The Three-Stage Cause and Effects of Rural Climate Change
Although a layperson might define global warming as the consequences of man-inflamed changes in global climate, the definition would be slightly off base. It’s accurate, but not quiet complete. Here is how the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines climate change:
- Either directly or indirectly, human activities alter the composition of the global atmosphere
- The changes aggravated by human activities increase the natural variances in climate shifts
- The difference between human provoked changes and the natural shifts in climate can be measured and applied to a comparable time frame.
The distinction between the two definitions revolves around the word “measurable.” Although the IPCC definition focuses directly to human activities, it also makes allowances for the human activities within each segment of society. Thus the causes, effects and solutions also differ by location, activities and access to available technology. For rural U.S. communities, the effects of climate change impacts three primary components of life.
- The economics and the populations of the rural region
- The changes to rural prosperity and rural methods of earning a livelihood as a result of ongoing policies and legislation for mitigation and adaptation
- AND the effects of mitigation and adaptation on the management of rural landscapes.
The rural economy strives on the natural environment. From agricultural land to watersheds and from fisheries to rangelands, rural communities stand as stewards for the nation. The effects of rural climate change are both positive and negative. Increased levels of carbon dioxide promote quicker and stronger plant growth. However, changes in the atmospheric patterns of precipitation promote water-related complications including droughts, floods, and an increased risk of extreme storms in all areas.
Rural climate change also increases the risks assumed by climate-vulnerable individuals. From seniors to children and from the poor to the destitute, many rural individuals and groups fall into a unique danger zone defined as the “climate gap,” a concept that is primarily associated with the less physically adaptable or less economically adaptable members of U.S. rural society. Reports from various economic studies indicate that climate change may seriously reduce job opportunities in the agriculture sector of U.S. employment. Furthermore, the current and future “climate crisis” solutions will likely increase the costs related to rural farming and food production. Thus those members of society who fall into the “climate gap” may be forced to struggle even harder for both food and survival.
For many senior citizens and many of the people who are too poor to afford adequate health care, home air conditioning, and other protection from extreme weather, the “climate gap” will continue to widen both in inner city communities and in rural communities. Yet according to the Ford Foundation, many of the current climate change policies are flawed and actually increase the vulnerability of people in rural communities. U.S. policy makers must keep a close eye on closing the gaps. Research, networking among organizations, and communications help level the playing field, but this aspect of the cause and effect of global warming is far from secure.
What Does Global Warming and Climate Change Mean To Rural America?
Rural communities are responsible for a significant measure of climate change. For example: Rural agricultural emissions kick out up to six-percent of the U.S. annual GGE disturbances. A lack of public transportation in rural areas amplifies the problem, and even those rural residents with personal transportation typically travel longer distances than their urban neighbors.
Furthermore, the effects of greenhouse gas mitigation in rural areas is regional uneven. Big competitors in the food market produce the greater potential for generating greenhouse gases. Regions such as the Rockies and the Southwest are least responsible for greenhouse gases. Yet each group falls under certain aspects of the national mitigation and adaptation policies and strategies.
The process of global warming management and control requires an overall integrated approach that includes:
- Policy tools
- Application of renewable energy resources
- Investment in on-going climate change research
- Renewed attention to energy conservation
- Better management of forests, rangelands and wetlands
- Advanced methods for preventing complications associated with fire and erosion
- New agricultural practices dedicated to reduced emissions, changes in livestock feed products, better farming practices and better control of rotational grazing.
Every local and state region has crafted some measures for managing man-evoked changes in the Earth’s climate. The IPCC presented the results of studies and projections. More policies and rules are yet to come. Understanding how climate change, global warming and all the upcoming rules and regulations will affect rural America is still a question in the making. Meantime, rural America is already mixed up in the struggles.
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