Opinion: The most consequential ag story in 2018 is …

Print More

In the past year I've blogged and waxed on a number of consequential agricultural events.

Way ahead of the curve, I correctly predicted that U.S. soybean farmers would be financially hurt by the POTUS steel and aluminum trade war.

I also spoke of China's resolve in dealing with U.S. tariffs and their collective ability to pull the wool over the eyes of the U.S. government.

I suggested that the U.S. pork and chicken industries may be secretly cooperating with competitors in order to rig consumer prices

I made a case for the Bayer-Monsanto merger hurting farmers in the long run.

I wondered if the new gene altering technology CRISPER will prove to be a boon in feeding the growing world population.

I warned that the U.S. must soon find a solution to the nation's aging farmer population or suffer food security consequences.

A bunch of pretty significant issues...yes?

But all this pales in comparison to what we learned late this year regarding climate change.  All the blogs I referenced are as much political problems as they are economic and social problems in that their impacts are not forever.  New paths can be charted on any of these issues.

But in a pair of gut wrenching reports we have been warned that the world is quickly reaching the point of no return as a result of green-house gas emissions into the atmosphere.

In November on Black Friday (and the irony of that is not to be missed) the federal government released a report that pulled no punches.

Researchers and scientists across the federal government are certain climate-change poses a severe threat to American's health and pocketbooks not to mention the nation's infrastructure, natural resources and security.

Let that sink in for a moment.

The National Climate Assessment’s publication says that global warming: “is transforming where and how we live and presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life, the economy, and the natural systems that support us.”

 The authors conclude that humans must act NOW “to avoid substantial damages to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades.”

 The report found that the continental U.S. is 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than a century ago and that by 2050 the country could see as much as 2.3 additional degrees of warming.

The consequences for U.S. agriculture are enormous.  Corn and soybean crops which are the heartbeat of U.S. ag would see dwindling yields unless R and D finds ways for row crops to thrive in drought conditions.

Along the way, the corn belt would need to move northward.  In fact, corn could become a huge staple crop for Canada.

Much of this is already known of course.  But the National Climate Assessment comes in the wake of a report by the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The report concluded that the world is on the brink of failure in holding global warming to moderate levels and it has a decade give or take to take drastic unprecedented actions to cut carbon emissions.

Ten years.

Unfortunately, about the only group of folk outside of OPEC nations who think all this is nonsense is the White House.  President Nero and his band of merry men think making money by deregulating coal, oil and gas is more important than like help saving the world for future generations.

POTUS spokeswomen Sarah Huckabee Sanders did her best ostrich impression in saying “We think that this is the most extreme version and it’s not based on facts,” It’s not data-driven. We’d like to see something that is more data-driven.”

Well news flash for the White House:  Carbon dioxide emissions know no geopolitical boundaries...the stuff circulates around the globe.  Not believing the facts doesn't make them any less true.

And the U.S. is one of only a very small handful of nations who can actually hold other countries accountable to meeting their promised target emission reductions from the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Time is running out.  And let's be clear.  There is no silver bullet here.  It will take WORLD resolve to reverse course.

About Dave Dickey

Dave Dickey

Dickey spent nearly 30 years at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s NPR member station WILL-AM 580 where he won a dozen Associated Press awards for his reporting. For 13 years, he directed Illinois Public Media’s agriculture programming. His weekly column for Big Ag Watch covers agriculture and related issues including politics, government, environment and labor. Email him at dave.dickey@investigatemidwest.org.

This column reflects the writer’s own opinions and not those of Big Ag Watch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *