Tuesday, August 26, 2008

News Release

National Council of Agricultural Employers
1112 16th Street, N.W., Ste 920
Washington, D.C. 20036

Contact: Mike Gempler
Email: mgempler@growersleague.org
Phone: 509-575-6315

Frank A. Gasperini, CAE named Executive Vice President, the National Council of Agricultural Employers (NCAE.)

Washington, DC - Michael Gempler, President of NCAE Board of Directors, and Executive Director of the Washington Growers League today announced that Frank Gasperini, currently the Director, Government Relations for RISE, a component of CropLife America has been selected to lead NCAE. The NCAE Executive Committee earlier this week approved Gasperini’s selection to take over the position. Gasperini will officially begin at NCAE on September 1.

“We are very excited about Frank coming to NCAE, as he brings a breadth of experience and leadership skills that are critical to the challenges and opportunities we face as agricultural employers”, said Gempler. “Frank’s combination of association management, government relations, coalition building, and marketing skills make him a great choice to lead our Association. I know I speak for the NCAE membership when I say that we look forward to working with him.”

Gasperini has held a variety of management positions in the agricultural and specialty industry including sales, marketing, government relations, and association management. For the past seven years he has managed both state and federal government relations for a national trade association which involved working closely with members to identify key issues, prioritize issues and resources for action, communication with members and others, and maintaining strong working coalitions with other groups to achieve positive results and member value. Gasperini is a graduate of The Ohio State University with degrees in Agricultural Education and Agronomy, and received an MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Business. He and his wife Sandra live in Leesburg, Virginia.

Gasperini said “NCAE members are the heart of U.S. specialty agriculture and deserve a strong, proactive association to represent them in Washington, DC. The coming federal elections will bring change; with change come both threats and opportunities. I look forward to the challenges to come and the opportunity to serve NCAE members by finding and developing the coming opportunities and to bring positive resolutions to labor and employment issues important to our membership.”

Pesticide-Free Does Not Mean Pest-Free

By Leonard Douglen

Recently a weekly newspaper serving the Princeton area published an article, “Playing without Pesticides” in which it reported on two “Pesticide Free” signs posted near two elementary school yards of Mansfield, “signifying that the school has taken a natural approach to managing pests and cleaning.”

The article also took note of the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program that schools in New Jersey are required to have. As the Executive Director of the New Jersey Pest Management Association, I know something of this IPM program because the Association was instrumental in assisting the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to write it and because the Association provides our members with the scientific and technical information necessary to implement it.

Posting signs saying that a school area is “Pesticide Free” teaches children that pesticides are “bad” and should not be used. Demonizing pesticides does nothing to truly educate children to their benefits in terms of protecting their health and the protection of both public and private property that they provide daily.

By contrast, every year, several million African children die needlessly from Malaria because their communities lack access to DDT for the control and eradication the mosquito population.

When one considers the many insect pests that can attack children, from ticks that can cause Lyme disease to mosquitoes that transmit West Nile Fever, cockroaches that can spread a variety of diseases, as well as stinging insects, the need for professional pest control becomes self-evident. Inside and outside of every school, there is always the potential for an infestation.

Professional pest control service providers are required by law to be fully licensed and certified by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and must demonstrate both knowledge of proper practices, particularly as regards the use of pesticides, as well as having attended required annual training sessions.

The IPM practices pioneered by the pest control industry protect schools, working to achieve as pest-free an environment as modern pest control practices can ensure. That includes the careful, proper and intelligent use of pesticides.

The children attending Mansfield’s schools are far better protected precisely because of the work of pest control professionals than if they were left to Nature’s capacity to produce millions of insect and rodent pests every year.

Editor’s Note: The New Jersey Pest Management Association was founded in 1941 and recently conducted its 61st annual Clinic, a day filled with seminars on a variety of pest related problems. It maintains a website at www.njpestcontrol.com.

