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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Agriculture Secretary Explains New ‘Climate Hubs’

A herd of beef cattle in California's Central Valley give chase to a meal delivery of hay, Feb. 3, 2014. At this time of the year normally, the fields would be covered in lush green grass. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

A herd of beef cattle in California’s Central Valley give chase to a meal delivery of hay, Feb. 3, 2014. At this time of the year normally, the fields would be covered in lush green grass. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

The Obama administration is proposing today to create seven regional “climate hubs” with the goal of helping farmers and rural communities combat the most serious effects of climate change: drought, floods, pests and fires.

The move is taking place by executive action and will not go to Congress for approval. The hubs will represent a broad swath of the country’s rural regions and will include Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon and New Mexico.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has described the hubs as part of “our broad commitment to developing the next generation of climate solutions.” He discusses the proposal with Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson.

Interview Highlights: Tom Vilsack

On what climate hubs are and how they work

“These hubs will be located in New Hampshire, in North Carolina, Iowa, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Oregon, and there will be sub-hubs in California, Michigan and the Puerto Rico. And each of the hubs will be focused on their individual region of the country. They’ll be partnering with land grant universities, the private sector and other sister federal agencies to really look at how we can strengthen and maintain agriculture production in the face of changing climate, how we can continue to better manage our natural resources and promote the economic opportunity they create. These hubs will analyze the risks of changing climates, they’ll conduct a vulnerability assessment. And what we’ll do is put together a research project to provide guidance, practical technologies that will work to allow folks to adapt or mitigate the impacts of changing climate, in the hopes of being able to preserve both the production, as well as the greenhouse gas carbon-sinking capacity of our growing lands.”

On how farmers will be able to benefit from climate hubs

“What will happen is that through extension, those farmers will be advised, ‘here are the risks to your operation, here are the risks to the crops you traditionally have grown and here are the strategies that you can utilize.’ It may be seed technologies, it may be a particular crop rotation, it might be a cover crop, it may be what to do with crop residue, it might be a nutrient management plan — all of this information and advice will be provided through extension. There will also be a repository of best practices in that region. And again, it’s really focused on each region of the country because each region is fundamentally different in terms of the threats and challenges they face because of changing climates.”


  • Tom Vilsack, United States Secretary of Agriculture since 2009.



It's HERE AND NOW. And as another big snowstorm slams the Northeast and a drought continues to plague the West, the Obama administration is proposing today something called climate hubs. The goal will be to help farmers and rural communities by providing information and research to combat the most serious effects of climate change on the agricultural industry.

Now, it's an executive action. It will not go to Congress for approval. So we're joined now by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who is with us from Washington to talk about the climate hubs. Mr. Secretary, welcome.

SECRETARY TOM VILSACK: It's great to be with you.

HOBSON: Well, start by telling us what exactly is going to happen at these climate hubs and where they're going to be located.

VILSACK: Well, I think it's important for folks to know that 51 percent of the land mass of the United States is involved in either agriculture or forestry and that both agriculture and forestry combined basically are a net carbon sink, and we obviously want to continue that because of the importance of both agriculture and forestry to the economy.

Nearly 16 million people are employed as a result of agriculture and forestry, and so the concern we have is that with severe droughts and massive snowstorms, destructive tornadoes and other strong storms, we've seen a potential for crop losses, a potential for intense forest fires, increase in pests and diseases, and so we need to really be focused on how the changing climate is impacting agriculture and forestry pursuant to the president's climate action plan.

So one thing we're going to do at USDA is to establish seven regional hubs. Now, these hubs will be located in New Hampshire, in North Carolina, in Iowa, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Oregon, and there will be sub-hubs in California, Michigan and in Puerto Rico.

And each of the hubs will be focused on their individual region of the country. They'll be partnering the land-grant universities, the private sector and other sister federal agencies to really look at how we can strengthen and maintain agricultural production in the face of changing climate, how we can continue to better manage our natural resources and promote the economic opportunity they create.

These hubs will analyze the risk from changing climates. They'll conduct a vulnerability assessment. And then what we'll do is put together research projects to provide guidance, practical technologies that will work to allow folks to adapt or mitigate to the impacts of changing climate in the hopes of being able to preserve both the production as well as the greenhouse gas carbon sinking capacity of our working lands and forests.

HOBSON: So if there's a farmer in one of these locations, what are they supposed to be able to use the hub for?

VILSACK: What will happen is that through extension, those farmers will be advised that here are the risks to your operation, here are the risks to the crops that you traditionally have grown, and here are the strategies that you can utilize. It may be seed technology. It may be a particular crop rotation. It might be a cover crop. It might be what to do with crop residue. It might be a nutrient management plan. All of this information and advice will be provided to farmers through extension.

There will also be a repository of best practices in that region, and again, it's really focused on each region of the country because each region is fundamentally different in terms of the threats and challenges that they face from a changing climate.

HOBSON: Aren't there, though, farmers in this country who won't be able to do anything with additional information, it's just they live in a place that is in real trouble because of climate change and they won't be able to farm anymore?

