Lobbying for Pasta

All Articles, Editorials

Written By: Cro Owens, Staff Writer

     I love pasta. Spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, lasagna — all my favorite meals. But there’s a problem — wheat, the plant most pasta is made from, tends to grow in cooler weather. Because our climate is warming, wheat may become much more difficult to grow in future years. I may not be able to have the meals I love the most towards the end of my lifetime. My final meal may be pasta-less. Climate change always seemed so intangible, something that would never affect me. But no pasta? Now it’s personal.

     Furthermore, a bigger threat from climate change lies even closer to my heart than pasta. My family farm in central North Carolina is being heavily affected by the changing temperatures and weather. We can no longer plan when to plant or harvest crops because the weather is so erratic. What used to be a reliable farming system is changing so much and so quickly that we cannot adapt, and we are suffering from it. Every year we lose more money trying to grow hay for the livestock that keeps North Carolina’s agricultural economy running. Eventually we will have to abandon our farm — meaning that North Carolina gets a little less food. And we are not alone. Little changes force us to make big ones. Eventually we won’t have any choices left.

     This is just one example of how a changing environment affects the lives of real people like us. What about that summer trip to Myrtle Beach? If the seas rise as predicted, Myrtle Beach won’t exist. What about all those hurricanes we’ve seen lately, like Matthew, Harvey, Irma, and Maria? How do we prepare and recover from these?

     Scientific research to find ways to help us adapt to these new conditions could help. But the proposed federal budget cuts environmental research drastically; funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is cut 33 percent, and North Carolina’s senators are showing little concern despite how fundamental agriculture is to our state’s economy. My guess is that they don’t believe something as abstract as climate change really matters to their constituents. We need to show them it does. And what about our representatives? We need to urge them to join the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, an organization that will keep them updated on legislation that affects the climate — that affects us. Every Democrat must partner with a Republican to join, and vice versa, meaning that everyone is more likely to take a step towards both climate solutions and long-term bipartisanship.

     That’s why, since August, I’ve been working with the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a Quaker lobbying group, to help constituents lobby for climate solutions. I help people get their voices heard by their congressmen and congresswomen about the effects their political actions (or inactions) on climate solutions have on ordinary people.

     I implore readers to take action and ask Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis to take action and protect North Carolina by supporting the EPA’s Climate, Air, and Energy Research, refusing the major cuts proposed by President Donald Trump, and to ask Representative David Price to join the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus with a Republican. Contact me at cowens@email.meredith.edu so I can help you make your voice heard. I can teach you how to lobby, set up a meeting with the staff of any senators or representatives, and even attend the meeting with you. Lobby for climate solutions and ensure that pasta (and life as we know it) have a better future!

 

Image from: glassdoor.com

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