While this blog is not about politics necessarily (we try to stay out of that as best we can) occasionally we just can’t resist weighing in on some of the hot-button issues of the day. Today, so-called “climate change” is one of them.
Because of the esoteric ideas surrounding this subject, much of the language used in political circles is lost on many people, which creates a vast demand for it to be discussed from an everyday common-sense let’s-solve-the-problem-realistically approach.
Here’s where we are; the political left seemingly blames climate change for everything. From inflation to an unreliable supply chain to the price of gasoline, climate change is thrown into the word salad at every turn. It’s the burgeoning apocalypse that justifies massive spending plans (always with additional questionable legislation piggybacked on top).
At the same time the political right seems to completely downplay—even scoff at—the potential for human-induced climate factors and/or attempts to address it. Who’s right? I suggest somewhere between these two positions is where the truth resides, and that nuances to the discussion exist that are completely ignored by both sides in the scuffle for political power and influence.
Before we dive into it, a disclaimer might be in order. I’m not a scientist or any sort of climate change expert (not that I put much stock in their opinions). What I am, though, is a farmer who studies nature, keeps his ear to the ground for truth and alternative opinions, and endeavors to find common-sense middle ground.
Moving forward we’ll talk about the flawed science surrounding climate change, discuss some of the angles not mentioned in the over-politicized conversation, and if and how human activity affects the climate. Here goes:
Flawed Science –
None of the computer models used have been able to function in reverse. In other words, if the models used to measure the timeline until the apocalypse are run backwards, we’re all extinct 200 years ago. This, of course, raises questions about the efficacy of the models to make predictions for the future. Perhaps it’s a reminder to pause in our hubris and remember that technology can only lead us so far. We must recognize that systems dependent upon information plugged in by fallible humans can come to flawed conclusions.
That said, we know that some of the arctic glaciers are receding. For example, in Alaska there are now interstates where glaciers were only 40 years ago. The question, however, is whether or not it’s new. Has it ever happened before? We don’t know.
We know 1000 years ago the planet carried far more animal weight—including humans—than it does today with factory chicken houses and multi-thousand-cow feedlots, and all the other innovations man has devised. It should give us all pause to realize that earth’s abundance is not tied to modern machinery, thousands of acres of annual crops, or 10-10-10 fertilizer. It must be tied to something else. Is there a way we can resurrect—domestically regeneratively resurrect—that abundance?
The herbivores that were here 1000 years ago only ate plants. They didn’t eat corn or soybeans (monoculture), and they didn’t eat fermented plants like silage or rendered processing waste (such as man have devised for feedlot cattle). Herbivores—having more than one stomach—have what is essentially a fermentation vat in their gut and when fed fermented feeds it acidifies the gut and doubles the methane produced. As you may know, cow farts—or burps (they haven’t decided which yet :)—are blamed for causing climate change, which I think sounds a bit far-fetched. If indeed it does, feeding concentrated grain diets to herbivores exacerbates the problem.
Viewpoints Climate Extremists Never Mention (and perhaps don’t know about) –
A diversified plantscape (prairie) stimulates the production of a methanotrophic bacteria (you can look it up; methanotrophic bacteria). This bacteria—in a healthy diversified ecosystem—reaches out an grabs methane equivalent to that which is produced by over 1000 cows per acre. But no one puts a thousand cows on an acre on the landscape, so it’s overkill—it’s plenty. Nature provides in plentiful quantities.
The problem is, very little acreage devoted to herbivores (livestock) is a healthy perennial prairie ecosystem, where herbivores prune and move according to the template provided in nature (wild herds chased by predators). Methanotrophic bacteria doesn’t grow under corn or monoculture, it doesn’t grow under overgrazed land, it doesn’t grow under asphalt, it doesn’t grow under feedlots or factory farms. It requires a diversified perennial landscape.
This, once again, speaks to how nature always provides checks and balances in the ecosystem, if only we lay down our hubris long enough to notice. The problem is that the scientists who study these things study extremely dysfunctional ecosystems, and then extrapolate data based on this completely inappropriate dysfunctional database. Too often, science is not objective, but is approached with intent to prove a viewpoint.
The Australian scientist, Walter Jennings—along with scientists around the world—have determined that the temperature regulator of the planet has little to do with greenhouse gases (GHG’s) which is what climate change “experts” are fixated on. Rather, it’s about water condensation. The truth is, only 5% of planetary temperature is regulated by GHG’s. 95% is the energy it’s takes to condense water. In order to condense, water must have a particle to condense on—it can’t just condense on nothing. The main thing it condenses on is bacteria, the bacteria that’s an exudate from foliage. Have you ever noticed that in areas of heavy foliage—such as mountainous or heavily wooded areas—how in the early morning this cloud, or mist, rises and hangs heavy during the time of temperature inversion as the sun begins to heat the atmosphere? This is water, after marrying to bacteria, that’s now condensing and vaporizing into the atmosphere, which in turn creates clouds that bring rainfall, which cools the earth.
