What Would a Farmer Do?

Have you ever wondered what farmers in Iowa think about climate change? Neither have I. But curiosity always strikes at midnight before a work week. Let’s talk about opinions on climate change in the so-called “Corn Belt” USA.

agriculture clouds corn corn field
Photo by Adam Kontor on Pexels.com

Forty percent (40%) of Iowaian farmers – yes I made up that term – felt concern over the impacts of climate change on their state’s agriculture. 35% of the farmers felt concern for their farm in particular. Nearly 46% of farmers believed that more extreme weather events would happen in the future. That means a certain amount of farmers acknowledged recurring extreme weather events, but not climate change.

Climate change according to me:

  • increased global temperatures
  • more frequent tornadoes, hurricanes, flash floods, and wildfires
  • more air pollution + air advisories
  • other things we are probably still researching
tornado on body of water during golden hour
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

I’ve always put climate change and extreme weather in the same category. It’s interesting that the majority of farmers were uncertain or not concerned about climate change and its grip on their state or operation, but many acknowledged an impending rise in extreme weather events. It is also intriguing that 68% of farmers in the study believed in climate change. However, many attributed it to natural causes.

What would an Iowaian farmer do in the face of climate change, other than show concern and attribute it to natural causes? According to the authors:

“Our findings suggest that farmers would be more responsive
to outreach focused on adaptation strategies rather than mitigation actions.” – Farmer beliefs and concerns about climate change

Mother earth gif by Eyedesyn.

In other words, a farmer may not agree with actions such as employing negative emissions technology, switching to solar or wind electric, or enforcing a carbon tax. A farmer from this study would be more keen on adapting to climate change, although how they would adapt wasn’t outlined in the study. One way people adapt to more frequent flooding is to move to higher ground, so perhaps farmers in Iowa would do that. Now let’s compare that to the attitudes of people who aren’t farmers in Iowa. Here’s a piece of another research article:

“Whites and males, for example, exhibit significantly greater concern for global warming and climate change than nonwhites and females, respectively. The remainder of the demographic variables, though—age, income, education, and attendance at religious services—do not have effects that are statistically discernible from zero.” – Personal Efficacy, the Information Environment, and Attitudes

This study was completed in 2008. It went on to explain that those with strong environmental ethics, and Republicans, are considerably more concerned about global warming and climate change than people with unrelated ethics. However, a study completed just 3 years before, American Risk Perceptions, came to different conclusions. The same group that the Personal Efficacy study deemed the most concerned about climate change – white, male Republicans – had little concern about it or didn’t believe in its existence. A list of specific reasons why the subgroup did not believe in climate change is:

  1. “Global warming is natural.”
  2. “The problem is overblown.”
  3. “There is no proof.”
  4. “It’s a conspiracy.”

Flash forward to now and things have probably taken another 180. Something studies on social attitudes typically mention is the amount of information that a subject has before stating an opinion. With more diverse information comes the ability to form a better opinion. According to one of the studies, people who trusted in science showed less concern about climate change. There could be a correlation there – knowledge and hope. Have you encountered unique perspectives about global climate change? Where and what were they?

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