VILSACK: Well, I don't think that's necessarily the case. It may very well be that they're advised that they can't farm what they've done in the past, but they can farm a new crop or a new product. And that's one of the reasons why the passage of the farm bill that passed the Senate yesterday and the House last week is so important, because it provides us not just the ability to expand on this research and to provide this advice and guidance, but it also will provide the financial assistance and help for farmers who want to make transitions to different systems or who want to embrace new conservation practices, who are interested in just simply continuing to produce at the same levels that they historically have been able to produce.

HOBSON: You bring up the farm bill. I just wonder your thoughts. Do you think it was a good bill?

VILSACK: I do, and the reason I do is because I think a lot of the publicity has been focused on the support system for farmers and the SNAP Program for struggling families, but there's a great deal in the middle - a new research foundation, which is obviously going to help build on the climate hubs that we're announcing today, a new microloan program that's going to be expanded that will help smaller sized operators get in the business, greater support for local and regional food systems, a new manufacturing opportunity in rural America that we finance when we take crop residue and turn it into new chemicals and new materials.

There's a tremendous amount of conservation opportunity here, working with partners in large landscape-scale operations that will play into and certainly support whatever we figure out in terms of these climate change hubs. So there's a great deal of good solid policy and financing, and at the same time we're saving a little money, and we're reforming the support structure and system for farmers that makes it much more defensible than it was before.

HOBSON: Many people may notice that given this announcement today and the State of the Union Address, in which the president said climate change is a real thing, that the administration is getting a little more outspoken about climate change and dealing with climate change. I wonder, do you think that the drought that's going on in California right now is the result of climate change?

VILSACK: Well, I think there are an awful lot of reasons why we have extended drought. There's no question that we're having more intense weather patterns. I can take you to California with the severe drought. I can take you to the Dakotas, where they had snowstorms that were massive, that were unprecedented and unexpected. I can take you to still the damaged areas of Hurricane Sandy.

There's more intensity, there's greater frequency, and there are many, many reasons for this. But the bottom line is that things are changing, and things are getting more intense, and it is going to have an impact on a very important industry and a very important part of America, which is American agriculture and forestry.

And we don't want to lose the advantages that we have. We don't want to lose the jobs that are connected to this great industry, and we want to continue to have this industry contribute to reducing greenhouse gases, as it's currently doing. So that's the reason why we're setting these climate change hubs up, and hopefully we'll be able to provide some very practical guidance, science-based, for producers and for forest landowners that allow them to do a better job of dealing with what is clearly a changing climate.

HOBSON: Well, what do you think when you hear people on the news and in other places say, oh, they say global warming is happening, of course this is such a cold winter. These two can't go together.

VILSACK: Well, what I refer to is the fact that the climate's changing. And it can be reflected in a variety of different ways: severe drought, longer droughts, a more intense fire season because we've had pests and diseases that are able to survive that weren't surviving before because winters did not get as cold. We've certainly seen that with the pine bark beetle infestation in the western part of the United States, in the forested area.

Clearly our storms are much more intense and more severe, and the damage to crops is pretty significant. And so we can take you to just about any part of the country, and you're going to see the impact of changing climate, and the challenge is to maintain the 16 million people who are employed as a result of agriculture and food production, to maintain the manufacturing opportunities, to expand on that, to allow us to continue to export and create jobs as a result of a trade surplus that we've had in agriculture for 50 years, and to be able to be a food-secure nation, where we basically produce all that we need to feed our own people, which is an enormous national security advantage.

All of that is jeopardized if we don't pay attention to the fact that we have less water in some areas, more water than we need in other areas, snowstorms that occur that devastate livestock, and other storms that really can do a substantial amount to crops in a very short period of time.

HOBSON: U.S. Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack, joining us from Washington. And Mr. Secretary, thanks so much.

VILSACK: You bet, thank you.

HOBSON: And if you're a farmer, let us know how you think these climate hubs might change things for you, and if you're out in the West how the drought is affecting you right now. Or Robin, if you're right here in the Northeast, how this unbelievable snowstorm is affecting you. Go to hereandnow.org. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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  • Kyle McAlister

    This entire interview is based on the false premise that “climate change” is happening in a bad way. For every person who says “the earth is getting hotter, etc.,” there is a report that says it isn’t. So, the story SHOULD start, push this “The Obama administration is proposing today to create seven regional “climate hubs” with the goal of helping farmers and rural communities combat WHAT SOME CLAIM ARE THE most serious effects of POSSIBLE climate change: drought, floods, pests and fires.” Unless of course your program is determined to push this agenda, regardless of the facts.

    • bill

      Yes, they are definitely in the business of promoting an agenda, and supporting anything done by the extremely corrupt Obama administration.

      • Robert Thomas

        This is rich! What a canard.

        Literally nothing was beneath the slimy, craven and utterly corrupt operators of the Ulysses Grant administration and few Republicans presidential administrations since the assassination of Abraham Lincoln have failed to refuse a dollar to look the other way when someone wanted to saw off a piece of the country to put in their own back pocket.

        This isn’t surprising considering their organization’s constituent parts: the Crypto Clucks Clan, the Young Earth Society and Sociopathic Libertines United.

