2017-01-28. In America’s Heartland, Discussing Climate Change Without Saying ‘Climate Change’.

posted Jan 31, 2017, 1:39 PM by Alan Gould

By Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times. For GSS Climate Change chapter 10. Excerpt: GLEN ELDER, Kan. — Doug Palen, a fourth-generation grain farmer on Kansas’ wind-swept plains, is in the business of understanding the climate. Since 2012, he has choked through the harshest drought to hit the Great Plains in a century, punctuated by freakish snowstorms and suffocating gales of dust. His planting season starts earlier in the spring and pushes deeper into winter. To adapt, he has embraced an environmentally conscious way of farming that guards against soil erosion and conserves precious water. He can talk for hours about carbon sequestration — the trapping of global-warming-causing gases in plant life and in the soil — or the science of the beneficial microbes that enrich his land. In short, he is a climate change realist. Just don’t expect him to utter the words “climate change.” “If politicians want to exhaust themselves debating the climate, that’s their choice,” Mr. Palen said, walking through fields of freshly planted winter wheat. “I have a farm to run.” ...The climate has not always been such a partisan issue. Richard Nixon, a Republican president, set up the Environmental Protection Agency and signed the Clean Air Act. Ronald Reagan ushered in the Montreal Protocol, the first global treaty to protect the global atmosphere. Much of that consensus has broken down, in no small part because of a well-financed push by fossil-fuel interests, together with influential Republican allies, to attack well-established research on topics like global warming and push back on environmental regulation. ...Still, “it would be a huge mistake to think people voting for Trump were voting against the environment,” Ms. Horn said. If Trump follows an aggressive anti-environment agenda, she said, “there will be a big backlash in the heartland.” ...Carl Priesendorf, a science teacher at Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City, Mo., has learned strategies to talk about climate change without completely alienating climate skeptics. He teaches geology and meteorology. Those subjects would usually be innocuous, but not here. “I’d show the CO2 data — how we’d had the hottest year on record,” Mr. Priesendorf said. “But I get students who basically say what I’m teaching is nonsense. My car’s been keyed. I get notes from students saying they’re praying for my soul.” One such note that he shared reads, “Know that God’s love surpasses knowledge.”...  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/28/business/energy-environment/navigating-climate-change-in-americas-heartland.html