The news media is filled with reports about how the Biden administration, via USDA, will attempt to mitigate climate change through agriculture. I’m going to introduce to you two people who have differing opinions on the issue.
On one side is Dr. Michael S. Coffman, former paper company executive and PhD from University of Idaho, and a long-time skeptic of man-caused climate change. He believes the empirical evidence of man-caused warming is virtually nonexistent.
Robert Bonnie, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Senior Advisor, Climate, in the office of Secretary of the USDA, disagrees.
On February 5, 2021, Mr. Bonnie was interviewed by another agriculture publication. According to the article Bonnie “…advocated creating a carbon bank, drawing on USDA funding, to finance climate-smart land management practice by paying a guaranteed price per ton of carbon reductions.” Mr. Bonnie co-authored a memorandum entitled “The Climate 21 Project,” a memo which suggests the USDA could secure approval of CCC funding for the carbon bank from the White House Budget Office. It said it was important to build support for the project in Congress, too.
Farmers, according to the 2017 census for agriculture, have been using no-till and reduced-tillage on millions of acres. USDA believes about 200 million acres of nearly 400 million acres of U.S. cropland have been in these conservation practices. Cover crops have not been as popular for various reasons including costs, and additional management needs.
Enter Dr. Coffman who believes that climate change headlines by NOAA, NASA, and the EPA “…are deceptively wrong.” Dr. Coffman has written many articles on what he believes is the global warming and climate change “fraud and deception.” To back up his claim, Dr. Coffman strikes out at what he calls “…unscrupulous scientists and the liberal media…”. He made this claim in Range magazine in the winter of 2016/2017. Dr. Coffman believes, “We can’t expect the public to understand the complexities of climate change. We can and should expect the propaganda spewed by corrupt politicians, scientists and the media to be exposed by those in politics, science and the media who know the truth.”
For example, he states that during the 1960s and 1970s, we experienced global cooling. He states in his article that the assertion that 2016 warming was caused by climate change was patently false. Dr. Coffman believes that the 2015-2016 El Nino shows the reason for upticks in global temperature.
“Do not believe anyone who says the warm 2016 was man-caused global warming,” says Coffman. He demonstrates with data that warm temperatures in 2015 and 2016 were caused by El Nino.
He is deeply concerned that the heat wave in 2016 is now a fact with the public. Dr. Coffman says, “Anyone who says otherwise is treated as a brain-dead one-eyed monster.”
Dr. Coffman, in Range magazine, is quoted as saying about the leaders promoting climate change: “The bottom line is they successfully lied. Again. This has become the norm for any news on climate change. Almost anything they say is pure propaganda.”
USDA takes a different position when it states that changing climate is affecting agriculture, ranching and forestry. USDA believes some of the risks are more severe storms, rising average temperatures, extremes in precipitation, and more forest fires. (There seems to be no consideration of the fact that forest fires are occurring on public land and not on private land.)
Agriculture and forestry together are estimated to account for about 10.5% of greenhouse emissions as of 2018. It is believed by USDA and its leadership that “Climate change has the potential to adversely impact agriculture productivity at local and regional scales…”
We can be assured there will be a battle between those like Dr. Coffman and those at USDA. The consequences are enormous over the battle for the facts. Yet, we see each year enormous increases in the production of crops. Climate change seems not to have caught up with the producer.