Mother Nature gives no warning. One week, we were wondering if the thunderstorms and cool temperatures would ever end, the next, summer imposed its will on the Mid-South and another spring was history.
The season had arrived, farmers were excited. It’s time to start, uh, sequestering carbon.
Chuckle if you will, but in reality, carbon sequestration could be a big part of farm conservation plans of the future. The world’s farmers could be required, and incentivized, by governments to implement practices on the farm designed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that many believe are causing global warming.
In a policy brief for climate change negotiators meeting in Bonn, Germany, in June, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recommended that carbon sequestration begin with those who can afford it the least — poor farmers in developing countries.
According to the brief, between 1990 and 2005, greenhouse gas emissions by agriculture in developing countries increased by around 30 percent and are expected to rise further. It stated further that agriculture “is a major source of greenhouse gases accounting for 14 percent of global emissions. Land use changes such as deforestation account for an additional 17 percent.”
FAO says soil carbon sequestration through reduced tillage, improved grassland management and restoration of degraded lands “form the major part of mitigation potential from agriculture.”
The FAO’s Peter Holmgren, who wants agriculture included in a new global climate agreement which could be adopted in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December, says “massive investments and information” will be required “to change unsustainable farming methods and to train farmers in mitigation practices.”
It makes me wonder which is the greater threat to humanity — rising temperatures wreaking havoc with growing seasons, food supply and human life, or allowing government bureaucracies to choke the life out of free enterprise with rules and regulations that might or might not have any impact on climate change. I agree that climate change is an issue not to be taken lightly, and certainly not one to be taken without full command of the facts, or without consensus.
The climate change debate has not reached such accord in my view. For example, a recent article in Discovery News noted, “Following a 30-year trend of warming, global temperatures have flat lined since 2001 despite rising greenhouse gas concentrations and a heat surplus that should have cranked up the planetary thermostat.”
In the same article, Kyle Swanson with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, states, “This is nothing like anything we’ve seen since 1950. Cooling events since then had firm causes, like eruptions or large-magnitude La Niñas. This current cooling doesn’t have one.”
Even scientists who believe in man-made climate change agree that something strange is happening. Isaac Held of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that warming might possibly slow down or even stagnate for a few years before rapid warming commences again. He said the cooling trend could last for up to 30 years.
Held falls short of being a climate change denier, however. “When the climate kicks out of this state, we’ll have explosive warming. Thirty years of (greenhouse gas) will still be there and then bang, the warming will return and be very aggressive.”
But earth going through 30 years of global cooling despite an increasing percentage of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is hardly a mandate for wholesale regulation of agricultural practices. Truth be known, the global climate is proving to be a lot like one of our Mid-South springs — it runs hot and cold.