Thousands of Belgian and Dutch farmers are being sacrificed on the altar of climate change. They are losing their livelihoods as their governments crack down on emissions of nitrogen oxide (from manure) and the use of ammonia in fertilization.
Peter Imanuelsen, a Swedish journalist, wrote on Twitter, “The [Dutch] government has decided to essentially seize 3000 farms in order to meet new climate goals. They did the same thing in the Soviet Union.”
Like many others in the European agricultural sector, he now finds himself phased out because of the government’s pursuit of “net zero emissions” by 2050. Will American farmers and consumers suffer the same ruinous fate?
With last year’s Inflation Reduction Act now funneling $20 billion of climate funds into agriculture, American farmers could face similar pressures.
This year’s farm bill “is probably going to be the piece of legislation in the next two years with the biggest impact on the climate and the environment,” said Peter Lehner, managing attorney for Earthjustice’s Sustainable Food and Farming Program. It may also have a substantial effect on family budgets.
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Food prices rose 10% over the past year, and climate restrictions will only send prices higher. Egg prices were up 70%; breakfast sausage up 10%; breakfast cereal and bakery products up 15%; chicken up 10%; and lettuce up 17%.
When Russia cut off natural gas to Europe, sending the globe into near-recession conditions, the world learned the importance of energy security. Agricultural and food security are equally important.
The Rhodium Group is forecasting that agricultural emissions will make up 30% of U.S. total greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
But fossil fuels are vital to fertilizers and pesticides, which improve crop production and reduce food prices. In 2021, Sri Lanka President Rajapaksa banned synthetic fertilizer and pesticide imports practically overnight, leaving Sri Lanka’s farmers with only organic substitutes.
His rationale: chemical fertilizers and pesticides were leading to “adverse health and environmental impacts.”
In the six months after the ban, rice production dropped by 20% and tea production declined by 18%.
In 2022, with inflation at 55% and the economy in tatters, protestors took over President Rajapaksa’s home; his government fell, and he had to flee the country.
Not only our energy security, but also our agricultural production and food security, depend on fossil fuels, and Americans would be foolish to destroy it. Ammonia is a key component of fertilizer manufacturing, and producing it requires natural gas.
Europe and America don’t want to end up like Sri Lanka. But groups such as the Swiss-based Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) are pressuring international development organizations, private corporations, and pension funds not to invest in conventional fuels, even for food.
CIEL’s October report, entitled Fossils, Fertilizers, and False Solutions: How Laundering Fossil Fuels in Agrochemicals Puts the Climate and the Planet at Risk, states, “Agriculture accounts for roughly a third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and fossil fertilizers—synthetic fertilizers derived from fossil fuels—are an unrecognized contributor to this figure.”
U.S. executive branch agencies are actively discouraging investment in oil, gas, and coal, claiming that such investments pose a risk to the environment. Firms producing and relying on conventional fuels are finding it harder to get capital to expand, because they face higher rates to borrow.
By following the ESG movement and encouraging others to do the same, countries are sacrificing agricultural productivity and raising food prices. This disproportionately hurts the poor, who spend a higher share of their income on food. Food access for poor people is at stake.
The call for sustainability—a term that has come to mean not using efficient, dense, sources of energy that modern countries enjoy—is based on the perception that rising temperatures, rising sea levels, and “extreme weather events” such as hurricanes, cyclones, and wildfires, are linked to greenhouse gas emissions.
Writing in the Journal of Climate, Jessica Weinkle and others report that the number of hurricanes making landfalls is no greater than in the past. Increases in global damages from tropical cyclones are due to greater wealth in those locations where cyclones exist. Some change has been occurring over centuries.
Sea levels have been rising about an inch per decade since the 1807, according to UK National Oceanography Centre researcher Svetlana Jevrajeva and others.
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Despite the billions of dollars spent by international aid organizations, many people lack food, modern energy, electricity, and running water. One third of the Earth’s population needs dense energy to bring them up to Western standards.
Countries will never reach Western income levels using only wind and solar—the energy sources dictated by climate envoys John Kerry and Amos Hochstein and other Western politicians. In trying to impose policies that discourage energy use, Western elites would condemn billions of people around the world to impoverished lives and hunger.
Reliable, affordable energy increases productivity, lowering food costs, creating jobs and stimulating economic growth. In the long run, this lowers greenhouse gas emissions.
If the world gives up its energy and agricultural security, countries will be left with the insecurity of higher food and transportation costs, higher electricity costs, and lost jobs, with decreased food access.
Climate change is going on, as it has for millennia, and may result in rising sea levels. But using less energy and making food more costly will leave people in these areas and around the globe worse off. Sri Lanka President Rajapaksa learned this the hard way. The Dutch and Belgians are discovering it now. Let’s hope Congress can learn from their mistakes while writing this year’s farm bill.
This piece originally appeared in Forbes https://www.forbes.com/sites/dianafurchtgott-roth/2023/03/06/climate-driven-technology-forces-out-europes-farmers/?sh=10ffd315d7ac