Friday, March 07, 2008

The newest phenomenon: Global Cooling

Last week I was granted the opportunity to speak at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. It was, in many respects, a very eye opening experience. First of all, you need to know that these were not all agricultural students - a dozen or so “concerned citizens” did show up and were quite vocal. They were vocal about the environmental degradation we as humans are causing through food production, transportation and just living, period. In fact, a couple of them were emphatic that the world is only years away from complete ruination. But then again why wouldn’t they think that? Have you listened to “the news” lately? “Global warming is altering this. Global warming is causing that”. The one that really gets my goat is when a presidential hopeful makes the statement that “our planet is in peril”.

The concept of global warming has become big business. We are reminded every day that we must be stripped of our consumer choices because the planet is in peril. We must enact tougher new environmental regulations because the planet is in grave danger. As it turns out, this may be the biggest fund-raising scam the globe has ever seen. If global warming weren’t a fear-mongering sales pitch, how would a past vice president have sold enough copies of his movie to pay the outrageous electric bill he runs up every month on his Tennessee mansion?

I would hate to think that an actual scientific conference has just taken place in New York City and you didn’t hear about it but the odds are good that it won’t make the prime time news. The 2008 International Conference on Climate Change took place March 2-4, 2008 and 100 environmental scientists from around the world gathered to share some startling facts.

Guess what they revealed. From the mid 1970’s until 1998 the earth’s temperatures did indeed rise. However, in the past ten years there has been zero net gain on temperature increase and, in fact, the evidence shows that the earth has cooled during that decade. Furthermore, these real experts presented evidence that humans are responsible for less than a fraction of 1% of the effects from greenhouse gases. Even more startling would be the fact that greenhouse gases have not caused planet warming but rather any temperature increase was caused by the sun.

Whether Global Warming is the world’s largest hoax or not, we as short time occupants are obligated to use our God-given cranial matter to protect the environment. Just as livestock producers study and determine the best manner in which to handle the nutrients produced by their operations and reapply them to the land, everyday citizens also have an obligation to make decisions that are best for future generations.

As we reflect back to the thought processes of some of the Cornell students last week, I don’t believe for a minute that what I experienced there is unique. In fact, I believe the greater the divide between the global consumer and land, the greater the perceived concern for the land. That is simply because they don’t have hands-on experience of helping to care for the land as most farmers do. I can tell you that it was an eye-opener for the ag kids on campus to hear their fellow students verbalize dire concern about what is happening to our world allegedly because of farmers. It is one thing to read it in a paper or hear it on the news but it is a completely different thing to hear one of your peers blame your industry for the demise of the world as we know it.

Everyone is so concerned with water pollution that we restrict the flow of natural nutrients into streams and rivers. We lose sight of the fact that nitrates and phosphorus are nutrients that are essential for life. In my lifetime, I believe we will see the day that we will have to add both of these nutrients into fresh bodies of water because we have created too sterile of an environment for the creatures that need to live in the water. Of course, too much of any nutrient is not a good thing but if it is essential for life you must have access to it. Life without the sun is not possible either, but too much sun can kill you.

At the end of the day my only wish is that every citizen of the United States truly understood that the agricultural portion of our planet has never been in better hands. The soil and water are cleaner and safer now than they have ever been. The only way the cycle of life will continue is if we, as humans, continue to implement conservation practices into the conversion of natural resources into the essentials of life for humans beings. Come to think of it, other than fundraising, egos may be the biggest problem we face. Some among us can’t come to grips with the concept that, as humans, we are just a little blip in the big picture of the universe instead of totally in charge of it all!

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