July 13, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Ranchers Coming Around On Global Warming:

The chorus of global warming deniers has not shrunk. Outcries claiming the entire issue is fraudulent are not going away.

But realism is also slowly setting in among some California groups that long tried to wish away the issue by claiming any warming that’s happening is strictly a cyclical natural phenomenon.

California ranchers are now among the first interest groups to realize that like it or not, global warming can no longer be denied with any semblance of accuracy. For very gradually, ranchers are seeing the grasslands they depend upon to feed their cattle begin to shrink and convert naturally to shrub land.

What’s the difference? Shrubs have a greater ability to withstand wildfires, but cattle don’t like to eat them. This means the more grasslands gradually shift to chaparral-like shrubbery, the more ranchers must spend on hay.

For consumers, that means more expensive beef, from filet mignon to hamburger.

It’s not that grassland is disappearing quickly or that the loss is inevitable. But there has already been some acreage lost, mostly in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains and a 2013 study from Duke University and the Environmental Defense Fund concluded that if global warming continues its present trends, it will hike California ranchers’ spending on hay by upwards of $235 million a year within the next half century.

That time frame is similar to predictions made two years ago by the state Natural Resources Agency, which concluded that if current trends continue (sea level along the California coast having risen eight inches since 1910), as many as 500,000 persons living near beaches and marshes will be threatened with flooding by the end of this century.

Climate change denial tends to run stronger among political conservatives than others, so an interesting contradiction is arising. For these are usually the same folks who oppose increasing national debt levels for fear of fobbing large burdens onto generations to come. Why, if they don’t want to impose financial burdens on their descendants, do they not mind hitting those same generations with an environmental calamity?

Maybe because they don’t believe there’s anything humans can do about global warming, which many conservative politicians and writers ascribe to nature. They ignore, though, the hundreds of academic studies that have found increased atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) are associated with higher ambient temperatures.

Maybe, also, they don’t think a degree or two of difference in average temperatures makes much difference. The once-large and permanent icefields visible from Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park offer some evidence to the contrary: Photographed a century ago at midsummer by the legendary Ansel Adams and others, they are now all but gone. There was barely a glimmer of ice visible from the point last July and there’s less each year. It’s the same at Glacier National Park in Montana, which may now be a misnomer.

So even if the warming visible on rangelands and high mountain peaks were mostly from natural causes, it is helped along by human activity that produces CO2. This means today’s adults have an obligation to their children to do whatever they can to contain it.

True, some other countries and much of America are doing little or nothing about all this. Does that excuse Californians from our responsibility? Meanwhile, plenty of other countries have acted similarly to this state’s cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases.

One officer of the California Cattlemen’s Assn., which just over two years ago issued a statement opposing all cap-and-trade legislation, later said in a rangeland conference at UC Davis that climate change (natural or not) is “certainly going to impact all the other natural resources that we’ve worked to steward for so many years.”

This change of attitude toward climate change from an organization that’s anything but politically liberal was remarkable.

Whether it presages movement among other interest groups that have consistently fought climate change legislation is an open question. But it demonstrates that ideology can sometimes go out the window when confronted with hard reality.

in Opinion
Related Posts

Letter to the Editor: Criticizing Israeli Policy Is Not Antisemitic

July 10, 2024

July 10, 2024

In the past several months, we’ve seen increasing protests against Israel’s actions in Gaza. We have also seen these protests...

SMA.R.T. WISHES ALL A VERY HAPPY 4TH OF JULY WEEK

July 7, 2024

July 7, 2024

We trust you are enjoying this holiday in celebration of Independence. Independence to be embraced, personally and civically, thru active...

SM.a.r.t Column: Santa Monica Under SCAG’s Boot

June 30, 2024

June 30, 2024

Four years ago, our esteemed colleague Mario Fonda-Bonardi wrote the prescient essay below when much of the legislative development juggernaut...

SM.a.r.t Column: The Up Zoning Scam (Part 2)

June 23, 2024

June 23, 2024

Last week’s SMart article  (https://smmirror.com/2024/06/sm-a-r-t-column-the-up-zoning-scam-part-1/)  discussed the ambitious 8895 units (including 6168 affordable units) that Santa Monica is required to...

SM.a.r.t Column: The Up Zoning Scam (Part 1)

June 16, 2024

June 16, 2024

Over the last few years, the State of California has mandated a massive upzoning of cities to create capacity for...

SM.a.r.t. Column: Shape Up – On Steroids

June 9, 2024

June 9, 2024

Nine years ago, SMa.r.t wrote a series of articles addressing the adaptive re-use of existing structures. We titled one “Shape...

SM.a.r.t Column: The Challenge of Running a City When City Staff Have Different Priorities

June 2, 2024

June 2, 2024

Living in a city has its perks, but it can be a real headache when the folks running the show...

SM.a.r.t. Column: A Path to Affordable Ownership in Santa Monica

May 27, 2024

May 27, 2024

[Note: our guest author today is Andres Drobny, a former Professor of Economics at the University of London, the former...

SM.a.r.t. Column: A Path Forward for Santa Monica: Part II

May 19, 2024

May 19, 2024

As referenced in Part I of this article, the state’s use of faulty statistics and forceful legislation has left a...

SM.a.r.t. Column: A Path Forward for Santa Monica: Part I

May 12, 2024

May 12, 2024

To quickly summarize, California grapples with an ongoing housing crisis spurred by state implementation of over 100 policies and mandates...

SM.a.r.t. Column: Where Will Our Huddled Masses Sleep? Navigating California’s Affordable Housing Mandates

May 5, 2024

May 5, 2024

Just as Lady Liberty beckons the “huddled masses” of immigrants to America, cities like Santa Monica have an ethical obligation...

SM.a.r.t Column: SMCLC SPEAKS

April 28, 2024

April 28, 2024

SMart (Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow) periodically invites guest columnists who have made a significant contribution to the...

SM.a.r.t Column: Building Modern Boxes Lacks Identity

April 21, 2024

April 21, 2024

In the relentless pursuit of modernity, cities worldwide have witnessed the rise of so-called architectural marvels in the form of...

SM.a.r.t. Column: Santa Monica Needs Responsible Urban and Architectural Design

April 14, 2024

April 14, 2024

[SMa.r.t. note: Eight years ago, our highly esteemed and recently-passed colleague Ron Goldman documented his thoughts on the need for...

SM.a.r.t. Column: BLINK NOW!

April 7, 2024

April 7, 2024

Nine years ago, I wrote a column for SMa.r.t. titled SANTA MONICA: BEACH TOWN OR ‘DINGBAT’ CITY? (https://smdp.com/2015/05/09/santa-monica-beach-town-dingbat-city/)Here is the...