This explains why in climate change the dry areas are getting drier and the wet areas are getting wetter. Even climate scientists are bewildered by this. But in Jennings’ condensation theory the planet is essentially a big radiator. The physics of the planet is that it wants to be balanced. So, if we plow, or overgraze, or create deserts in one area, the planet must cool itself somewhere and does so in places where there is vegetation. There, the moisture can condense because of the presence of bacteria from foliage, which vaporizes to form clouds and precipitation. In other words, the moisture is concentrated there.
Does Human Activity Affect Climate (if so, how)? –
In my opinion, it’s no longer a question whether or not we can affect the climate in a given area or region. Allen Williams from the regenerative farming consulting group Understanding Ag relates their experience in working with the 30,000-acre Las Damas ranch in the Chihuahuan desert of Mexico. The area gets only about 8 inches of rain a year—and still have horrific erosion, by the way. For as long as any living generations remember, the desert has grown rather than receded.
Starting in about 2010, Understanding Ag worked closely with the ranch to develop cattle water and fence in some of the worst areas of the ranch, essentially to expand the areas where vegetation exists. At the conference where he and I met last winter, Allen showed pictures of a decade of progress since they began working with this ranch. Not only has the amount of plant material increased dramatically to where what was large areas of desert devoid of grass, is now a sea of green. What’s more, after ten years they’re seeing changes to the micro climate to the point where Las Damas now gets rainfall that seems to follow the property line. In other words, they get more rain than the neighboring ranches do. This is due to the amount of grass and other plant material on the ranch compared to their neighbors who are not using regenerative practices.
I suggest that if the micro-climate can be influenced in a 30,000-acre region in a decade, then little doubt remains whether or not human activity can affect the overall climate of the earth. As of 2019, the USDA had recorded 897,400,000 acres of farmland, which is nearly thirty X the acreage at Las Damas. Most of these acres are either in monocrop or in mismanaged grazing land.
Monocrop, by design, requires either tillage or heavy applications of chemicals—both of which destroys soil. The same is true for unmanaged grazing land—meaning not managed to prevent overgrazing or under-grazing, both of which have negative effects on the soil and water cycle and cause desertification. In the span of about 200 years, the soils of the American Midwest went from what we think was about 8% organic matter (which is carbon), to an average of 1.5%. Where did the carbon go? By and large, it was released into the atmosphere because humans uncovered the soil via tillage in order to grow annual monoculture crops. Not only are our soils down to bare bones, but our air is polluted with carbon that needs to be returned to the soil in order to have a healthy ecosystem. Never before in history have humans had the means of raping the soil to this extent—made possible by mechanical means of tilling the soil.
What if all climate change funds and efforts were channeled into growing a managed diversified perennial plantscape on 70 percent of these nearly 900 million acres? Imagine how much carbon could be sequestered from the atmosphere, not to mention methanotrophic bacteria produced to sequester methane from the air. This may sound like a pipe dream. I say not so in light of the fact that 70% of all grain grown in the US is to feed herbivores who are not designed to metabolize them.
Although human induced climate change is a very real possibility, I don’t think it’s a burgeoning apocalypse. However, it’s a very real threat to our domestic ability to feed ourselves. This is not a problem government can fix (to be honest, it is better at creating problems than fixing them). Yes, they could stop throwing taxpayer money around in the form of crop subsidies, which would take away the incentive for the overproduction of monocrops such as corn and soybeans. But government will not stop or even slow climate change by limiting the use of fossil fuels or eliminating animal agriculture.
The solution must come from the people. We must remove the demand for annual-crop-based foods and create demand for regeneratively produced perennial-crop-based foods. If humans have created this problem, then humans can fix it if given the right information. We don’t have to look to the ivory towers and the “experts” to do it. And that’s The View from the Country.
Do you think climate change is real, and if so, can every-day people impact it? Leave a comment below.
Quote worth Re-Quoting –
“How a human obtains his or her food has a direct and very real impact on the biological health of the planet. What you eat creates the market forces that cause farmers to grow crops to satisfy your demand. What a farmer grows and how those crops are grown directly affect the biological health of the soil, plant and animal life of a place, the atmosphere, the hydrology and even the patterns of human settlement. What you eat is indirectly responsible for nearly every single crisis that humanity faces and with an economy that is global in scale today, the food choice of one individual (you or me) are compounded by the billions and change the world like no other socioeconomic juggernaut ever known. We are eating the planet away to the bare bedrock bones and changing the conditions of our home planet into something that would be unrecognizable to our great-grandparents.” ~ Mark Shepard Restoration Agriculture
2 thoughts on “Climate Change”
I am always so enlightened and just thankful for your insights and information.
Another well written, thoughtful piece Sam. I enjoy your writings and your perspective, especially in these precarious times.