The proposed US farm bill in Congress, in ALL its versions, will boost climate change and make farms more vulnerable to climate change, argues Mark Hertsgaard, a policy expert at the New America Foundation, in the New York Times. Climate change is barely mentioned. Rather than propose measures to protect farms more from climate change effects, the bill proposes that taxpayers shell out billions of dollars of crop insurance against future fiascos, like this past summer’s drought, likely to occur under continued climate change. Agriculture accounts for roughly a third of global warming emissions worldwide, by some estimates. The US system uses enormous amounts of fossil fuel to run farm equipment and harvest the mountains of corn that fatten livestock. And most fertilizers contain nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas about 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a century. Proposed bills would maintain agriculture’s large climate footprint, mainly by skewing subsidies toward just a few commodity crops produced through vast monocultures, which are particularly vulnerable when extreme weather or pests occur. Thus, the proposed policies will help create future disasters, and stick taxpayers with the bill.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/13/opinion/the-farm-bill-should-help-the-planet-not-just-crops.html Harvesting a Climate Disaster Mark Hertsgaard, a fellow of the New America Foundation, is the author, most recently, of “Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth.”