        The administration of Ronald Wilson Reagan was the most utterly criminal in the history of the Republic. At the end of his term, 138 Reagan administration officials could be counted who had been convicted, indicted, or had been the subject of official investigations for misconduct in office or criminal activity.

        In contrast to the sniveling, impotent, cowardly and limp, crawling slander one now encounters, these crimes were actually prosecuted – though often reluctantly and incompetently – by Reagan’s own monumentally embarrassed Justice Department.

        The following are only a notable selection, from the Wedtech scam; the HUD power peddle; James Watt’s cheap shakedown racket; Rita Lavelle’s personal pocket-stuffng and not least the iran-Contra “We do not trade arms for hostages” dissemble fest:

        1. Lyn Nofziger – White House Press Secretary – convicted on charges of illegal lobbying of White House in Wedtech scandal
        2. Michael Deaver – Chief of Staff – received three years’ probation and was fined one hundred thousand dollars
        3. James Watt – Secretary of the Interior – indicted on 41 felony counts…
        4. Catalina Villalpondo – Treasurer of the United States – guilty of obstruction and tax evasion
        5. Philip Winn – Assistant HUD Secretary – pleaded guilty to one count of scheming to give illegal gratuities
        6. Thomas Demery – Assistant HUD Secretary – pleaded guilty to steering HUD subsidies to politically connected donors
        7. Joseph A. Strauss – asst. to HUD Secretary Samuel Pierce – convicted of accepting payments to favor Puerto Rican land developers
        8. Deborah Gore Dean – asst. to HUD Secretary Samuel Pierce – convicted of conspiracy…
        9. John Poindexter – National Security Advisor – guilty of five criminal counts
        10. Robert C. McFarlane – National Security Advisor – pleaded guilty to four charges…
        11. Oliver North – - convicted of three felony counts
        12. Richard Secord – General, USAF, Ret. – pleaded guilty to one felony charge…
        13. Elliott Abrams – Assistant Secretary of State – pleaded guilty to two charges…
        14. Clair George – C.I.A. global espionage chief – convicted of lying to two congressional committees in 1986
        15. Alan D. Fiers – C.I.A. Central American Task Force chief – pleaded guilty to two charges…
        16. Thomas G. Clines – C.I.A. covert operations agent – convicted of four counts of tax-related offenses
        17. Carl R. Channel – Office of Public Diplomacy – pleaded guilty of one count of defrauding the United States
        18. Richard R. Miller – Oliver North associate with front group IBC – convicted of conspiracy to defraud the United States
        19. Donald Fortier – NSC appointee; Oliver North’s superior – Died of cancer before he could be indicted
        20. Rita Lavelle – EPA Superfund administrator – convicted of lying to Congress and fraud…

        That’s no kind of sewer, eh?

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      Your ratio is way off. In 2012, the ratio of papers that support climate change to those that don’t – is roughly 99.99% to 0.01%.

    • Jack Wolf

      It’s happening now. And, scientists confirmed that a while ago. Those are the scientific facts. I suggest you check your “facts” against those published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, NASA, the National Science Foundation, or any other major scientific organization, because someone is pulling the wool over your eyes, if indeed you have any.

      I think your a bot, along with Bill and a few other known aliases who have posted here.

      I work with farmers – they know what’s up, and it ain’t good.

  • loyal listener

    Yet another story promoting the false premise of global warming. Or are we calling it “global climate change” this week, so you can blame the cold temperatures on it, too?

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      You are just revealing your lack of knowledge.

      Climate change and global warming are equivalent – the climate is changing mostly because we humans are burning fossil fuels, which increases the carbon dioxide and other GHG in the air – and this is causing the climate to get warmer.

      Climate temperatures are worldwide averages. But this doesn’t mean that all “cold” temperatures go away.

      • jonathanpulliam

        If you wish to blame anthropogenicity, then how is it that during the previous 2.5 billion years, long prior to mankind’s burning of fossil fuels or production of CO2 did ice age cycles at the Earth’s polar regions manage to, on 17 separate occasions, denude the poles of ice, then, after a periodicity describing historically proven amplitudinal intervals in which polar glacial ice had spread to be over a mile thick over what is now Manhattan Island? Also, if CO2 is a change-villain as you seem to have become deluded, then why is official U.S. policy to mandate the use of automobile catalytic converters to convert exhaust products INTO CO2?

        • N_Jessen

          I would think the catalytic conversion of exhaust products to CO2 is a relatively minor part of a vehicle’s output, and of course climate science has advanced a good bit since CCs were mandated. Evidence for the role of an amplified greenhouse effect is more solid than ever. And it’s not CO2 per sé that’s considered the potential villain, but it’s rapid accumulation, beyond the uptake of natural carbon sinks.

          As for the rest, nobody has said there haven’t been natural influences on climate in the past. But none of those influences explain recent decades (actually, they should be exerting slight cooling on the global average). And the potential ‘rate’ of change (in both temperature and secondary “climate” factors like precipitation and circulation patterns) is key. That is, roughly in the middle of the relatively mild, stable interglacial that has helped foster intensive agriculture and populous societies.

          Even given remaining uncertainties, particularly in region-specific effects, simply ignoring the risk won’t make it go away. Nor will pretending that some ‘regional’ weather fluctuation or periodic leveling off of ‘surface’ temperatures means all of the world’s scientific institutes are wrong on this.

