Midwestern (Climate) Sensibilities

Happy New Year, Climate Fans!


Despite Congress pressing the climate action snooze button, 2011 has already brought us a welcome climate surprise. 


No, I’m not talking about the EPA moving forward to regulate carbon pollution – and the attacks on clean air from the usual suspects.  We’ve anticipated this showdown of public health and economic growth vs. polluting corporate special interests for a while—and stay tuned here for updates as climate deniers and fossil fuel-backed Members of Congress use every trick in the book to gut the Clean Air Act.


Our climate surprise comes from an unlikely state. Say “climate action” and most folks would think of places like California or Oregon. But it seems we should think about adding Iowa to that list.  Yes. I said Iowa.  


In response to the Iowa Legislature’s request, the state’s Climate Change Impacts Committee rang in the New Year by releasing a report on Climate Change Impacts on Iowa. The report runs down the list of current and expected climate impacts to Iowans including: more frequent storms, higher humidity, increased flooding, damage to crops, affected wildlife and wildlands (and related hunting/fishing opportunities), and numerous public health issues from heat waves to respiratory illness.


What to do in the face of these, and additional, climate challenges? 

The report’s most important recommendation should be a wake-up call for Members of Congress getting back to The Hill this week: “halting ongoing climate-change manifestations depends on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”


However, the report also lists some important action steps to help protect Iowa’s citizens, natural resources and economy in a warming world. Notably,

-Incorporating current and anticipated climate impacts into policy and appropriations decisions.

-Protect the state’s soil, water quality and agricultural productivity in the face of climate change.


And of special interest to many of us:

-”Increase investments in state programs that enhance wildlife habitat and management and restore public and private lands. Changes in climate will have direct impact on both game and non-game species.”  I couldn’t have said it any better myself!


While the report discusses climate change’s negative economic consequences for Iowans, it regrettably fails to address a critical upside to addressing climate disruption: protecting and creating jobs.


Investments in keeping our natural resources resilient in a warming world can protect and create thousands of jobs across the country while protecting the $730 billion active outdoor recreation industry and a host of other critical natural services (Like clean water? How about clean air? Thank your forests). What’s more, these investments in natural resources can create more jobs per dollar than other industries (like fossil fuels or nuclear energy). 


As we gear up to defend against attacks on climate policies, it’s good to know that out in the “real world,” states continue to move forward on addressing climate disruption. That said, we’ll only avoid a true climate crisis if we dramatically reduce carbon pollution and keep our communities and wildlands resilient in a warming world—and for that we’ll need more of you “back home” waking up your Members of Congress and shaking them out of their climate snooze.  


Follow JP on Twitter @TWSjp

Photo credit: Neal Smith NWR courtesy of the US Fish & Wildlife Service


Elizabeth M.
Elizabeth M7 years ago

Thanks for the interesting article. I hope they push ahead in Iowa!

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman7 years ago

Thanx for the article

Michelle M.
Michelle M7 years ago

good for iowa!

Kelli A.
Kelli A.7 years ago

Way to go Iowa! We need more action like this all over the world. It all starts at universities and until critical, cooperative dialogue begins, people will remain ignorant of the effects we have on the world and the environment. Read this book and tell everyone you know!
Differing Worldviews in Higher Education:
Two Scholars Argue Cooperatively about Justice Education
By Four Arrows and Walter Block
A Dialogue for Our Divided World
Two noted professors on opposite sides of the cultural wars come together and engage in "cooperative argumentation." One, a "Jewish, atheist libertarian" and the other a "mixed blood American Indian" bring to the table two radically different worldviews to bear on the role of colleges and universities in studying social and ecological justice. The result is an entertaining and enlightening journey that reveals surprising connections and previously misunderstood rationales that may be at the root of a world too polarized to function sanely.
ISBN 978-94-6091-351-8 hardback USD99/EUR90
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Donald MacDonald
don MacDonald7 years ago

" * Barbara V. says
* Jan 8, 2011 4:11 PM

Ronald MacDonald and certain of the remarks Mark M made tell me they're hatemongers. As if we needed any more of them. "

Sorry you had to stoop to defiling my name Barbara...shows a petty nature.

Your profile says that you are very intuitive...

Your intuition should have told you that I am not a hate monger...and that Al Gore is a liar.

I used to think he was OK...but my opinion on public figures can change according to new information because I'm not caught up in the partisan con game.


Novinha L.
.7 years ago

Thanks for the article!

Novinha L.
.7 years ago

Thanks for the article!

Jane H.
Jane H7 years ago

Mostly good news--hope this spreads among the states while the Repubs. have control of the US House of Representatives.

Shannon S.
Shannon S7 years ago

Sometimes I am proud to be an Iowan :) But this report was under our old, Democratic-majority Congress and Democratic governor and the unfortunate influx of Republicans-including a Republican governor-probably means no change will actually occur. Our new governor was elected solely on the basis that he will "create jobs" even though he doesn't give a damn about the floods of 2008 and preventing future floods or helping rebuild damaged homes and businesses or any other issues, really. Just jobs. Yet green jobs have the largest growth-but you can bet your life the new Gov won't want any green jobs. Goes against his special interest buddies who got him elected. Sigh
Mark M mentioned the three judges that weren't retained solely for their ruling on gay marriage. Yes, unfortunately that is true. Fortunately, that only worked because of one section of Iowa that is overwhelmingly conservative Christian. They're all concentrated in one small area of Iowa and they aren't a large percentage of Iowans, but because they are concentrated, with the way district lines are made, they are their own district. An unrepresentative district that re-elects Steve King every few years. They're the ones responsible for the vote on the judges-as was a multimillion dollar false ad campaign by Mormon groups and others, and the fact that people didn't vote on the judge issue-they didn't turn the ballot over or left that part blank. *sigh* Iowa is still largely progressive!!

Doug D.
Doug D7 years ago

Better environment. More jobs. Healthier people. Ahhhh..... :-)