Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Received email April 7, 2009

Trent:

I attended your presentation in New Hampton, Iowa two or three weeks ago.
Although I've worked in rural school districts virtually all of my
professional life (going on about 40 years) I had never heard of you
before I received an invitation to attend the meeting which was held at
the Pinicon Restaurant. Since I am seeking to become more informed on
agricultural issues as a newly elected member of the Chickasaw County
Board of Supervisors, I was led to believe that you would provide a useful
perspective on agriculture in America.

I must say, first of all, that I was quite surprised at the presentation.
I expected to hear an "informational" kind of speech, one that identified
the important and urgent agricultural issues of the day from the
perspective of one who travels a great deal and who, himself, learns much
from the people with whom he visits and to whom he listens. In fact, as
you were introduced, I took out of some paper and my pen and I was
prepared to write notes about the points you would make.

As your presentation continued it was clear that you were (or are) an
entertainer, much like Rush Limbaugh (sp?) and many other "media
personalities." That said, as you might suspect, I was disappointed.
Intertwined with your "entertainment" comments, I thought you made several
wonderful points on which one should reflect. I recall that you talked
about the need for American agriculture to have a spokeperson. (I sensed
[and feared] that you wanted to be that spokesperson.) You also talked
about the need for farmers to learn how to communicate with the vast
majority of Americans who really don't understand the food system in this
country (or in the world). Somehow, the language farmers speak needs to
be transformed so that ordinary people can understand what is being said.

I am still not sure what to make of you. Following the presentation, and
still seeking to understand your motives, I googled you and I watched
several youtube videos that you had made--there were several interviews
with Iowa State University faculty members--that I watched. Thus, I am
becoming aware that although there's this entertainment "side" of Trent
Loos, there's also another side that seeks to inform viewers about
agricultural topics.

All of this said, the most troubling part of your presentation to me--and
it occurred near the beginning of your "comments"--had to do with global
climate change. If I understand you correctly, you deny that humans are
influencing the climate system of the world through various emissions,
especially CO2. My view is different. Because of the process that was
used to construct the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, I
agree with the conclusions expressed by that grouping of world climate
scientists. This view was recently reinforced by a presentation I watched
on television by James Hansen--and it is Hansen's speech which was made on
December 17, 2008 that I would invite you to watch. To get to that
speech, I googled "James Hansen+December 17, 2008" and several webpages
come up. Hansen spoke at University of California at Berkeley on December
17 and his speech, you will find, is now on Youtube. Although the speech
was listed as lasting about one hour, twenty-five minutes or so, at least
some of that time was devoted to questions from the audience. In the
speech, Hansen seems to address some of the issues you raised, if I recall
correctly. I urge you to view the speech and to reflect on your current
position with respect to climate change.

By the way, I do agree with you that somehow, American agriculture does
need a "face." There is a need for spokespeople. One of the immense
challenges to American agriculture is that there are many
dimensions--there's a wide range of interests. My hope would be that any
spokesperson would provide detail about his/her "interest" in
agriculture--whether one was closer to a "corporate" position or whether
one was at the other end of the continuum--whether one was supportive of
maintaining as much as possible, the family farmer, and, perhaps "family
values." And, obviously, even this is a gross oversimplification.

I agree also that Americans (and others) need to understand much better
the "food system." Because I have lived in Iowa, I believe I have a more
"developed" view than some Americans but even then, I know that I am very
ignorant of important parts of the system. I know that I do not have a
sophisticated view of the overall "structure of agriculture" in this
country (nor in the world). There is a desperate need for much
ag-education.

There are many other points about which I could try to make an intelligent
comment. However, my main concern at this point is that you re-consider
your view about global climate change. It's hard for me to imagine that
one who seeks to be a spokesperson, or who, de facto, IS a spokesperson,
would have the view that you currently appear to hold about global climate
change. Again--I believe the conclusions of the IPCC group. I believe
James Hansen. His speech was nuanced. There's obviously much that is not
known. But his explanation of the "science" seemed sufficiently strong
enough to be credible. I recognize that if one accepts the notion that
global climate change is real and that humans have a role in causing an
acceleration of the change, then one needs to examine his/her own behavior
and the various "systems" that are currently in operation that influence
the rates of emissions that could cause life on earth as we know it be
dramatically different within the lifetimes of our grandchildren. That's
a scary proposition, but one that needs to be explored.

Best wishes,


John Andersen

Thanks John I appreciate your comments. I would encourage you all to read Ready for a little Global Warming

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