As a nation we love to obsess about the weather. While I realize that for many people all weather is “local” – is the rock in my backyard wet, frozen, dry, hot and the like – there are weather wooooooo moments that turn the head.
Nowadays those kinds of moments are coming fast and furious. Just last month California’s Death Valley reached what may be the highest verifiable recorded temperature in the history of our planet. 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Let that sink in a moment – 130 freaking degrees.
And there’s this jaw dropping statistic. The last decade, 2010-through-2019 – was the hottest on record. The bright red flashing warning light is that the rate of average global temperature is increasing. Rapidly. The decade of the 2000s was up 0.39C compared with an average of just 0.07C per decade going back more than a century.
What about weather and agricultural events? Glad you asked. Last month a derecho in eastern Iowa destroyed more than 100 million bushels of commerical and on farm grain storing capacity.
If that wasn’t enough, the derecho winds, measured as the equivalent of an F-1 tornado – flattened an estimated 14 million acres of Iowa corn. The recently concluded Pro Farmer Crop Tour estimated in Iowa 300 thousand acres of corn was lost primarily due to the derecho.
All of this to say that if you care about the future of this little blue ball the clock is edging closer to point of no return on climate change. Given the stark differences between the two major party candidates for the November elections, a referendum on climate change is on the ballot.
The Party Platforms are informative.
For the first time Democrats have included land use, including agricultural, wetlands, and forest management, in climate change calculations, accounting for roughly a third of human caused global greenhouse gas emissions. The Joe Biden campaign believes it possible to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the agricultural sector through “decarbonizing the food and agriculture sector, and leveraging agriculture to remove carbon dioxide from the air and store it in the ground.”
The Democrat National Committee is on board with battling climate change as well saying:
“Climate change is a global emergency. We have no time to waste in taking action to protect Americans’ lives and futures.” Democrats will partner with farmers to make the American agriculture sector the first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions, opening up new sources of income for farmers in the process. We will expand federal programs to help farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners pursue high-productivity, lower-emission, and regenerative agricultural practices in order to help build more resilient, vibrant, local and regional food systems.”
Okay. I know. That’s a lot of flowery language. But I believe the Democrats are offering up a carbon capture plan of some sort with the how to get it done yet to be determined. Yes, the plan is sketchy and given all the ideological forces within the Democrat Party it will be a major taffy pull before anything reaches the president’s desk. But given what’s coming out of the GOP it's Shanghai.
It’s no secret to anyone paying attention that the POTUS is the nation’s science and climate change denier-in-chief. It’s a given undisputed fact at this point. But sometimes behind the scene what government does compared to what the POTUS says are two vastly different things. Four years ago the 2016 Republican Party Platform was crystal clear when it comes to governmental action on climate change:
“We oppose any carbon tax. It would increase energy prices across the board, hitting hardest families who are already struggling to pay their bills in the Democrats' no-growth economy. We urge the private sector to focus its resources on the development of carbon capture and sequestration technology still in its early stages her and overseas…. We will enforce the original intent of the Clean Water Act, not its distortion by EPA regulations. We will likewise forbid the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide, something never envisioned when Congress passed the Clean Air Act.”
And that's essentially how the GOP has functioned the past four years, doing everything it could to gum up efforts to have a national debate on the climate change issue.
And as for the 2020 Republican Party Platform? There isn't one. That’s right. Nothing. Nada. Zippo. The stated reason is that COVID-19 didn't allow delegates to gather in person to deliberate over policy. The truth is probably something else. The RNC political imperative is to support the POTUS. Full stop.
Let's summarize. Democrats state they view climate change as an existential threat to global survival and want to roll their sleeves and be part of the solution. The GOP has...well nothing.
Think about that at the voting booth.
About Dave Dickey
Dickey spent nearly 30 years at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s NPR member station WILL-AM 580 where he won a dozen Associated Press awards for his reporting. For 13 years, he directed Illinois Public Media’s agriculture programming. His weekly column for the Midwest Center covers agriculture and related issues including politics, government, environment and labor. His opinions are his own and do not reflect the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.