Farmers go about their business in control of many factors, but weather isn’t one of them.

Adding to the uncertainty would the threat of global warming and likely damage to crop and livestock production.

The latest major scientific report predicted extreme drought and more powerful storms. Required by law and conducted by federal agencies including NASA and the Defense Department, the report forecast dire consequences from climate change fueled by emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas linked to global warming.

On agriculture, scientists outlined fallout ranging from lower food production due to even worse drought in arid regions — a problem well known in Kansas — to runoff from extreme precipitation harming soil and water resources. Also, extreme heat would hurt livestock and reduce crop yields due to added pressure from pests, weeds and diseases.

Sadly, when asked about global warming threatening the U.S. economy, President Trump flatly said: “I don’t believe it.”

He's only kowtowed to the fossil fuel industry by erasing existing environmental protections and announcing plans to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation.

Trump also called out China, the world’s biggest CO2 polluter. But that doesn’t mean the U.S., also a big CO2 emitter, should sit idly by and hope that report after report with the same grim conclusions are wrong. What if they’re correct? Inaction would be devastating.

When it comes to fossil fuels, the U.S. has become less reliant on coal, but petroleum use has increased — in part because of Americans’ appetite for pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles over small cars, hybrids and electric vehicles that would help slow global warming.

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, of Kansas, chairman of the Senate Ag committee, has promised a hearing on the report’s findings in the near future.

That’s encouraging. Congressional delegations in farm states in particular had best put pressure on the Trump administration to embrace ways to preserve the environment and ward off overall economic losses estimated at $500 billion annually by the end of the century.

Agriculture depends on sound science. While farmers always do their best to adapt, the Trump administration would help by re-establishing a commitment to climate policies needed to protect Americans and the environment.

 

GateHouse Kansas