Year 4, Month 4, Day 20: The Dental Floss Is Thin On The Ground This Year

USA Today offers Senator Jon Tester a chance to talk about climate change:

I am a third-generation farmer from north-central Montana. My wife, Sharla, and I farm the same land homesteaded by my grandparents a century ago, continuing a Montana tradition of making a living off the land. We’ve farmed this land for nearly 40 years.

For the average American, particularly those of us from rural America, the political conversation about climate change seems worlds away. For us, warmer winters and extreme weather events are already presenting new challenges for our way of life.

It’s an experience with climate change that too often goes unreported and overlooked. But as a nation we must start paying attention, because the experiences of America’s farmers, ranchers, and sportsmen and women will change the debate if policymakers start listening.

Scientists tell us that climate change will bring shorter, warmer and drier winters to Montana. I see it every time I get on my tractor.

When I was younger, frequent bone-chilling winds whipped snow off the Rocky Mountain Front and brought bitterly cold days that reached -30 degrees. Today, we have only a handful of days that even reach 0 degrees. Changes in the weather are forcing Sharla and I to change how we operate our farm. It’s now more difficult to know when to plant to take advantage of the rains.

Tester’s not 100% good, but he’s right on this issue. April 8:

It’s a measure of our disconnect from natural forces that so few Americans are conscious of their experience of climate change. When most of us have never seen wheatfields or dairy cows, our experience of agriculture is so heavily mediated by the forces of commerce that we cannot imagine the impact of extreme weather on our food supply.

As Senator Tester points out, we’re not going to stay happily ignorant for much longer. The rapidly accelerating greenhouse effect is no longer an academic exercise, but a steadily escalating real-world phenomenon that’s going to have profound impacts on the way we live.

Unpredictable yields, destroyed crops, and a greater incidence of disease-bearing pests are just a few of the likely futures for agriculture in a climate-changed world — and denying the grim science of global warming just makes us that much more certain to reap a harvest of grief.

Warren Senders

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