Agriculture unfairly blamed for climate change - Cowsmo

Agriculture unfairly blamed for climate change

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack say that agriculture tends to take the brunt of criticism about climate change. But the industry contributes only 9 percent of the greenhouse gases blamed for a warming planet, reports the Des Moines Register.

“Everyone assumes what’s happening globally is happening nationally,” said Vilsack, a keynote speaker at Drake University forum on climate change. “Clearly, there are challenges globally in terms of agriculture and its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. That’s not necessarily the case in the United States.”

By comparison, farming contributes a smaller percentage that other industries, said Jeffrey Ball, an energy policy columnist at The New Republic, interviewed Vilsack. The New Republic, along with Drake, hosted the forum, and the League of Women Voters, sponsored the event. About 160 people attended.

Vilsack said the nation is confronting several environmental farm issues, including severe drought and dwindling water access in some areas.

Ball pressed Vilsack on whether ethanol and other renewable fuels are an environmental benefit, referring to a University of Nebraska study released this week that says cellulosic ethanol creates 7 percent more greenhouse gases than use conventional gasoline.

“The study started with an assumption about the way corn stover would be removed from the land. The problem with the assumption is no farmer in the country would actually take that much crop residue,” he said.

Vilsack said the motivating factor was not so much for the environment as much as the rural economy.

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