          • jonathanpulliam

            No, you are incorrect. The irreparable environmental devastation to mining regions of the world where the catalyst metals platinum and palladium are smelted is NOT trivial at all.

            Evidence? You mean the fraudulent warming data that the IPCC was revealed to be citing, or perhaps you are referring to the deliberately misleading atmospheric CO2 sampling methodologies, now discredited, that NASA is said to have employed?

            Region-specific climate change effects are not invariably deleterious. Scientific institutes, in case you haven’t noticed, have been wrong before. Read about how the science institutes attempted to pillory the Australian doctor who proved most ulcers were actually caused by H. Pylori. Read how science institutes assailed the diet Dr. Atkins whose groundbreaking work implicating sugar and carbohydrates in the human diet in obesity, as opposed to the previously assumed “fatty foods” culprits. In each instance, well financed constituencies challenged by the new science felt threatened and responded with the same sort of ad hominem attacks we now see the global climate change alarmists resort to time and again when arguing their “case”.

          • N_Jessen

            I believe your point was regarding the CO2 by-product of catalytic conversion. So I guess that has now become concern about mining practices (which I suppose can have costs and benefits in other applications as well).

            As for the rest, most new theories are greeted with skepticism, some of them for decades. But overblown conspiracy theories about the IPCC (which mainly assesses vetted studies, but had allowed some “grey literature” to slip in), and the manufactured “climategate” scandal etc., don’t do it for me. From what I’ve seen, beyond the rantings of political blowhards, is that they have little to no basis in whole truth. For example, when comparing apples to apples in the sampling of CO2, multiple sources of data point to essentially the same conclusion.

          • jonathanpulliam

            CO2 is a product of respiration. CO2 is CO2, Poindexter. You’d best give the propeller on your hat another spin if you’re now to start hallucinating about special carbon 12 variants. The particular atomic isotope of a constituent atom hasn’t any influence on molecular characteristics, which you would be aware of were you actually a “scientist”. The IPCC has a track record of having had to backpedal for publishing counterfactual data, conclusions, and, most embarrassingly, their most recent surface temperature and atmospheric CO2 predictions.

          • N_Jessen

            Respiration is carbon neutral. No need to be a scientist to know that, only to remember one’s middle school biology. And I don’t think anyone said the isotope influences the effect, but rather that CO2 ‘concentration’ in the atmospheric column affects infrared opacity. Last I checked, isotopic analysis was merely a line of evidence for the cause of a substantial perturbation in the carbon cycle. And given that ‘climate’ models are generally aimed at multi-decadal timescales, and do a mediocre job of simulating inter-decadal surface temperature variability, there is as yet no need for them to “backpedal” on the longer term trends.

            You may not be impressed by the body of evidence(or the interpretations of it to which you subscribe), but ultimately I suspect the world will put a bit more stock in the bulk of the reviewed literature and the positions of the world’s major scientific institutions when considering how much risk should be taken going forward. Happy weekend!

          • jonathanpulliam

            And a happy weekend to you too. : )

          • Jack Wolf

            Boy, are you crazy.

          • jonathanpulliam

            You reveal that you’ve run out of sound argument “ammo” when you resort to such lame, ad hominem attacks. It’s clear to me that your arguments here have no basis in empiricism and may be rejected on their face.

        • TedCruz2016

          Amen! Neil probably works for Al gore!!!

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            It just means I know enough about the science to know what I am talking about.

          • jonathanpulliam

            Well, you do know enough to refrain from the usual bilge about “tipping points” and the like, which is something, I suppose, but we’re not, as a society, ever going to get to “too cheap to meter nuclear fusion-generated electrical power” by discarding the fossil fuel bridge that keeps us alive while we continue the necessary research. Squandering arable crop lands to grow subsidized switch-grass only to enable/perpetuate vehicle gas-guzzling by blending ethanol etc., etc., is the sort of dumb idea we’ll find ourselves wedded to, if our leaders become deluded/distracted/diverted by the alarmist claptrap you seem determined to spew.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            We already have The Great Fusion Reactor in the Sky up and running with fuel for the next 5 Billion years or so.

          • jonathanpulliam

            CarBEN-EV5. Impressive low-drag coefficient, but it appears from your on-line model that the vehicle’s front wheels, being enclosed, will not offer sufficient mechanical travel for the vehicle to be steered. Do you envision this electric vehicle being driven exclusively on rails?

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Jonathan, I have that covered – there are hinged wheel skirts that push out to make room for the wheels when turning sharply.

          • jonathanpulliam

            Oh. Well that quest of yours to reduce parasitic drag introduces (2) potential failure points, and would tend to collect freezing/frozen slush during the kind of weather we’re experiencing right now. Seems your scheme might actually benefit from a little global warming ! : )

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Nah, I’ve driven with wheels skirts in five winters so far, and have not had issues.

          • jonathanpulliam

            It was rather a dishonest omission, in my view, for you to neglect to mention in any of your missives the obvious conflict of interest you personally appear to have vis-a-vis fossil fuels. You are a promoter of electric vehicles, and find your interests threatened by more environmentally and economically sound alternatives. Figured as much.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Is that the best you can do? My design is open source, and anybody who wants to build one, can.

