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Farmers Cannot Afford to Ignore Climate Change: Article

Posted in Movements, Opinion by Kate Archdeacon on April 8th, 2011

Image: Looking Glass via flickr CC

From “Climate Change Convert” by Kate Dowler in The Weekly Times:

Farmers cannot afford to ignore climate change, whether they believe in the science or not. And if agriculture does not have a seat at the negotiations table with big industries such as coal, they will “end up on the menu”.

This is the view of leading Western District farmer, Mark Wootton, a self-described climate-change sceptic turned renewable energy lobbyist. The trained geographer says his view changed as the weight of scientific evidence that human actions were causing climate change grew, and he now accepts the validity of the mainstream scientific view. Now he argues that whether they “believe” the science of climate change or not, farmers can benefit by learning more about carbon markets. And he says farming is to play a big role in solving climate change but to enable this, governments urgently need to put more money into extensive agricultural research and development.

Mr Wootton began looking at climate change from a business-risk perspective in the late 1990s. “The risk is there’s a high probability that the science is absolutely correct,” he said. “From a farmer’s perspective, I think we have to accept we’ve moved into a carbon-constrained world. Forget about the politics and look at the risk to your business.” Mr Wootton runs 5000ha at Hamilton with wife Eve Kantor. They produce beef, wool, lambs, crops and agroforestry. He also chairs the Climate Institute, a non-partisan, independent research organisation. “My fear now is there’s a high probability that the climate is changing much quicker than the scientists’ earlier models showed,” he said, “What is unfortunately becoming clearer is that predictions were way too conservative.”

“From a business perspective, I’ve concluded the cost and advantages of acting are not detrimental to our business; if we can be more energy-efficient, if we can be better converters of feed so we produce less methane, if we can use shelter belts for stock protection and increasing lambing percentages – all of those aspects we can do on an integrated, carbon-constrained farm, then they are good for business.”

Read the full article by Kate Dowler in The Weekly Times.



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