Large-scale government intervention is seen as anti-American, and climate change is considered an unpopular belief rather than scientific fact. Or so goes commonly shared conviction in the Midwest. Many residents of the Farm Belt believe that Obama’s environmental agenda is “gunning” for them. One poll by the Wall Street Journal reveals that about 66 percent of rural Midwestern Americans say the country is on the wrong track. And yet, some residents of Kansas are swiftly becoming one of the greenest towns in America, the New York Times reports.
In some parts of Kansas, eco-friendly energy initiatives are not only accepted but practiced with vigor. As the NY Times reports, children work to cut off vampire energy, restaurants serve romantic dinners by candlelight, and LED lights grace Christmas trees. The construction of a $50 million wind factory has been welcomed in the Kansas town of Hutchinson. Energy company Siemens built a wind turbine factory in Reno County that has farmers leasing their land for turbines. As a result, land prices have gone up, making everyone happy.
All of this is the result of the Climate and Energy Project, a nonprofit organization that aims to de-politicize the green movement to make eco-friendly initiatives more accessible to all. Their goal is to reach people whose politics might turn them away from earth-friendly practices. Avoiding buzz words like “global warming” and “Al Gore,” the organization urges people to consider “thrift, patriotism, spiritual conviction and economic prosperity” as motivators to conserve energy through practice and alternative fuels.
Experts note that disagreeing with climate change defines some residents as opposing abortion or strict religious adherence. But getting off foreign energy dependence was a goal many could agree on. Others expressed a desire to leave the Earth as they found it for future generations, while some noted that the seasons were different than ones of years ago. The program is considered a great success. Reports are that energy use is down as much as 5 percent in some locations.
Nancy Jackson is the chairwoman of the project. She worked with church leaders to invoke a sense of Christian duty to protect the land God created, all the while keeping climate change out of the conversation. She also encouraged neighborhood towns to compete to become less energy.
Ultimately, Jackson and her colleagues are making progress in the Farm Belt. Stacy Huff is an executive for the Coronado Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. As he told the NY Times, “I don’t recall us being recruited under a climate change label at all. It is in our DNA to leave a place better than we found it.”
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