            Aerodynamic drag is hardly “parasitic” – it is the main course. At 28-30mph it is HALF of the load on the drivetrain. And it goes way up from there.

          • jonathanpulliam

            Turns out you hit the nail on the head, Ted. Neil is a little mini-me version of Al Gore.

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          What matters is where the carbon comes from. When animals eat food, we combine it with oxygen to essentially combust it, and that produces carbon dioxide, which we breath out.

          Plants use the carbon dioxide in the air along with water and sunshine, and they make electricity in their cells to split the water – which frees up the oxygen which they release into the air.

          So, the cycle of life is balanced between plants and animals and essentially the *same* carbon goes around and around through this virtuous cycle. The net change of carbon in the atmosphere from this was almost zero for at least 650,000 years.

          Yes, there were several other causes for climate change in the past – volcanoes have changed it in the past, and also big changes in the earth’s axis and orbit, that changed how much of the sun’s energy hit the earth.

          Volcanoes were very active while the continents were drifting around more rapidly than they are today, and when what now is India was still in the southern hemisphere, there was enough volcanic activity to raise the level of carbon dioxide up to ~1,000ppm. There was no ice anywhere, and the sea level was hundreds of feet higher than it is now.

          Volcanoes produce only carbon 13 because they melt rocks. Plants that grow recently have a proportion of carbon 14 (the radioactive isotope) and this decays over time, at a know rate.

          The increase of carbon in the air *now* is almost all carbon 12, so we know it doesn’t come from volcanoes, or from burning plants that recently grew. It can only come from FOSSIL fuels which has virtually all the carbon 14 decayed away.

          In the past, climate change was for different reasons, but that does not negate the reason for it changing now.

          We humans are burning fossil fuels for the last ~150+ years, with most of it since about 1980. We are mostly causing the climate to change this time.

          • jonathanpulliam

            Again, your missive is baloney-heavy. How convenient that you entirely neglect to mention fluctuations in solar intensity as a contributing factor of terrestrial ice ages. But the most insulting thing about such alarmist tracts is that you posit not a single viable alternative for mankind to pursue. We aren’t going to claim nuclear power is some sort of a panacea, are we? Mercifully, you’ve made none of the usual false claims for solar photo-voltaic cells that climate alarmists love to repeat, and one senses you’ve no particular love for carbon-credit trading schemes on Wall St., so please tell me why in the devil a smart fellow such as yourself seems so determined to carry water for a bunch of no-account chicken-little charlatans. Really, I’m all ears.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Sure, the sun has generally intensified over the long term, and that does certainly contribute to some of the changes.

            We are causing the climate to change – and we can stop burning fossil fuels, too. We can use our brains and switch to all renewable energy. That is going to be the easiest part – dealing with the additional warming that is still to come (because of the “momentum” of the system) and hope that we have not forced things to go into a self-perpetuating warming.

            If the ocean gets too warm to hold the carbon it has been absorbing, and it begins to release carbon – this could be very bad.

            Or, if the tundra continues to melt a lot more, releasing lots more carbon and more methane, then that could also feedback causing yet more warming.

            Once the Arctic ice melts completely (it is projected to do this sooner rather than later), the lower albedo means that even more heat will be absorbed into the water.

            And the warmer things get, the more evaporation increases – and water vapor is also a GHG, so this too, will be yet another possible feedback loop of warming.

            We better hope to escape with a little more warming; hopefully avoiding any/some/all of the possible feedback loops.

            Who is making the largest profits in history? Follow the money to find the sock puppet masters.

      • TedCruz2016

        100% false, there is no connection to any climate change and man! Do you realize life on earth can not exist without carbon dioxide!!

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          You are obviously not paying attention to the science. The increase of carbon dioxide is mainly the carbon 12 isotope, which can only be in the right proportion if it comes from burning fossil fuels.

          Yes, we need a certain amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to maintain the right range of temperatures. And we need the magnetosphere as well, to protect us from the solar wind; which would otherwise strip away our precious atmosphere.

          But, too much of anything is not good, and the entire time that we humans have existed, the levels of carbon dioxide was between 170-280ppm. Now it is over 400ppm. That means that the warming we have already seen is because of the extra heat retained by it, and we will continue to see a lot more warming, even if we stop producing any more fossil carbon.

          Life on earth is interdependent – cyanobacteria and then simple plants first split water and made free oxygen available in the air for the first time, and then single celled animals evolved to take advantage of the oxygen – and they returned carbon dioxide to the air, which the plants could use.

          Too much oxygen would be very bad, as well. We need the right balance in the entire ecosystem, in order to survive and thrive.

          Please go study up on your basic science, and don’t think you can tell us that you know better than the scientists who work on the climate.

          • jonathanpulliam

            For you to even imply that you are a scientist who “works on the climate” would be like suggesting that the Third Reich’s Adolph Eichmann was a sociologist who “worked with Europe’s Jews”.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            I invoke Godwin’s Law.

