Monday Roundup: Ag and Climate Change

Urban China exports it pollution problems to rural areas • Tennessee alternative-education center featured in New York Times series • “The Ramp” sets an example in Christian youth conferences • Online workshop looks at ways projects that build rural connections.

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Agriculture and Climate Change. DTN’s Chris Clayton reports on the bus tour, “I Will Act on Climate Change,” which stopped in Lincoln, Nebraska, recently. The tour is a series of rallies to highlight climate change’s long-term effects on agriculture, Clayton reports. The tour has hit 27 states so far. The Nebraska stop included talks from the Nebraska Farmers Union, farmers and the head of an ag equipment manufacturing company. Clayton reports that some of the Nebraska work on climate change centers on resistance to the proposed Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline.

If politicians, including President Obama, seem to be spending more time talking about climate change recently, there’s a reason for that, reports Coral Davenport in the National Journal.  Public opinion on the issue is changing:

… White House officials are heeding a poll released earlier this year by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. It found that 58 percent of registered voters say they will consider a candidate’s position on global warming when deciding how to vote; among that group, 83 percent say global warming is happening, and 65 percent believe it is caused by human activity. Just 5 percent of registered voters believe global warming isn’t real and say that belief would influence their choice for president.

Chinese Pollution Spreads to Countryside. China’s pollution problems aren’t just for cities anymore. A story in the Wall Street Journal relates the spread of industrial pollution to rural areas. Eight to 20% of the nation’s arable land may be contaminated with heavy metals, researchers say. “A loss of even 5% could be disastrous, taking China below the ‘red line’ of 296 million acres of arable land that are currently needed, according to the government, to feed the country’s 1.35 billion people,” the Journal reports..

Two trends have caused the problem, reports Josh Chin and Brian Spegele. In an effort to clean up cities, the country has pushed heavy polluters into the countryside. And the nation is using more chemical fertilizer to boost food production. Fueling both those trends is China’s massive push to urbanize.

Times Examines Western Tennessee. A two-part New York Times series looks at members of the girls’ basketball team of Carroll Academy, a Western Tennessee high school run by the Carroll County Juvenile Court.

While appearing under the “Sports” banner on NYTimes.com, the story uses the basketball team as a way to discuss the difficult circumstances faced by young people in a Southern rural setting.

The team has lost more than 200 games straight. And life off the court isn’t any easier for the girls who attend the school as an alternative to other Juvenile Court disciplinary action. Carroll County lies between Nashville and Memphis and has a population of about 29,000.

“For someone who’s 18, you’ve got one of two choices, that I see,” says Randy Hatch, the Academy’s director. “You’re either going to go to college, if you can get in, or you’re going to join the military. If you can find a job, it’s going to be by the hour. You’re not going to find something that’s going to help you raise a family. Those jobs are just not here.”

Christian Youth Conference.  “The Ramp,” a Christian youth conference in Hamilton, Alabama, attracts a thousand young people a month to the rural town about 90 minutes west of Birmingham. (Nate Thompson covered The Ramp for the Daily Yonder back in 2008.) Phil Cooke writes about the conference in Charisma News and asks, “Excuse me, but is this happening anywhere else in America?”

“[M]ajor Christian events have been focused on urban areas for the last 20 years, and maybe it was just high time something happened for rural America. … Whatever it was, it was a lightning strike. Young people started pouring in, and a typical Ramp monthly conference will see more than 1,000 teens from as many as 20 different states.”

After initial resistance, the Hamilton community has embraced the monthly event. “Now the Hamilton Police Department loves [Ramp founder Karen] Wheaton because she’s attracting young people who’d rather share the gospel than get involved in drugs or violence,” Cooke writes. “Local Hamilton business leaders love her because she’s filling local hotel rooms and restaurants.”

Building Online Community Connections. Rural groups looking for ways to bring a more personal touch to their digital communication are invited to participate in “A Connected Center: Bringing Communities Online.” It’s a webinar featuring two online communities: the Art of the Rural’s arts and culture map  and the Southwest Rural Digital Community Center.  

Register for the webinar here.

 

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