The environment in Kansas, the U.S. and around the world was the topic of the November 2, 2021, League of Women Voters Topeka-Shawnee County Tuesday Topics presentation by Zack Pistora with the Kansas Sierra Club. We’ve included the Zoom recording and highlights of their presentation below. The library is a partner with the League of Women Voters in sharing nonpartisan civic information.
Pistora began by asking us to think about the most beautiful place we’ve ever been. Is that place outside?
The mission of the Sierra Club is, “To explore, enjoy and protect the planet. To practice and promote the responsible use of the earth’s ecosystems and resources; to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out those objectives.”
As a lobbyist for the Sierra Club in Kansas, Pistora’s work focuses on improving Kansas public policies that protect and conserve our natural environment to improve the quality of life for all Kansans.
Challenges and opportunities
He shared challenges and opportunities we face now and will face in the coming years around environmental issues.
- Societal/system flaws
- Resource depletion
- Individualism seen as better than the collective good
- Inequity & injustice
- The wider pollution of our minds with misinformation (Pistora listed this as a significant challenge)
Let’s be ecological
- “Natural intelligence”
- Peace & harmony
- Let fossils be fossils
- Back to basics
- Behavior and technological evolution
Climate Disasters Increasing
We had some of the worst climate related disasters in 2020 and we are on pace to have record level climate related disasters in 2021.
Water issues in Kansas
Agricultural irrigation in Kansas accounts for 85 percent of water consumption used by 15 percent of Kansas farmers, which is more than all cities and other industries in Kansas. We will need to manage our water use more actively in the coming years. Pay attention to news and proposed policies about the Ogallala Aquifer and other water issues in Kansas.
Opportunities to address environmental issues
Some emerging Federal initiatives may support efforts in State initiatives as well. It’s an exciting time with opportunities to address challenges.
Questions from the audience
What is the increased climate expectation in Kansas? How are we going to address that in the next 10-20 years? What is the Kansas legislature doing?
We see some resistance in the Kansas Legislature to change because some constituents are doing well by profiting off of resources and profiting off of other people. Powerful interests and public interests aren’t in alignment. The legislature is starting to “get it” and that’s because climate change is costing us so much in agriculture losses and lost opportunities in new investments. Discussion around water is increasing. Some more realistic thinking is evident on what we need to do, with new tools and also to conserve water.
What’s the sustainable agriculture prognosis for Kansas in regards to crops?
We may see some improvements in irrigation techniques as well as examining which crops could put food on the table rather than make ethanol. Kansas is the #1 state for no-till agriculture. We have opportunities to improve with cover crops and composting.
- Kansas Sierra Club
- “Telling the story of water in Kansas” by Sarah Green, August 10, 2015, KHI News Service/Kansas News Service
- Water Conservation Programs, Kansas Department of Agriculture