Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Climate Change as an Excuse for the War on American Prosperity Part I

In my February 25 post in which I briefly profiled four notable scientists who dispute the "settled" science of climate change, I made the point that John Kerry's comments about man-made climate change being a weapon of mass destruction are designed to justify a new war--a war on American prosperity.  Climate-change legislation has been a hallmark of Obama's presidency--though he has, mercifully, never managed to get a Congressional bill passed, he is working through executive order to promote his "green" agenda.  Last night, the U.S. Senate pulled an all-night talkathon to discuss the evils of man made climate change and presumably propose legislation to stop it.  Some on the right have suggested that this is merely a stunt to detract attention from the myriad problems with Obamacare, but I disagree.  Climate-change legislation is an end in itself--a means for the left to seize control of resources, housing, land, energy, and water under the pretext of protecting Americans and the rest of the world from global warming.

Take for instance the "climate hubs" which were announced on February 5.  The Obama Administration has created seven hubs nationwide, including one in nearby Las Cruces, New Mexico.   In his announcement of the establishment of the hubs, USDA secretary Tom Vilsak stated that the hubs are necessary to move the Obama's goals for combating climate-change forward.  Vilsak notes that 51% of the country's landmass is engaged in either agriculture or forestry and 14% of our manufacturing derives its basis in either agriculture or forestry.  Agriculture is responsible for 5% of our nation's GDP, so the health of our land and the well-being of our farmers is essential to the success of our country.

How the climate hubs are supposed to protect these resources is a bit fuzzy.  Nat Geo tried to explain the role of the climate hubs this way:

"The idea is to dispatch a cadre of climate change specialists across the nation to gather the latest science on how climate shifts may affect crops and animals and to disseminate the info to farmers, ranchers, local officials and others."

On the surface, the stated goals of these hubs see innocuous enough.  For instance, the hubs will supposedly help farmers find and plant drought-resistant wheat seed.  Farmers and ranchers can find new pesticides that will work better on insects in drought- ridden areas. 

As we dig a little deeper, however, we see less actual help and more big government intrusion. The climate hubs are supposed to help farmers and ranchers assess their carbon footprints and look at their greenhouse emissions.  Farmers and ranchers are encouraged to think about how they could utilize carbon credits with the idea in mind that in the future they will be able to purchase credits from a carbon marketplace--sort of like Al Gore's failed Chicago Climate Exchange.  Perhaps of greatest  interest to us in the southwest, the hubs are to help local farmers and ranchers find and learn improved irrigation techniques.

Having lived in a rural agricultural community my entire life, I do not disagree with Vilsak's statement that our nation's land and farming communities are essential to the health of the nation.  But the Administration for which Vilsak works, and particularly the  EPA, is mandating more and more control over the land and especially the water, including ponds, rivers, lakes and even puddles.  In farming communities like Southern New Mexico, where irrigation is essential for survival, access to water is the difference between prosperity and poverty. 
In August of 2012, the federal government sued New Mexico for control of its groundwater. I wrote about this suit and the inherent problems with federal seizure of control of the groundwater in my post Water, Water Everywhere.   At that time, state officials from both sides of the political spectrum promised to defend the state's groundwater against federal takeover. 

Since I wrote that post, the groundwater situation in Southern New Mexico has become increasingly worse.  Last year, Elephant Butte Irrigation District released a small amount of water  (we understood that they would release water only twice, in mid summer, but they did release additional water in September due to 4 inches of rain which fell in one week).  The justification for the small release of water was the lack of snow in Colorado which reduced the amount of water in the Rio Grande.  Without the water, the farms fail unless the farmers can afford to dig new water wells and irrigate from the underground water.  That is exactly what the wealthier farmers did, but the end result of all this irrigation is that the water table has dropped so much that the individual residents no longer have water.  My parents home, on the south end of highway 28, experienced more than its share of water problems last year because of the low water table. The 150 foot deep well that always serviced the house is no longer deep enough to make up for the ever-falling water table.  My sister's father-in-law, who lives on the north end of highway 28, was told that he would have to drill a new well 200 feet deeper than his current well in order to be able to continue to receive water.  He just bought a home in Dallas and has put his current home, a picturesque two-story house on two acres, abutting the gorgeous Stahmann Farms pecan orchards, up for sale.  My parents are also putting their house up for sale.

Democrat Senator Martins Heinrich petitioned to have the climate hub in Las Cruces because he said that the locals are suffering because of drought conditions.  We are suffering, but our suffering is caused by the refusal of the authorities to release river water.  We can see the writing on the wall--in Water, Water, Everywhere, I mentioned that my mother had received an agricultural survey about how large her house is, how many people live there, etc.  The government's solution to the problem of drought is going to be to further restrict access to the water, starting first with the individual homeowners, then the small farmers, and then large farms.

It breaks my heart to see a beautiful community, once filled with chili farms, lettuce and onion fields, and stunning pecan orchards, to be reduced to a dust bowl.  It is also distressing to see beautiful homes sold for a fraction of their value because the cost of drilling new wells has reduced the value, and people at retirement age who had paid for their homes having to move because they can no longer live in the community.

What is most ironic about this situation is that the federal government, and specifically John Kerry's State Department, could actually provide meaningful assistance if they wanted to.  The irrigation water which is now so restricted is divided by international treaty among Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Mexico.  Mexico also has a treaty to provide water to the United States--350,000 acre feet for five years.  The U.S. International Water and Boundary Commission sets aside Mexico's allotment of water first, ahead of that which goes to the U.S., so that the terms of the treaty are always fulfilled.  Unfortunately, Mexico does not return the courtesy by setting aside their water allotment to the U.S.--in fact they go for years without paying since they can technically pay their entire allotment at the end of the five year cycle. (And they have actually defaulted completely on their water obligations in the past.)  If Heinrich and his Democrat colleagues in the Senate and Kerry's State Department were genuinely interested in the impact that drought conditions have on the living standards of people along the border, they would start pressuring Mexico to release the water, or else renegotiate to withhold the water that we are sending to Mexico during this drought since they have not paid their water stipend to us. 
As with all the government expansion we have seen over the past five years, the government is taking a legitimate problem--the drought--and using it as an excuse to regulate resources and micromanage the lives of people living in Western states rather than the using the authority it already has to work to provide genuine solutions to problems. We saw this same misdirection with Obamacare--the Administration using high insurance costs and medical costs created in part by billing systems of Medicare and Medicaid to justify completely restructuring the entire medical system to the detriment of the American people.  Using the threat of the destruction of civilization through man-made climate change, the Obama Administration has a huge lens through which it can monitor and regulate every aspect of American life--starting with the way the Western states use one of our most valuable resources: water.  Maybe that's why Reagan famously said that the most terrifying words in the English language are, "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help."

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