I recently sat on a panel of agriculture professionals and was asked, “What keeps you up at night?”
I have a ready answer.
This is an Opinion
Making payroll. I’m the CEO of an agricultural research farm and a seed company in rural northeast Arkansas. All business owners worry about finances. What invoices remain unpaid? What is the next big expense?
My son. I’m also a mother of a 17-month-old boy. All mothers worry about their kids. Is he eating the right things? Developing normally? I worry too about his future. Will we have enough savings to send him to college? What legacy am I leaving him?
Climate change. It threatens my business, my way of life and the legacy I will leave for my son: the farm. I am a sixth-generation farmer. I grew up on and farm the same land cultivated by my family for well over 100 years. I am proud of this history and committed to the good stewardship of the resource given to me.
Emissions-driven climate change amplifies extreme weather events — longer droughts, more torrential rains and stronger storms. The devastating weather experienced in the last two farming years will be the new norm. Farmers like me will be able to count on more challenging seasons jeopardizing our ability to make a profitable crop.
In August 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published “What Climate Change Means for Arkansas.” It states:
“Arkansas will become warmer, and the state will probably experience more severe floods and drought. … [A]nnual rainfall has increased in much of the state, and more rain arrives in heavy downpours. Changing the climate is likely to increase damage from storms, reduce crop yields, harm livestock, increase the number of unpleasantly hot days, and increase the risk of heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.”
We don’t have a few more years or decades before climate change arrives. It’s here.
What can we do about it?
When discussing the threats of climate change to our industry, a colleague said, “Whew, this is depressing. Let’s talk about something happier.”
We shouldn’t, though. We need to talk about climate change right now even though it scares the bejesus out of us.
I joined Citizens’ Climate Lobby because this organization and its members support a solution as real and immediate as climate change itself, the Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763). Introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018 with bipartisan support, this agriculture-friendly policy puts a fee on fossil fuels, starting low and growing over time. This will drive down carbon pollution because energy companies, leading industries and American consumers will move toward cleaner, cheaper options. The money collected from the carbon fee is allocated in equal shares every month to the American people to spend as they see fit. The bill now has 77 co-sponsors.
The bill is a simple solution that will enact big change. It has been referred to committee and requires us as concerned farmers, businesspeople, parents and consumers to take a public stand in support of this bill.
Here is what I did and what you can do:
► Learn more about the Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act.
► Join Citizens’ Climate Lobby and engage with your local chapter. I am extremely fortunate to have the guidance and partnership of CCL volunteers here in Arkansas. They helped educate me about climate solutions and focus my fear into action. CCL has eight very active Arkansas chapters. CCL is also active in Missouri, Tennessee, Texas and in all 50 states as well as internationally.
► Talk to people about your concerns. Write up your thoughts just as I have done. Send them to your colleagues. Talk to your neighbors.
Humans thrive via cooperation, and enough Americans moving in the same direction can make a difference. It isn’t enough to say, “Yes, we should do something about climate change.” We must say, “This is how we will do something about climate change.”
As someone staring down a threat to my very way of life, I am empowered to say, “This is how I will change the future for myself and my son.”