          • jonathanpulliam

            As you’ve been unable to invoke any relevant laws of physics, thermodynamics, or indeed any sort of fact-based rigor whatsoever, I must say I’m not a bit surprised to find you slinking away into some such pseudo-memetic worm refuge. I suspected it was only a matter of time before you’d make some grandiose plea for reliance on renewable energy, despite the fact that the technology does not yet exist. It’s one thing to wish to increase use of electric cars. Little old ladies have been driving around in electric cars since the nineteen-teens, as I’m sure you’re aware. But it is quite another matter to purport to replace, and on an industrial scale, a proven energy solution with pie in the sky that is a proven non-solution — so called renewable energy. The economics of this sham solution don’t add up and never have. The only way crybabies like you can make your pet projects viable ( you would not have disclosed your conflict of interest, right? ) is to politically hobble the alternatives. To do this you and the other AGW alarmists have shown yourselves to be all too willing to resort to every sort of insipid bullying, coercion, duplicity, distortion imaginable. There will be a special place in a very hot hell for false prophets you appear to have embraced. I choose reason.

          • Jack Wolf

            You realize that you are writing to a bot or a paid shill, right? Don’t be pulled in.

  • andyk1985

    You would think that the secretary of agriculture would know how to read a simple graph. But, evidently he cant. He just stated that storms are getting more intense and more severe. That is a lie. And all we have to do is go look at the noaa.gov website to prove it. Come on NPR, we know you are purely Democratic sycophants, but dont let these guys state such obvious and easily provable lies on the air.

    • Jack Wolf

      You’re living a lie. Check out the National Research Council’s new report on the impacts of abrupt climate change. And, I don’t consider NPR to be democratic sycophants, not with big money from Koch, Range Resources, and other fossil fuel interests making big contributions. My concern is exactly the opposite.

      • andyk1985

        Thats called a red herring argument. The point is that Vilsack made a provably false statement about extreme weather. And NPR did not challenge him onit. Doesnt matter where the money is coming from, does not matter what the NRC says. He lied about extreme weather on NPR.

  • flybylight

    It’s a good thing that the Affordable Care Act will allow folks to work fewer hours or fewer or lesser jobs (based on the new report), because we will need much more flexibility for parents to stay home with children during these extreme weather occurrences and the subsequent school closings.

    Thanks to President Obama and Secretary Vilsack for finally leading us to deal with the crisis we have created.

    • Jack Wolf

      I don’t think they have been much help to you and I. Remember that Obama has expanded fossil fuel production to record levels and we will soon be the top producer in the world. As long as we emit any methane and carbon dioxide, the change will continue. And, now that scientists say it is irreversible, even if we do cut co2 to zero, feedbacks are now adding increasingly more. This is going to get really nasty. Take care of the kids.
      And, employers should seriously consider more home occupation for their employees, cause its going to get increasing difficult to get to work.

      • jonathanpulliam

        Fossil fuel U.S. domestic production gains occurred in spite of, not because of, the Obama administration’s actions. The weather changes you mention have been comparatively trivial and fall well within the confines of normal seasonal variation. Only an extremely irresponsible scientist could possibly interpret these miniscule, barely discernible aggregate temperature “trends” as being “irreversible”. Your attempt to emulate some sort of “dime store Nostradamus” in this latest comment of yours is laughable. Personally, I don’t think you could pour milk from a cowboy boot if the instructions were printed on the heel, as they say.

  • Robert Thomas

    Responsible people need to begin a discussion about the dwindling success that those working to understand the world through scientific inquiry – an activity which from time to time obtains clear and convincing evidence for conclusions about the nature of the world that nevertheless remain contingent – have had, accurately communicating the status of their inquiries to the general public.

    This task has always been difficult. Scientists’ credibility waxes and wanes with cultural shifts and with world events and so on. Scientists’ ability to successfully communicate with the general audience without the intercession of popularizing journalism is often poor. The apparent reluctance of scientific inquiry to provide absolute conclusions and settled answers to complex questions about the world, rather than probabilistic ones – which are the foundational means with which science apprehends the world – is often interpreted as being on a continuum between cowardice and dishonesty. Our failure not only to improve this communication but to stem its deterioration imperils our treasure and our safety.

    • HennyPenny

      The “responsible people” within the warm-mongering “scientific community” have found their plausible “solution”…sue opposition into silence. (see Mann vs. Mark Steyn et al)

      • Robert Thomas

        I have no doubt that Mr. Steyn can safely continue with his chaotic social commentary at any time. All he need do (or rather all that those in his employ who can read and write need do) is clarify his status, before the appropriate court, as a know-nothing clown who no educated person capable of reflection could possibly take seriously. It’s very difficult to see how the screeching ejaculations of an organism both of whose eyes have co-located unilaterally on one side of its head – as have those of a halibut – could be mistaken for something as coherent as defamation.

        • HennyPenny

          Oh my. As expected, another rather verbose, pseudo intellectual acolyte to the Church of Climate Science dogma.

          Defense rests.

          • Robert Thomas

            Thank goodness for the peace.

            For writing

            “…scientific inquiry … which from time to time obtains clear and convincing evidence for conclusions about the nature of the world that nevertheless remain contingent…” and science’s, by its nature, “reluctance … to provide absolute conclusions and settled answers to complex questions … rather than probabilistic ones…”

            I get

            “Bad! Bad loquacious, reason-bound pseudo-intellectual dogmatist!”

