The climate may be changing without you

Hoard's Dairyman: 

The climate may be changing without you

Date: 
Tue, 02/19/2013

The weather changes every day, there’s no way around it. But is it a trend? Factors outside meteorologists, hurricanes and snowstorms can be offered as proof.

by Lucas Sjostrom, contributing editor

I’m giving up on “climate consistency.” That’s a term I made up for those of us who believe(d) that climate change wasn’t real. It took years, a few movies and a few talks with close friends, but I think it’s the wisest choice for me moving forward. Are you a climate change advocate, or do you think the data is being interpreted incorrectly?

For full disclosure, I’m writing this as a -35°F wind chill swirls outside my Brooten, Minn., window. That chill may be the reason I am warming up to the idea.

I rationalized being a skeptic by thinking about avoiding the added costs and additional time spent worrying about climate change. But if we can’t study and prepare for something, there’s no way to know how to react when it shows up. In other words, I have no clue if climate change is man-made or unstoppable, but if we don’t keep studying, I know we won’t be ready for it. If we start today, we at least have a fighting chance.

Now, the costs of preparing for climate change could mean real dollars out of the pockets of many. If we alter policy on the national and international level that raises short-term energy costs, invent machines (that we may never need) or slow the consumption of energy as a whole to deal with the problem, we’re going to spend time and money to get it done. But new policies may also save the planet.

All of that aside, we need to look inside ourselves as to why some of us (dairy farmers and agriculturalists) disagree with the climate change theory. Here are three I think many of us share:
1. It’s an idea that may not fit exactly in-line with your political party’s views.
2. We don’t understand the science but can’t believe they can figure out the weather in the future, OR we think we do understand the science and conclude that it isn’t real.
3. We don’t want to believe it.

If you’re a doubter (number two), stay tuned for the evidence that proved to me the climate is changing. If you identify with category one or three, re-read the category and think about the objectivity of those statements – it appears to be lacking.

Historical evidence abound
I’ve seen Al Gore’s film and watched a few other movies about the climate on Netflix. The graphs were dramatic, but I knew those could be manipulated. The pictures (of icebergs melting and so forth) were sensational, but I thought they could be altered. Nothing stuck in my mind as conclusive evidence.

Then, a few weeks ago, our insurance man came to visit. We learned two things; rates are up on property insurance and our weather pattern is the cause. That meant I was paying more than I did last year, and it was substantial, but we didn’t have one claim. Further, it’s not like there’s a shortage of competition in the insurance world in that I’m getting swindled for no reason. Our agent checks with many companies to find the lowest rate, so rates must be going up because the formula used to assess disaster risk shows higher numbers.

When premiums are up much more than inflation in just a few years, and are basing much of their information on at least 50 years of historical data, it means something is changing fast. That meeting put me on board with climate change. And unless you’ve examined the evidence with a trained scientific eye, you may want to consider joining my camp to avoid being a hypocrite (see below).

Science is science
A farmer friend of mine had a gripe with me before I changed my views. I was a doubter but still argued that we should use genetically modified organisms, keeping cows comfortable for more milk and a balanced ration for healthier cows. Those three things don’t fit unless you also believe in climate change, he explained.

Now that I’m a believer I can see the light. Why do we allow the best cow scientists to change our minds about our livelihood, but we won’t rely on the best meteorologists to convince us that the climate is changing. My friend was right, it just doesn’t add up.

Speaking of, add up your insurance bill. Did you see a jump? Is it just due to a change in temperature, or is it due to a change we cannot see? Maybe it’s time to change some minds.

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