Growing Returns

Selected tag(s): climate resilience

Six reasons why wetlands are vital every month of the year.

The Environmental Protection Agency has designated May as American Wetlands Month, a “time to celebrate the vital importance of wetlands to our Nation’s ecological, economic, and social health.”

Scientists and coastal planners increasingly recognize the important role wetlands play in everything from flood protection to water quality to wildlife habitat to economic impact. At the same time, climate change and other stressors threaten wetlands, and in turn, the people and wildlife that rely on them.

As we close out American Wetlands Month, here are six reasons why one of nature’s richest ecosystems provide value to our lives every month of the year. Read More »

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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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Small North Carolina farms find profitability in climate resilience

Farms across North Carolina are experiencing more variable and extreme weather associated with climate change, including hotter nights and more frequent and severe rainfall. Small farms are adapting to these changes by adopting climate-resilient practices that help buffer weather extremes and improve soil health.

Measuring and communicating the financial costs and benefits of these practices is important to help more farmers adopt them profitably and find financial support for the transition. Cooperative extension agents — small farms’ closest technical advisers — will increasingly need to inform farmers about climate-resilient practices and their financial impacts.

Environmental Defense Fund and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University Cooperative Extension collaborated with three small North Carolina farms to measure the financial impacts of adopting reduced tillage, high tunnels and cover crops. The results are summarized in a new report and set of case studies. Read More »

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How a diversity of crops, geographies and farms makes North Carolina’s agriculture sector uniquely resilient

Climate change and extreme weather pose serious threats to North Carolina agriculture as both temperatures and precipitation totals are expected to rise. However, North Carolina’s diverse agricultural production system provides a strong foundation for building climate resilience.

Environmental Defense Fund partnered with Cooperative Extension at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University to study the financial impacts of climate resilience on farms in North Carolina.

As an NC A&T student and EDF summer intern, I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Mark Blevins, assistant administrator for agriculture and natural resources with the Cooperative Extension, about the current state and future of North Carolina agriculture.

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How Congress can ensure voluntary carbon markets work for farmers and the environment

Voluntary agricultural carbon markets, although currently in their infancy, have the potential to increase adoption of climate-smart agriculture practices by generating new revenue streams for producers who cut emissions or sequester carbon, while also increasing climate resilience.

Voluntary carbon markets, however, currently involve multiple carbon registries and protocols for different types of emissions reduction and carbon removal practices, with variable measurement and accounting approaches. This variation means that farmers, other credit developers and purchasers risk investing in poorly quantified and potentially reversible climate benefits.

Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture must act now to help ensure voluntary agricultural carbon markets work for farmers and the environment. Today, I testified before the House Agriculture Committee about three ways that they can best do this. Read More »

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Quick action needed to achieve full mitigation potential of soil carbon credits

The potential for agricultural climate solutions has led to surging interest in credits for soil carbon sequestration. The stakes for climate change and farmers are high, and there is a pressing need to evaluate emerging protocols for measuring, reporting and verifying soil carbon sequestration and net greenhouse gas removals.

With that in mind, Environmental Defense Fund and the Woodwell Climate Research Center reviewed 12 published protocols for soil carbon credits from cropland and rangeland, and published the results in a new report — Agricultural Soil Carbon Credits: Making sense of protocols for carbon sequestration and net greenhouse gas removals.

Here are the challenges the report found with current soil carbon credits and recommendations for overcoming them to build confidence in soil carbon markets. Read More »

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3 must-haves for USDA to cut agriculture’s environmental footprint in half

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new Agriculture Innovation Agenda sets a promising and necessary goal: Cut the environmental footprint of U.S. agriculture in half by 2050. The agency aims to achieve this in part through lower greenhouse gas emissions, improved water quality and increased soil health.

Meeting this objective will not only benefit the people who rely on American farmers and the natural resources they steward. It will also make agriculture part of the solution and build climate resilience on the front lines – America’s farms.

Farmers are coming off one of the most difficult growing seasons on record, and more extreme and variable weather is becoming the norm. Boosting climate resilience to reduce production risk has never been more essential.

But for USDA to effectively deliver on this goal, it will need to arm itself – and farmers – with robust data, science and economics. Here are three ways that USDA can boost its climate roadmap to put U.S. agriculture on the path to success. Read More »

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Three lessons from Cuba about improving coastal climate resilience

Facing a future with increasingly powerful hurricanes and rising seas, Cuba is addressing its vulnerability to climate change head-on.

The country recently approved a new constitution that highlights the importance of addressing climate change, and its National Plan to Confront Climate Change, known as Tarea Vida (“Project Life”), provides a template to coordinate the resilience efforts of multiple sectors across the island.

A recent seminar in Havana on climate finance and sustainable development highlighted a three-pronged strategy for effectively building resilience: the protection and rehabilitation of ecosystems to reduce climate impacts, robust data collection, and community involvement every step of the way. These best practices translate to the U.S. as well. Read More »

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Following Florence, lessons from Harvey in recovery and resilience

With the impacts of Hurricane Florence continuing to unfold, coastal communities in the Southeast will soon be looking to other coastal areas, like Houston, as models for rebuilding resiliently. By doing so, they can speed their recovery and build back in smart ways – because that’s what resilience is all about.

For Houston, it wasn’t a single event that triggered discussions of resilience. Houston residents have faced a decade of intense storms and floods, with Hurricane Ike in 2008, the Memorial Day Flood of 2015, the Tax Day Flood of 2016 and Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Together, these repeat catastrophic events sounded the alarm that past approaches to managing flood waters are not sufficient.

Last week, I went to Houston to help decision-makers explore how the city can realize its aim to become more resilient. One year after Harvey, Houston is still learning from its experiences and building upon lessons learned from mega-disasters like Katrina and Sandy to move more rapidly into resilience-building phases. That’s good news, because with more frequent, intense weather events, communities across the nation are going to have to rebuild smarter.

Once communities and officials in the Southeast begin thinking about recovery from Florence and preparing to rebuild, there are four key lessons they can learn from Houston after Harvey that will ultimately help them strengthen the social, economic and environmental fabric of the region. Read More »

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California’s budget is not about resistance. It’s about resilience.

The California legislature has passed a budget bill that gives me great hope for the state and for the nation. That’s because the budget was not only passed with bipartisan support – it also proves that conservation has broad political appeal.

California has rebuked the Trump administration on a number of issues including healthcare, immigration and the environment, leading many Americans to see California as the ultimate resistance state. But when I take a closer look at this budget, I think it has less to do with resistance, and everything to do with resilience.

Resilient people, communities, institutions and, yes, environment. Read More »

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