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Midwestern Farming Is in Danger From Climate Change
By Dan Nosowitz
From cranberry bogs in New England to citrus groves in California, soybeans in the plains states and cotton in Texas, few facts hold true about American agriculture across the board. A new study from Cornell University indicates that even climate change may not affect all regions equally.
The study was designed to learn about regional climate sensitivity—exactly how much and in what ways climate changes can impact distinct areas of the country—by examining climate data from 1960 until 2004. Climate change may not have been a hot topic in 1960, but climate changes were certainly happening.
To figure all this out, the researchers relied on total factor productivity or TFP, which is a fairly common economic indicator. In an agricultural context, TFP is a helpful macro indicator; it's basically a measure of output per input, and so tracking that number over time gives you a sense of technological growth. It's not a measure of something simple like, say, crop yield; it's more like a way to measure efficiency. That's useful in this context, because it ends up showing the overall health of an entire sector.
Anyway! What the researchers found is that increases in summer temperature, which have been increasingly common and are commonly associated with climate change, would significantly and negatively affect crops in the Midwest. The primary reason, according to the study, is the reliance of the Midwest on non-irrigated crops, especially cereals like corn and wheat. These are the dominant crops through throughout the central U.S., and without the extensive irrigation seen in, say, California, Midwestern farmers are much less able to cope with heat waves and droughts.
The study even questions the policy choices that led us to this point, specifically mentioning ethanol mandates and the way agribusiness encourages commodity crops. "Whether these policies played a decisive role in inducing the observed regional specialization that promoted that region's increased vulnerability to climatic extremes remains unknown but an intriguingly plausible hypothesis," wrote the study's authors.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.
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‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.