# # # # # #

For Editorial Purposes Only, Contact:
Leonard Douglen
(800) 524-9942

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Ecological Footprint and Sustainablilty

By Wendell Krossa

Ooops, There Goes Half the Ecological Footprint
(Note: Mounting evidence undermines the anthropogenic warming theory and therefore effectively undermines the basis for over one half of the ecological footprint models)

The Ecological Footprint model has been gaining acceptance across the globe as a government planning tool at federal, provincial/state, and even local/urban government levels. Advocates of the Ecological Footprint (EF) argue that it shows that humanity is “overshooting” the capacity of ecosystems to support our standards of living and we are heading for catastrophic environmental collapse.

Bill Rees, the originator of the EF, refers to a litany of supposed disasters to support his contention that the human enterprise is destroying nature and must be, not just halted, but actually reversed. He points to such things as massive species loss, forest devastation, pollution, overpopulation, soil degradation, agricultural decline, resource exhaustion (e.g. peak oil), and of course, potentially catastrophic global warming. Ozone depletion and acid rain also still hover in the background as occasional elements of his litany. This litany of disasters is employed to support his contention that we are using too much of nature’s resources and must reverse this overshoot level of resource use. He claims that if all of humanity desires to attain to the current standard of living of the developed world then we would need several more earths. I’ve read estimates of from 2 to 4 more earths.

One of his critics noted that politicians tend to accept the EF model without taking a close look at its details (data, methods). Some advocates of the model, noting its weaknesses such as “calculations based on crude estimates”, nonetheless dismiss such weaknesses as peripheral to the main purpose of the model. “Since the focus of the ecological footprint is heuristic- to awaken people, particularly those in more heavily industrialized societies, to their extensive resource use and its externalized costs- greater precision or detail might actually get in the way of this teaching goal” (http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/Ecological_footprint_-_Criticisms/id/1349467). Did I actually read that? Yikes.

But what piqued my curiosity recently, especially as the model claims that we are seriously overshooting nature’s ability to sustain us, was a statement by the co-developer of the EF- Mathis Wackernagel- that “Land for carbon absorption is the most significant globally, representing nearly half of humanity’s total footprint” (Methods for Calculating National Ecological Footprint Accounts- available online). Rees has also stated in a paper at http://www.scarp.ubc.ca/faculty%20profiles/W.Rees-Pubs-2004_files/WileyRevised(Rees).doc (Ecological Footprints and Bio-Capacity: Essential Elements in Sustainability Assessment) that sequestration of CO2 makes up “half the global average eco-footprint and a greater proportion in high-income countries”. His ecological footprint model is especially dependent on the anthropogenic warming hypothesis and the belief that CO2 is a dangerous pollutant that must be removed from the atmosphere.

I have argued with Bill that his assumption that CO2 is a major factor in climate change and a primary forcing mechanism for climate modification is simply unproven. No consensus exists on this. There is no clear evidence to support this contention. I’ve sent him the recent APS paper by Lord Moncton and Roy Spencer’s Senate Testimony, along with other research on CO2 and warming. Emerging evidence continues to undermine the AGW theory from many differing angles. It appears then that, ooops, there goes one half, and more, of the human ecological footprint.

What about the other elements of Rees’s catastrophe litany that are used to validate the rest of his footprint model- for instance, forests? FAO Production Yearbooks show no serious decline in earth’s forest cover over the past 60 years when the human population went from 2.5 billion to 6.3 billion and world GDP went from $4 trillion to over $40 trillion. During this massive increase in population and consumption, forest cover remained roughly stable at about 30% of land area. One would think, according to ecological footprint theory, that such expansion of the human enterprise would have had a much more notable ‘overshoot’ impact on a resource like forests.

