Climate Pains
Climate research

Climate Pains

Weathering Uncertainty

For the Midwest farmer, every year is unique. Early spring. Long, cold winter. Sizzling heat wave. Mother Nature throws up constant curve balls.

So, honestly, what’s the big deal about climate change?

Well, that’s what we’re exploring here at Harvest Public Media in our ongoing series “Climate Pains: America’s Breadbasket braces for change in the weather.”

Whether you buy into the science/theory of global warming or not, the farmer has to pay attention to the ever-changing projections related to long-term weather trends. His or her livelihood is at stake – and the implications for feeding the world are profound.

Sure, the concept has been politicized.  For some people, “climate change” is a dirty term; the preference is “climate variance.”  But the science is there — and Harvest Public Media is working to clarify the implications.

Rising temperatures could change what crops are grown where… and when. But there’s much more to it.

To begin: Harvest reporter Kathleen Masterson finds that Midwest farmers already are seeing warmer springs and more humid summers.  And so far, on balance, that's been good for agriculture. However, one of the likely consequences of climate change in the Midwest is more frequent, intense rainstorms, particularly in the spring — a time that's already ripe for soil erosion.

And Tim Lloyd has been following the potential impact of changing weather patterns on crop insurance. High uncertainty means high risk, which leads to higher insurance premiums and more tax dollars.

But this is a story that is constantly changing, of course. Just the other day, the Drovers’ Cattle Network wrote about how a recent and unexpected decline in sunspot activity has scientists and the media speculating about potential effects on the earth’s climate, including a possible cooling trend if the sunspot drought proves long-lived.

Curve balls from the sun? Just add more uncertainty to the ag equation.


Watch how Danny Kluthe is taking steps to make his farm an environmental game changer.