How many people have died, or will die, as a result of the Left’s “green” fantasies? To begin with, who has taken responsibility for the hundreds of thousands–maybe millions–of Africans who have died because of the Left’s insane banning of DDT? No one, of course. Will there ever be an accounting?
Currently, the war between Russia and Ukraine dominates the headlines. We all know that global petroleum supplies have been disrupted by the war, but perhaps more significant is the war’s impact on agriculture. Ukraine and Russia are two of the top grain-exporting countries in the world. Ukraine has been selling grain to the West since ancient times. With those supplies disrupted, a global food shortage impends, and many are predicting that populations in some vulnerable areas that can’t produce enough food for themselves will starve.
So where are the environmentalists in all this? They are doing their best to reduce agricultural output. In Sri Lanka, the government mandated organic farming, with the result that yields declined catastrophically, prices skyrocketed, and, no doubt, many died.
In the U.K., carbon offset schemes are causing hedge funds to buy up farm land and turn it to a less productive use:
A growing number of farms in Wales are being bought by companies to generate carbon credits.
The Times revealed in February that a tenant farmer with a young family had been prevented from achieving his dream of owning his own sheep farm when he was gazumped by a company planning to plant trees and sell carbon credits. Ian O’Connor, 36, had had an offer accepted for Frongoch, a 270-acre farm in Cwrt-y-Cadno, Carmarthenshire. Two weeks later the estate agent told him the Foresight Group, a private equity company incorporated in Guernsey, had offered 10 per cent more.
Foresight has bought six farms in Wales and estate agents acting for similar companies have been cold-calling Welsh farmers to ask if they want to sell.
Trees are great, but what is happening in the U.K. has nothing to do with either free markets or national interest. The exorbitant demand for carbon credits is government-created as a result of global warming hysteria, and reduced food production is collateral damage.
How about the U.S.? Our farmers produce more food than anyone. But here, too, environmentalist fantasies are reducing food production. Countless acres of productive farm land are being taken over for wind and solar installations. Wisconsin Congressman Tom Tiffany and my colleague Isaac Orr collaborated on this piece in the Washington Examiner. It advocates for Tiffany’s proposed FARM Act:
By strangling U.S. energy producers, the White House has fueled skyrocketing oil prices and enriched Russia’s rulers. An added consequence: Americans are now grappling with the highest gas prices ever recorded. And the pain doesn’t stop at the pump. Food prices, in particular wheat, have soared to record-breaking levels as well.
That’s why our response to Moscow’s aggression must be to maximize our ability to produce the energy and food the world desperately needs right here at home. That starts with preserving farmland for future generations.
Thanks to the dizzying array of renewable energy carve-outs that litter our tax code, taxpayers are forced to underwrite generous “green energy” giveaways, allowing power companies to effectively tap the public treasury to subsidize unreliable wind and solar farms. As a result, prime agricultural land is often taken out of production, posing a long-term threat to America’s ability to feed the world.
Industrial solar and wind facilities are land-hungry ways to generate electricity that often fail to show up when we need them most. It takes approximately 8 acres of land per megawatt of installed solar capacity and an average of 106 acres per megawatt of wind energy. While it is possible to “farm around” wind turbines, this is not possible with solar panels.
This means increasing our reliance on unreliable wind and solar energy will consume enormous quantities of land while paradoxically making us more reliant on foreign countries for the power we need to heat our homes and run our factories.
The amount of land needed for unreliable, intermittent wind and solar installations (which always must be backed up by natural gas plants that supply electricity most of the time, when wind and solar are idle) is immense. Robert Bryce, in a paper written for American Experiment, calculated that it would require an area more than twice the size of California to meet America’s existing electricity needs (not all energy needs) with wind turbines. Of course that isn’t going to happen. But as the destructive Green Machine rolls on, the land devoted to turbines and solar panels won’t be in cities or suburbs. It will be farm land.
Congressman Tiffany has proposed legislation to prevent government subsidies from destroying farm land:
That’s why we are working to enact the Future Agriculture Retention and Management or FARM Act, which would get taxpayers out of the business of transforming actual farms into wind and solar farms.
Some critics have argued that this bill is anti-wind and anti-solar. But that simply isn’t true. If electric companies want to build wind turbines or solar panels, nothing in the bill prevents them from doing so. But it does prevent taxpayer funds from tipping the scales in favor of wind and solar development at the expense of food production.
Wind and solar are not remotely competitive. They exist only because of government subsidies and, worse, mandates. The FARM act would at least ensure that we, the taxpayers, are not paying to destroy farm land at a time when the world needs all of the food America can produce.