One of the lead authors of a new University of Nebraska-Lincoln report on climate change says Nebraska farmers and ranchers will face significant weather-related challenges in the coming decades.
Climate scientist Don Wilhite says average temperatures will continue to rise with a substantial increase in high-temperature stress days over 100 degrees. And while average annual precipitation may not change much, Wilhite says severe storms and floods will be more common. He forecasts more downpours, more run-off, and less penetration in the soil.
“So, with the increasing temperatures you’re looking at declines in the future in soil moisture content, which is obviously important to agriculture,” Wilhite tells Ken Anderson with Brownfield Ag News.
Wilhite says while farmers have been able to adapt to recent changes in climate, increased innovation will be needed to keep pace with changes that are coming.
“The sooner they sort of adapt to this situation and incorporate these changes in their management strategies, the more effective they’re going to be,” according to Wilhite.
Wilhite says there’s no question human activities are having a detrimental impact on our climate.
“People need to become better educated about this issue and stop denying it exists and start learning about these changes and then what, not only they should do individually, but what we need do as a country and as a state and what we should expect out of our elected officials,” Wilhite says. “Because a lot of our elected officials are essentially denying that this even occurs.”
Another one of the authors gives a perspective attempting to bridge the divergent views on climate change.
UNL professor of climate modeling Bob Oglesby agrees, in part, with those who disagree humans change the climate.
“Humans don’t cause climate change. I say that in the context, climate always changes anyway. It’s always changed in the past. It’s going to change in the future, due to natural reasons,” Oglesby says. “That said, human activities are strongly affecting the way climate is changing at this time. Furthermore, we’re making the climate change much more rapidly than it typically does due to natural processes.”
The authors of the report say it is time to end the debate on climate change and start to prepare for it and to try to mitigate it.
Ken Anderson with Brownfield Ag News contributed to this report.