Discussing climate change can be difficult in Montana nowadays. Moving beyond political ideology means focusing on observable changes upon which farmers can agree. According to Alan Merrill, farmer and president of Montana's Farmers Union, "farmers are mostly a conservative lot", but they're also "meticulous recorders of the daily weather conditions". No matter whether you're Republican or Democrat, the average temperature in Montana has noticeably increased, seeds are sown sooner, and harvest time is coming earlier for winter crops. Evidently, Mother Nature has no political favorites in Montana.
Perhaps the time is ripe for Montana farmers and residents to revisit policies which reduce pollution and limit the greenhouse gases which affect global temperatures and weather. Kudos to Alan Merrill and other local leaders who are bringing climate impacts close to home and connecting climate change to issues that matter most to their communities. For tips and resources about how to effectively communicate about climate change within your own communnities, check out Connecting on Climate: A Guide to Effective Climate Change Communication.
It’s been seven bruising political years since farm organizations dared utter the “c word” when discussing extreme weather and drought, but farmer Alan Merrill says climate change can’t go unmentioned any longer.
“We’re just trying to educate people that it is here, and maybe if there is something we can do about it, as people living on farms or people living in cities, we should take a look at it,” Merrill told The Gazette.
Merrill is president of the Montana’s Farmers Union. The group began publishing reports this week about how climate change is affecting Montana agriculture. The reports are based on research by Montana State University.
Merrill plans to hold frank discussions about climate change at community meetings over the next several months. He knows some farmers won’t be receptive.
Farmers are mostly a conservative lot, and with Republicans either denying climate change entirely or not recognizing the man-made pollution as a contributor, discussing the issue has been difficult.
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