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The Elephant in the Cornfield: The Politics of Agriculture and Climate Change

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Midwest journalist Chris Clayton examines the conflict in rural America over climate change, farming and the increasing pressures on food production. Clayton's reporting highlights the critical nature of agriculture in the country's struggle over finding direction mitigating greenhouse gases and adapting to a more volatile climate. The Elephant in the Cornfield explains rural perceptions of climate change, resistance to the science and the outright push to fight attempts to deal with greenhouse-gas emissions.
Clayton looks at the pitched lobbying battle over failed climate legislation in 2009 and 2010 and how cap-and-trade became an almost toxic concept for farmers who are increasingly threatened by more extreme weather while also representing one of the few industries able to pull carbon dioxide from the air and sink it into the soil.
The Elephant in the Cornfield also takes the complex science of climate change and breaks it down by detailing research going back 50 years on greenhouse gases.
This book essentially serves as Clayton's journal as an agricultural reporter covering political battles inside the Beltway. At the same time, he explores the story of farmers, scientists, activists and corporate America in trying to develop a more sustainable food system.
Climate change gives rural Americans a chance to save the world, but many refuse to see potential. The Elephant in the Cornfield makes the case that America’s cornfields hold some solutions to dealing with a hotter planet. Yet, political infighting and the embrace of climate denial keep farmers divided. In the process, the festering debates over science and political solutions risk the country's ability to help feed a growing world and protect the environment.

294 pages, Kindle Edition

Published October 31, 2015

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Chris Clayton

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641 reviews14 followers
January 5, 2019
Diligent reporting on why "agriculture" in America is with a few exceptions so reluctant to move from "industrialized" to "regenerative." The former is heavily dependent on direct and indirect inputs of fossil fuels and careless of soil health; the latter puts a premium on soil health and wants to leave fossil fuels in the ground. Chris Clayton chronicles with interviews and his own research as an ag reporter a discouraging story of efforts at putting a price on fossil fuels to rapidly decrease CO2 emissions.

A new bill for a price on carbon was brought into Congress in Nov 2018; it's the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 7173) I read this book for insight on how proponents like me of a "price on carbon" might learn from past failures to set one in America, given the game-changing weight of recent past opposition from most of "the farm lobby."

Many points of view are put on the pages, some with sorrow but not vilification. This is not a screed. You also meet on the pages some heroes of regenerative agriculture.

BTW this was my very first kindle reading, done on a PC, and I liked it. Easy to read, easy to take notes.
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