As a Missouri businessman and a farmer, I see firsthand the adverse effects climate change has on our states rural economy. Thats why President Barack Obama is right to address climate change, and address it now.
By Steve Flick
Special to The Star
Last year Missouri was hit with a withering drought, more than 100 record-high temperatures, and a Mississippi River that was so low it slowed transportation of our crops to market.
The presidents commonsense climate plan rises to meet our moral obligation to future generations. It demonstrates leadership on the central environmental crisis of our time. And because it makes a lot of economic sense, the presidents plan deserves the support of Missouris rural business community.
The climate plans centerpiece addresses an astonishing fact that there are no federal limits on carbon emissions from our nations power plants, our single-largest source of the carbon pollution that harms our health and fuels climate change.
In 2011, Missouri emitted 87 million tons of carbon dioxide, making our state the eighth-worst in the nation for total carbon pollution, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Our nation sets limits on arsenic, mercury, and lead from our power plants. Its time to do the same for carbon.
By cutting these emissions, we improve our health and reduce costs related to pollution-induced asthma, premature heart attacks and other health problems. We also increase productivity: In 2008, we lost an estimated 14.2 million work days because of asthma, which has been tied to carbon pollution.
Americans benefit in other ways, too. In 2012, climate-driven disasters like droughts cost U.S. taxpayers billions. It wasnt just a scorching year in Saint Louis and the Ozarks it was the hottest year on record in the contiguous United States.
Drought and other weather disasters cost the United States nearly $100 billion in clean-up costs. Thats about $1,100 for every American taxpayer.
Beyond protecting taxpayers, the presidents climate plan relies on an unlimited resource innovation from the American business community.
By calling upon our nation to increase efficiency, and by continuing to deploy renewable energy technologies on farms and in cities, we do more than just cut dangerous carbon we expand economic opportunity.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were more than 65,000 green goods and services jobs in Missouri in 2010.
This spring in Columbia, Mo., for example, 3M announced it was hiring more workers at a factory that produces film for solar panels. This brings at least 50 good jobs to a factory that had recently fallen on hard times.
Increasingly, farmers are also uncovering efficiencies and adding new revenue streams. We lease land for wind turbines, but continue to grow crops around their small footprints. We sell crop waste like wheat straw and corn stover to produce advanced biofuels that dont interfere with the food supply. And we install solar panels on our barns.
President Obama understands the agricultural community is on the front lines of extreme weather. His climate plan is a big step in the right direction, and it deserves strong support from Missouris farmers and businesses.
Steve Flick, a farmer and the CEO of the Flick Seed Co. in Kingsville, Mo., is a member of Environmental Entrepreneurs.