Also, the 1992 IUCN report uncovered no evidence of any species holocaust. Species losses appear to continue at low historical rates. Most species have survived past periods of massive change and upheaval such as glaciations, severe episodes of volcanism (with sudden cooling), and so on. They have adapted by migrating up and down mountain slopes and north and south over continents, as well as making other adaptations. So once again, on biodiversity, no evidence of overshoot. Now, if the litany of disasters is not as apocalyptic as he presents them then this undermines Rees’s central contention that the human enterprise is destroying nature and needs to be halted or reversed. Bill responds by pointing to local situations of devastation and the loss of isolated species with the less than subtle presumption that these can be extrapolated out to characterize the overall world situation. Or he will argue that our current overshoot will suddenly hit an unexpected tipping point and massive collapse will then occur. This is hard to imagine as today across the world scientists and others are watching the varied elements of ecosystems more closely and thoroughly than at any previous time in history. Satellites observe 24/7. If evidence of overshoot is there, surely we will know about it.

He further dismisses suggestions that such technologies as hydroponic crop production can be employed to alleviate pressure on what he views as overstressed agricultural resources. Inputs to hydroponic agriculture are even higher than those to regular agriculture, he claims. When I argued that we are not exhausting agricultural resources but are actually using less land over time he again stated that this higher agricultural production that uses less land requires more inputs and the impending disaster is that we will soon exhaust these limited inputs of fertilizers. He also argued that GM technology and other agricultural advances will also run up against similar constraints and limits. For every argument for technological advance he counters with a dark view of limited resources of some sort or other. Creative technological solutions do not fit his apocalyptic outlook which is heavily dependent on concepts of closed systems and strict resource limits and the dissipation, decline, and disorder produced in such systems by the Second Law of Thermodynamics, as he employs it. The unlimited creativity of the human mind has no place in his model and is dismissed as a factor of limited impact. History proves him entirely wrong on this. The Green Revolution and Norman Borlaug’s work is one good example here. Borlaug ignored Paul Erhlich’s doom prophecies of massive famine and in a relatively short time had turned food shortages into agricultural abundance. The unlimited creativity of the human mind is the key factor that leaves doom scenarios with a 100 percent failure rate.

Rees also makes the following argument that we have improved our developed country environments at the cost of devastating the environment’s of other countries. “There is a whole other point: China and now India are among the most polluted countries on Earth but much, if not most, of the worst pollution comes from particularly dirty processing and manufacturing industries that have migrated there from Europe, North America and Japan but continue to operate producing goods mostly for consumption in those countries. Result: The rich countries get cleaner, the developing countries and their populations pay the pollution costs. (This phenomenon is readily revealed in our ecological footprint analyses--much of the pollution in China represents the extra-territorial eco-footprints of the US, Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia, etc., not of China itself.) In short, Goklany, Beckerman, Lomborg and the like, select data to create a black and white and partial caricature of a very complex and grey-scale picture. This is dangerously delusional and grossly misleading”. In my discussions with Rees I had been quoting research from Goklany, Lomberg, and Beckerman.

To be generous, one could grant that on varied points Rees expresses common sense concern over environmental issues. Obviously, we ought to try as much as possible to better understand our engagement of nature and the capacities of its varied resources that are essential to our living standards. It’s just that this EF model has been constructed by an ecologist who is committed to halting and reversing the human enterprise to a level appropriate to what many view as environmental extremist visions- a much diminished human population living in a largely wilderness world at a much lower standard of living. Rees states plainly that the human enterprise, as it currently exists in developed countries, is unsustainable. He believes this to be so because he is committed to the concept of strict limits in closed systems and the primacy of the Second Law with its inevitable consequences of decay, dissipation, and decline. I have responded to Bill that the concept of closed systems is a human invention and not a natural fact. It is simply a “philosophical prejudice that has led to unsound long-term forecasts” (Julian Simon, Life Against The Grain, p.330). Simon has countered well the dismal philosophical prejudice of limited resources and closed systems that is promoted by doomsters like Bill Rees (see for instance Ultimate Resource or A Poverty of Reason by Wilfred Beckerman).

If you buy Rees’s contention that our current developed world standards of living are unsustainable and all of humanity attaining these standards of living will require from 2 to 4 more earths, then you can see what diminished levels of living standards all of us would need to return to in order to live on just one of Rees’s earths. Rees argues that most families could live on about $8,000 of annual income. I doubt he is trying to do this himself.

