Animal Agriculture in a Changing Climate 
Western Region
May 10, 2013
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Welcome to the Animal Agriculture in a Changing Climate Western Region Web Letter. Scroll down for current news and relevant information regarding climate change and agriculture that you might have missed. 


Do you have or know of any regional research efforts that should be highlight and shared? Please inform Liz Whitefield at e.whitefield@wsu.edu




Excellent climate change forum from faith based, national security and free enterprise perspectives:

 "Climate Change: Values, National Security, and Free Enterprise"  


Agriculture in a Changing Climate

USDA and Dairy Producers Renew Agreement to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Increase Sustainability of Dairy Production (MOU between Innovation Center for US Dairy and USDA) Goal to reduce the US dairy industry's GHG emissions by 25% by the year 2020


Take that 'carbon footprint' down another shoe size (DairyHerd Network) According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the University of Wisconsin-Madison will receive $9.9 million from the USDA over the next five years to reduce the industry's carbon footprint by finding climate solutions.


USDA funds research initiatives on weather, climatic variability on cattle (Feedstuffs article) The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded $19.5 million May 7 to support research, education and extension activities associated with climate solutions in agriculture aimed at the effects of climate variability and change on dairy and beef cattle.


Making Cows N Intake Efficient (Manure manager) The REDNEX project is about to reach completion this year. Funded by the European Union, the project investigated ways to reduce the excretion of nitrogen by dairy animals.


Effects of climate change on US grain transport (Nature article) The United States is a global grain supplier. Agriculture uses 22% of all US transported tonnage with grain being the largest component. Crop mix shifts are an often cited consequence of climate and such shifts may change the demands grain places on the transport system.

Climate adaptation as mitigation: the case of agricultural investments (Env Research letters) In this paper we investigate the potential co-benefits of adaptation in terms of the avoided emissions from land use change. A model of global agricultural trade and land use, called SIMPLE, is utilized to link adaptation investments, yield growth rates, land conversion rates, and land use emissions.

Adapting to increased 'climate variability' (Brownfield AgNews) Bring up "global warming" or "climate change" with a group of farmers and you'll like get a wide range of opinions. But many of those same farmers would agree that there seems to be more variability or unpredictability to the weather now than in the recent past-with the extremes of last spring versus this spring as an example. So how are farmers adapting to what would seem to be increasing "climate variability"?


Agriculture and Livestock Remain Major Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Worldwatch Institute article) Global greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector totaled 4.69 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent in 2010 (the most recent year for which data are available), an increase of 13 percent over 1990 emissions. 


Retail Food Price Outlook 3013-2014 Webinar (e-extension) USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) economist Ricky Volpe will discuss the recent trends in retail food prices, including increased volatility and sustained inflation for meat prices. The outlook for 2013 and 2014 will be highlighted, paying special attention to the impacts of the 2012 drought as well as current weather conditions and other factors such as energy prices and the international market. The 60-minute webinar will begin at 8AM PST Eastern on May 16. Event location: https://gomeet.itap.purdue.edu/edendrought/ 

Western Region


 Western States Dairy Air Quality Symposium (Dairy Cares Article) Dairy organizations from across the western U.S. gathered this month in Boise, Idaho to continue their years-long push for improved science and management strategies for dairies. Held every two years since 2005, the Western States Dairy Air Quality Symposium has become a tradition in which dairy leaders, the nation's leading scientific researchers, and regulators discuss the latest research and opportunities.


  Rural Nevada and Climate Change: Vulnerability, Beliefs, and Risk Perception (Risk Analysis Journal paper) In 2008/2009, we surveyed Nevada ranchers and farmers to assess their climate change-related beliefs, and risk perceptions, political orientations, and socioeconomic characteristics. Ranchers' and farmers' sensitivity to climate change was measured through estimating the proportion of their household income originating from highly scarce water-dependent agriculture to the total income. 



Hawaii in Climate Change Bullseye Tropical cyclones of the future may have the Hawaiian islands in their cross hairs, according to a new study of how climate change will alter eastern Pacific Ocean storms near the end of the 21st century. 



 Surge in Valley Fever Blamed on Climate Change (WP) California and federal public health officials say that valley fever, a potentially lethal but often misdiagnosed disease infecting more and more people across the nation, has been on the rise as a warming climate and drought have kicked up the dust that spreads it.


 Drought Marches to the West (DairyHerd Network) Further to the west and south, the Drought Monitor paints a grim picture.


 Intermountain West Climate Dashboard (Western Water Assessment)array of 24 climate and water information graphics for our region, covering recent and current precipitation, snowpack, drought, streamflow, reservoir, and ENSO conditions, and climate and ENSO forecasts.

Popular Climate Change Headlines

Carbon Dioxide Passes Symbolic Mark(BBC) Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have broken through a symbolic mark. Daily measurements of CO2 at a US government agency lab on Hawaii have topped 400 parts per million for the first time.  NOAA -Earth System Research Laboratory(direct link to daily CO2 data)

An article from the Wall Street Journal that has received a lot of attention, and a detailed rebuttal argument:

Harrison H. Schmitt and William Happer: In Defense of Carbon Dioxide (WSJ Opinion) Contrary to what some would have us believe, increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will benefit the increasing population on the planet by increasing agricultural productivity.

Wall Street Journal's Idocracy: CO2 is What Plants Crave (Media Matters) This Argument Relies On The Fallacy Of Exclusion. Skeptical Science explains that while carbon dioxide stimulates plant growth, our excessive emissions are changing precipitation patterns in ways that can hurt plant growth: A quick look at the science behind this argument demonstrates its inherent weaknesses. In closed, controlled environments, like greenhouses and plant nurseries, an increase in CO2 does indeed spur plant growth. However, the globe is not a controlled environment, and it's incredible sensitivity to a variety of factors is something that is often taken for granted when such narrow arguments are proffered.

Of Interest


Rapid Snowmelt in MN poses Challenge (Manure Manager article)

As a winter of heavy snowfall and freezing rain gives way to warming temperatures, rapid melting and potential for flooding pose challenges for manure management among the more than 25,000 livestock farms in Minnesota.  


Most firms get GHG Reports wrong: report (Reuters) Most of the world's largest companies do not report their greenhouse gas emissions fully or correctly and do not have the data independently verified, a study by an environmental research body showed on Wednesday.

 Strengthening Legumes to Tackle Fertilizer Pollution (Science Daily article) The overuse of nitrogen fertilizers in agriculture can wreak havoc on waterways, health and the environment.



 Why a top meterologist skeptical of climate change changed his mind(Weather Underground)



Political ideology affects energy-efficiency attitudes and choices (PNAS article) This research demonstrates how promoting the environment can negatively affect adoption of energy efficiency in the US because political polarization surrounding environmental issues.


Latest results from polling the American public on Climate Change (EESI)



New report from Center of Climate Communication at Yale (Yale project on Climate Communication) Highlights: Those who believe global warming is happening are more certain of their convictions than those who do not. Nearly two in three Americans (63%) believe global warming is happening.  


Getting past 'I'm smart, you're stupid': Thoughts on finding a better way to engage people in science (NASA's Eyes on Earth, Dr. Amber Jenkins)


An Earth Scientist Explores the Biggest Climate Threat: Fear NYT Opinion)


Know of anyone who should receive this email? Please contact:
Liz Whitefield
Washington State University
Livestock Nutrient Management Program