Jeremy Bergan

It's clear that our climate is changing. Here in Clayton county, we've been averaging about four more inches of rain annually over the past fifty years compared to the past hundred years.  

I grew up on a small dairy farm in north-eastern Iowa near Elkader. Just in my lifetime, a lot has changed on the farm since I was a kid. Recently, I’ve noticed a dramatic increase in erosion from the creeks, sink holes that didn’t used to be there, and new springs that have formed. We’ve increased the amount of terracing we have to do, have had to keep two fields, totaling 60 acres, in coverage crop, and have had to replace or repair the same culvert three years in a row after we hadn’t had to touch it for the eighteen years previous.

 

We were seeing effects that could be caused by increased rainfall, but I wanted to be sure, so I looked at Iowa State’s open source APA data from all the way back to 1890. Here in Clayton county, we’ve been averaging about four more inches of rain annually over the past 50 years compared to the past hundred years. That’s a 15 percent increase, which is huge, and explains why we’ve been seeing so much water damage. 

 

Other research I’ve seen supports this, and could even point to a shifting of the Great Plains jet stream. This change could lead to estimated precipitation increases of 20-40 percent in the Upper Mississippi River Valley and could make the climate conditions that led to the 1993 flooding something we’ll see every year. 

 

It’s clear that our climate is changing. We need to take action to reduce our carbon footprint and move towards 100 percent clean energy. In Iowa, we already have a robust wind energy infrastructure, but it can and should be expanded. Renewing (or permanently funding) wind and solar tax credits would help as would giving farmers better access to carbon credits through the bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act.

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