Author: Sara

The Big Picture: Climate Change and Rural Communities

The Big Picture: Climate Change and Rural Communities

Rural climate skeptics are costing us time and money. Do we keep indulging them?

It’s hard to imagine two things more central to a rural community than its weather. And it’s hard to imagine two things more critical to the quality of life in a rural community than its economic stability.

Rural weather can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on whether the climate helps or hurts. A good thing for economic development. A bad thing for rural communities.

A good thing for agriculture. A bad thing for the environment.

Rural people often see climate change as a good thing — it helps them expand their economies and make their communities more livable. But they also often view climate change as a bad thing — it could wipe out their food crops and water supplies and destroy their communities.

It’s one thing to argue that climate change poses a threat to rural communities, or to ask if the federal government should be intervening to reduce its effects. But it’s another thing entirely to argue that the federal government should pay for the cost of protecting rural communities from climate change.

And it’s one thing to argue for climate change policies designed to protect these communities. It’s another thing to argue that we should let this issue go.

These two views — that rural communities are getting hurt by climate change and that the federal government is responsible for that harm — may seem to be incommensurable. But we can explain them in terms of the same thinking that underlies policy about health care and the environment.

Health care: The big picture The federal government and rural communities are engaged in a different conversation in the case of health care.

Federal government policy on health care is based on a false assumption: that there are no hidden costs in the system.

Health care costs in the United States are already at their lowest level in history. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we spend the least amount of money on health care of any large country in the world. (The United States is only one year ahead of where we were in 1970).

How can that be? We’re spending more money on health care now than we did in the ’80s.

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