Other questionable assumptions that under-gird the EF model include the argument that humanity should be allowed access to only a strictly limited amount of natural resources because if we take more, then other species are denied access to those same resources (e.g. photosynthetic capacity). Wilfred Beckerman responds to this argument in his book Green Colored Glasses. Also, the contention is made that our excessive use of renewable resources is undercutting the ability of ecosystems to regenerate or replenish themselves and hence these systems are facing collapse. While isolated species (e.g. cod in Eastern Canada) have been decimated, as noted above there is no evidence of overall collapse of larger ecosystems or general serious loss of biodiversity. Another contention is that of intergenerational equity. EF advocates argue that we must pass on to future generations an undiminished stock of natural capital. This ignores the fact that future generations will be much wealthier than we are and better able to solve any resource issues. They most likely will discover and access entirely new sources of energy to fuel the human enterprise. Arthur Clarke suggested that we would access dark energy in this century and have an unlimited source of energy. Again, researchers like Wilfred Beckerman have responded well to these questionable assumptions and presented the more complex elements surrounding these issues such as personal values/ideology and sense of aesthetics.

It is hard to take this ecological footprint model seriously because it seeks validation in an unsubstantiated litany of disasters to support its disturbing devaluation of the human enterprise. And then there is the political component- Rees views the free enterprise system as responsible for what he believes to be our current destructive overshoot and he zealously advocates central planning and state regulation to slow and reverse economic growth. Hence this telling quote at the end of some of his papers, “Mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon”. Emphasis on coercion. As Wackernagel said in a video presentation on EF, “Aggressive sustainability initiatives are good for us” (http://ecocity.wordpress.com/tag/ecological-footprint/). Even if we don’t like them.

Despite the weaknesses of EF analysis, Rees has managed to promote awareness and acceptance of this planning model across the globe. His model claims to provide the factual basis for the sustainable development movement (what levels of human activity are ecologically sustainable). And it has now become a widely accepted belief in the public arena that the human footprint is too large and must be decreased in every way possible. As its influence grows, this model (its data details, methods, and assumptions) will have to be more closely looked at by capable researchers. I wonder if any subscribers to CCNet might be interested?

Wendell Krossa

PS. In relation to the above, the debate continues over the Science paper (see http://www.publicaffairs.noaa.gov/pr98/oct98/noaa98-67.html) that suggested that North America naturally absorbs perhaps all of its human emissions of CO2 (human emissions of CO2 in the US are estimated to be around 1.7 to 2.0 billion tons annually- 1.87 billion tons in 2004, http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/emis/em_cont.htm). Pieter Tans is quoted as stating, “The North American land surface appears to be absorbing possibly as much as between one and two billion tons of carbon annually, or a sizable fraction of global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning”. This appears to further weaken the ecological footprint arguments for fully one half of the human footprint to be allocated to CO2 sequestration. Bill Rees dismisses this evidence.

The Weather Is Just Fine

By Wendell Krossa

There has been a slight warming (0.6 degrees Celsius) over the past century which is part of the natural rebound from the unnatural cold of the Little Ice Age of approximately 1350 AD to 1850 AD. We hope the trend toward a warmer world will continue but unfortunately the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDA) has shifted back to its cooling phase. These phases last approximately 20 to 30 years. A previous shift to a warming phase helps explain the warmer temperatures that we had from about 1975 to 1995.

Also, solar cycle 24 has not yet produced any sunspot activity and this further explains the cooler temperatures that we have been experiencing since the turn of the millennium. This could mean cooler temperatures for some decades to come but such is the natural variation in a climate system that is influenced most prominently by such things as the PDA and solar cycles. The best we can do in light of such natural variation is to adjust.

