Of necessity, the way we produce and consume energy in the future will differ significantly from energy production and consumption today. Because of climate change, resource depletion, foreign dependence and other factors, the extent to which we are dependent on fossil fuels must decline. Renewable and other alternative energy sources must increase. Conservation and efficiency must improve. The manner in which these changes occur is vital. Disruptions of our energy supply or increases in energy costs can have devastating implications. Significant changes in the types of jobs in the energy industry and where these jobs are located will dramatically impact individuals and communities.
Drought in the West is typically accompanied by an increase in wildfire. The 2012 fire season was one of the worst on record as thousands of fires burned millions of acres. To residents of the West, it seemed as if we were living in a perpetual smoky haze throughout the summer. Costs resulting from wildfire are extensive and becoming higher as expanding exurban development results in more homes and other human developments in areas prone to wildfire.
While everyone on earth will deal with the impacts of climate change, the West may be especially susceptible to adverse consequences. This is primarily because the region already faces severe water shortage concerns and climate change is expected to increase the frequency and severity of droughts and reduce mountain snowpack. Fortunately, western researchers and Extension Specialists are deeply involved in work to address climate change issues. This issue of Rural Connections includes articles written by some of these individuals. Our hope is that these articles will stimulate the sharing of ideas across state lines and trigger others to become involved in this important work.
Rural Connections - Healthy Communities
The Western Rural Development Center (WRDC) is one of four regional centers funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to strengthen rural communities. The centers link the research and extension capacities of land-grant universities with local decision-makers to address rural development issues. The WRDC produces Rural Connections magazine with submissions from university faculty, researchers, agencies and organizations from throughout the Western region and nation. Articles in each edition explore themes of special interest to people and policy makers in the West.
Healthier people make healthier communities and the path to wellness may be right outside our doors.
In this compelling issue of Rural Connections, the authors discuss the many issues surrounding water in the Western U.S. This includes Tribal Water Rights, Households' perceptions on water use, the availability of water, and more.
The February 2009 issue of Rangelands, published by the Society for Range Management, is a collection of articles by researchers at USU's Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory.
Most plant communities contain plants that are poisonous to livestock, wildlife and humans. These toxic plants interfere with the best use of rangeland and pastures and their seeds may also be harvested with grains and forages, contaminating food and animal feed. The Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory brings together interdisciplinary teams of plant and range scientists, veterinarians, nutritionists, chemists, toxicologists, pathologists and physiologists to understand and solve problems caused by poisonous plants. Their findings are used by the livestock industry, wildlife managers, veterinarians, physicians, poison control centers, scientists and many state and federal agencies.