Only 8% Of U.S. Farmers Believe Climate Change Is Primarily Caused By Human Activity

  • Date: 03/07/16
  • Beth Kowitt, Fortune

The vast majority of U.S. farmers are sceptical of anthropogenic climate change although they are among the most affected by the climate.

There’s a strange paradox in the world of agriculture: farmers are perhaps the segment of the population most affected by climate change, and yet a significant number of them don’t believe in it—especially the notion that it’s man-made.

I encountered this phenomenon as I reported a feature for Fortune on how agricultural giant Monsanto is attempting to help farmers both mitigate their impact on the environment and adapt to climate change. All the farmers I talked to readily acknowledged that the weather patterns governing growing seasons had been turned upside down (sic)  in recent years, but I was on the receiving end of a lot of eye rolls whenever I brought up climate change. […]

I don’t want to suggest that all farmers reject the concept of climate change. That’s not the case. But here’s what some of the numbers show: A survey conducted by Iowa State Professor J. Arbuckle and Purdue University professor Linda Prokopy of 5,000 Cornbelt farmers—representing about 60% of U.S. corn production and 80% of farmland in the region—found that only 8% believed climate change is taking place and caused primarily by human activity. That 8% figure is significantly lower than the general population. A poll from January found that 27% of the general public primarily blames human activity.

Meanwhile, 33% of the farmers surveyed said climate change was caused more or less equally by natural changes and human activities, 25% said it was caused by changes in the environment, 31% said there wasn’t sufficient evidence to know if climate change is occurring, and 4% said climate change is not happening.

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