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Overton: Siding with Bambi

BY JON OVERTON | FEBRUARY 25, 2013 5:00 AM

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Everyone loves a good dichotomy. It’s simple and doesn’t make you think too hard. To many, President Obama is either the antichrist or the second coming of Jesus. Journalists are either parasitic, arrogant opportunists or the guardians of democracy. The United States must prioritize saving the environment or stimulating the economy.

So which is it? Bars of gold or Bambi?

Demonstrators at the Iowa City office of Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, on Feb. 15, argued on behalf of Bambi, delivering a petition demanding lawmakers give more attention to the environment.

While mental dichotomies make life easy, they’re often wrong. The choice is not between the environment and the economy. Both are interconnected, and the economy’s well-being depends on our planet’s overall health.

While climate change warms the planet, it also makes weather more extreme. Remember that nifty little drought from the summer of 2012? Because of that, the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts the rate of food inflation to increase.

By Sept. 12, 2012, more than 2,000 counties nationwide were declared disaster areas, largely because of the drought. Iowa corn yields at the start of the season were expected to reach 14.8 billion bushels, but the yield was an estimated 10.7 billion bushels at harvest.

Frequent extreme weather probably means droughts such as the one Iowa experienced last summer will become more commonplace.

The University of Iowa suffered serious damage in the 2008 flood, which, in an estimate in March 2012, totaled $862.5 million, according to a report by Legislative Services Agency. Flooding also ravaged Des Moines, the Quad Cities, and especially Cedar Rapids, among many others.

One hundred and thirty-eight higher-education science and research faculty members from across Iowa signed the Iowa Climate Statement: The Drought of 2012.

“Because of these extremes in precipitation (drought and flood), Iowans will increasingly need infrastructure investments to adapt to climate fluctuations while developing and implementing mitigation,” the document said.

We must cope with this emerging environmental dichotomy that fluctuates between extremely wet and dry weather. It threatens both our homes and the agricultural sector. It is in our best economic and survival interests to side with Bambi.


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