More Astroturf on global warming war

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If the generals and admirals within the concentric walls of the Pentagon — hardly a bastion of greenie weenies — view global warming as a “serious threat to national security,” exactly who does the American Farm Bureau Federation view as the enemy in its latest Astroturf war against climate change legislation?

For its part, the Pentagon, in two reports (one issued in April 2007, the other this past May), calls climate change “a threat multiplier for instability in some of the world’s most volatile regions, worsening terrorism and likely dragging the United States into conflicts over water and other critical resource shortages.”

The AFBF, on the other hand, in an Oct. 14 memo to “State Farm Bureau Public Relations Directors and Staff,” sees Congressional efforts to address global warming as a move that “…will put us at a competitive disadvantage in international markets with other countries that do not have similar carbon emission restrictions.”

Moreover, warned Don Lipton, AFBF’s national PR director who wrote the memo, “For the future prosperity of the U.S. economy and American agriculture, climate change legislation must be defeated by Congress.”

I’m no economist

As noted in this space just last week, I’m no economist but I’ll take a flyer here and guess that the future prosperity of the “U.S. economy and American agriculture” does not rest on the defeat of climate change legislation in Congress.

Indeed, it’s far more likely that the inverse is true: Without American leadership on global climate issues, “Not only will global warming disrupt the environment,” testified Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, USN (Ret.) to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee July 21, “but its effects will shift the world’s balance of power and money.”

That shift is, of course, already underway, noted McGinn.

“In 2008, we sent $386 billion overseas to pay for oil — much of it going to nations that wish us harm.”

Directly undermines

Even worse, added the sailor who spent “35 years…. involved on a daily basis with the science and technology of energy, transportation and the environment,” this fabulous sum “puts us in the untenable position of funding both sides of the conflict and directly undermines our fight against terror.”

(McGinn’s July Senate testimony can be read at http://foreign.senate.gov/testimony/2009/McGinnTestimony090721p.pdf. The Pentagon’s May 2007 analysis of climate change risks is at http://securityandclimate.cna.org/.)

But AFBF’s latest fight to kill climate change legislation rests on nothing so vital as national security or so dangerous as financing our enemies.

Instead, the self-described “voice of agriculture,” opposes Congressional efforts because, according to the Oct. 14 memo, “… it will mean higher fuel and fertilizer costs” which puts “us” at a market disadvantage to nations without “similar carbon emission restrictions.”

No public or private analysis

Unlike the Pentagon studies, though, the AFBF memo cites no public or private analysis to support that view. It does, however, describe in page-after-page detail how an orchestrated-from-Washington “campaign” will create the appearance that grassroots members oppose climate change legislation.

And to ensure it, AFBF proposes to build the entire effort on — no kidding — farmer caps that sport the made-in-DC slogan “Don’t CAP our future.”

How clever: Don’t CAP our future. Wow.

Far more

To professional warriors like McGinn, the politics of climate change involve far more than fake, silly campaigns with clever slogans stuck on farmers’ hats. Near the end of his Senate testimony, he quoted retired Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni on the consequences of Congress not acting to reduce global warming.

According to Zinni, said McGinn, “We will pay now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions… or we will pay the price later in military terms and that will involve human lives.”

McGinn didn’t say if Zinni’s estimated price was with or without hats.

About the Author

Alan Guebert was raised on an 800-acre, 100-cow southern Illinois dairy farm. After graduation from the University of Illinois in 1980, he served as a writer and editor at Professional Farmers of America, Successful Farming magazine and Farm Journal magazine. His syndicated agricultural column, The Farm and Food File, began in June, 1993, and now appears weekly in more than 70 publications throughout the U.S. and Canada. He and spouse Catherine, a social worker, have two adult children. farmandfoodfile.com More Stories by Alan Guebert

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