Alaskan farmers like global warming

Every farmer can tell you the climate is changing.  All our Ozark farmers say its not predictable any more. More variable, hotter at times, colder at times, too much rain, too much drought.  Some, however, have listened to too much right wing rhetoric and deny climate change is influenced by man.

Many tourists wAlaska-Barley-the-good-oneill tell you climate change is bad.  They’ve been to the national parks to see exhibits on how the glaciers are receding.  Or they may be hoping to get to Glacier National Park before the glaciers disappear.  Our President was one of those tourists yesterday at a glacier in Alaska.

Glaciers are magnificent, wonderful things.  Glaciers helped create the best farmland in the American Mid-west and in Ukraine and Russia.  They ground over all of Iowa, Illinois and most of Indianglaciersa and Ohio, made it flat and deposited fine parent material for great soils.

Right about the time man started agriculture, something changed the climate and the glaciers receded.  Without that climate change we wouldn’t have any farms in any of those states.

The glaciers didn’t quite get to Meadow Creek.  They never were able to flatten out the Ozarks, but our land was still frozen tundra for most of the year until the climate changed.  Our land gradually became warm enough to be farmed, just as Alaskan land is warming up.

Alaska is not the best place to go to criticize global warming.  Alaska farmers like it being warmer.  I talked to some at a sustainable ag meeting a couple of months ago. Alaskan farmers say warmer temperatures due to climate change in Alaska are giving them a longer growing season and the flexibility to plant more crops.

There has also been a big increase in farming across the state of Alaska. Farm numbers have increased nearly 10 percent in the last five years.  “We’re seeing quite a big increase of people getting involved in farming activities,” said one Alaskan aggie.  That’s partly due to the warming climate, which is making more land easier to farm, she said.  Another said: “We have a lot of really high-quality ag land up here.” “If we have more farmers, we could grow all the potatoes that Alaskans can eat right here.”

Alaska’s direct sales in agriculture — roadside stands, farmers market, U-Pick operations, on-farm sales and the like — grew 32 percent in the past five years. That’s 13 times the national average.

Resilient people are not dogmatic.  When conditions change, they adapt and turn it into something good.  Alaska farmers are doing that.

On the other side are some politicians.  Those who are dogmatic and blinded by ideology become preachers.  Anyone who disagrees with them is the devil.  They don’t listen to any facts which disturb their narrative.  Such politician/preachers wouldn’t really listen to any farmers in Alaska.

Politicians should be applauded for increasing awareness of the need to build resilience into all systems.  Some politicians are altering government programs, such as the Conservation Reserve Program and EQUIP to help farmers use tools which increase resilience on their farms.  Programs which restore soil health, decrease run-off, increase water catchment and increase on-farm storage all help farms both mitigate and adapt to climate change.  They help farmers dealing with disturbance to create a more productive system.

What we don’t need are politicians who become dogma-spounting preachers who say they are backed by irrefutable science.  Anyone who talks that way doesn’t understand what science is.  Unfortunately most US politicians were trained as lawyers, not as scientists.  Is it any wonder China, ruled by engineers, is surpassing us in many ways?

Science is never fixed and final.  Most of what we call facts today will be proven wrong as more experimentation is done.  Every theory is wrong in some detail.  No theory can adequately express reality.  So the good scientist is always experimenting, always trying to learn more and improve his understanding of nature.

He’s just like the good farmer. Always experimenting and trying to improve his system.

The politician/preachers, on the other hand, have an axe to grind.  They believe in climate change and insist you support them.  Or they don’t believe in man-made climate change and they insist you agree with them.

Some politicians are more pragmatic than others.  Russian politicians see an opportunity in the thawing Arctic Ocean.  They are adapting and investing to make sure Russia takes advantage of new areas which are opening up.  Russia has twenty times as many icebreaking ships as the US.  And they are building several huge new icebreakers.  The US has two, one of those is broken down.

On this score, Russia shows more resilience, adapting to changing conditions.

It’s hard for some preacher/politicians to focus on adaptation and resilience when they are so driven to get you to agree with their dogma.

Farmers and politicians who are blinded by their ideologies are not resilient and won’t last long.  They may get a bunch of adherents if they are demagogic enough and their audiences are gullible enough.  But they are a flash in the pan.

The natural processes which always reward resilience will take care of them in the long run.


For more on how your farm, your community or any system can become more resilient, download our free online book on resilience at this link.