This week, folks across the nation have come together with family and friends to celebrate America’s independence – and millions are enjoying the great outdoors.
That’s why this is an appropriate time to remember that we must protect America’s natural treasures for generations to come. A changing climate poses new threats to this goal – from an increased risk of severe wildfire, to more intense storms, to worse problems from invasive pests.
Last week, President Obama outlined a Climate Action Plan to responsibly cut carbon pollution, slow the effects of climate change and put us on track to a cleaner environment.
We’ve already started making progress toward these goals. Carbon pollution from the energy sector fell to the lowest level in two decades last year, thanks in part to renewable energy from rural America.
But we can and must do more. The President’s plan will apply new efficiency standards for energy creation. It will expand permits for renewable energy, like wind and solar, on public lands – while supporting the creation of biofuel across the countryside. It also calls for partnership with the auto industry to develop cleaner vehicles that will save folks money.
Even with these steps, we know that climate change can’t be reversed overnight. That’s why the President’s plan will help America prepare for the impacts of a changing climate. For us at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, that includes helping farmers, ranchers and producers adapt to new challenges and create modern solutions.
In recent weeks, USDA has announced the creation of seven new “regional climate hubs” to provide farmers and ranchers with regionally-appropriate information to adapt to climate change. To help researchers and scientists, we’ve opened up data from the largest soil carbon survey ever undertaken, the Rapid Carbon Assessment. And through our online “COMET-FARM” tool, farmers and ranchers can see how conservation practices can help their operation, while protecting the environment.
Additional information about all of these efforts is available at www.usda.gov/climatesolutions.
Rural Americans have a long history of innovation, and a strong commitment to conservation. These efforts are more important than ever as we face the challenges posed by a changing climate. At USDA, we’ll support producers in adapting to new threats, while helping rural America innovate to lead the world against this modern challenge.
The audio version of this column is available on the July 2 USDA Radio Newsline.