Actionable Science?

Livestock Industry Opinions
May 9, 2014

Global warming was the big national topic last week when President Obama came out with the third national assessment on climate change in the U.S. This was a collective effort of a group of 13 federal agencies called the “U.S. Global Change Research Program.” Just looking at their website to view the report, you could tell it was a product of the Obama Administration because they appeared to hire the same people to do this website as they did the Obamacare websites.


At this point, I must still have my head in the sand, or I haven’t seen the report, which is absolutely convincing that we are in the midst of catastrophic climate change. But the government is absolutely convinced we are. Their claim is that we’ve had 11 major weather events in the past year so there is a massive change underway.

I’m sure that we have some cause and effect situations occurring, like a shift in El Niño or La Niña, but I don’t think anyone could tell you if these weather events indicate permanent shifts in weather patterns. Someone has done a masterful job connecting the dots on these major weather events, but I’ve always understood that intelligent people can justify any outcome they want. And I think that’s what is occurring.

At this point I have a very difficult time believing anything that comes out of this administration and our bureaucracy in the various agencies. They all have an agenda. The environmental movement has both the agencies and the general public buffaloed on the effects of our climate, man-made or not. I’m one of those guys who believes technology will carry us forward and we will find better and more efficient ways to do just about everything. We have a long history of doing so.

This forward-looking climate document makes a host of projections based on past weather events. They project more of the bad stuff like intense drought, more catastrophic wild fires in the West and disrupted moisture patterns, and they preach conservation of land and water resources. They also point out that climate disruptions have increased over the past 40 years and have had a large impact on ag production. As a result, they are concerned about agriculture production and food costs to consumers in the future.

The way I see this report is that it is intended to put fear in the minds of people and give the government agencies more control over how resources are managed, especially for agriculture. In the West, I can see the need for more livestock on national forests consuming the excessive fuel loads that cause large wild fires. I can see the need for a few more large reservoir projects to produce clean power and provide more irrigation for agriculture and manage water supplies.

There are a lot of innovative ways agriculture can move forward and remain healthy and survive in the supposed “catastrophic” years to come. But it will be a battle with the environmental community to get many of these common sense projects done. One thing that must happen: environmental activist groups and agriculture have to find a better balance.

The government already has a strong environmentalist community within their ranks and they will be the ones who will write additional regulations. That’s this administration’s mindset. They will quietly work their climate change policies through the agencies and we’ll be stuck with more embedded bureaucracy. They don’t want to reach a consensus through Congress and implement climate policy that everyone can get behind. They want their own way.

This climate change report is pure politics and just business as usual for the Obama Administration. We know in agriculture that we will find better, more efficient ways to produce more food with fewer resources. It’s what agriculture has done forever.

Yes, we’ve had a big drought in the West and reservoirs are running low. Ag production goes down in such times, but it’s a cycle that everyone in ag understands and plans for. I hope this climate change report, which has been referred to as “Actionable Science,” has a disclaimer at the bottom. It should warn readers: “Past performance is not a guarantee of future returns.” This climate change mindset is nothing more than an educated hunch that will cost a ton to regulate. Do you really trust this administration to tell us about Mother Nature? — PETE CROW