What’s all the fuss? Farmers not worried about global warming
Farmers Forum staff
NORTH GOWER — We’ve entered the era of “global boiling,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sensationally declared this summer amid reports describing July 2023 as the hottest July in recorded history.
You wouldn’t know it by looking at the verdant fields of Ontario this summer, and provincial crop heat units only slightly above average. You also wouldn’t know it if you asked around.
With so much focus nowadays on the alleged impacts of global warming, Farmers Forum asked 12 Eastern Ontario farmers: Are you worried about global warming? In short, no. There was the occasional thumb’s up for more heat units and the occasional note of concern.
“I’m not worried at all.” Williamstown cash crop and beef farm employee Bryce Currier said. “The air I breathe is clean and the food I eat is tasty and delicious. I think we just keep living the way we are and let nature take its course. Really, there’s only so much you can control. From a farming standpoint … the crops keep growing, so until they stop, I won’t be worried.”
When Cobden-area dairy farmer Andrew Hamilton hears about global warming, he doesn’t worry about the weather, he fears the political response. He worries about what government regulation or tax is coming next. “The heat for this area is probably a good thing,” he said.
One farmer, who asked not to be identified, said that farmers are simply going along with governments to get grants and program funding. “It’s like the Soviet Union, where we pretend to work and they pretend to pay us,” he said, explaining that when it comes to global warming, “they give us programs and we pretend to care.”
Metcalfe cash-cropper Steven Cumming couldn’t say for sure if global warming was happening, but he was keen on the benefits.
“There’s climate change, and that’s a natural thing,” Cumming said. “It hasn’t got a damn thing to do with burning fossil fuels. Actually, the more heat, the better. Best thing that ever happened to Eastern Ontario agriculture was global warming.”
Carleton Place beef farmer and custom hay operator Sam Ferrill was similarly unfazed. Ferrill was also skeptical of electric vehicles being touted as a panacea. “I think that’s more of a hurt for the environment than a gas vehicle, but that’s just me,” he said.
While acknowledging his concern about “climate change,” Ottawa dairy farmer Peter Ruiter added, “It’s such a big issue, Canadian solutions aren’t going to make a difference.”
He’s right. The effects of carbon dioxide on global temperature are debatable but if you fear greenhouse gas emissions, you might wonder why China has no restrictions and is the world’s largest emitter. Meantime, Canada produces less than 2 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions but we have introduced high carbon taxes that no serious study has shown will have any affect on temperature. Canada is also targetting nitrous oxide released from fertilizer, and nitrous oxide will have no affect on temperature for at least 300 years.
Does global warming worry North Gower cash cropper Hugh Nixon? “Yes and no.” Nixon expressed concern about the impact on crops, as well as the political response to the issue, especially the carbon taxes that have raised the price of farmers’ fuel. While he foresaw looming challenges as the growing season lengthens, he also saw the positive side of warmer temperatures.
Osgoode Farms employee Michel Hofhuis said he was “not so much concerned with global warming, but more with climate change.” Added Hofhuis, “We’re seeing more tornadoes, there’s definitely something happening, whether it’s an issue yet, I’m not sure.”
“It’s good and bad for us,” agreed Kinburn cash cropper Ben Hill. “It’s kind of good for us because we gain more heat and can grow more crops, or better crops, now,” he said. But this is tempered by the prospect of weather-related crop damage and disease pressure resulting from bigger storms and heavier rains, he said.
Kemptville dairy farmer Leigh Hudson-Templeton said she was worried about preserving the environment for the next generation. On the global warming subject, “I don’t really know what to believe about it all,” she admitted. “There are multiple theories about what is actually happening and why. I definitely think it’s warming …. I guess the more we can do to minimize the impact on the environment, the better off we are going to be in the future.”
“Yeah, we have to be a little concerned, but sometimes they (policymakers) are zeroing in on the wrong sources of the warming — as in, agriculture,” observed Athens cash cropper Ed Newman. He also rued the political polarization accompanying the subject. “As I get older, I find there’s a lot less middle ground on any issue.”