U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development on a conference call with reporters Wednesday to push the so-called “Climate Action Plan” introduced by the president this week. Vilsack, a Democrat and former governor of Iowa, says the impact of “climate change” on the state was evident in a visit here with the president last year.
Vilsack says they visited a farm in Missouri Valley in a drought tour. “We saw first-hand the impact and effects of a significant drought — the most severe and significant drought that we’d seen throughout the country in probably 80 years.” He says the reality of the drought was devastation and the loss of crops.
Vilsack says that disaster was very costly. “Over 17-billion dollars were paid out in crop insurance premiums just as a result of that drought. And we still see the impacts and affects of drought today now followed by intense storms in the same areas of the country where we’re seeing significant flooding. Also interrupting with crop production,” Vilsack says.
And this is quite consistent on the state and local level with the assessment that we recently did at U.S.D.A. on the impact of a changing climate on our farming operation.” Vilsack also blames the over 21,000 forest fires in the country on “climate change.”
“Last year we spent nearly $2-billion at the U.S.D.A. fighting and suppressing these fires which are a direct result of the accumulation of fuel load directly linked to invasive species which resulted from warmer climates as a result of warmer temperatures,” Vilsack says.
“So, the impacts are real in real terms to communities to families to farms to ranches.” The Ag Secretary says his department has been working to help rural communities move away from the production of carbon which he says leads to the climate change.
He says the department has made investments in wind energy, something he notes Iowa has been a leader in and in helping with other renewable energy projects that he says “have significantly helped” the problem. The White House released information it says goes along with the comments made by Vilsack.
Those figures say power plants and major industrial facilities in Iowa emitted nearly 60 million metric tons of carbon pollution in 2011 and say that’s equal to the yearly pollution from more than 12 million cars.
The information also said “Although we cannot say that climate change is responsible for any individual event, climate change is already increasing our risks from these events. Between 2010 and 2012, the total cost due to hazardous weather in Iowa was $4.34 billion, mainly due to crop damage. Over the past 10 years, 15 one-billion dollar weather disasters affected Iowa.”