No challenge more important than climate change
CBSN interviewed a Nebraska farmer who gave them the quote, “I’m not a climate change guy, but…”
That quote could be finished more than one way: “but for the weather we have been having” ” but for what I have seen in my lifetime” “but for the frequency of crop insurance claims increasing” “but for the bomb cyclone” “but for the fact I am a Republican” or “but for the fact I would get razed at the coffee shop if I admitted to believing in climate change.”
The farmer went on, “When I was a kid, an inch of rain, or an inch and a half of rain, was a big deal. Now we get like four or five-inch rains all the time, or six-inch rains, even. That was unheard of. I am not a climate change guy, as far as climate change or global warming, or any of that stuff. But have I seen the weather change in, say, my 20-year farming career? Absolutely.”
If he was only farming for 20 years, he is an adolescent. If he had been older, he would have recognized more change in the climate in the Midwest. The Dakota Badlands are not the Badlands anymore.
I recently noted the only reason that our crops have not suffered more is that we have adapted to climate change with operational, seed, precision ag and drainage to combat it. Despite all of it, it still feels like we are losing. We are seeing 100-year floods occur every 15 years and DTN Senior Climatologist Bryce Anderson says that flood levels set in 1993 and 2011 were at levels previously thought to be 500-year floods, and now another one in 2019. He calls this the continued impact of climate change from global warming.
Most farmers are loath to admit that the climate change, global warming thing may be for real despite seeing it with their own eyes because of ideology. Most rural coffee shops lean Republican. If they say that they believe in climate change then the neighbors will think that they are Democrats and nothing could be worse than that. They would be loath to be associated with Al Gore. That would be like having a stripe down your back. Besides, there was that guy on the internet who was a retired real estate investor who made climate change his hobby and completely disproved it. The president says that it is no big deal so it is the politically correct thing in rural Trump country to deny climate change. Never mind that NOAA, NASA, the Pentagon and other government scientists including those at USDA, not only believe that the science supports what we are seeing with our own eyes – but they are just scientists. No one believes those eggheads anymore.
As the polar ice cap melts, it opens for shipping and presents the military with a whole new theater of operations. The Russians and Chinese are already setting up, up there. The U.S. Navy is planning to modify port facilities as ocean levels rise. Trump is purging the government of climate change believers with a fatalistic approach. Climate change denial is not determined by science in rural opinions as much as by ideology. They hate the Dems enough to deny climate change because if the Dems believe in it, it has to be wrong.
Ironically if the Dems decided that global warming was bogus these Republicans would be the biggest backers of climate change on the planet. I am not an ideologue, so I think this whole partisan song and dance stuff is pure stupidity. If you deny the science of climate change you are not paying attention. The science is overwhelming. But that NE farmer could not admit it as it would put him crossways to the local ideology.
Here is a quote from the agbusiness head of DowDupont, “No challenge is more important to our industry, and our world, than climate change.”
Climate change is having dramatic effects on global agriculture and DowDupont and other seed/biotech companies are focused on it. There is not one iota of doubt in their management or research divisions about climate change. They have no time for ideology in their business models. Climate change deniers are like those who reject immunizations. They are the opposite of science driven decision-makers. These ag companies are science based from the core and they see it in their research. They have seen the corn-belt move and they know why.
Among the biggest acceptors of climate change are the insurance companies. That is because their net worth is at risk from claims from the weather extremes being experienced. They are adjusting their premiums or are trying to. Warren Buffet owns a lot of insurance company investment and they too have no room for ideology in their loss-risk analysis. They see climate change and are struggling to adapt to it. Buffet sees the entire insurance industry at risk. All the while, Ag secretary Sonny Perdue is in the process of ridding the USDA of science-driven research analysis by moving the ERS to KS resulting in huge attrition. By limiting their ability to do research and politicizing the results, it will devalue the impact of science on policy making, concentrating the power within the ideologues in the White House. EPA shows GHG emissions are rising sharply. NOAA and NASA track global temps and melting ice caps. (Greenland ice is melting much faster than projections) Temps are setting records as is the melting. The globe is warming and it is affecting climate change. That is the science.
The bottom line is the frequency and level of crop insurance claims are going up. Not only does it mean that they are growing corn in Alberta, Canada, but it also means that the CDC says that drug-resistant fungus is moving north with the rising temps. If water moccasins start showing up in Iowa lakes I am moving to Canada. We have just seen the wettest 12 months in Midwest history result in the latest planted crops here in history. A farmer told me at the coffee shop that he had just moved his cows to a new pasture and literally could not see them as the grass was so tall…another of those firsts.
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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