            Whose case is made?

          • jonathanpulliam

            Not yours, Chicken Little.

        • jonathanpulliam

          You have used irrelevant non-sequiturs and insulting ad hominem attacks on this very thread as a poor substitute for reason and empiricism. I don’t give a rat’s snot-ball what you think.

    • jonathanpulliam

      “Responsible people.” Only people who agree with your twisted “logic” are responsible, though, huh, Poindexter?

    • jonathanpulliam

      “Scientists’ credibility waxes and wanes with cultural shifts and with world events and so on.” Robert, how much credibility do you think we ought give NPR, or, say, ABC for their having failed to report that the EPA’s highest-level climate change “expert”, John Beale, was just recently sent to serve three years in prison for fraud, having, among other things, not shown up for work for several years running, while claiming to his EPA co-workers who inquired about his lengthy absences that he was working for the CIA? I’ll tell you how much trust NPR’s and ABC’s ill-concealed pro-climate alarmist sympathies merit: zero. None.

    • Jack Wolf

      Too wordy…

      • Robert Thomas

        Pardon me. How about…

        Scientists don’t sell their s*** well. Every year, 250,000 Americans go to see Pebbles and BamBam play frisbee with Dino at the Creation Museum. Huge numbers of people believe that the Apollo moon missions were staged fictions. Scientists are lazy and use stupid phrases like “scientific proof” when talking to lay people and tie themselves in knots trying to backpedal from an inevitable “lawgiver” after having talked about “laws of nature” (that are occasionally repealed) and so on.

        Journalists have better-than-average verbal skills but otherwise have poor educations. They have no education at all in the sciences or mathematics – how many broadcast or print journalists could identify the difference between mean and median, much less the utility of a chi-square distribution? Yet, they generally are better explicators than are working scientists.

        People (including journalists) think that science and engineering are the same thing, confounding both disciplines.

        Richard Feynman was alternately irritated and amused by “viloziverz”, but I don’t think he anticipated the influence of Justice Scalia. We need to better explain to lay people what science IS and what it is not and what it can provide and what it cannot. Scientists need a better relationship with the philosophy of science. When lay people think of “science” as nothing more than a “Big Book of Facts” interpreted for them by Authority, its value to society is reduced.

        Else, what’s to be done?

        Uh oh. That was even more wordy.

        I bet that like a lot of people, I write in these boards mostly as an exercise, to see what it looks like to put some thing I think in sentences – and for fun. Mostly, it’s ignored. I figure, nobody pays me, so I can toss Strunk & White aside and put in as many modifiers as I want. Exactly once, someone did accuse me of being paid by the Koch brothers for scribbling this stuff and exactly once, somebody seriously accused me of being employed by “the left” ([??]; several more such accusations have been facetious).

        • Jack Wolf

          Hey, I agree with your thoughts. And, it’s good to write. My eyes are old I guess… Here are my thoughts… I think that “hope message” that environmental organizations crafted for scientists about 5 or 10 years ago has backfired.

          Hope allowed procrastination. It seems people need to have the holy crip scared out of them before they get off their duffs. Corporations too. Visibly petrified or grief stricken scientists would fall into that category, right?? A big action of some kind, perhaps even on the National Mall, could have been a catalyst. You know, put out a “calling all scientists…, calling all scientists…” plea to attend The Final Scientist’s Against Human Extinction 5K (North) event? I wouldn’t have missed that party for the world – I could have caught one last bridge game there. Now, that would catch some attention.

          Now that its irreversible with feedbacks pushing harder and harder still, scientists can act “pee your pants wildly petrified” soon. This is going to get nasty. Keep writing though.

        • jonathanpulliam

          Richard Feynman would spin in his grave were he to hear your AGW crock.

  • David

    I was surprised that the hosts didn’t call Vilsack on his misstatement that US agriculture is a net GHG sink–according to the US EPA, ag contributes over 8 percent of our greenhouse gases. http://www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/articles/others/takapr08.html And this doesn’t count the massive GHG impacts of packaging, storing, transporting and disposing of ag products and their detritus–packaging, etc. Vilsack may have been getting around this by his continued reference to US forests as part of his comments–and they do sequester more that ag directly emits. But this seems disingenuous, as ag is clearly a big contributor to climate change. And for those of you questioning climate change because of winter storms, come on out to AZ–where January temps were significantly above normal http://www.accuweather.com/en/us/phoenix-az/85003/january-weather/346935 And for the globe as a whole, 2013 was 1 degree F above 20th century average.http://www.earth-policy.org/indicators/C51/temperature_2014 Call it what you will, but the climate is warming and changing.

    • jonathanpulliam

      Some farmer burning up a gallon of diesel in his combine to harvest a 1/2 gallon of BTU equivalent of switchgrass-sourced ethanol can only be give the appearance of viability by virtue of the current corrupted paradigm in which massive farm subsidies are provided by the U.S. taxpayer. The inevitable distortions accrue to unconscionable perpetuation of these ludicrous, ill-conceived subsidies, which have the corollary effect of using up valuable arable farming lands, which could be managed in such a fashion as to help feed the world’s hungry, but instead will promote gas-guzzling domestic U.S. automotive fuel wastefulness. The advocates for NPR lies about climate change, and global warming alarmism generally, are no better than eco-terrorists. Don’t contribute to NPR. Don’t allow your government to continue to subsidize NPR with your tax money.

