By Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy
If you are a regular Climate Column reader, you likely appreciate that deliberate action undertaken by farmers, policymakers and food value chain participants will make domestic and global food systems more resilient to the negative impacts of climate change. But every actor in the food system does not think the same way about climate change. Insisting that everyone agree on exactly what is happening to the Earth’s climate and why may result in missed or delayed implementation of farming and food system improvements that achieve valuable co-benefits, like improved water quality and better margins for farmers, while also building reliance to climate change.
The University of Delaware Cooperative Extension’s website offers a thoughtful model for communicating about climate change with a diverse audience. It asserts the scientific consensus around climate change and offers concrete information about how the phenomenon is manifesting in a specific location – the state of Delaware. The site notes the steady increase in temperature and changes in precipitation patterns in Delaware over the last 100 years. It links to additional resources extension resources that help Delaware farmers cope with climate change-related challenges, such as soils near the coast or brackish water bodies that are exposed to saline waters during extreme weather events. Notably, UD Extension does not discuss the cause of climate change, focusing instead on objective observations of the phenomenon as well as farm practices, programs, and climate information that producers can employ at their own discretion.
How do you discuss climate change or climate-smart actions you undertake with audiences of diverse or unknown views? Do you find Delaware Extension’s approach instructive? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
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