Growing Returns

Five ways U.S. agriculture can adapt to climate change

Farmers have a long history of steadily increasing crop yields through technological innovation and improvements in management practices. However, as climate change makes weather more extreme and variable than ever before, productivity progress will likely stall by 2030 — even if the U.S. maintains past rates of R&D investment and innovation. Adaptation efforts must begin now to protect food supplies and farmer livelihoods.

Adaptation options can be deployed at various scales to combat the unknown challenges ahead.

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How will climate change affect U.S. crop yields?

As the UN climate conference kicks off in Egypt, food and agriculture are central to negotiations for the first time. More severe droughts, warmer temperatures and heavier rainfall fueled by climate change are making it harder than ever for the world’s one billion farmers to grow food and fiber. While some farms and regions are more vulnerable than others, climate change will affect farmers everywhere.

Here in the U.S., where farmers have a long history of steadily increasing yields, climate change will likely cause crop productivity gains to stall — or even reverse — as soon as 2030.

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EDF Celebrates the Passing of the NY Bond Act.

In the climate policy world, states and localities are often laboratories of innovation and progress. However, with the devastating impacts of hurricanes, wildfires and heat waves, residents are already experiencing the costly impacts of climate change. To mitigate these costs, EDF supports innovative funding and financing strategies — especially in areas that are most vulnerable to climate impacts. One example of this is EDF’s work on a ballot measure in New York State.

This week, voters passed the historic Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act ballot measure. This comes on the heels of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, ushering in a variety of new flood resilience projects aimed at mitigating these risks to communities.

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New report provides a science roadmap for natural climate solutions

Natural climate solutions, such as reforestation and wetland restoration, can help slow climate change and increase resilience in the face of climate impacts we can’t avoid.

These approaches have substantial and growing support from bipartisan lawmakers, the private sector and environmental nonprofits. However, big questions remain: Where are these strategies most effective? To what extent can they meaningfully remove and reduce greenhouse gases? How will increased drought, fire and pest outbreaks impact their ability to stave off climate change?

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My perspectives on how we can inspire the next generation of Black climate leaders.

By Arianna Mackey, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Summer 2022 Intern

I became aware of my community’s lack of environmental awareness at a very young age. Growing up in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, my family and I visited the Nauticus museum often. One afternoon, after spending time in the flooding exhibit, I explained to my mom that due to increased flooding, Virginia Beach would be inhabitable in the future, with standing water reaching the front door following a storm. She brushed me off by saying it was an “over-exaggeration” and our community was fine. That encounter piqued my interest in environmentalism. Read More »

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A conservation win and groundwater loss: Arizona ends 2022 session with mixed water record

The Verde River, one of the last free-flowing rivers in the Southwest, remains unprotected after another year of in action to address rural groundwater pumping in Arizona.

After months of negotiations, the Arizona Legislature passed a major water spending plan last month with funding for new conservation efforts to address deteriorating water supplies. However, for the fourth year in a row, state leaders failed to pass legislation to address unlimited groundwater pumping, missing an opportunity to enable a water secure future for 1.5 million rural residents and the state as a whole.

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50 years is too long! Now is our time to go bold or go home.

Dr.BullardandWright

Dr. Robert Bullard and Dr. Beverly Wright, Photo provided by Joseph Video Production and TJ Images.

“50 Years is Enough!”

That was the theme at this year’s 8th Annual Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Climate Change Conference in New Orleans. 50 years of indiscriminate toxic dumping, 50 years of hazardous waste sites in frontline communities, 50 years of land-use decisions that harm communities of color – enough! It’s a searing message for attendees and a reminder that shines a light on the emergence of the movement from the 1960s and 1970s, in reaction to discriminatory environmental practices.

The conference began with a painful trip down memory lane, focused on the trials of environmental racism that befell Black communities in the 1960s. Event organizers discussed how imperative it is for policymakers to act in a way that helps ensure that communities have agency and ownership of their own future. The conference highlighted the long history of systemic racism that lies behind the environmental injustices that communities have faced for so many years. It also fueled a fire inside the movement’s trailblazers who spoke at the conference, forcing them to declare that enough is enough. We are fighting back! Read More »

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How credit and climate change collide for Black farmers in Georgia

Earlier this week, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund hosted a listening session for its Black farmer-members in Georgia in collaboration with Environmental Defense Fund. The federation is a nonprofit cooperative association of Black farmers, landowners and cooperatives based primarily in the Southern states. In the listening session, 15 farmers discussed their ongoing concerns about access to credit and climate change impacts, as well as how coalition building and advocacy can support them in continuing to farm. Read More »

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Nearly 1 million Virginians are at risk of flooding by 2080. The state just released a plan to address that risk.

Last week, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam released the commonwealth’s first Coastal Resilience Master Plan, the result of a multiyear effort to guide action to address flood risk to better protect communities, businesses and vital natural resources against sea level rise and climate change.

Here are four ways the plan provides a foundation and path forward for Virginia to comprehensively meet the urgency of its flood crisis in a coordinated, equitable way.

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5 ways FEMA and states can leverage financial tools to build resilience, fast

This blog is co-authored by Eric Letsinger, CEO, Quantified Ventures.

Climate change is exacerbating flooding, leaving many regions increasingly vulnerable. The recent IPCC report indicates seas will rise 6 to 12 inches by 2050, and climate change is fueling more intense storms and increased precipitation.

States must act fast to finance and implement solutions that address these risks now and in the future.

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