A Conversation with a Farmer

November 10th, 2005 by David

    When I entered the Central Valley yesterday, I stopped by a field where tomatoes were being picked (mostly by Mexicans or Mexican-Americans). I talked with a man watching the field from his pickup, and, after getting directions, learned that this was his field of tomatoes. I then asked him what he thought of global warming.
    I expected his answer, but not the emphasis with which he gave it. “It’s entirely made up—there isn’t a single bit of evidence to show it will happen…I guarantee it won’t happen in my lifetime or in your lifetime.” It was clear that I had touched some type of nerve, and the anger seemed somehow directed at environmentalists. He said environmentalists were just out to hurt the economy and that the ‘liberal science’ was fictitous. I knew I could not convince him, so I listened, tried to briefly and respectfully disagree, and thanked him for directions.
   It was sad to me to see that the dialog between environmentalists and farmers (or at least this farmer) is so poor. Environmentalists and farmers should be working together on problems, not in opposition to each other.

7 Responses to “A Conversation with a Farmer”

  1. John says:

    I agree with the farmer in most part.
    I am a retired Forester and I have seen the so called enviromentalists destroy the lumber industry. I was and still am very concerned about the enviroment — and long before the word enviromentalist became popular.
    Timber is a crop and should be managed using established and proven forest practice tools.
    We do not need an army of phd’s studying year after year and doing nothing constructive . Forest mgt is not rocket science.
    It is a well established fact , for example, that the Sierra National Forest is capable of cutting 120MM ( thats 120 million) board feet per year on a sustain yield basis, but because of radical enviromentalists they are ony cutting less than 10MM . In the process 450 jobs have been lost .

  2. John says:

    From the link science of global warming “protecting and restoring forests, which serve as important storehouses of carbon.”

    Larger dead and dying trees in a forest store much less carbon. Young vigorous forest store many many times more carbon. By selective cutting the larger dying and dead trees and by thinning the over crowded stands you create a much more vigorous forest. All this can and was being don for the greated good for the greatest number of people in the long run under Multiple Use Mgt the Sierra Forest is a good example .

  3. David says:

    Response to John–do you agree with the farmer’s sentiment about global warming, or just about environmentalists? I am not an expert in the forestry that you are talking about.

    I do, though, think that it is wrong to conserve forests without cutting back our use of paper. If we aggressively protect forests in this country, but still use the same amount of wood and paper, we will just pilfer the forests of another country, where environmental protection is poor. Likewise, I think it is great that we didn’t drill in ANWR, but unless that is combined with more efficiency, I don’t see the point–we’ll just get the oil from elsewhere.

  4. Adrian James says:

    yo Dave, this is awesome – please keep up the wonderful journal entries for us. and don’t forget to include some embarrassing personal stories. guaranteed your roommates will chime in…

    regarding the farmer’s comments and his perspective on global warming – it reminds me of the relationship in Prince William Sound between the fishermen and PWSAC… according to the guys I was fishing with it was clearly a case of honest dudes earning a living vs. evil bureaucrats trying to mess it up for them. it wasn’t obvious to me where the middle ground would be found.

    nothing could be better for this very human situation then open conversation… via bike messenger, perhaps. so once again, good on you.

  5. Check out Dave in the Fresno Bee! He’s making news all across California.


    Cyclist rides into Fresno to put focus on climate
    Stanford graduate plans to cover 14,000 miles.
    By Anne Dudley Ellis / The Fresno Bee

    (Updated Saturday, November 12, 2005, 6:28 AM)

    Stanford research assistant David Kroodsma spent time in Fresno on Thursday and Friday, the latest stop on a 13-month, 14,000-mile bicycle journey to focus attention on dangerous global climate changes.

    Kroodsma, 26, who is heading to the southern tip of South America, had traveled more than 300 miles when he reached the central San Joaquin Valley, where he chatted with a Mendota tomato farmer and later with teachers and students at Central East High School in Fresno.

    On Friday, he talked about global warming with shoppers and workers at the Fulton Mall. He said residents of the Valley seem more resistant to the premise of climate change, but were friendly and willing to listen.

    Kroodsma said that climate changes may cause massive species extinctions, losses in crops, increased risk of malaria, stronger hurricanes, rising sea levels and perhaps the end of the Amazon rain forest. Fresno, with its economy rooted in agriculture, could be severely effected by global warming, Kroodsma said.

    Kroodsma’s “A Ride for the Climate” Web site explains his argument: The release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels exacerbates global warming. Since the beginning of industrial times, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by a third, his Web site reports.

    The Web site says the planet has warmed by 1 degree in the past century, with future warming bringing possibly disastrous consequences.

    As he bikes through the Americas, Kroodsma makes presentations at schools and meets with researchers and environmentalists.

    A Stanford University graduate, Kroodsma researches the effect of climate changes on grassland ecosystems in California for the Carnegie Institution.

    “My goals are pretty simple: talk with kids and people about climate change,” Kroodsma said. “I think I’ve already been successful.”

    The reporter can be reached at aellis@fresnobee.com or (559) 441-6328.

  6. heather says:

    I think it would be interesting to ask the farmer how the productivity of his land has changed over time and/or what he sees as the biggest threat to his crops in the future. There is a chance that it will be a non-environmental force such as market fluctuations, changing consumer preferences, or even new environmental regulations. It is also possible that he is indeed worried about environmental threats to his land – such as declining water quantity and quality, proliferation of invasive pests, or other environmental threats that will be exasperated by climate change. Do you think that his disbelief in global warming is because the term is associated with environmentalists, liberals, and top-down regulation?

  7. John Barnes says:

    I think that major business organizations have generally been inclined to percieve environmental scientists as a threat to income. This perception is bolstered by political parties who have an interest in preventing/delaying environmentakl control. Agri-business was one of the first to resist environmental laws. There are people who still believe that Rachel Carson’s data on DDT is a hoax. It’s a stubborness that cannot be argued with, and I agree, the best reaction is to listen politely and move on. At any rate, man will learn from his mistakes and adapt when it is glaringly necessary. I wonder how soon it will be ’til we revert to buying all of our vegetables from the local truck farmer?

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