Iowa agriculture, climate change, and "SWAPA"

Paul W. Johnson is a preacher’s kid, former Iowa state legislator, former chief of the USDA Soil Conservation Service/Natural Resources Conservation Service, former director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and a retired farmer. -promoted by Laura Belin

In the early 1980s there was a serious farm crisis in Iowa. Land and commodity prices were falling, so banks were calling in farm loans and foreclosing on farmers who couldn’t pay up. Maurice Dingman was bishop of the Des Moines area during those years, and he was speaking up strongly for farmers who were suffering during this time. I was impressed by his defense of family farmers.

In 1987 David Osterberg and I were serving in the Iowa legislature–he representing Mount Vernon, I representing Decorah–and working on groundwater protection. Industrial agriculture sent their lobbyists to weaken our legislation, and newspapers were carrying stories about their fierce opposition to our work.

During this time, Bishop Dingman phoned us and suggested we have lunch together. 

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Iowa golden saxifrage

Luther College Associate Professor Beth Lynch profiles a very rare plant, “which by historical accident is named for Iowa.” -promoted by Laura Belin

As I child, I pondered the (to me, peculiar) idea that in Victorian times at least some people believed that children should be “seen, but not heard.” Twisting that idea around, there are quite a few plants in Iowa that will rarely be seen, but it’s certainly worth hearing about them.

Several years ago, I profiled witch hazel, which certainly fits in the rarely-seen (at least, in Iowa) category. Today, I bring to you the tiny Iowa golden saxifrage (Chrysosplenium iowense), which by historical accident is named for Iowa, even though it is almost never seen in Iowa.

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We can run. We can try to hide. But there is no Planet B

Julie Ann Neely: “We will live through this, but when the pandemic runs its course, environmental degradation will remain to disrupt our economy and threaten our health.” -promoted by Laura Belin

While simultaneously trying to stay safe and reopen the economy, the COVID-19 pandemic reminds us daily that we are all part of the interconnected web of life on earth. We are struggling with unprecedented disruptions in healthcare and the economy, as climate disasters increase in frequency and intensity, exacerbating health risks.

Long after this wave of infections ebbs and a vaccine is developed, we will still live with the reverberations. Whether we are able to deal with them depends on the leaders we elect in November.

In the grand scheme of things, Mother Earth doesn’t give a fig about politics, the stock market, big profits, or the lines we draw in the sand that divide us. Nor does she need us. 

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Cindy Axne overtakes Chuck Grassley as Iowa's renewable energy champion

Tyler Granger compares the recent work of U.S. Representative Cindy Axne and Senator Chuck Grassley. -promoted by Laura Belin

America’s clean energy economy has been hit extremely hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated 620,000 U.S. clean energy workers lost their jobs from March 2020 to May 2020, and clean energy employment has fallen by 18 percent over that same time period.

Allies of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley affectionately call him the father of Iowa wind energy. That may have been true a decade ago, but Grassley has been an absentee father in 2020 when it comes to renewable energy. 

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Ernst's words don't match actions on COVID-19 relief for fossil fuels industry

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst told members of the Iowa Farmers Union in June that she’d prefer for fossil fuel companies not to be eligible for COVID-19 relief funds.

However, months earlier she was among only two farm state senators to sign a letter aimed at ensuring that oil, gas, and coal companies would have access to federal funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

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