Thomas Robinson | April 27th, 2021
In a 2020 poll conducted at Iowa State University (ISU), only a small percentage of respondents agreed with a statement saying that climate change is caused mostly by human actions.
The Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll surveys what issues farmers in Iowa and the Midwest find important. Of all respondents, only 18% agreed with the statement that “climate change is occurring, and it is caused mostly by human activities.” In comparison, 40% of respondents agreed with the statement that “Climate change is occurring, and it is caused more or less equally by natural changes in the environment and human activities” which is an increase from 36% in 2013. While there appears to be a difference between farmer’s opinions and the scientific consensus that climate change is mostly caused by human activity, the increase in those who think that humans are potentially influencing the climate is promising for changes to public perception.
Participants also agreed more that extreme weather events will become more frequent, and that they are concerned about the ways climate change may influence their farms. Particularly after severe storm events, like last August’s derecho, and after prolonged periods of drought that have affected much of Iowa, an increased concern about severe storms or the effects of climate change on farms is unsurprising.
Climate change is expected to have a negative effect on agriculture because of reduced rainfall totals, and the increased frequency of weather extremes (colder cold weather, and warmer warm weather). Farms and farmers will be able to adapt to climate change, but there is more that can be done, whether by planting cover crops to prevent soil erosion, or by planting crops that will help fix carbon in our soils.