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Environmental Innovation - Prepare to Be Surprised. Indianapolis, Lancaster

The November 21 edition of the NYT OP-ED page has a piece by Jeff Biggers, “Iowa’s Climate Change Wisdom.” Biggers writes that this historically conservative state with 99% of its landscape altered over the last one hundred years to accommodate industrial scale agriculture is making some mighty impressive contributions to curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Sixty per cent of Iowans believe that global warming is happening. Students in the town of Crawfordsville “will eventually turn on computers and study under lights powered 90% by solar energy.” “Wind turbines now line cornfields across the state providing Iowa with nearly 30% of Iowa’s electricity production.”

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2015 to be “the international year of soils” as a touchstone for its carbon sequestration campaign focused on the need for regenerative agriculture. They should look to Johnson County, Iowa and a farmer named Grant Schultz as an example of agricultural carbon sequestration in action. This young farmer has planted more than 30,000 trees, introduced cover crops, composting and multispecies grazing and has transformed a once degraded industrial corn farm into a vibrant carbon capturing and storage ecosystem.

This is but one of a myriad examples: consider the city of Indianapolis, made pedestrian and bike-friendly in the past five years. Or Lancaster, California, one of the state’s more conservative cities, which has become solar city USA. These cities, though not thought to be environmental bastions, are doing environmental heavy lifting. And now hats off to those Iowans, who without fanfare and fame, are leading by example.

When it comes to environmental innovation, prepare to be surprised!

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