Friday In Iowa: Environmental Roundup

May Global ClimateWhile the planet experienced its hottest May in recorded history last month, the weather in Iowa was dry with normal temperatures. “Temperatures averaged 61.0°, right at normal, while precipitation totaled 3.16 inches or 1.40 inches below normal,” wrote state climatologist Harry Hillaker. “This ranks as the 66th warmest and 42nd driest May among 142 years of records.”

Iowans have an ability to appreciate our local weather, and set aside the broader picture of a warming planet and its related climate disruption to focus on things like the crop report. Aware of the devastation that can be brought by floods and drought, many Iowans are loathe to connect the dots between planet-wide systems and local conditions. During June, the weather in Iowa turned warm and wet, welcome rain after the dry spell and that may be enough worry for many Iowans. That said, there is a lot of environmental advocacy going on around the state and elsewhere.

Organizers have begun to arrive in Iowa to advocate for climate action during the 2014 midterm election. Notably, Zack Davis, formerly of Organizing for Action in Iowa, took a job with NextGen, billionaire Tom Steyer’s climate advocacy group. Alex Doherty, a field organizer for NextGen, arrived in Iowa City from Ohio this week. NextGen seeks to change the conversation on climate change. “NextGen is committed to supporting candidates, elected officials and policymakers that will take bold action on climate change,” according to their website. The U.S. Senate race in Iowa has the attention of many at the national level, and is likely to be a target for NextGen.

Citizens Climate Lobby, the carbon tax and dividend people, completed a two-day international conference in  Washington, D.C. on June 24. The purposes of Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) are to create the political will for a stable climate and to empower individuals to have breakthroughs in exercising their personal and political power. There is an active CCL group in Iowa which includes State Senator Rob Hogg. Hogg spearheaded a just completed Climate PhoneAThon in which Iowans were encouraged to advocate for climate action with the Iowa delegation in the U.S. Congress.

On Tuesday, the Risky Business Project released an independent, non-partisan report on the economic impact of climate disruption. They echo what is becoming a familiar theme, the financial cost of inaction on climate change is too high. The group includes former Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr., Mayor of New York City from 2002-2013 Michael R. Bloomberg, and Thomas P. Steyer, former Senior Managing Member of Farallon Capital Management. Read the press release, with links to the report here. It is undeniable that extreme weather causes economic disruption in Iowa. Two notable examples Iowa are the 2008 floods and the 2012 drought. Check out their website.

In other stories this week, the public hearing on a hog confinement operation near West Branch made national news, the Cedar Rapids Gazette opined on the Clean Water Act, and Muscatine residents will get their day in court about air qualityKWWL reported on the economic impact of climate disruption, covering the first-ever United Nations Environmental Assembly that convened in Nairobi, Kenya this week.

Buffeted by comfortable weather, there is a storm brewing in environmental advocacy, and Iowa is and will be a significant part of the action.

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