The president denies climate change, despite the evidence

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Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/30020836983)], via Flickr

In a White House Rose Garden ceremony June 1, President Donald J. Trump announced he would pull the U.S. from the Paris treaty on global climate change. It was a matter of national sovereignty, explained Trump.

Or, as he colorfully noted, “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”

True, but he was elected to represent Paris, Illinois; Paris, Kentucky; Paris, Idaho; Paris, Arizona; Paris, Massachesutes; Paris, Michigan; Paris, Iowa and Paris, Indiana. What’s more, if national polling holds true in these somewhat lesser cities of light, then two out of every three American Parisians see climate change as a global, national, community, and personal threat.

The reaction

Still, the president acted. How will U.S. and world agriculture react?

The always-sunny Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue endorsed the president’s move.

“Floods, droughts, and natural disasters are a fact of life for farmers, ranchers, and foresters,” ironically noted the secretary, as if acknowledging the food-growing reality climate scientists say is ahead of us if we take the White House’s fossil-fueled course.

But, hey, added Perdue, farmers and ranchers “have persevered in the past and they will adapt in the future — with the assistance of the scientists and experts at USDA.”

There are two gaping holes in Perdue’s hopeful net.

First, not all farmers and ranchers “persevered” in previous climate calamities. In fact, many farm families and rural communities still carry the searing scars of the dirty, hungry Dust Bowl of the 1930s and devastating floods in 1973 and 1993.

Mankind may not have been the root cause of these disasters, but it did add to them and our failure to not even plan for their possibility cost thousands their lives and many more thousands their livelihoods.

Big decision

Today, another generation of farm and ranch leaders again must decide if Mother Nature is a partner or a hired hand. As the Trump White House sees it, it’s the latter; she works for us. Moreover, as a matter of national interest, she’s now on notice.

Wise farmers and ranchers everywhere know, however, it’s the former. That’s not liberalism or politics; it’s experience and common sense.

Another blind spot in Perdue’s endorsement of Trump’s climate policy is quickly becoming something of a specialty of this Administration: While the secretary claims American agriculture will be ready for any climate-altered future because of “the assistance of the scientists and experts at USDA,” President Trump’s 2018 federal budget proposal cuts USDA’s Agricultural Research Service funding by roughly 32 percent.

If adopted, that $360 million slice (out of its $1.1 billion budget) means USDA would have to close 17 of its 90 or so research centers.

Which centers would close?

Climate research

No one can say, but if the boss believes climate change isn’t a serious threat, few scientists serious about their careers at USDA will do climate change research.

Not researching climate change, just like jumping out of the Paris climate accord, does not mean it won’t impact farmers and ranchers.

In its 2015 report titled “Heat in the Heartland: Climate Change and the Economic Risk in the Midwest,” an all-star group of political, business, and academic leaders warned that “Without action, climate change will lock in extreme temperature increases across the Midwest” where, they noted, 65 percent of all corn and soybeans are grown, one-third of U.S. manufacturing is located, and where one in five Americans live.

And it’s going to happen in a hurry. “Over the next 5 to 25 years, without significant adaptation by farmers, some counties in Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana will likely see average commodity crop losses up to 18 to 24% due to extreme heat each year,” the report relates.

The point is as simple as it is apparent. Climate change is happening and will continue to happen.

Ignoring it — by withdrawing from political and scientific efforts to mitigate and maybe manage it — goes against what farmers and ranchers instinctively do best every day: solve problems, not make ’em worse.

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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

1 COMMENT

  1. Mr. Guebert, you are so foolish to buy into the biggest sham in all of history. Can you you not discern the ever shifting dishonest claims behind this climate change BS? It is only about power, and specifically the transfer of sovereign power from America to the world government despots. Their scheme was to hatch a “crisis” so large that only a global framework could handle it. And with that framework, they can then grab more and more control. It will end in slavery and persecution of all who don’t submit. Surely you are smarter than to be taken in by this?

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