by Dr. Jay Lehr & Tom Harris, ©2019

USDA Secretary Sonny Purdue

(Sep. 13, 2019) — Sonny Perdue was well chosen by President Donald Trump to be Agriculture Secretary. As part of Perdue’s efforts to put our agricultural house in order, he has succeeded in filling the upper echelon of the agency with straight shooters. However, below the surface, the agency remains heavily influenced by misguided scientists promoting the mistake that life as we know it is being destroyed through the use of our fossil fuels.

They do this by spreading falsehoods about agriculture being severely diminished by rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2). This, despite the fact that COis the gas that keeps plants alive just as oxygen keeps us alive.

These scientists expect us to believe that a little extra warmth and a lot more CO2 will wreak havoc on our food supply. Happily, Perdue remembers his high school science well enough to recognize that this is nonsense and, accordingly, he has stopped the publishing of the agriculture department’s press releases of fraudulent science. He cannot easily get rid of the thousands of deep state operatives in the department, but he can stifle their bull horns intended to scare the public with unscientific alarmist claims.

Here are the topics of some of the studies reported by politico.com that did not result in press releases touting them, presumably because Secretary Perdue blocked them as inappropriate and unscientific.

  • One of the biggest concerns of biased academics was that faster growing, larger rice grains would be bad for the hundreds of millions of people across the world who depend on rice for their survival. Their studies showed that each rice grain would have a lower percentage of protein and certain minerals. While this may be true as a percentage, it is not the case as on a per grain basis. And clearly, the most important ingredient of rice is its calorie content which sustain that population. That would surely be increased.
  • Reports that pollution from farming is “likely to increase,” an unsubstantiated claim.
  • The fears that Prairie grass may contain less protein, an important source of nutrition for cattle, as a result of more CO2and resulting photosynthesis. More weeds are also likely on our farms. While that too may be true, it is also true that yields of all our crops have increased as a result of increased CO2. This is why satellites show us that Africa is 24% greener than it was 30 years ago.
  • They say that a little more warmth may result in an environment friendlier to insects. By and large, a little more warmth is friendlier to everything living on Earth, including us. And, of course, they are likely correct that we can see more pollen in the air too.
  • They propose that there might be more run-off from farms with increased CO2in the air, but we suspect that this was forecast to be the result of growing more marijuana based on their legal use of now.
  • Forty-five studies dealing with climate change were not released as they were all unsubstantiated opinions not based on verifiable facts. Two studies were released because they dealt with facts—their calculations showed that cattle produce an insignificant amount of greenhouse gas (methane) compared to that in the atmosphere, and that removing beef from our diets to eliminate methane from cattle would have a negative impact on overall human health.

In response to a question from politico.com regarding the decline of press releases on agriculture/climate studies, Secretary Perdue said in April:

“We know ‘that’ research, some has been found in the past to not have been adequately peer-reviewed in a way that created wrong information, and we’re very serious when we say we’re fact-based, data-driven decision makers. That relies on sound replicable science rather than opinion. What I see unfortunately happens many times is that we tried to make policy decisions based on political science rather than on sound science.”

If this causes your eyes to glaze over, just remember what we know for sure: COmakes up far less than one percent of the atmosphere’s heat trapping greenhouse gases and only four ten thousandth of all the molecules in the air. This places CO2 at one of the lowest levels in Earth’s history, leaving us far closer to a dangerously low level of the gas than any risk of too high a level. CO2 could triple and we would see nothing but positive effects.

Indeed, most plants are best adapted to far higher levels of CO2 than we currently have in the atmosphere, which is why greenhouse operators regularly boost the gas to 1200 parts per million, three times that found in the outside air.

The result? Plants grow faster and with less water requirements. Secretary Perdue is right to put the lid on alarmist climate claims.


Dr. Jay Lehr is Senior Policy Advisor with of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC) and former Science Director of The Heartland Institute which is based in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Tom Harris is Executive Director of ICSC and a policy advisor to Heartland.

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