[Ok-sus] Timothy Egan: Hicks Nix Climate Fix (Egan praises youtube video from Clay Pope, OK Assoc of Conservation Districts)

Eric Pollard ewpollard at gmail.com
Sun Mar 10 22:54:24 UTC 2013

 Tim Egan, author of 'Worst Hard Time' mentions youtube video from Clay
Pope, Oklahoma Association <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62LGxzVtZQI>
Conservation <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62LGxzVtZQI> Districts
March 7, 2013, 9:00 pm
Hicks Nix Climate Fix By TIMOTHY

Everybody loves a farmer, judging by the popularity of this year’s hit
Super Bowl ad about the virtues of those who coax food from dirt. And yet
nobody wants to be one, with less than 1 percent of the population claiming
it as an occupation.

But somewhere among the 315 million Americans is a farmer who is (rarer
still) a Democrat willing to serve President Obama. Should this person be
found, he or she should be put in charge of the daunting task of convincing
food producers that nothing imperils their future more than climate change.

I realize that summoning images of wilted wheat, lizard-skin ground and
scrawny cattle nosing through drought-ravaged forage just a few days after
a major winter storm is not the most timely approach. Whenever it snows
over a large portion of the country, climate change-deniers point to the
blanket of white outside and cry “hoax!”

But with the announcement this week of the usual suspects of city-bred,
East Coast, well-credentialed types to the cabinet-level team that Obama is
assembling to fight climate change, it’s time to consider a farmer as a
leader of that cause.

Farmers don’t care much for Obama, so why should he reach out to them? He
lost the rural vote by almost 20 points. And among big farmers (I’m talking
productivity here, not bib overall size), he lost by 50 points. No
surprise. Farmers haven’t had anything nice to say about a Democrat since
Franklin Roosevelt was touring cornfields in his open-air car.

The people who grow grain for breakfast cereal and raise pigs for
prosciutto are also among the biggest deniers of the consensus scientific
view that humans have altered the earth’s climate. While acknowledging
that, yes, sir, the weather does appear to be changing for the worse, most
farmers don’t think it is human-caused, according to several polls. You’d
have to survey the leading talk-radio hosts to find a higher percentage of
disbelievers of the obvious.

At first glance, this makes no sense, because farmers have the most to lose
in a world of weather havoc. Droughts, floods, searing high temperatures
and freakish storms that now appear with regularity pose more of a threat
to global food supply than the whims of the market. Weeds, pests and fungi
— agricultural nightmares in a bundle — thrive under warmer temperatures
and increased carbon dioxide levels. Heat waves are livestock killers,
increasing the prevalence of parasites and diseases.

These horrors were highlighted in two recent government assessments of what
climate change will mean to the nation’s breadbasket. And since American
exports supply more than 30 percent of all wheat, corn and rice on the
global market, what’s bad for the fertile crest of the United States is bad
for a planet with seven billion people to feed.

So, why the denial? Cost. Any fix in the sticks is likely to hit farmers
hard, because they use a disproportionate amount of the fertilizers,
chemicals and fossil fuels that power the American agricultural machine,
and are likely to come under increased regulation.

It’s one thing to persuade hipsters in Portland, Ore., or Brooklyn to grow
organic — hey, how cool is an artisan radish — in their rooftop gardens.
It’s a much tougher push to get Big Ag, made up mostly of stubborn older
men, to change its ways.

But imagine if a farmer led the cause against climate change. Franklin
Roosevelt chose Hugh Bennett, a son of the North Carolina soil, to rally
Americans against the abusive farming practices that led to the Dust Bowl.
Big Hugh was blunt, smart and convincing. “Of all the countries in the
world, we Americans have been the greatest destroyers of land of any race
of people,” he said, without apology.

Obama’s picks for energy secretary, the M.I.T. scientist Ernest Moniz, and
Environmental Protection Agency administrator, the seasoned regulator Gina
McCarthy, are cautious and qualified insiders. The problem with those
nominees is that they come from the same general neighborhood. Just as
every justice on the Supreme Court is an Ivy Leaguer, top government posts
are thick with people from the same provinces of success, usually the
Northeast and its top schools.

Clay Pope, a rancher from Loyal, Okla., recently cut a YouTube video urging
President Obama <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62LGxzVtZQI> to highlight
the climate change threat to agriculture. It was good to see Pope, who
speaks with the kind of vowel-crushing twang rarely heard in Washington
policy circles, take up the good fight, especially considering the risk he
exposed himself to from primitive politicians in his home state.

Either by push from a regulator, or shove from the weather itself, or
persuasion from a person whose very livelihood depends on what comes from
the sky, agricultural life will be unrecognizable within a generation’s
time. If a farmer led the way to a better era, we might see this headline
during the transition, a rewrite of one of the most famous in newspaper
history: Hicks Fix Climate Tricks.

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Eric W. Pollard
C: (918) 804-2011
Twitter <https://twitter.com/#%21/ewpollard>
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