Growing Returns

Hurricanes are getting stronger, more dangerous and forming earlier. Here’s how we can prepare.

Earlier this week, Tropical Storm Arthur skirted North Carolina’s coast before veering into the Atlantic. While damage was minimal, this marked the sixth straight year that a named storm developed in the Atlantic before the official start of hurricane season on June 1.

Experts are predicting this year to be a very active hurricane season, and even more concerning, researchers from NOAA and the University of Wisconsin at Madison just released a study that found climate change is causing more intense and dangerous hurricanes. Their research indicates that the likelihood of a tropical cyclone becoming a Category 3 or stronger storm has increased 8% per decade as a result of climate change. Read More »

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New York just took a huge step toward funding lasting climate resilience

Earlier this year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented an ambitious challenge to the state Legislature: Pass a $3 billion bond to boost climate resilience and mitigate the impacts of sea level rise while preserving the state’s natural resources.

Last month, at the height of the coronavirus, the Legislature responded, passing a budget bill that included the Restore Mother Nature Bond Act.

The measure is expected to go to voters in the fall. If a majority approves the bond, it will put New York on a path to building lasting resilience, while also stimulating the economy, creating jobs and benefiting the state’s most vulnerable communities. Read More »

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Why I’m visiting the California Capitol to testify on groundwater

Update: This bill passed out of the Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife in a 14-0 vote. It is expected to go before the Appropriations Committee in early June.

California lawmakers returned to work last week after taking measures to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in the state Capitol, acknowledging they must continue to tackle many other challenges still facing the state. Water is one of those perennial challenges.

That’s why I will be testifying Thursday on a bill, AB 2642, that will help farmers transition to more sustainable groundwater use.

(Photo Credit: Andre M.)

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3 ways to build a more resilient food supply chain

COVID-19 is upending the food supply chain. Thousands of workers have been infected. Businesses have shut down. Supplies of meats and other labor-intensive foods are tightening, while a surplus of perishable milk and crops has been dumped or left in fields to rot.

This is a nightmare for farmers, workers and consumers. Read More »

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How farm transition plans can preserve conservation values and legacies

This blog is authored by Bethany Baratta, senior writer at Iowa Soybean Association. 

A significant number of farmland acres in Iowa will be transferred to the next generation of farmers in the coming decade, providing a great opportunity for preserving and expanding conservation practices that have proven financial and resilience benefits.

According to Iowa State University, 60% of Iowa farmland is owned by people over the age of 65, and 35% of Iowa farmland is owned by those over 75. By 2024, landlords in the U.S. expect to transfer 91.5 million acres, or 10% of all U.S. farmland.

The way in which the land is transferred from one generation to the next could have a profound impact on the future of conservation efforts, and of the land itself. Read More »

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Ten years after the BP oil spill, restoration offers hope for the Gulf

This blog post is co-authored with colleagues from National Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy and Ocean Conservancy.

On April 20, 2010, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 men and spewing an estimated 134 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over the following 87 days. It was the largest oil spill in U.S. history, and it wreaked incredible harm on the ecosystem, wildlife and communities of the Gulf. Read More »

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Monetizing cover crops improves profitability for Iowa farmers, study shows

This blog is authored by Bethany Baratta, senior writer at Iowa Soybean Association. It originally posted on the Iowa Soybean Association Newsroom

While many farmers add cover crops with the goal to improve soil health, some participants in an Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) study are turning cover crops into new business opportunities. Capturing profit opportunities could result in expanded cover crop use in the state, the study showed.

Twenty Iowa farmers were chosen for the study during the 2018 crop year to take a closer look at the relationship between conservation adoption and farm production and profitability. Study participants were chosen based on their use of conservation practices such as cover crops and conservation tillage. Combined, participants raised 27,535 acres of corn and soybeans, and were geographically dispersed throughout the state. Read More »

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An infrastructure stimulus will make America more resilient, if we get it right

Congress is currently focused on passing a series of stimulus relief bills to support medical professionals, hospitals, individuals and small businesses in an attempt to mitigate the worst effects of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Policymakers must prioritize human health and safety. But the hope is that, sooner than later, the spread of the virus will slow and Congress will be able to turn its attention to kickstarting the economy.

An infrastructure bill represents a significant bipartisan opportunity to spur job growth and economic activity, while also building resilience for communities at risk from flooding and extreme weather. Read More »

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A low snowpack makes it imperative to better manage groundwater supplies. Here’s how.

Despite the much-needed April showers we saw this week, our normally wet January and February were bone dry in most of California. So it came as little surprise when the annual April 1 snowpack measurement in the Sierras came in low, at about 53% of average statewide. It’s another important reminder of how California’s weather, and consequently our water supplies, are swinging to greater extremes.

The low snowpack and extreme weather it signals make it more imperative than ever to carefully manage another part of our water system: underground water supplies.

We need to measure groundwater as actively as we measure snowpack and double down on efforts to successfully implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Here are three ways to help ensure more sustainable groundwater supplies for generations to come. Read More »

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Experts warn of a more active hurricane season. We need more wetlands, fast.

Hurricane season is just around the corner, but experts are already predicting an above-average season.

Researchers at Colorado State University and meteorologists at Accuweather each released predictions indicating that the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season could be cause for concern with the potential for up to nine hurricanes and an “above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States.”

Adding additional concern, water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico are currently extremely warm, creating a recipe for intensifying storms. Read More »

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