My science brain is just plain confused. And I can’t wrap my head around the recent farmer survey that shows 31% of 4,778 farmers surveyed believe there isn’t sufficient evidence that climate change is occurring. That is according to a joint study by Purdue and Iowa State.
Perhaps my logic is amiss, thinking that since farmers deal with so much science — be it crops, soils, livestock, plant health, crop inputs, etc. — they would mostly believe the widespread agreement in the scientific community regarding the reality of climate change. In this study, more than 90% of 173 scientists and climatologists believe climate change is occurring, with 80% believing human activity plays a role.
- 15% of poll respondents believe climate change isn’t even an issue.
- 52% think climate change is due to natural cycles.
I’ve also long been puzzled by politicians and politically-biased news outlets that seem to think they know more than the majority of climate scientists. Perhaps therein lies the confusion factor. In fact, Purdue natural resource social science professor Linda Prokopy (co-author of the study) says politics is driving divisions between these scientists and farmers.
“Scientists and climatologists are saying climate change is happening, and agricultural commodity groups and farmers are saying they don’t believe that,” she says. Study co-author Lois Wright Morton, a sociology prof at Iowa State, says, “The gap in views on climate change is caused in part by how individuals combine scientific facts with their own personal values.”
I guess in all fairness, farmers may not follow this long-term planet issue with great interest or study. In fact, Prokopy cites that, saying “farmers are by necessity very focused on short-term weather, in-season decisions and managing immediate risks, rather than looking 20 to 30 years down the road.” If you want to learn more, simply search for “National Climate Assessment” and read the report, or skip to the FAQs section. Another really good resource is skepticalscience.com. Click on the “Arguments” tab and read about 176 climate myths and what the science says about the myth.
Climate change is happening, and it is impacting farmers, as we reported in the November issue in “Rainy Corn Belt future” (bit.ly/1yjAzfQ). Climate scientists are confident that extreme weather events will continue to increase, especially higher spring and summer rainfall, for at least one to two decades. Given that, it makes sense for farmers to find ways to reduce spring fieldwork and planting within a narrower time frame, as well as take care of drainage management issues that exist. Increasing soil health and organic matter through no-till and cover crops is also proving a benefit in handling excess rainfall.
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