for 'scientists,' it doesn't say who they are in the link, but I'm guessing they count nearly anyone who is a professor, which isn't entirely unreasonable.
      • by roc97007 (608802)

        In my experience in the US, every town larger than 300,000 or so has its own community college. That's in California and completely anecdotal, but right now I live in a more heavily populated area (silicon valley), and there are at least three colleges/universities within a 12 minute drive of my house. So 36 doesn't sound completely impossible to me.

        As for 'scientists,' it doesn't say who they are in the link, but I'm guessing they count nearly anyone who is a professor, which isn't entirely unreasonable.

        Isn't a "scientist" someone who actually practices science? One would think a professor in an unrelated field wouldn't count, nor would someone consumed with faculty paperwork who hadn't done research in decades.

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      155 scientists from 36 colleges and universities in Iowa

      That would mean there are more scientists and universities in Iowa than there are in the country I currently live, which is one of the more civilized in Europe. Now I may have been sleeping for all those years, yet....

      According to Wiki, there are 60 colleges and universities in Iowa. While one can question what exactly is a scientist, whatever the definition, it's not hard to imagine that there might be an average of 3 of them per college and university. At the University of Iowa itself, there are probably at least that many, without counting the medical school, if you include just the physics, chemistry, biology, and various agriculture disciplines.

      You don't mention what country you currently live in, but if what you s

  • If I were in Iowa... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @05:28PM (#45183137)

    If I were in Iowa I'd worry less about the impact of climate change on the agriculture, which will take decades versus the immediate impact diverting massive amounts of ground water into ethanol production for fuel, which scientists estimate will take centuries to replenish. Stopping climate change today won't refill the underground aquafiers and without water, there are no farms, nor rural communities to farm them.

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      If I were in Iowa I'd worry less about the impact of climate change on the agriculture, which will take decades versus the immediate impact diverting massive amounts of ground water into ethanol production for fuel, which scientists estimate will take centuries to replenish. Stopping climate change today won't refill the underground aquafiers and without water, there are no farms, nor rural communities to farm them.

      This. It's time to admit that burning our food for fuel was a bad idea.

  • by PortHaven (242123) on Monday October 21, 2013 @10:14AM (#45188201) Homepage

    The midwest has never suffered from floods and dustbowls before in modern history.

    *yawns*

    Honestly, the poor agricultural techniques practiced are probably more to blame than anything else. Corn, Soy, Corn, Soy, Corn, Soy, oh and Alfalfa on occasion.

    Miles of mono-crop with poorly tended farm soil and bad farming practices. There is a reason the dustbowl happened. And no, we didn't change ANYTHING except discover a deep underwater aquifer.

One man's "magic" is another man's engineering. "Supernatural" is a null word. -- Robert Heinlein

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