Press "Enter" to skip to content

Thune Should Get Serious about Science, Protect Agriculture from Climate Change

Keenly interested rural observer Don Carr smells bull-fudgery in Senator John Thune's faint signal of sensibility on climate change. Carr says Senator Thune should get serious about science for the sake of agriculture:

If Senator Thune actually believed what scientists and the U.S. military tells us about our dire climate future, he would be compelled to act immediately and with force. He’d have to stop pushing for the Keystone XL pipeline and questioning the economic impact of climate change solutions.

...[W]hat South Dakota farmers urgently need now from Senator Thune is leadership that drives immediate action on mitigating and adapting to a volatile climate, not this incremental, cynically motivated, glacial-pace acceptance.

Continued inaction puts a sector that generates $25.6 billion of economic activity a year for South Dakota at severe risk [Don Carr, "Loos Science Tales: Senator Thune's Science Problem," Republic of Awesome, 2014.11.20].

Carr has a direct stake in saving agriculture from global catastrophe: he's managing his family's farm in South Dakota. Carr notes that Senator Thune is maddeningly capable of acknowledging scientific consensus when it serves his image and corporate backers. Carr even agrees that science says GMOs are safe to eat, showing that he's not some GMO-free corn flake crier (sorry, it's an inside blog joke). Carr is serious about science and agribusiness; Senator Thune should be, too.


  1. larry kurtz 2014.11.21

    Bless Don's heart.

    Thune doesn't give one turd about anything but lining his pockets, Cory. We're spinning our wheels here, my brothers.

  2. John Tsitrian 2014.11.21

    Based on the SD ag sector's financial and production performance in recent decades, some skepticism about climate change is to be expected. Crop production, both in yields and "in toto" have been rising and livestock prices (if not production) have never been higher. Same goes for ag land values. All this has been occurring even as climate patterns continue to be a cause for concern. Why wouldn't the ag community here resist the restrictions that climate-change theorists/scientists want to impose on them? As to superficial inconsistencies regarding the acceptance of GMO-supportive science and rejecting climate-change science, I'd say that's bunk. There's enough empirical evidence on both sides of each issue to support any conclusion you want, so picking the side that best suits your economic interests is a reasonable means of walking through the pathways of scientific disagreements.

  3. Loren 2014.11.21

    Don't expect Thune to be out front on anything, but if the GOP ever does come up with a plan, you can bet he will be in the photo op, you know, the tall guy with the big smile standing in the background!

  4. Nick Nemec 2014.11.21

    John, as a lifelong farmer I have seen first hand the changes in SD agriculture over the last 50 years (I'm 56 years old). I would attribute the vast majority of yield increase to changes in technology and practices. Our planters are much more accurate than those of just a few years ago and those planters of a few years ago were much better than the planters of the previous generation, accurate placement of seed is critical for top yields. No till farming practices, and yes the chemical weed control that makes it possible, are critical here in central SD for moisture conservation and more consistent yields. A side benefit of no till and that chemical use is greatly reduced soil erosion, wind erosion such as seen in the 1930s is unheard of now even though you would see it on windy days 20 years ago, gully erosion from water runoff is much less of a problem because the water no longer runs off. The added cover also improves road conditions in the winter, a field with a good cover of straw or stalks stops the snow from drifting and sticking to the road.

  5. Don Carr 2014.11.21

    John, its not bunk to say that the National Academy of Sciences says both GMOs are safe to eat and that climate change is here and caused by man.

    That's called being definitive. And its what should guide government policy.

  6. Jim 2014.11.21

    Handsome John won't do anything until the polls show his position is costing votes, or his lobbyists tell him to change his tune (Change his Thune...?). Politics is no longer about sound policy, it is about getting re-elected and accumulating wealth. Most of our great state is naturally semi-arid, and those piles of grain mounding up from last year are a result of science. Ironically, the same science that suggests certain practices are not sustainable in the ag/industry symbiosis. Until land prices near murdo begin to decline, or he starts polling below 60, don't expect too much from handsome John that doesn't benefit oil or "Big Ag".

    Ok, I got that off my chest. Now I can go back to work, unless Grudz wants to meet for coffee.

  7. Jim 2014.11.21

    Having coined "Smiling Mike", I kinda like "Handsome John". If I only had a name for Kristi...hmm..."Political Barbie"?

    Kurtz, you're welcome.

  8. mike from iowa 2014.11.21

    Jim-Noem is more like Partisan Barbie Q.

    Nick,when I was forced to retire from farming about 5 years ago,there were already at least 9 species of weeds that became resistant to Round-Up. What's the count look like now and how does one overcome weed resistance w/o something much more toxic?

  9. Greg 2014.11.21

    Hey Jim I like your name Political Barbie. Even the republicans know she is a joke. Come on democrats run a candidate that can win next election.

  10. Jenny 2014.11.21

    Noem is popular and probably wishes she had run for Senate (Booker was against it though). I think she could have had a good chance beating Rounds, especially with the EB-5 problem. Got to give it to her, the woman knows how to win elections.

  11. larry kurtz 2014.11.21

    Larry Pressler should have run in the earth hater primary.

  12. Dave D. 2014.11.21

    Greg, how is it that the Republicans think that Kristi Noem is a joke? You have a VERY SHORT memory about the ass kikkin she gave here opponet in the election just a few weeks ago!! Hard to swallow that one isn't it!!!

