26 October 2006

Climate Change: Farmers Go Green to Fight Global Warming

Tackling Climate Change is going to take all sorts from all sectors. Some will seem like strange bedfellows. Like, I dunno, enviros and oil men, evangelicals and pro-choice green soccer Moms...

Now farmers are getting into the mix. Some see it as a way to save family farms by suplying biodiesel. Others understand that if dramatic climate change occurs, they may have difficulty growing cash crops where they farm today. (Any real estate agents out there looking to sell some future farm land in Siberia or Alaska?)

CNN.com reports on the farmer situation from Iowa. (Sing it: "Oh the greenies and the farmers should be friends...")

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Gary Larsen, a 63-year-old grandfather who raises corn and soybeans, is among the growing number of farmers concerned with the potential effects of global warming.

"We don't know how the world could actually turn out, but doing absolutely nothing and sticking your head in the sand is not an option," said Larsen, who lives near Elk Horn, Iowa.

He has adopted environmentally friendly farming methods and even recently bought a hybrid car.

Hybrids aren't replacing one-ton pickups in mid-America, but many in the agriculture industry are reacting to the potential effects of global warming, developing new technology and farming methods to brace for the possibility of widespread drought and crop-pounding storms.

In the past century, the Earth's surface temperature has risen by about 1 degree Fahrenheit and could climb another 5 to 10 degrees over the next century, according to government officials.

The Environmental Protection Agency has blamed human activities for most of the warming over the last 50 years, including the buildup of greenhouse gases that trap heat.

"It's dire in the sense that this problem is already with us, and it's hard to see how it can go away," said Kevin E. Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

"There are no global concerted efforts to really address the problem."

Trenberth said farmers have quickly learned to manage the effects of hot, dry weather and soil-eroding storms.

"They see the trends and they adapt their practices," he said.

The industry has been especially aggressive in breeding and developing crops that more efficiently use soil moisture and nutrients. Such crops can ward off disease and pests that stress plants trying to cope with increased temperatures.

Read the full article: Farmers Going Green

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