Over the past century and a half there has been a rise of about 100 ppm in CO2 levels in the atmosphere (from 280 to 380). This rise has resulted in a healthier amount of CO2 in the atmosphere which has led to increased plant growth (a greener world). More plant mass on earth has meant more food for animal populations which have subsequently increased. It has also meant more crop growth for humans and this has helped in feeding the increased human population.

Unfortunately, the small human addition to CO2 in the atmosphere has not helped to further warm the earth very much, if at all. There has still not been a scientifically confirmed linkage of CO2 levels with warming. And CO2 levels are still low compared to past history and have been exceptionally low over the years of the Ice Ages. Our atmosphere continues to be “CO2 impoverished”.

Perhaps we could encourage governments to pay people to produce more CO2 emissions. Or find a way to properly value CO2 in the market (I’m just kidding). But it is not a negative externality that needs some market mechanism to price its supposedly damaging costs.

The best way to prepare for whatever weather we will experience in the future is to encourage economic growth and development across the world. We can do this best by strengthening the fundamental institutions that have produced such growth and development in the past. These would include the most vital of all elements- individual freedom and individual rights such as private property rights. The critical counterpart to individual freedom and rights is to limit the greatest threat to such rights which is state power and intervention (growing government). The growth of government has inevitably resulted in the decline of economic growth and development. The history of the past few centuries has taught us clearly that trusting the spontaneous activity of our citizens is the safest way to promote freedom and growth. Freeing our citizens encourages them to express their natural creativity which then results in great explosions of technological innovation and progress.

Economic growth and development is also the best way to ‘save’ our environment. Such growth and development leads to meeting the basic needs of people. Once their basic needs are met and they have the money to do so, people then naturally turn to improving their environments as they are natural environmentalists at heart and value clean and enhanced surroundings.

So this is your latest weather report. Relax and enjoy the weather as for the most part it will continue its natural variation due to factors beyond human influence. Over the past we have learned to adjust to such natural variations and even adapt to the extreme weather events. The result has been less loss of life, especially in the more economically developed regions.

The future looks promising.

Wendell Krossa wkrossa@shaw.ca

Monday, August 11, 2008

Who Are You?

By Rich Kozlovich
History is a funny thing. We have always heard how history keeps repeating itself and how we keep missing the message. Why is that?

Because we don’t study history, and when we do, we don’t really study history, because most of what we get in school is very basic and the real lessons that need to be learned can’t be learned without the details and nuances as a result most of it would qualify as propaganda. Finally, as a society, we just don’t seem to care!  We think it’s just a bunch of old dusty records that don’t really apply to our time. Yet we know that history does repeat itself constantly. The names, places and events might be different, but the underlying principles are all the same. The patterns of human conduct constantly repeat over and over again. Why? Because the one thing all of humanity has had in common all though the all of the ages is that we are human. We are still motivated by the same wants, needs and desires that all men have been motivated by forever.

What has this to do with the pest control industry you may ask? Every person or corporation involved in the pesticide manufacturing and application industries is one of the three following people. Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill or Vidkun Quisling.

Arthur Neville Chamberlain, 1869-1940

Chamberlain was a Rugby educated member of the British upper classes and had been in government all of his adult life starting in 1911 as a member of the Birmingham city council later becoming Lord Mayor.

His career continued in an upward direction from that time on, serving in the national government in various capacities facing the rough and tumble of parliamentary British politics becoming Prime Minister in 1937.

He demonstrated good leadership skills and in spite of being a member of the conservative party he was more of a socialist in temperament than a conservative, instituting many reforms that were very popular. The outcome of his plans never came to fruition as WWII broke out in 1939.

Chamberlain, in his defense, was a good administrator and in many ways a mirror image of his countrymen when it came to another war. WWI had so horrified the British people that they wanted peace at almost any cost. After the bloodbath of 1914-1918 they would have done almost anything to avoid another war. Unfortunately Hitler was not of the same mental bent. Chamberlain was a pragmatist. His “general policy of appeasement” was perfect for Hitler’s general policy of conquest. Hitler had an agenda. Dealing with someone with a definite agenda of conquest by going along to get along was a system for disaster for the British.

