Is climate change real? I don’t know is my honest answer. Over the years, I’ve tended to be skeptical about the idea of it. My take has been that the world is constantly changing so, of course, there would be changes in temperatures, weather events, Arctic sea ice levels and the like.
The one thing this old world hasn’t faced before, though, is the impact she faces from the 7.6 billion people who call her home. That fact has caused me to step back and look at climate change from a different perspective. Some members of production agriculture, like Texas ranchers Gary and Sue Price, are taking another look at the issue as well.
The Prices, who are featured in a new USDA-SARE publication, Cultivating Climate Resilience on Farms and Ranches, say they first began noticing disruptive changes in the weather about 10 years ago, with dry periods getting drier and hot periods getting hotter. So they began making management decisions that would help their ranch adapt. As a result, Gary says when the crippling drought of 2011–2012 arrived, they were able to get by.
“You just don’t know what’s around the next corner, so you have to prepare for the worst,” Price says. “Hope for the best of course, but you know, hope is not a plan.”
Time will tell whether we’re dealing with climate change or something else. But we all know the Prices are right about one thing--you have to prepare for the future and the factors your farm will face, regardless of what they might be.
Even if you’re skeptical of climate change, consider giving USDA’s booklet a read. The 28-page publication outlines how to evaluate climate challenges to your farming operation and how to identify practices that can reduce those risks and improve resilience. It’s an interesting read and, better yet, it’s available for free.