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RSS By: Steve Cornett, Beef Today

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Climate Change We Can Believe In

Sep 05, 2011

Just as this damnable weather rivets our attention,  making us wonder if it’s cycle, aberration or vanguard of things to come, Al Gore weighs in that those who have doubts about climate change should be marginalized like racists.

Wait a minute. Don’t lump me in there. Some of my best friends believe in climate change. But, admittedly, some others have their doubts. Let me apologize for not being as certain. My brain is not large enough to absorb and process all the stuff I’ve read. I’ve no doubt there is a “consensus” among scientists that man-made carbon dioxide emissions are creating a greenhouse effect.

I suspect that consensus is right, but I do have my doubts, based on the tone of the research reports I read. Look at the official report from last year at You can tell the authors—smart folks, one and all, no doubt, and far more weather wise than I—are advocates. I don’t like to rely on research done by or sponsored by or directed by or interpreted by advocates.

I did that for years on tobacco and it turned out that both sides were picking and choosing which facts to pursue and which to ignore. For a while, I fell for the “all dietary fat is bad” consensus. I’ve read and heard plenty of “expert witnesses” come down on both sides of lots of scientific issues. (And economic issues, for that matter.)

Consensus of scientists does not equate to science.

So I’m not certain of global warming. I’m awful suspicious they’re right, but global climate is such a conglomerated mess, I can’t image that they’re certain of just what it all means.

My bigger question, given the fact that my unofficial thermometer has spent more days over 100 than under the last few months, is, supposing they are right, what should we do about it? Should I buy a smaller pickup? Turn off my air conditioner? Should we shut down the coal plants and demand ridiculous auto mileage standards? Feed my cows stuff that doesn’t make methane? I mean, we can spend a lot of money and effort here that we KNOW is gone on a problem we THINK is fixable.

If we do, will it stop global warming? Even if the Chinese and Indians continue to grow and produce more emissions? Probably not. No, certainly not. If the global warming alarmists are right about the science, they’re wrong about the solution. Their solution is like standing in the middle of the railroad tracks waving for the train to stop. Trains don’t stop very fast.

We are not going to make much of a dent in carbon emissions. It’s fine to try, but we should know it isn’t going to happen soon enough to change those awful predictions.

So we need to get ready for a warmer world. Green energy is fine. But is won’t be enough. We need to think of things like not asking FEMA to rebuild beach houses in areas that will be increasingly at risk from hurricanes and rising sea levels. We should begin developing ways to relocate folks from places like New Orleans next time their houses get washed away. Maybe into smaller, more ecologically friendly apartments, I guess. With mass transit handy.

What should we do about water in the Southwest, where all the projections call for hotter and dryer weather in the future? Should we continue to subsidize folks who choose to live there?  I mean here. Should we offer farm program benefits to land owners like me who pump the water under our farms knowing future generations will need it much worse? Should we even be using that precious water to produce crops for export? As a landowner, I’m all for it. But if I were King of America, I’m not sure I’d agree with me.

Those are all tough questions. Assuming that greenhouse science is right, we’ve got much more difficult challenges than a bit of ethanol and a few windmills before us.

About one, I have no doubts: We should be spending much more effort on building new crops that will produce in that awful future projected. Pioneer has a new drought resistant corn, and kudos to them and their fellow private enterprisers for it.

USDA’s Agriculture Research Service—working largely with industry funded checkoff money—is working on a number of projects to produce more drought tolerant soybeans and sorghum and corn. Great, so far as it goes.

But if this year is an example of what’s to come—whether it be caused by man or by natural cycles—there is much more to be done. If those at the top really believe the threat is so imminent that it justifies the billions a host of new regulations will cost us, they should be moving food and water research to the front of the line.

So I don’t profess to know yes or no on climate change. But I do know we’re not going to head it off. And if what we’re going through this year where I live we should be preparing for the inevitable rather than letting people feel they’ve done their part by buying a hybrid car.

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COMMENTS (3 Comments)

I found myelsf nodding my noggin all the way through.
1:02 PM Sep 22nd
Anthony Westerling - CA
The problem is, climate change is not a "one-off". It's true that there are significant changes coming that we cant avoid and need to adapt to. But if we don't start reducing our carbon footprint, those changes will be followed by ever more extreme ones that will make our children's and grand-childrens lives very, very difficult.

It is not a choice between adaptation and mitigation. Both are required. The time to start is now.
1:07 PM Sep 5th

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