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By Staff | Mar 1, 2013

Iowa State University Extension Climatologist Elwynn Taylor said, “We have doubled the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels for energy. As long as we’re burning fossils faster than the earth can create new fossils, carbon dioxide will get higher. One way to reduce carbon in the atmosphere: use more renewable energy, such as biofuels.

“There’s a lot of debate on this, but we did something about one, we need to do something sensible about the other, like generate energy from other sources. We could get it from biofuels. And corn will be the most likely source of biofuels, at least through 2040.”

That is why I like Dr. Taylor so much.

The U.S. is doing more to reduce harmful emissions that many think. The U.S. was written in for a 17 percent reduction in emissions by 2020 compared to 2005 and we won’t miss it by much. The U.S. coal industry is not very happy about it.

U.S. motor fleet mileage is improving significantly because of government CAFE standards. While U.S. emissions are falling, global emissions still increased by 20 percent since 2000. China and India are the biggest carbon emitters and are not cooperative about changing. China has demanded that developing countries get a pass on reducing emissions.

There is no political consensus to do more at the United Nations. Kyoto is past tense. Doha was supposed to create a fund where rich nations would finance carbon reductions in developing nations, but no checks have been signed and none are likely.

President Obama let the climate change sleeping dog lie in his first term, but now says that it will become a priority in his second. There is likely a lot of authority in the EPA Clean Air Act that has not been exercised, but they will be reluctant to expend the political capital it would cost them to do so.

The President put this in his inaugural address, “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science that global warming exists, or caused by humans, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms.

The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But Americans cannot resist this transition. We must lead it.

I think the president has no intention of approving the Keystone pipeline which would bring dirty tar sands oil to U.S. refineries. He also said that he is going to push for renewable energy hard the next four years.

What else can we do about global warming? I guess that we can adapt, which means stock up on crop insurance. Here is Taylor’s view for the 2013 growing season:

“On Sept. 5, 2012, Dr. Wolter stated, La Nina is clearly over, the positive movement is just below weak El Nino, an El Nino watch indicates potential, some factors still indicate lingering La Nina (waters Northeast of Australia,) the developing El Nino event may be short lived, and the over-all environment appears to favor La Nina conditions.

“I take the report to mean there is an unlikely change of 2013 being an El Nino year with its record of erasing drought conditions in the Midwest. If weather patterns respond to neutral or to an early 2013 development of La Nina, it will be likely that U.S. corn yields will fall below the 30-year trend line for a fourth consecutive year.

“A failure to replenish subsoil moisture and restore stream and river flow would be a major factor in the probability of a below-trend crop in 2013.”

State Climatologist Harry Hillaker appears to agree, saying, “Looking at other big drought years like we had this year, the tendency has been for the year following a big drought year historically to also be dry.”

Time magazine had this summation, “The earth has been through a lot in its 4.5 billion years of existence, but human beings are its biggest challenge yet. An explosively growing human population, already 7 billion plus, is using up natural resources, stripping the land of forests, and polluting the air and water.

“Most of all, we’re adding billions of tons of greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere, changing the relatively stable climate humans have depended on for tens of thousands of years.

That could mean devastating floods, scorching droughts, and mega-storms that could wreck economies and lives. It’s tempting to dismiss the fears of environmentalists, but it’s not just the planet that will be in peril if we fail to deal with climate change. It’s all of us – and generations to come.”

If we cannot address climate change it will be a political failure with consequences that may be as dire as not addressing our fiscal crisis.

Climate change should not be the political football that it has become. It is actually an intelligence test for the human race to see if we are smarter than the dinosaurs.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

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