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.11.21

    Dave D., Greg's statement is not logically contradictory to the election results. I think Marty Jackley is a bad joke against justice and rule of law, but I still voted for him instead of the other person on the ballot.

    Your statement that Rep. Noem delivered a butt-kicking in this election assumes that she had to do any kicking to win. Greg seems to be saying that Noem won by default this time due the Democrats' failure to recruit a solid candidate to oppose her. (But Greg, don't let me put words in your mouth; feel free to clarify.)

  14. Dave D. 2014.11.21

    Got under your skin on this too hey Cory!!!

  15. mike from iowa 2014.11.21

    Rill good kickin' when the other side doesn't bother to show up. I'll bet yer so prowd!

  16. Greg 2014.11.21

    I'M still amused by the name Political Barbie. Noem won an election by default and most republicans know it. If she had to run against Herseth she would have known what a butt kicken was.

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.11.21

    Dave, under my skin? No, I'm just pointing out the actual content of Greg's statement. If your primary objective is a rational conversation about the issues, rock on. If your primary objective is to get under anyone's skin... well, what can I say?

  18. mike from iowa 2014.11.21

    Dems take blame for elections-hence Dfault. When was the last time wingnuts took blame(Rfault)?

  19. Jim 2014.11.21

    Political Barbie comes with a western outfit, and a pants suit, three hairstyles and a horse...

  20. Greg 2014.11.21

    Does Political Barbie come with a little leather purse with some cash to pay her speeding tickets.

  21. Nick Nemec 2014.11.22

    Mike to prevent weed resistance farmers need to rotate chemicals just like they rotate crops. Here in central SD, most farmers plant on at least a 4 year rotation sometimes 5 years or longer.

  22. JeniW 2014.11.22

    Noem had enough votes to be re-elected, but that does not necessarily mean that she is a wonderful representative.

    But one thing we did learn from her willingness to shut down the government is that the federal government should reduce the spending for keeping Mt. Rushmore open. During the federal shut down of services, Gov. Daugaard proved that there is enough resources within SD to help support Mt. Rushmore.

    When the federal legislators work toward reducing spending, Mt. Rushmore should be the first place to reduce funding.

  23. John Tsitrian 2014.11.22

    Mr. Carr, though I can't judge the merits of the varied opinions in the scientific community, I know conflicting informed opionions when I see them. The National Academy of Sciences has enough critics both within and without for me to reject its collective conclusions as "definitive," and don't believe they should be the sole basis of government policy. Mr. Nemec, you farmers in the fields have always had a leg up when it comes to advancing the science of agronomy, especially as it responds to natural and sociological challenges. Ask any Malthusian. All I know is that as the argument over climate change rages on, the planet continues to produce in some abundance--if uneven distribution--enough foodstuff for populations that won't stop growing, climate change or no climate change.
    Along the way, farmers--American ones at least--are making more money than they ever have. Officials who have to respond to the challenges posed by advocates of climate change-specific policies are rightfully reluctant to tamper with a status quo that seems to suit producers and consumers alike.

  24. John Tsitrian 2014.11.22

    JeniW, as one who has interests in western SD tourism, I say "right on!" I love the way Custer State Park is run and am occasionally dismayed at the decisions made from D.C. about how our national parks are operated.

  25. larry kurtz 2014.11.22

    Custer State Park is a polluted hole.

  26. larry kurtz 2014.11.22

    "Dippers once thrived on French Creek. F. A. Patton reported finding six nests, four with young, in a one mile section of stream in early June (Patton, 1924). This is a very high density for nesting dippers and indicates that French Creek was a very different stream than it is now. Recent efforts to document the presence of dippers in the French Creek watershed have all been negative (Backlund, 1994; Hays et al., 1996; Hays and Hays, 1997b; Draeger and Johnson, 2001). The author also checked The Narrows in 1999 with no success (1999 monitoring report). Probable causes for the loss of a breeding population of dippers is pollution, construction of the Stockade Lake Dam, heavy sedimentation, and the presence of many small rock dams. Stockade Lake has a history of being highly eutrophic (Froiland, 1978)."

  27. larry kurtz 2014.11.22

    The signs at the French Creek 'Natural Area' trailheads in CSP warn hikers to not even touch the water.

  28. larry kurtz 2014.11.22

    "White evangelical Protestants, for example, are more likely than any other group to believe that natural disasters are a sign of the end times, and they're least likely to assign some of the blame to climate change (participants were allowed to select both options if they wanted). Black Protestants were close behind white evangelicals in terms of apprehending the apocalypse, but they were also the group most likely to believe in climate change, too."

  29. Don Carr 2014.11.22

    Mr. Tristan, I know plenty of people that tell me eating GMO crops will cause all sorts of health issues. And I used to believe them and would wrongly communicate that information to others. Listening to scientists -- including those from the Academy - got me to accept that eating those crops was as safe as any other. I didn't like it. It felt wrong and against ingrained belief to do so, but its scientists from the same bodies that have been my bedrock for climate change. I've sat in rooms with these folks from major universities to the US military and there is no question on climate change. I'm not saying scientists are always right, but the alternative is to walk off the edge of the world and hope Galileo's ghost catches you.

  30. john tsitrian 2014.11.22

    Thanks, Mr. Carr, for a forthright comment along with a delicious image.

Comments are closed.