LANSING— Global warming could cost corn growers in Michigan $32 million a year, according to a new report by Environment Michigan. Michigan ranks 13th in the country for highest damage estimates. Nationwide the damages to America’s #1 crop total more than $1.4 billion annually. Environment Michigan expects these costs to go up unless Congress and the president take decisive action to repower America with clean energy and reduce global warming pollution.
“Corn likes it cool, but global warming is raising temperatures in Michigan and across the nation,” said Environment Michigan Field Organizer LuCinda Hohmann. “Hotter fields will mean lower yields for corn, and eventually, the rest of agriculture.”
Despite conventional wisdom that global warming is good for agriculture in the United States, scientists expect that temperature increases due to global warming will hurt corn production. In fact, research from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Carnegie Institution shows that temperature changes consistent with global warming are already harming corn production worldwide relative to a world without global warming.
Environment Michigan, farmers and academics point out that transitioning to a clean energy economy will help rebuild our economy and stop the worst effects of global warming.
“With clean energy such as wind and solar, agriculture has a huge opportunity to be part of the solution to global warming,” said American Corn Growers Association President Keith Bolin.
Clean energy sources, including wind turbines and distributed generation such as on-site solar panels, can provide farmers an independent source of electricity or income while reducing global warming pollution. Wind developers, for example, are offering $4,000 to $8,000 a year per turbine to farmers that allow them to be installed on their land.
With the report, Hotter Fields, Lower Yields, Environment America analyzed the expected future impacts of global warming on America’s corn growers. The analysis draws on a 2008 study by the United States Climate Change Science Program, a joint project of the United States Department of Agriculture and 12 other federal agencies. The report pairs the government estimates of the relative loss in corn productivity in major U.S. corn-producing areas due to global warming with USDA data on the size of the corn industry to estimate the financial impact from global warming. The analysis considers the combined effect of increasing temperatures and increasing levels of carbon dioxide but assumes that crops get sufficient water and does not include other negative effects of global warming, such as more frequent extreme storms, higher levels of ozone, and the spreading of diseases, pests and weeds.
This spring, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, of which Representatives Stupak, Dingell and Upton are members, will consider a bill answering President Obama’s call for comprehensive clean energy and global warming legislation, and the full House is expected to consider the bill this summer. In addition to capping global warming pollution at science-based levels, the American Clean Energy and Security Act would require that the nation obtain 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, like wind and solar power, by 2025. An analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that such a renewable electricity standard would generate $13.5 billion in new income for farmers, ranchers, and rural landowners.
“Global climate change is a real threat to human progress,” said Dr. David Skole, Professor of Global Change Science at Michigan State University, “and has important environmental and economic consequences if we do nothing about it.”
Hohmann said, “Big Oil, Dirty Coal, and other polluters are fighting to maintain the status quo, but now is the time for change. We need to unleash the power of clean energy to rebuild our economy and solve global warming.”
“Environment Michigan urges Committee members Stupak, Dingell and Upton as well as the rest of the Michigan delegation to vote for a strong bill that maintains science-based pollution reduction targets and speeds the transition to a clean energy economy.”