After what I considered an overload of evidence and information on Global Warming, I was somewhat relieved to experience a fairly long period without much emphasis on the topic, whatever its name - - and then came climate change. There were those who instantly dubbed it nothing more than political correctness, in abandoning the politically poisonous global warming, in favor of the somewhat less volatile, more homogenous references to changes in the climate, that almost everyone recognizes as fact. For example, do you remember any winter such as that we experienced in the 2013-2014 season? Many of you will readily think back to your youth in the 30s and 40s and recall long, cold, snowy Michigan winters, and long, hot, dry summers, particularly in July and August. Its the kind of thing that causes some people, myself included, to continue rejecting global warming in favor of climate change. In other words, its happened before, its happening now, and itll happen again. Thats very different from This could be the start of something big!
A National Climate Assessment Report out of the White House earlier this month has brought, as would be expected, commentary from the world of agriculture. In this particular case its from National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson, who says the climate assessment report only confirms what farmers and ranchers have been experiencing, in that climate change is increasing the occurrence and severity of volatile weather events, which act negatively on farm bottom lines, and the entire rural economy. He calls on Congress to mitigate climate change effects by, for example, rejecting the EPAs proposed reduction in the Renewable Fuels Standard. Johnson says the EPA proposal, if enacted, will adversely impact commodity prices and rural employment, in addition to moving the country further from achieving its climate change mitigation goals.
On another front - - as in weather, of course - - the challenge represented by difficult weather conditions is exacerbated by the probability that agriculture in general will be called upon to feed nine billion people by the year 2050. That comes from researcher Carl Schmidt at the University of Delaware. He and his colleagues have visited in Africa, to study how potential new breeds of farm animals could withstand climate change. Researchers Gale Strasburg at Michigan State University and Megan Rolf at Oklahoma State seem to be teaching from the same text books. That report is, so far, pretty sketchy but it suggests to me that there is cause for concern that the beef and dairy cattle, and the swine, and probably the sheep and poultry to which weve become accustomed may be less productive as energy goes more into surviving the effects of warmer weather, and less into producing meat and dairy for our tables.
Dont be put off by the reference to the year 2050. Its not all that far away.
Karl Guenther is a retired farm broadcaster at WKZO and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . He is a member of Michigan Farm Bureau and an emeritus member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting. (accompanying picture is a screen capture from YouTube)