      • Jack Wolf

        Tell that to Koch, Range Resources and other fossil fuel interests too. They also routinely contribute to NPR. I get nervous when their blood money starts to change hands with public media. In fact, I stopped contributing to NPR when I heard that Range Resources contributed, and our local station accepted their contribution.
        I don’t want to be associated with a non-profit that enables the fossil fuel message and their product regardless of the public value. It’s clear and simple, take their money, you enable the industry.

  • kevin777

    So the Obama admin is going to tell farmers how to grow their crops? LOL. They use “climate Change” as an excuse to do anything they want. I’m sure these farmers have far more experience and nkowledge than beurocrats on how to manage their farms.

    • jonathanpulliam

      Part of the legendary “core incompetency” we’ve come to associate with Obama administration policies generally.

  • HennyPenny

    “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.”

    Oh, there’s some executive order seed sowing fersure going on here, just not the type you place in the ground.

    Prepare yourself for the “reap” part.

    • Jack Wolf

      Yep, we are reaping the effects of greenhouse gas pollution alright.

  • ReduceGHGs

    But if you talk to many Congressmen/women, human-caused climate change isn’t happening despite what the world’s respected scientific institutions have been saying for decades. It’s time the obstructionists were removed from office so we can get busy shifting to sustainable sources and uses of energy. Please join the efforts.

    • HennyPenny

      Sorry. Most of us are otherwise occupied over at CelebratingHumanAdaptability.com

      • ReduceGHGs

        No choice but to adapt to what happens. Choices are available for curbing effects. Or, would you rather just let Mother Nature adjust our behaviors?

        • HennyPenny

          Actually I much prefer to deal with one devil we know, as the human species has been effectively doing since crawling from the ooze, than the devil we also know whose origins and purposes are considerably more duplicitous, insidious, marxist in their ideology and anti-America’s founding principles and way of life.

          • ReduceGHGs

            The “devil” in this case we know to be recklessly polluting the atmosphere. As with individuals smoking cigarettes, we’ve learned that the behavior is unhealthy. It’s isn’t easy to break the habit but it’s in our best interest.

          • HennyPenny

            So many freedom-loving demons to vilify and expunge from the Church of Climate Science.

          • ReduceGHGs

            Church? I don’t believe that the following institutions can be classified as churches: NASA, NAS, NOAA, AAAS, AGU, MET, AIP, NCAR, and SOCC. It’s science and all the world’s respected scientific bodies concur on the core issue. On what do you rely, the heartland institute, rush limbaugh, or ann colter? Worship them if you want. I’ll stick with the state of the science.

          • jonathanpulliam

            Please…”I’ll stick with the state of the science.” Spare us; you’ll no doubt keep doing what you are doing: lying and irresponsible name-dropping from behind a pseudonym.

          • Jack Wolf


          • ReduceGHGs

            Lying? Not me. Anything to back up that accusation? No, of course not.

          • jonathanpulliam

            AGW is a lie. For promulgating a lie, that makes you a liar.

          • ReduceGHGs

            Still nothing to back up that baseless belief? How does it feel to cling to something that doesn’t have substance?

      • Jack Wolf

        I don’t think farmers and their animals can adapt beyond their cardinal temperature range. Do you think they can install air conditioning in barns for the cows, chickens, horses? The temperature increases scientists are projecting are staggering and outside not only our human experience, but outside the experience of all the plants, animals and insects that are involved in farming.

        • jonathanpulliam

          Jack, the temperature increases currently being recorded have already fallen well short of those the IPCC and other alarmist camps have predicted. I don’t think that just because your friend is a farmer quite qualifies you to convincingly disparage those critics of AGW alarmism who take the trouble to inform themselves and rightfully question the radicalism you have unwisely bought into hook, line, and sinker. Read the now-deceased novelist Michael Crichton’s excellent novelization of this debate, the fully footnoted “State of Fear”.

  • TedCruz2016

    Executive action, the imperial president does not need congress!! This president is as radical and lawless as any in recent history!!!!!

    • ReduceGHGs


      • jonathanpulliam

        “If you like your fossil fuels, you can keep your fossil fuels!”

        • Inis_Magrath

          “Read my lips, no new taxes.” George H. W. Bush
          “Mission Accomplished.” George W. Bush

  • Jack Wolf

    There is a plague of Denialist Aliases here who are probably not real. I recognize Kyle, Bill, Ted Cruz, Jonathan Pulliam, and Half Penny (who only has a half of a brain too) Just so ‘ya know.
    I also suggest the National Academy of Science, or the USDA, the NRCS, NASA, the NSF for science questions rather than blogs and news reports. Don’t take anyone’s word, including mine, but do your own research at reputable scientific organizations.

    • jonathanpulliam

      I’d be willing to bet that I probably am real. Best get back on your meds, Jack.

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