Letters to the editor – March 9, 2017

Lower prices

Both Kevin Hursh and Levi Wood (seem happy) to be making less money selling wheat than if we still had our farmer-directed Canadian Wheat Board. (WP Feb. 23.)

Elevator excess basis, weaker protein premiums, disappeared assets, exporters undercutting, trouble keeping track of quality branded Canadian wheat, and poor delivery co-ordination all saddle western farmers with losses approaching $8 billion and counting without our single desk.

Why would anyone work harder to make less money? Why bring American wheat here to bog our system capacity and dilute our price? What next? Would Hurst and Wood advocate for a U.S. style farmer-support system here?

Wood states post-CWB exports to the U.S. have increased. This is true. He doesn’t say that this is because the price of Canadian wheat has now dropped below that of American wheat at port, and farmers close to the boarder are hauling south to get some of their money back if they are lucky.

Before anyone brings up the “buy-back,” remember, A) we have all lost that much and more since Aug. 1, 2012, and B) if you couldn’t make more than the buy-back on a private deal, that meant the CWB was doing a better job of marketing than you anyway.

Many think that the 62 percent majority who voted to keep the CWB as it was has grown.

The challenge for Hurst, Wood and former Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, or anyone else who thinks that getting rid of our own marketer was a good idea: find even one peer-reviewed economic study that shows western wheat farmers had a net benefit because of the end of our CWB, or admit a mistake.

Ian L. Robson
Deleau, Man

Climate change

It was with some incredulity that I read Stephanie McDonald and Dana Stefov’s article entitled Remember the poor in climate agenda in the Producer (Feb. 2).

This article is replete with assumptions and statements that conflict with the scientific realities of anthropogenic climate change.

First, the droughts experienced by farmers in various parts of the world have nothing to do with anthropogenic climate change, and certainly not warming trends. As Roger Pielke Jr., a professor of Environmental Science from the University of Colorado, stated to a Senate hearing, anthropogenic global warming has yet to cause any change in extreme weather events. As he put it, any “echo” of human-induced global warming within the “short-term variation” (weather) will not be measurable for at least another 60 years, and probably 100 years.

 Simply put, a climate data point is a 30-year average and the weather “echo” of changes in temperature lags multiple decades behind any atmospheric temperature change. We have not yet experienced any change in weather patterns due to human-released CO2 heating effects, and few of us, who are currently alive and reading this, will live long enough to do so. 

Second, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s own analysis, if all the measures agreed on during the Paris Climate Conference are put into effect on time, the difference in temperature at year 2100 from the difference expected if we do absolutely nothing, will be in the region of 0.04 C. This is well below the accuracy resolution of even NASA’s deep atmospheric temperature measuring system, so the change expected 83 years from now will be effectively zero. We might have to wait two to three centuries before the effect is measurable.

As former Vice-President Al Gore has publically admitted, these measures are “symbolic.”

The science is pretty unequivocal: human released CO2 is having an effect on the atmosphere’s ability to trap solar radiation, most scientists agree on this point (97 percent seems to be a popular figure). However what is far from clear, from a scientific viewpoint, is whether this effect is significant in comparison to other existing natural forcing agents, whether climate sensitivity to atmospheric gas concentrations is statistically significant and, most importantly, whether the effects represent a net positive or negative effect on a global scale.

A growing view among ecologists is that both increase temperatures and an increase in atmospheric CO2 may well represent a significant increase in the Earth’s biomass carrying capacity. A warmer atmosphere increases its water vapour carrying capacity, with attendant increases in rainfall, causing the Earth’s temperate and tropical bands to expand and our desert bands to shrink.

The poor of North Africa have been dealing with the negative effects of climate change for at least the last 3,500 years. The failure of agriculture in northern Europe during the mini ice age of the 16th through 19th centuries forced many to take the risky voyage to North America in order to survive.

So, when you remember the poor when considering climate policy, it is not enough to look at local weather variations in Cuba; you must take a holistic global view.

Symbolic measures that do nothing more than cost us the economic power to help the poor around the world offer little more than hollow platitudes to the suffering.

Stewart Staudinger
Alix, Alta.

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