Chamberlain is best known for sacrificing the part of Czechoslovakia known as the Sudetenland to Hitler in the Munich Agreement. He came back to England waving the agreement in the air for all to see declaring “peace in our time”. The Czechs (you know the people actually impacted by the agreement) didn’t think much of his peace. Nor did that peace of appeasement last long. March of the same year Hitler invaded and conquered the rest of Czechoslovakia. Finally after the invasion of Poland Chamberlain declared war. It was too late.

Finally in 1940 one of his friends delivered a devastating speech in the House of Commons quoting Oliver Cromwell speaking to the Long Parliament “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.” His career as Prime Minister was over.

Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, 1874-1965.

Churchill, like Chamberlain was of the British upper classes, only at a higher level since he was a descendant of the first Duke of Marlborough. His early years could only be described as unimpressive, especially his school work, which caused his father Lord Randolph Churchill to consider him a “disappointment”.

He was however an accomplished swordsman and found his niche in the British military. As an unabashed self-promoter he did everything he could to be in every war the British conducted during the years before WWI. Captured during the Boer War he became a hero back in England because of his escape from the Boer prison camp.

His career in government began in 1900 taking on serious positions of responsibility. He too survived the rough and tumble parliamentarian political system of the British Empire. His military mentality was displayed during a number of upheavals in England at that time. He was more than willing to do what most would be aghast at today, including his willingness to use machine guns on striking miners.

Before and during the appeasement period promulgated by Neville Chamberlain, Churchill was virtually a lone voice “crying out in the wilderness” about the dangers of Hitler’s rearmament (forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles). When WWII broke out he was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty (the same job he had in WWI) and became a prominent figure in the government since during the “Phony War” most of the action was at sea.

Finally he became Prime Minister in 1940. Most will remember the “I have nothing to offer you but blood, toil, tears and sweat” speech Churchill made to the British people. This was a direct response to the go along get along crowd criticizing him for not fixing the war immediately. This was in spite of the fact they created the problem and had no solutions themselves. This speech quieted them for the remainder of the war.

Whatever else Churchill did (his life was filled with decisions that most of us would consider disturbing) he knew whom his enemies were and what needed to be done about them. This was an issue in which he was irritatingly vocal about to a country that was remarkably uncaring of his views. Irritated and uncaring until the war broke out.

Vidkun Quisling, 1887-1945.

The son of a Lutheran minister he was born into one of Norway's oldest families. He graduated from the Norwegian war academy as the best cadet ever, and later rose to the rank of Major, even serving as defense minister in the early 30’s. He was also a brilliant mathematician. His early adult years were spent in relief work in Russia during the time when Stalin was starving his people to death, and later even received the Commander of the British Empire for his promotion of British interests in Russia.

In 1933 Quisling formed the Norwegian Fascist Party with himself as the Norwegian equivalent of Der Fuhrer.

Although he performed a coup d’tat setting up a Nazi style government just as Hitler was invading Norway, he did so in hopes that not all the power would go to the Germans. His government only lasted 5 days. The Germans were willing to let him act as a figure head that could be useful.

Although he considered himself a patriot, doing what was best for the people of Norway (and himself), the Norwegians considered him a traitor. He was executed for treason in 1945.

Who are you? 

Are you the ultimate pragmatist willing to go along to get along? Always believing we can come to some accommodation with the environmental activists by appeasing them just a little more?  Or perhaps you're the hardheaded realist who knows who his enemies are and what needs to be done about them, fully aware that appeasement isn’t the answer.  Then that leaves the foolish traitor who is at one with the activists and believes that the offerings of the activists is a good thing for everyone and actively support their projects?

Make no mistake about it - we are all one of these individuals. Like Hitler the activists have an agenda and that agenda is an agenda of conquest. The elimination of the pesticide manufacturing and application industries is their goal. Here are the choices. Appeasement, fight the good fight or treason.

Who are you really?