A couple of climate clues

I am reading a great book called “Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman” by Miriam Horn. She focuses her attention on people in these professions (plus a few others) and how they work the earth and its waterways. They see what is happening with climate change and environmental degradation and have adapted over time what they do to continue their livelihood. The book has a subtitle of “Conservation Heroes of the American Heartland.”

A quote from a mentor to Justin Knopf, the farmer, is compelling. “Dr. Gary Pierzynski, head of the Kansas State University agronomy department describes…‘We have no doubt that climate change is happening. But we recognize that talking directly about it raises issues with some of our elected officials, who remain unconvinced and don’t support investing state resources to study it. So we emphasize our focus on challenges like extending the life of the Ogallala aquifer; we don’t disguise it but take away the climate change message.'”

It should not be lost on anyone that this man is about as far away from the coast as possible, but speaks of the impact on climate change on the agro economy and water sources. As an example, Knopf has used his experience to realize that using “no-till” farming is ideally suited for growing wheat and other products in his neck of the woods. When tilled, more of the topsoil is washed and blown away. When untilled, the ground keeps more of the creatures that naturally fertilize and break down the soil. It also aborbs more carbon.

He notes farmers continually experiment and share ideas, so what works there may be less suited elsewhere. I will write more on the book later, but what is fascinating is how these folks see what is happening first hand and adapt over time. Sometimes what they try fails and often it takes a few seasons for changes to fully be realized.Their livelihoods depend on it, so it is done with seriousness of purpose and observation.

On a different note, I saw a news report about Kodiak Island in Alaska. They are close to 100% renewable energy powered, using hydro and wind energy with battery storage. They switched when the diesel fuel got too expensive to shore up the hydro power when the demands increased. Also, a creative solution was used in the ship docks where they send and receive freight. Using a fly wheel concept, as one of the freight containers is lowered by the crane, it creates energy that is stored and used to lift the next container. The process continues as the containers are loaded and unloaded.

It should be noted the fly wheel concept is getting a lot of attention due to its elegance. In computer vernacular, elegance means the simplest and most effective solution. It also should be noted the cost of energy for the Island is more predictable and is lower than it was ten years ago. I highlight this cost statement as this is the new norm for renewable energy versus fossil fuel energy. The city of Georgetown, Texas came to the same conclusion when they signed a twenty-five contract for wind and solar energy rather than a shorter fossil fuel contract.

On the ground, local leaders, farmers, ranchers and fisherman are seeing what is happening first hand. They are making informed decisions that impact their future. It would be nice if our President, EPA director, Energy director and Congressional Republican leadership would make informed decisions. We could use their help and not their obstinance. The world is passing them by and they are not allowed to notice it.


8 thoughts on “A couple of climate clues

  1. Dear Keith,

    Those who choose to put their heads in the sand in order to avoid dealing with this issue do not value the gift of life. Their the “earth is flat” attitude will eventually come at a cost many lost lives and heartache.

    If this year’s series of extreme weather storms doesn’t have these doubters doing some rethinking, I don’t know how to reason with these guys.

    At the democratic convention, the subject of dealing with climate change was a top level concern.
    I have been voicing my opinion that climate change measures should be a major part of their messaging.

    Hugs, Gronda

    • Gronda, quite true. Just look at the excellent piece you wrote today about Thomas Friedman and his holistic assessment of Niger and the role desertification plays on unrest. This is the reason the US Department of Defense notes climate change a threat to national security. If you take this one step further, I come to my greatest fear about the Trump Presidency I noted last year – his stance on climate change is a threat to our national security and our planet’s welfare. Keith

  2. Note to Readers: This book clarified for me the origination of the word “undermine.” This unflattering term comes from unscrupulous developers who would buy your mineral rights underneath you and not be forthcoming about the problems it would cause for your water and environment. They “undermined” you. The rancher took great pains in Montana to protect his land for now and in the future for ranching in a way that is kind to the environment and animals he raised and on his land. Through easements and advocacy he guarded against being undermined. This was a promise he made to his father. An interesting comment is used in the book. Name one town in the west that continues to flourish after the oil and gas production wanes. Most of the money goes to Houston or Calgary.

  3. Note to Readers: Today, the work of 100 scientists completed their work on climate change at the behest of Congress. They said there is no plausible explanation for the rise in temperatures the last few decades other than man’s influence. This flies directly in the face of the rhetoric espoused by EPA Director Scott Pruitt and his boss. It is also consistent with the view of other climate scientists around the globe. Watch the report get downplayed by the White House and barely mentioned on Fox News, if at all.

  4. Note to Readers: I read this morning that the City Council of Miami passed a bond referendum for $192 million to improve water pumps to get rid of sea water that is already encroaching in the streets in a routine manner. They are calling them “Miami Forever Bonds.” Miami has the most financial assets at risk to rising sea levels, of all cities in the world. A 2 degree Celsius rise in global temperatures will put the city underwater per climate change models. And, yet the governor of Florida still refuses to speak of climate change risk.

  5. Great post, Keith. I’m so sick of people in the government who “downplay” and blatantly lie to the people of the U.S. This is becoming like a boil that needs to be lanced so the poison can be cleaned out and things can heal. That poison is spreading and sickening all who are near. 😦 — Suzanne

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