Last week marked an important milestone in the debate over climate change, and specifically on the debate over how the concept will be legislated and regulated in the future. Two watershed events, namely the EPA’s “Endangerment Ruling” on greenhouse gases, and secondly the Copenhagen Climate Summit, portend significant challenges for American farmers as world leaders and Washington regulators look to bring social change in the name of environmental responsibility. Like a host of major social programs of the past century, the current effort on climate change is more about “social justice” than it is about the actual issue of the social program. Climate change regulation and legislation actually have little to do with climate, and plenty to do with engineering social change.
Leaders from around the world gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark to focus on what can be done to mitigate “man-made” climate change. Agriculture interests in the United States are particularly concerned with the global ramifications because any potential accord will most likely allow self-designated “developing” countries like China and India to opt-out of some or all emissions reductions requirements while simultaneously holding “developed” countries like the United States to a significantly higher standard. This puts the U.S. farmer at a significant competitive disadvantage as it is widely accepted that any kind of cap & trade scenario will drive up the cost of energy, including the fuel and fertilizer necessary to produce food.
Ohio Corn Growers’ Association Executive Director Dwayne Siekman attended the Agriculture and Rural Development Day at the Copenhagen Summit, and reported that “It was clear from the onset… that the participants of [the summit] believe the focus should be on farmers in developing countries that have struggled for decades in producing food and feed and criticizing Western Civilization agriculture for being too productive.”
Observing that the participants in Copenhagen were ignoring the enormous potential of modern agriculture to reduce carbon emissions and sequester additional carbon from the atmosphere, Siekman told me “I was shocked, to say the least. [We are] the world’s leader in producing food, feed and fuel from crops, the world’s leader in utilization of new technology and the world’s leader in efficient production practices that offer the best bet for greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction.”
Siekman reminded me of some statistics that must have been left out of the Copenhagen attendee’s brochures: “Worldwide greenhouse-gas emissions from agriculture account for 14 percent of all GHG emissions, but of that 14 percent, over 74 percent of the agriculture-based GHG emissions come from developing countries. It is obvious that U.S. farmers have been and will continue to do their job, but the rest of the world believes the U.S. should pay to bring everyone to their level.”
In other words, it’s not actually about altering the alleged warming of the global climate, but rather about bringing the big, bad Americans down to size.
Likewise, the ruling of the Environmental Protection Agency last week that greenhouse gases were an endangerment to both human health and the environment paves the way for the Administration to widely regulate any industry, business, or individual that emits greenhouse gases. Cows produce methane when they digest grass and grain: dairy farms and beef feedlots are now likely to be regulated. The semi tractor/trailer that hauls food to your local grocery store emits greenhouse gases from its exhaust: the trucking and shipping industries will likely pay heavy costs in terms of fees, licenses, aside from significantly higher fuel costs. You, by the way, being a carbon-based life form, emit carbon dioxide when you breathe. You are now officially an endangerment to the environment and the humans around you.
The very week that significant information surfaces suggesting that much of the data and research done on the subject if climate change is occurring due to manmade influences is either false, or significantly enhanced to “prove” climate change is the result of society, President Obama and his counterparts at Copenhagen are pushing ahead to “change the world.” Unfortunately, the changes they are seeking are bad for American farmers, and especially bad for the millions of people those farmers feed around the world.