Nick Fetty | May 12, 2015
DES MOINES – Authors of the “Iowa Climate Statement 2015: Time for Action” presented their findings and called for presidential hopefuls to address climate change while on the campaign trail during a press conference at the statehouse on Monday.
This year’s statement was signed by 188 scientists and researchers from 39 colleges and universities across the state. Traditionally the climate statement is released in the fall but this year it was a released early as a way to encourage presidential hopefuls visiting the Hawkeye State to address climate change and its affects during their campaigns. The lead authors of the fifth annual statement felt that Iowa’s role as the first in the nation caucus gives the state a unique opportunity to bring these issues into the national spotlight.
“Our goal is to clearly communicate the expected impacts of climate changes on Iowa, to ensure decisions are based upon accurate, current scientific information,” said David Courard‐Hauri, Director of the Environmental Science and
Policy Program at Drake University. “This year with presidential candidates visiting Iowa for the 2016 caucuses, we felt that it makes sense to step back, summarize what we’ve done in the past, and encourage Iowans to find out from politicians how they expect to engage this issue.”
The authors felt that climate change has largely been ignored by presidential candidates from both parties in past years.
“This is unacceptable and we’re calling on voters in the state and members of the press who are interviewing candidates or asking them questions in debates to make sure that anyone who wants to be president has the opportunity to spell out clearly for voters how they will deal with the most critical of issues,” Courard‐Hauri said.
Chris Anderson, Assistant Director of the Climate Science Program at Iowa State University, stated that there are 13,950 peer-reviewed scientific publications that have attributed humans as being the primary causes of climate change. He compared the peer review process to receiving a second medical opinion from a physician and cited that a mere 24 publications (out of 13,974) haven’t connected climate change to human activity.
“In Iowa we are already feeling the affects of climate change,” Anderson said. “What we have seen in Iowa is an increase in frequency of the number of excessively wet springs and an increased frequency in the number of excessively wet days and these are causing substantial damages to our cities and our farmland.”
Anderson added that many of these conditions are expected to worsen in the coming years.
Yogi Shah, Associate Dean of the Department of Global Health at Des Moines University, focused on the health affects of climate change, many of which were addressed in the Iowa Climate Statement 2014: Impacts on the Health of Iowans. He cited that due to temperature and other weather pattern changes associated with climate change, Iowans are experiencing an additional 19 days of allergies compared to previous years.
Additionally, increased temperatures and carbon levels have led to a greater number of mosquito-borne and other diseases spread by insects.
“[With] every degree rise in temperature, [the] mosquito population grows by eight to tenfold,” he said.
These issues of increased extreme weather events and the associated health complications again come back to the need for policymakers to take action, particularly those seeking to become the next president of the United States.
“Iowans take our role in choosing candidates very seriously and we deserve to have a clear picture of how each candidate plans to guide our country in the face of a changing climate,” Courard‐Hauri said. “Moreover the 188 signers who study and teach about climate speak with one voice in our effort to make extremely clear to Iowans and members of the news media, how important this issue is to cover, to report on, and to ask candidates about.”