Friday, August 21, 2009

Can't See the Forests for the Bureaucrats

The Chinese better keep up their tilapia ponds and rice paddies so they can help feed us.

Lord knows, we may be reduced to knawing on tree bark.
WASHINGTON — New forests would spread across the American landscape, replacing both pasture and farm fields, under a congressional plan to confront climate change, an Environmental Protection Agency analysis shows.

About 18 million acres of new trees — roughly the size of West Virginia — would be planted by 2020, according to an EPA analysis of a climate bill passed by the House of Representatives in June.

That's because the House bill gives financial incentives to farmers and ranchers to plant trees, which suck in large amounts of the key global-warming gas: carbon dioxide.

The forestation effort would be even larger than one carried out by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, says the U.S. Forest Service's Ralph Alig. The CCC, which lasted from 1933 to 1942, planted 3 billion trees, says the Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy, an alumni group for workers and family members.


The plan would, however, be hard on ranchers and farmers and potentially food prices, says American Farm Bureau chief economist Bob Young.
I have nothing against tree planting.

But I fail to see where the Constitution gives the federal government oversight over private lands, or tree planting. If it's in there somewhere, I can't find it. A tree breathing in carbon dioxide has no truck with interstate commerce.

Most people are unaware that there are many more trees in America today than there were 150 years ago. Really! Certainly a good number were planted in response to the Dust Bowl in the 1930s, but the American love affair with trees started earlier. As pioneers moved into the grasslands and deserts, they brought their favorite trees and flowering plants with them to "beautify" things. That's the biggest reason why Arizona, which used to be the place they sent you when you had allergy problems or tuberculosis, now has places where the pollen counts are very high.

Another reason is because America moved into the cities and off the farm lands that were once cleared but have returned to forests and brush. There is a great deal of farm land that isn't farmed. Take a drive sometime and it will surprise you.

What I fear is a program of tree planting that will encourage productive farms to go out of production. Worse, I fear a coercive program where productive farms will be forced to plant trees in order to meet the CO2 reduction goals of some dumb-ass global treaty that the Obamatrons will negotiate and Harry Reid's feckless Democrats might just ratify.

Missing in this story about the rise in 2007 food prices was one of the chief culprits: the reallocation of corn crops to produce ethanol for gasoline blends.

When you read more of the story, it tends to reinforce the idea that this will be a "top down" mandate from the "experts" in Washington, D.C.
The latest EPA analysis does not say where the farmland would be lost. However, an EPA study done in 2005 that analyzed climate-change policies similar to the House bill found that trees would overgrow farms primarily in three areas:

• Great Lake states: Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

• The Southeast: Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

• The Corn Belt: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Ohio.

Forests once grew there, says study author Brian Murray of Duke University, so trees would sprout quickly in those areas if farmers got financial incentives. The House climate bill would allow landowners who reduce carbon dioxide to sell carbon permits to polluters, such as power plants.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack last week hailed the possibility that climate-change action could help forests. "We have our own deforestation problem right here in the U.S. of A," he said. "Just keeping forest as forest is a significant challenge."
Deforestation? Vilsack is so full of you-know-what that you can smell it from here. And tree farmers selling carbon permits to polluters? That'll feed a whole lot of hungry people, won't it!


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