Global warming: The argument vs. assessing the risk
He goes on to write, “very few if any skeptics assert that the earth is still in the Little Ice Age. While the Little Ice Age raged from approximately 1300 to 1900 AD, it is pretty well accepted that the Little Ice Age did indeed end by approximately 1900 AD. The mere fact that the Little Ice Age ended a little over 100 years ago, and that temperatures have warmed during the course of recovering from the Little Ice Age, tells us absolutely nothing about the remaining components necessary to support an assertion that humans are creating a global warming crisis.”
From this, it appears that Taylor is willing to accept that global warming is taking place but he attributes it to the ending of the Little Ice Age rather than to the massive burning of fossil fuels and concomitant increase in the CO2 levels that began with the rise of industrial age.
The purpose of this column is not to argue about the science, after all we are not climatologists. Rather our concern is what should farmers make of all of this and what impact might it have on their operations.
Without regard to its cause, continued global warming could have a significant impact on agricultural production and where certain crops are grown. With climate change we are told that we will see an increase in extreme weather events—longer droughts in traditionally droughty areas, an increase in heavy rain events, and a shifting of crop zones northward so that Canada and Russia might produce more corn and soybeans, while US and EU farmers will have to shift to warm season varieties and warm season crops. For instance, cotton production could move northward.
This brings us to a set of questions that we often ask and is not in Taylor’s list. One, “suppose the WMO is correct and we are experiencing anthropogenic (human caused) climate change and we do nothing, what is the worst thing that can happen?” Two, “suppose we engage in activities to mitigate human caused climate change and it turns out that human activity has nothing to do with the rise in global temperatures and decrease in Arctic sea ice that we are seeing?”
Let us look at these one at a time. In the first case, by not reducing carbon emissions in our farming operations and not engaging in farming practices that increase carbon sequestration in our soils we contribute directly to global warming. In addition by turning away from farming practices that increase carbon sequestration—practices that also increase the ability of the soil to resist erosion and increase the absorption of water—we put ourselves at risk of increased erosion during the fewer but heavier rain events that are predicted. In addition, we may be unprepared for the shift in crop mix and the associated infrastructure that would be required.