Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Trumpies' Muzzling Of USDA Scientists May Well Be The Biggest Climate Atrocity To Date

 "Oink, Oink!  I got deplorable Sonny Perdue to prevent the USDA from letting farmers know how bad things gonna get with the climate! HAHA, maybe my tariff handouts will help 'em! Not!"

"This is stuff - research, that is ready to go and the Trump administration has been trying to keep it all quiet. Even if you're not a scientist or you're not particularly well-versed in this field, you look at the subjects of this research and you kind of understand why it might be important to get this stuff out there. "  Rachel Maddow, last night on MSNBC

Trying to keep up with the Trumpies' abominations in some ways is like trying to drink water through a fire hose. Many citizens find the onslaught so ferocious that they simply give up any effort to assimilate any more negative news. They become inured to it, seeking a kind of relief or release, but there is none. Once they take that fateful step they become gradually pulled into the Trumpian swamp orbit and begin to tolerate the horrors and make rationalizations for them. At that juncture of desensitization, because people find it easier to acquiesce and tolerate Trump than fight him, we are in deep trouble as a nation.  At that point we have lost our moral compass and our vision.

Not here on this blog!  And even if the number of reads declines, as they appear to have - perhaps because so many "can't take it anymore"-  I am not about to stop trying to alert my countrymen to the incipient and overt dangers arising from this madman despot occupying the White House. Fouling it and the office of the presidency with each day he remains.

Of course, the danger with covering Trump - whether in blog posts or the news - is that while he is busy assaulting us with one atrocity (such as his glorification of Kim Jong Un Sunday) there are others incoming and with even more perverse effects.  One of these which has flown under the radar is the planned  precipitous move of hundreds of USDA scientists out of their offices in D.C. to a Kansas location where there's not even proper space to accommodate their research.  The reason? To make it easier to bury their recent research disclosing the adverse effects of climate change on agriculture - not just in the U.S. but the world at large.

Last Thursday, the Agriculture Department announced a decision to relocate two of its research agencies, the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, from Washington to the Kansas City region. The Economic Research Service, which investigates the economics of food, farming, natural resources and rural America, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which was established as part of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, play a key role in providing the data essential for honest policy-making.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue-  another Trump deplorable-   initially declared an intention to move these sub-agencies 10 months ago but didn’t specify a location then. The USDA now says the move would put the agencies closer to the agricultural heartland while saving money both for taxpayers and for employees, because "Washington is an expensive city."   This is bollocks and BS.  The actual reason is to displace high profile scientists away from their research centers to dampen and disable their work. If carried out - and the deadline is July 15th by which time the scientists must either move or quit - the displacement will disrupt ongoing scientific research and dislodge several hundred federal employees with valuable experience. Since the abrupt announcement last August, many of the agencies’ top economists and scientists have quit.  As many, e.g. Rachel Maddow, have observed, this is a loss of research capacity that may never be replaced.  See e.g.


Please watch the full segment even the 7-8 minute lead- in featuring the discovery of penicillin and its development for Allied soldiers in WWII by the Agricultural Research Service, a branch of the USDA..  It will be well worth your time!

After that intro, please note the current major contributions in peer-reviewed papers which the Trump bunch  (e.g. led by Sonny Perdue) ensconced as swamp creatures in the Agricultural Dept. are trying to bury.  As in never get distributed, never get publicized.  Just die a slow, obscure death buried in a hole somewhere that maybe only Sonny Perdue and his staff knows about. The research, tied  directly to momentous findings on the adverse effects of climate change on agriculture,  include:

- An April, 2018 finding that elevated CO2 levels lead to substantial and persistent declines in the quality of certain prairie grasses important for raising cattle.  The protein content in the grass drops as photosynthesis kicks into high gear due to more carbon dioxide - a trend that could pose health problems for the animals and cost ranchers money.

In 2017, USDA scientists found climate change was likely to increase agricultural pollution and nutrient runoff in the Lower Mississippi River Delta. But certain conservation practices can help farmers compensate and reduce pollutant loads.

- Earlier this year USDA scientists found that rice loses vitamins in a carbon rich environment - a potentially serious health concern for the 600 million people world-wide whose diets consist mainly of rice.

Process that last finding long and hard! What Sonny Perdue's machinations with the USDA scientists could well lead to is 600 million people perishing in the throes of malnutrition - i.e. if compensating steps are not taken. But they cannot be taken if the research is buried, kept out of sight, while the scientists are removed to a remote Kansas location. Or fired.  But what about outside institutions like affiliated with the UN? Well, the Trump vermin blocked any access to the USDA findings.

Let's acknowledge here such investigations as identified above have long underpinned decisions by Congress and by American farmers, much as research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics underpins decisions in others parts of the economy. Also let's concede much of the information produced by the Economic Research Service has indeed been inconvenient for the administration, as it has illustrated the ills wrought by Trump’s trade wars and how minimally farmers were helped by the 2017 Republican tax overhaul.  This is a huge reason why they now want to squelch it. But really? At the cost to the quality of life of 600 million or more people worldwide?  As Janice screamed last night "They all deserve to be hung, starting with Trump and Sonny Perdue!" Amen, girl, I hear you - and if you check out my last post (bottom) you can see the image of Trump swinging from a high tree by his fat orange neck.

Anyway, Democratic members of the House and Senate have introduced the Agriculture Research Integrity Act, which would bar the move but who knows at this point if it will work?  It may well be too little and too late.
More ominous, as Rachel Maddow noted last night, there aren't even any offices in KC to support these workers.  It's just an elaborate Potemkin facade with nothing for genuine research scientists to do, or cooperate with a view to peer-reviewed publishing.

What may be needed now is millions of citizens getting out of their Lazy-Boys and flooding the streets like the citizens of Hong Kong are doing (to protest a law allowing extradition to China for trials).   But I fear too many have already become too desensitized to Trump's vile ways to resist his onslaught any more.   So it may well be that in the end Perdue and Trump get their way and the USDA research ends up in yet another national memory black hole.

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