Our Opinion: Smart farming a no-brainer

Got a problem? Blame climate change. Sometimes, it seems that is the knee-jerk reaction to many of the challenges facing humankind.

Now, feeding the world’s 7.5 billion people is being linked to climate change. A new United Nations report maintains, in the words of one of its co-authors, that “the threat of climate change affecting people’s food on their dinner table is increasing.” And, adds NASA climate scientist Cynthia Rosenzweig, “The cycle is accelerating.”

In a nutshell, the report suggests climate change is degrading the Earth’s agricultural value to the point we will not be able to grow enough food in the future.

Many high school biology students understand that the carbon dioxide blamed for global warming is essential to plants. But Rosenzweig and scores of other scientists involved in the report maintain that higher concentrations of the gas make some crops less nutritious.

The report — reviewed and approved by a panel of U.N. diplomats, you may or may not be reassured to learn — then goes into a variety of suggestions for making agriculture more stable and productive.

Many will sound very familiar to some people. Reducing food waste is a key recommendation. So are better farming practices, such as no-till agriculture and wiser use of fertilizers.

Sound familiar? They should. Long before climate change was being discussed, scientists and economists were advocating such steps. Many American farmers already practice renewable agriculture — that is, ensuring growth of crops does not wear out the land’s ability to support desirable plant life.

No thoughtful farmer needed a climate change scare to understand that. No reasonable human being would argue that food waste ought to be reduced.

Whether the new report is scientifically valid in blaming climate change for problems such as unwise use of land ought to be discussed, of course. The document’s conclusions in blaming climate change are debatable.

The imperative to practice smart farming and efficient use of agricultural products is not, however — and that has absolutely nothing to do with the planet’s temperature.