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Stallman warns of unintended world hunger consequences of Senate climate change bill

April 28, 2010

This week was supposed to be the week that a new Senate climate change bill was introduced.

Instead, one of the bill’s sponsors, Republican Lindsey Graham, withdrew his support for climate change legislation in protest over Majority Leader Harry Reid’s decision to skip over climate change and move to an immigration bill at the conclusion of the financial services debate.

Sen. Graham accused Sen. Reid–who’s engaged in a tough re-election battle–of being engaged in a cynical ploy to win the support of Hispanic voters.

Now the Democratic Senate leader says he’s open to moving the climate bill before immigration reform.   Recognizing that no climate change bill has much of a chance without GOP support, Sen. John Kerry said he and Sen. Joe Lieberman are waiting to introduce their bill until Sen. Graham’s concerns are satisfied.

While we wait for all of that to be sorted out, and against the backdrop of Senate parliamentary maneuvering on financial services reform, AFBF President Bob Stallman was quoted this week on the impact of the Kerry-(Graham)-Lieberman bill on agriculture.

Stallman said with the world’s population growing to more than 9 billion in the next 40 years, now is not the time to take away the productive capacity of U.S. agriculture with a policy that would turn 59 million acres of farm and pastureland into forest.

Stallman was part of a panel discussion during a meeting of the North American Agricultural Journalists Monday in Washington, D.C. “The response to climate change should not ignore the consequences of policies that could make the world less food secure,” Stallman said.

 The AFBF president cited data by the United Nations that says agriculture is being told it must increase food production by 70 percent by 2050. “There is an inherent tension—if not outright contradiction—in these choices,” Stallman said.

In addition, Stallman said that data shows the U.S. passing climate legislation on its own doesn’t provide enough benefits in reducing greenhouse gases to make an impact. Also leaders of developing countries showed at the United Nations climate summit in December that they didn’t think climate change was a big enough concern to change their practices to reduce their own emissions.

“The developing world, the advanced developing world, says it’s more important for us to maintain our economic growth than it is to address whatever impacts of climate change may happen in the future,” Stallman said.

From the all-dressed-up-with-no-place-to-go department, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a report today called  Climate Change Indicators in the United States .

In the report’s key indicators summary, warmer weather since 1901, a six-percent per century increase in average annual precipitation, a recent increase in intense precipitation events, and a two-week increase in the length of the growing season since the start of the 20th century are cited.

The New York Times is reporting today that environmental groups are fighting to keep climate change on top of the Senate’s to-do list.

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