Silver lining for global warming - The Packer

Silver lining for global warming

08/09/2013 09:56:00 AM
Andy Nelson

Andy Nelson, Markets EditorAndy Nelson, Markets EditorWhen it comes to global warming, I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that, in my lifetime, I will witness my dog barking her head off at a (formerly) Texas armadillo waddling down the storm sewer drain behind our house in suburban Kansas City.

The armadillo will be waddling north, of course, bound for Canada and, a few decades and degrees later, the Yukon.

Of course, I also look forward to planting an avocado tree in my backyard. My neighbors and I already have our own little year-round locally grown pact figured out. I’ve got avocados, Tom’s handling citrus, Bob melons and Mary leafy greens.

Our mutual friend in Tulsa will supply the bananas. (But not for long — they’ll be in Kansas in time for my 90th birthday.)

It surprises me that the produce industry doesn’t talk more about global warming. After all, what’s going to more affected by it than living plants grown under the open skies?

Because of that lack of discussion, my ears always perk up when someone in the industry brings up global warming out of the blue. It happens about once every two years — seriously.

I was talking potatoes recently with Dick Okray, partner in Wisconsin grower-shipper Okray Farms and a longtime industry leader, when the talk turned, surprisingly, to global warming.

Now, as a member of a so-called-by-some elitist Commie profession, I can talk about global warming without anyone batting an eye, but Okray’s a grower, and I don’t want to get him in trouble.

So I will preface this with Okray’s caveat that he is “mostly sure” that we humans are the ones primarily responsible for global warming. Here’s hoping that saves him from charges of elitist Commie-ness on our various social media platforms.

Okray shared with me the results of a study he learned about from a recent journal article. Researchers have found that carbon dioxide levels have been on a steady upward trajectory for the past 65 years.

OK, that’s not exactly news. What is news is the fact that when you look at plant yields over the same time period, you get a similar trajectory. Could be conjecture, Okray said, but it got his attention.

“It’s almost a perfect retrogression,” Okray said.

Now, Okray’s takeaway from this is largely a positive one. Bigger yields and bigger plants should, in theory at least, mean more food to feed the world, higher returns for growers and more efficient land use.

“I’m not 100% positive that (global warming) is going to be all bad.”

That is a point I wish I’d hear more people on the left talking about. There’s no guarantee that global warming means nothing but doom and gloom.

Bigger and better-yielding Wisconsin potatoes, armadillos in Kansas, bananas in Oklahoma, Honeycrisps in Nome, Alaska ...

Our future may be cloudy, but there could be plenty of silver linings.

anelson@thepacker.com

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