PRODUCERS FACE MANY ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES IN 2010

by: Stephen B. Blezinger
Ph.D., PAS

Part 1

Welcome to 2010! Hopefully you have been enjoying the holidays are ready for the New Year. As we enter this new year, it may be useful over the next few issues to discuss some of the challenges that the cattle industry, as well as agriculture in general, is facing. While, individually we can take steps to plan for market variation, changing feed prices, some weather ups and downs, some of our biggest challenges come from sources considerably larger. I will state now that the topic and scope of this article is different than what you typically find here.

One of the greatest of these is the environmental movement and the effect it has had and will continue to have on our economy and our way of life. Do not get me wrong, I am a staunch supporter of taking care of the environment and feel that we in agriculture are the original and frankly the most serious environmentalists in the world. But I believe this issue, along with so many others must be tempered with a significant degree of common sense – a quality that seems to be sorely lacking, especially in many areas of government and administrative bodies.

It seems that we cannot turn on the radio or TV, open a newspaper or magazine where we are not screamed at that global warming as it is being caused by man's efforts (including the production of livestock) is going to bring an end to life as we know it. It might be one thing if these statements were true or if they were actually promoted from a standpoint of improving man's well-being. But when the vast majority of this issue is driven by politics and a small group of individual's need to promote their own agenda (whatever that may be). I do my very best to stay away from politics and the cesspool in which it seems to be immersed, but we are at a point where each and everyone of us absolutely must: 1) be as informed as possible with the FACTS and 2) convey our position on these facts to the people WE elected to represent us in our state capitals and in Washington.

So let's talk about some things that may help us be more informed. One buzzword we hear daily is “carbon footprint.” This is the amount of carbon we (individually, corporately, industry-wide, etc.) are supposedly contributing to the environment. Here's an interesting fact: the total carbon footprint of the US dairy industry (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) in 2007 was 59% of that in 1944 (Capper et al., 2009, JAS). That decrease was primarily due to improvements in productivity both on the animal (milk yield) and cropping (yield per acre) basis. This number would be similar for the beef industry as well. If we go back farther, and evaluate this carbon emission's number we see that we have dramatically REDUCED this carbon footprint, ag industry wide on a continuous basis. And the vast majority of this is related to our improvements in production. Consider one other fact: the carbon footprint of the 60 million buffalo around in the 1880's was double that of the US dairy industry in 2007.

Recently the European Foundation published 100 reasons why climate change is natural and not man-made. This has been published on a number of sites so you may have already seen this but I felt it was worth repeating. It also provides strong ammunition against the rhetoric spewed daily by those who would have all driving around in “Smart Cars” and enjoying the benefits of Free Range Chicken. So here we go:

1) There is “no real scientific proof” that the current warming is caused by the rise of greenhouse gases from man's activity.

2) Man-made carbon dioxide emissions throughout human history constitute less than 0.00022 percent of the total naturally emitted from the mantle of the earth during geological history.

3) Warmer periods of the Earth's history came around 800 years before rises in CO2 levels.

4) After World War II, there was a huge surge in recorded CO2 emissions but global temperatures fell for four decades after 1940.

5) Throughout the Earth's history, temperatures have often been warmer than now and CO2 levels have often been higher – more than ten times as high.

6) Significant changes in climate have continually occurred throughout geologic time.

7) The 0.7C increase in the average global temperature over the last hundred years is entirely consistent with well-established, long-term, natural climate trends.

8) The IPCC theory is driven by just 60 scientists and favourable reviewers not the 4,000 usually cited.

9) Leaked e-mails from British climate scientists – in a scandal known as “Climate-gate” - suggest that that has been manipulated to exaggerate global warming.

10) A large body of scientific research suggests that the sun is responsible for the greater share of climate change during the past hundred years.

11) Politicians and activists claim rising sea levels are a direct cause of global warming but sea levels rates have been increasing steadily since the last ice age 10,000 ago.

12) Philip Stott, Emeritus Professor of Biogeography at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London says climate change is too complicated to be caused by just one factor, whether CO2 or clouds.

13) Peter Lilley MP said last month that “fewer people in Britain than in any other country believe in the importance of global warming. That is despite the fact that our Government and our political class—predominantly—are more committed to it than their counterparts in any other country in the world.”

14) In pursuit of the global warming rhetoric, wind farms will do very little to nothing to reduce CO2 missions.

15) Professor Plimer, Professor of Geology and Earth Sciences at the University of Adelaide, stated that the idea of taking a single trace gas in the atmosphere, accusing it and finding it guilty of total responsibility for climate change, is an “absurdity.”

16) A Harvard University astrophysicist and geophysicist, Willie Soon, said he is “embarrassed and puzzled” by the shallow science in papers that support the proposition that the earth faces a climate crisis caused by global warming.

17) The science of what determines the earth's temperature is in fact far from settled or understood.

18) Despite activist concerns over CO2 levels, CO2 is a minor greenhouse gas, unlike water vapour which is tied to climate concerns, and which we can't even pretend to control.

