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Climate Conversation: This farm boy who has traveled the world adds his views to the conversation.

Tom J Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

March 24, 2021

3 Min Read
auger dropping harvest corn
Tom J. Bechman

Whenever articles appear on or in print, they draw reactions. A recent article that first appeared on the website Feb. 13, “Facts and myths about climate change,” outlined observations by Jerry Schussler, who has a background in the plant breeding industry and now operates Schussler Ag Research Solutions. He pointed to both positives and negatives that could impact Midwest agriculture, coming from climate change.

That article drew this response from a reader.

Dear editor:

Thanks for providing the good comments and observations from Jerry Schussler about climate change. Here are my thoughts and observations:

No doubt we have been reducing the polar ice cap ever since the most recent Ice Age ended. It was probably caused by a rogue meteorite splashing down and then shading the earth with residual steam, cooling and snowfall. 

It's only natural that glaciers (are eroding) along the exposed fronts during these summers. Just because there are more researchers and cameras to catch that these days doesn't necessarily mean this is occurring more frequently (than it did at some points in the past).   

Those same glaciers build new depths on the back side during the winter months.  

There is also no doubt that burning coal and oil during the past century created a net increase in temperature and carbon dioxide. Fire creates BTUs (and adds them) into our global melting pot.  

No wonder the mastodons and woolly mammoths died off and became extinct. Earth has been warming up, and this led to their extinction about 12,000 years ago. These are not the first species to go extinct, and they won't be the last species to go extinct, either.  

It seems to me that the increase in carbon dioxide could also be adding to the increase in corn yields. Is all the increase from genetics? Or since carbon dioxide is an essential part of photosynthesis, perhaps it is adding to the increase in corn yield.   

If that is true, then eliminating carbon dioxide by eliminating coal and oil use could lead to a drop in crop yields by 2050 and cause a world famine and food shortage. (You could liken it to the theory that) reducing gas-fired power plants led to power outages in Texas in February 2021. 

Frankly, we now have more trees across the Kansas prairies in these 2020s than we did when I was growing up in the 1960s.  

Is that because of the lack of buffalo roaming, with less trimming and trampling? Or does the carbon dioxide spur more plant growth? 

This is my two cents’ worth, which I am adding to the climate change conversation. — Alan VanNahmen

Editor’s note: VanNahmen grew up on a Dodge City farm in Ford County, Kan. He currently lives in Manhattan, Kan., and has spent his career in the equipment industry, working for OEM companies, short-line manufacturers and startup ventures. He spent many years living near Columbus, Ind., and has traveled extensively to farms throughout North America, Europe, China, Russia and Australia, working with farmers who want to improve their crop production and conserve their soil. Reach him at [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Tom J Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

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