NBC reports on how “Climate change is shaping Iowa's physical and political landscape”. In case you’re thinking of Blofeld’s dismissive comment about Kansas in Diamonds Are Forever, well, it’s worse, because the reporting is phony. Climate change isn’t shaping Iowa’s physical landscape or, it turns out, its political one. So we shouldn’t have heard about it.
The premise of the story is that a wet spring and flooding that damaged crops is due to climate change and farmers are mad about it. The content of the story is somewhat different, with farmers mad at how much money they’re getting from the United States Department of Agriculture for the ruined crops, and at how the United States Army Corps of Engineers manages rivers. Indeed, the reporter writes in the 3rd paragraph, “few were willing to suggest that the flooding had anything to do with climate change. Or that global warming could trigger a food crisis in the next 30 to 40 years.” And they seemed skeptical of yet another government agency given what the two they have the most experience with just did to them.
The reporter knows better than these mud-spattered hicks, of course. Eventually he informs us that “While many farmers here pin the blame on the Army Corps of Engineers' flood management and hang their hopes on a weather cycle that will come to an end, experts say those who work in agriculture need to prepare for climate change because they will be some of the first affected. Farmers should expect wetter springs, delays in the growing season, changes in crops that can be planted, crop yields and flooding during harvest. The Midwest can expect to see more flooding, as well, said Bryan Peake, a climatologist at the Midwestern Regional Climate Center. Many of these changes could occur within the next 30 to 40 years, Peake said.”
In short, climate change didn’t cause yesterday’s floods, but someone has a computer model saying it might cause them in 30 to 40 years. What Blofeld actually said to James Bond was “Well, if we destroy Kansas the world might not hear about it for years”. Whereas apparently if climate change destroys Iowa, or dents it, we’ll hear about it three to four decades before it happens. Leaving one to wonder what this spring’s wet weather has to do with anything, decades before “[m]any of these changes could occur”. Or whether, if instead Iowa has a dry spring next year, “experts” will tell, or journalists will tell us they told us, that farmers should expect dryer springs, delays in the growing season, changes in crops that can be planted, crop yields and drought during harvests by, oh, 2055.
As for its politics, Iowa is a swing state that has voted with the winner in five of the last six presidential elections, 9 of the last 12 and 14 of the last 18, going back to Truman versus Dewey. Indeed since joining the Union it’s 30 of 39.
Regardless of the weather. Don’t stay tuned for further developments.