Friday, April 3, 2015

Plowed under: nail being pounded into ethanol's coffin

South Dakota Democrats are concerned about climate change and debated language at the state convention in Yankton.
The woman in Harvey Dunn’s masterpiece holds a piece of climate change in her hand – and maybe even a key to understanding a proposed new name for an epoch in Earth’s history. But the woman is a product of the industrial revolution, and that scissors she holds for cutting flowers is made of steel from a plant in the East that’s fired by coal; so with the stove pipe jutting from the house. The dress she wears, the clothing her children wear, that’s made of cotton in a mill that may be powered by coal. South Dakota State Climatologist Dennis Todey Looking backward to see ahead added that it is more than just climate change that is wrapped up in that discussion of whether to call a new age the Anthropocene. “I think this even includes human issues with climate change, but land use changes and conversion of wild lands to agricultural and a much more ‘managed’ state,” Todey said. [Lance Nixon, Pierre Capital Journal]
A study released 2 April in the journal Environmental Research Letters found that the renewable fuel requirement is transforming the Midwest landscape.
The massive increase in corn ethanol production has led growers to plow up millions of acres of grasslands to produce more corn and soybeans, degrading water and air quality and destroying critical wildlife habitat. How much more evidence will it take before Congress gets serious about reforming the Renewable Fuel Standard and putting that last nail into the coffin of the corn ethanol mandate? [AgMag Blog]
After cutting NASA's budget John Thune and the GOP leadership are postulating that Earth science being conducted by the agency is not real science.
U.S. geoscientists are accustomed to being used as a punching bag by climate change skeptics in Congress, who challenge the science of global warming. But some influential Republican legislators are now going a step further, by denigrating the discipline itself. The idea that the geosciences aren’t hard science comes as a shock to Margaret Leinen, president of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and a former head of the National Science Foundation’s geosciences directorate. Senator Bill Nelson (D–FL), the top Democrat on the full commerce committee and the only current member of Congress to have flown in space, took a more gentlemanly tack. “Let me point out that budgets are not always as clear as what we think they are,” he said, noting that several other NASA accounts also support exploration activities. “Earth science relates directly to everything we are doing in space exploration,” Nelson asserted. [Jeffrey Mervis]
Seriously, South Dakota? NASA turns satellites not only to study pollution in South Dakota but also to learn how a force like the Anthropocene affects a planet.
SDSU scientists Bruce Millett and W. Carter Johnson, working with Glenn Guntenspergen of the U.S. Geological Survey, tracked 95 years of weather data from 18 weather stations throughout the region. They published that far-reaching study, “Climate trends in the North American prairie pothole region 1906-2000” in 2009 in the journal Climatic Change and have continued to research the topic since then. They chose the 18 weather stations for the completeness of the weather records available at those locations and because the 18 sites are well distributed across smaller ecoregions within the Prairie Pothole Region, or PPR. “Drainage of wetlands in the wetter, eastern PPR has lowered the potential of the PPR to produce waterfowl in a warmer greenhouse climate,” the scientists wrote in their study. [Nixon, SDSU scientists: Climate change may limit size of nation’s “duck factory”]
South Dakota's legislature is dominated by Republicans who ignore the effects of the Anthropocene and lobbyists are lining up to stuff their pockets with cash.

Voters deserve better.


  1. Larry,

    If you look at the photos from the Governor's Inaugural Ball you will notice many in attendance that are or were very involved in the Ethanol industry. These are the same people that complain about the Federal government yet they are like hogs at the trough when it comes to Federal subsidies and pushing for mandates. The irony!

    btw! whatever happened to switch grass and other ways to make bio fuel that does not require so much prime land for food production, chemicals, energy? Hopefully require less water also? We have lost so many acres of habitat with the emphasis on King Corn. It's not as dry as it used to be in summer also with these tightly packed corn rows in these fields.


    1. Lynn: little surprises me anymore about the sewer Pierre has become. Corn acres will plummet just because access to water is being cut off. Burning diesel fuel to grow ethanol is just plain stupid and South Dakota leads the nation in stupid Republicans.


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