19) A petition by scientists trying to tell the world that the political and media portrayal of global warming is false was put forward in the Heidelberg Appeal in 1992. Today, more than 4,000 signatories, including 72 Nobel Prize winners, from 106 countries have signed it.

20) It is claimed the average global temperature increased at a dangerously fast rate in the 20th century but the recent rate of average global temperature rise has been between 1 and 2 degrees C per century - within natural rates.

21) Professor Zbigniew Jaworowski, Chairman of the Scientific Council of the Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection in Warsaw, Poland says the earth's temperature has more to do with cloud cover and water vapor than CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.

22) There is strong evidence from solar studies which suggests that the Earth's current temperature stasis will be followed by climatic cooling over the next few decades.

23) It is myth that receding glaciers are proof of global warming as glaciers have been receding and growing cyclically for many centuries.

24) It is a falsehood that the earth's poles are warming because that is natural variation and while the western Arctic may be getting somewhat warmer we also see that the Eastern Arctic and Greenland are getting colder.

25) The IPCC claims climate driven “impacts on biodiversity are significant and of key relevance” but those claims are simply not supported by scientific research.

26) The IPCC threat of climate change to the world's species does not make sense as wild species are at least one million years old, which means they have all been through hundreds of climate cycles.

27) Research goes strongly against claims that CO2-induced global warming would cause catastrophic disintegration of the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets.

28) Despite activist concerns over CO2 levels, rising CO2 levels are our best hope of raising crop yields to feed an ever-growing population.

29) The biggest climate change ever experienced on earth took place around 700 million years ago.

30) The slight increase in temperature which has been observed since 1900 is entirely consistent with well-established, long-term natural climate cycles.

31) Despite activist concerns over CO2 levels, rising CO2 levels of some so-called “greenhouse gases” may be contributing to higher oxygen levels and global cooling, not warming.

32) Accurate satellite, balloon and mountain top observations made over the last three decades have not shown any significant change in the long term rate of increase in global temperatures.

33) Today's CO2 concentration of around 385 ppm is very low compared to most of the earth's history – we actually live in a carbon-deficient atmosphere.

34) It is a myth that CO2 is the most common greenhouse gas because greenhouse gases form about three percent of the atmosphere by volume, and CO2 constitutes about 0.037 percent of the atmosphere.

35) It is a myth that computer models verify that CO2 increases will cause significant global warming because computer models can be made to “verify” anything.

36) There is no scientific or statistical evidence whatsoever that global warming will cause more storms and other weather extremes.

37) One statement deleted from a UN report in 1996 stated that “none of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed climate changes to increases in greenhouse gases.”

38) The world “warmed” by 0.07 +/- 0.07 degrees C from 1999 to 2008, not the 0.20 degrees C expected by the IPCC.

39) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says “it is likely that future tropical cyclones (typhoons and hurricanes) will become more intense” but there has been no increase in the intensity or frequency of tropical cyclones globally.

40) Rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere can be shown not only to have a negligible effect on the Earth's many ecosystems, but in some cases to be a positive help to many organisms.

41) Researchers who compare and contrast climate change impact on civilizations found warm periods are beneficial to mankind and cold periods harmful.

42) The Met Office asserts we are in the hottest decade since records began but this is precisely what the world should expect if the climate is cyclical.

43) Rising CO2 levels increase plant growth and make plants more resistant to drought and pests.

44) The historical increase in the air's CO2 content has improved human nutrition by raising crop yields during the past 150 years.

45) The increase of the air's CO2 content has probably helped lengthen human lifespans since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

46) The IPCC alleges that “climate change currently contributes to the global burden of disease and premature deaths” but the evidence shows that higher temperatures and rising CO2 levels has helped global populations.

47) In May of 2004, the Russian Academy of Sciences published a report concluding that the Kyoto Protocol has no scientific grounding at all.

48) The “Climate-gate” scandal pointed to a expensive public campaign of disinformation and the denigration of scientists who opposed the belief that CO2 emissions were causing climate change.

49) The head of Britain's climate change watchdog has predicted households will need to spend up to £15,000 on a full energy efficiency makeover if the Government is to meet its ambitious targets for cutting carbon emissions.

50) Wind power is unlikely to be the answer to our energy needs. The wind power industry argues that there are “no direct subsidies” but it involves a total subsidy of as much as £60 per MWh which falls directly on electricity consumers. This burden will grow in line with attempts to achieve Wind power targets, according to a recent OFGEM report.

Conclusions

This is just the first 50 reasons. In the next segment to this series we will discuss this issue in greater detail and provide the final 50 reasons. Remember that the purpose of this is to help you be better informed and to convey this message to the people whose role it is to affect our policies and legislation. Until then, have a Very Happy New Year!

Dr. Steve Blezinger is a nutritional and management consultant with an office in Sulphur Springs, TX. He can be reached at (903) 885-7992, sblez@verizon.net or for more information at www.blnconsult.com.







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