Latest posts by Jay Lehr (see all)
The world’s food producers are frequently blamed for being responsible for some part of the “greenhouse gas” emissions thought to contribute to global warming, and consequently are targeted for regulations or carbon taxes. But the connection between climate change and food production is nearly the opposite of this popular but mistaken belief.
Increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – whether from humans, or from oceans and other much larger sources – increases all vegetation growth rates, making food and animal feed more plentiful and ultimately less expensive.
The idea that man has significant impact on the earth’s temperature is both arrogant and absurd. Between 1978 and 1998 when the earth was warming (it is not warming any longer) Mars, Pluto, Jupiter and the largest moon of Neptune warmed at the same rate. Our Hubble telescope found no SUVs on any of these celestial bodies.
Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. On the contrary it makes crops and forests grow faster. Mapping by satellite shows that the earth has become about 6 percent greener overall in the past two decades, with forests expanding into arid regions. The Amazon rain forest was the biggest gainer, with two tons of additional bio-mass per acre per year. Certainly, climate change does not help every region equally. But careful studies predict overall benefit — fewer storms, more rain, better crop yields, longer growing seasons, milder winters and decreasing heating costs in colder climates. The news is certainly not bad and on balance may be rather good.
Someday the world will wake up and laugh when the public finally understands that the entire pursuit of economic ruin in the name of saving the planet from increasing carbon dioxide is in fact a terrible joke. It is an unarguable fact that the portion of the Earth’s greenhouse-gas envelope contributed by man is barely one-tenth of one percent of the total. Do the numbers your self. CO2 is no more than 4 percent of the total (with water vapor being over 90 percent, followed by methane and sulpher and nitrous oxides). Of that 4 percent, man contributes only a little over 3 percent — the remainder coming from the oceans and decaying vegetation. Elementary school arithmetic says that 3 percent of 4 percent is 0.12 percent. And for that we are sentencing the planet to a wealth of damaging economic impacts?
With regard to raising beef cattle: Yes, methane produced by all animals is a green house gas — but that produced as part of the domesticated food chain is an insignificant part of methane’s small percent as well.
Some 900,000 years of ice-core temperature records and carbon dioxide content records show that CO2 increases follow rather than lead increases in Earth temperature — which is logical because the oceans are the primary source of CO2, and they hold more CO2 when cool than when warm, so warming causes the oceans to release more CO2. Again, the production of animal protein for human consumption has nothing to do with the earth’s temperature. Nor does any other aspect of agriculture, and it is time that those of us working diligently to provide the world with abundant healthy and inexpensive food stop pandering to green ant-agriculture environmental zealots intending to enslave the world and destroy its economy with alarmist lies.
We know that 200 million years ago, when the dinosaurs walked the Earth, average CO2 concentration in the atmosphere was 1800 ppm, five times higher than today.
Never mind that the overall polar bear population has increased from about 5,000 in the 1960s to 25,000 today, and that the only two populations in decline come from areas where it has actually been getting colder over the past 50 years. Also ignore the fact that polar bears were around 100,000 years ago, long before at least one important interglacial period when it was much warmer than the present. Clearly, they survived long periods of time when the climate of the Arctic was much warmer than today. Yet they are not expected to survive this present warming without help from government regulators and environmental groups attempting too curtail agricultural productivity?
No computer model ever used to compute climate change has been able to calculate our recent past Earth temperature, though all measured data inputs were known and available. So why do people give any credence to made up math equations said to emulate the Earth’s climate when they say the temperature is warming and animal husbandry is partially to blame?
The late, great author Michael Crichton once said the claim of consensus in science has been the first refuge of scoundrels. It has been a way to avoid debate by claiming a matter to be settled. Whenever you hear that a consensus of scientists agree on something or other, reach for your wallet because you are being scammed.
Since credible scientific evidence established that CO2 from mankind has little impact on temperature and none on public health, the net result of CO2 limitations will be a transfer of wealth and the ceding of more authority to the United Nations as a global government, and the reduction of our ability to increase the healthy animal protein intake of the developing world.
Once we accept the principle that carbon should be monitored, controlled and taxed, we open the door to the most invasive kind of bureaucratic meddling — and to all the carbon cops who want to stick their noses into every aspect of the way we live, whether it is the kind of car we drive, our holiday destination, our pleasure boat or even the food miles calculated into our evening meal. And, of course, how we raise our livestock.
There is no consensus of scientists in favor of human-caused or feedlot-caused global warming. While opinion polls do not determine truth in science, more than 31,000 American scientists signed a petition drafted by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine which stated:
There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane or other green house gases is causing or will in the foreseeable future cause catastrophic heating of the Earth Atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.
Climate change is not a scientific problem that found political support. This is about eco-activists and politicians who found a scientific issue they feel they can leverage into power and control. The environment is a great way to advance a political agenda that favors central planning and an intrusive government. What better way to control someone’s property than to subordinate one’s private property rights to environmental concerns. Does this not sound familiar as to the threats to modern agriculture?
While the most extreme environmental zealots may be relatively few in number, they have managed to gain undue influence by exploiting the gullibility of many ordinary and scientifically illiterate people — who are only too-willing to believe that the planet needs saving from man’s excesses. Perhaps it is a psychological throwback to those earlier civilizations that offered human sacrifices to the gods to assuage their sins and spare them from punishment in the form of drought, flood, famine or disease. There are certainly many parallels between modern environmentalism and religion.
By focusing our priorities on future generations, we focus less on improving the lives of people who are alive today. These future generations bear no closer relationship to us than those now living in developing countries whose lives we deign to save. The beef cattle industry tries to feed people in the world who are hungry, while alarmists place road blocks in their way.
Global warming is a major industry today. Between 1992 and 2008, the U.S. government spent $30 billion on climate change research and now contributes $6 billion a year. This finances jobs, grants, conferences, international travel and academic journals. It not only keeps a huge army of people in comfortable employment, but also fills them with self-righteousness and moral superiority, regardless of the fact that real science did not support it. By villifying industries like agriculture (which has done an historically incompetent job of telling its positive story to the public) it diverts attention from the scam being perpetrated.
It is clear that with the deep roots of the global warming scare it is not about to go away. It has the added advantage of not being able to be proven false in our lifetime. In the meantime, the sanest course for us would be to gain what limited perspective we can (remembering the global cooling alarm of a generation ago) and proceed cautiously. The beef cattle industry and all of agriculture is going through a scare with many causes — and we need to step back from it, take a long second look at the scientific evidence, and not do anything rash.
In my opinion the beef cattle industry is making a large mistake by attempting to pacify the alarmists by promoting a smaller carbon and methane footprint. It simply convinces the public that the cattle industry shares guilt for crimes against the earth. Nothing could be farther from the truth, and it is time to stand up for sound science rather than false claims.