If you doubted global warming is a controversial issue all you had to do was look at the comments on the recent article in this space, “Climate change must be addressed” (Western Farm Press, July 18, 2009, http://westernfarmpress.com/news/laws-column-0724/index.html).
A few agreed with USDA scientist Jerry Hatfield that climate change is real, and we can expect warmer temperatures, rising CO2 concentrations and increased variability in temperature and precipitation.
Others said global warming has yet to be proven and Hatfield’s sharing of the Nobel Peace Prize is no guarantee of his creditability. (One cited Al Gore’s being a Nobel winner as evidence that Hatfield’s arguments may be debatable.)
The responses mirrored those written by National Corn Growers Association President Bob Dickey on its Web site, http://ncga.com. Dickey said the two sides can be divided into true believers and those who call climate change the “biggest hoax ever to be perpetuated on mankind.”
Dickey never reveals his beliefs. Instead, he talks about the debate surrounding the Waxman-Markey climate change bill that passed the House by a handful of votes in late June and is now in the Senate.
“In Washington, one often hears the phrase, ‘If you’re not at the table, you’re on the table.’ After hearing and assessing the Waxman-Markey bill, the NCGA Corn Board determined this piece of legislation had a head of steam and high probability of passage. We decided we needed to be at the table.”
Farm Bureau economists say the bill could raise the cost of growing corn from $33 to $78 per acre, primarily due to higher fuel and fertilizer prices.
Dickey acknowledges the NCGA has concerns about those costs. But the NCGA also believe the current bill is “dramatically different and much more favorable” than the original primarily because of House Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson’s amendments.
“There are still many unknowns,” he said. “Because NCGA chose to be at the table, we will be invited there again as this legislation moves to the Senate. If we choose, we will have more opportunity to help shape a final bill that seems likely to pass in some form this year.”
Add to that the latest development – China and India’s refusal to commit to specific goals for reducing carbon dioxide emissions during climate treaty negotiations at the Group of 8 meetings in L’Aguila, Italy. Because of their stance, the countries involved, instead, agreed to a goal of preventing temperatures from rising more than 3.6 degrees.
One of those commenting on the previous article asked how Congress could expect to legislate climate. The bigger question may be whether the world can agree on what needs to be done and take the steps needed to do it.