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For Climate Change, the American Farmer is the Sleeping Giant

The most recent National Climate Assessment found that temperatures across the United States have already risen due to climate change by more than 1 degree on average. So, if we’re already feeling the effects of climate change, why do so many Americans remain skeptical of it? Part of the reason may be that while the national average changed, many parts of the country had little or no change. American corn farmers are one such group who remain skeptical of climate change and largely unharmed by it so far. A 2013 Iowa State University survey of farmers in the Corn Belt—the middle part of the country, from the middle of Texas to the Appalachian mountains—found only 8 percent attributed climate change mostly to human activity, compared with 27 percent of the general population. Farmers and rural residents have also overwhelmingly supported President Trump, who pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accords and has claimed climate change is a myth propagated by China. At first blush, this seems counter-intuitive, since farming is the occupation most dependent on climate and corn is highly responsive—in a negative way—to temperature increase. If temperatures are already rising, corn production should be falling and farmers should be clamoring for definitive action to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Some models show that by 2050, U.S. corn production will be 30-percent lower than it would have been without climate change. Corn is that sensitive to temperature rise, and temperatures in the corn belt are right on the cusp of a rise that will critically reduce yields. But crucially, the National Climate Assessment numbers showing...

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