USDA/HHS Removes Consideration of “Sustainability” from Dietary Guidelines

USDA/HHS Removes Consideration of “Sustainability” from Dietary Guidelines

The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services made headlines last winter when they released the draft form of their updated dietary guidelines and revealed that they were considering “sustainability” as a factor in their recommended diet—and by “sustainable” they meant foods that had “lower greenhouse gases” associated with their production. This favors plant-based foods over animal- based ones. President Obama’s Climate Action Plan now even had its far-reaching fingers in our food. We found this somewhat rude. Under the wildly-crazy assumption that all Americans, now and forever, were to convert to vegetarianism, we calculated that the net impact on future global warming as a result of reduced greenhouse gas emissions was two ten-thousandths of a degree Celsius (0.0002°C) per year. Not surprisingly, we concluded if one were worried about future climate change, “ridding your table of steak shouldn’t be high on the list.” We expanded upon our findings during the public review period for the newly proposed dietary guidelines and submitted a pointed Comment, stressing two issues: Throughout the Scientific Report whenever greenhouse gases are mentioned, a negative connotation is attached and food choices are praised if they lead to reduced emissions. This is misleading on two fronts. First, the dominant greenhouse gas emitted by human activities is carbon dioxide which is a plant fertilizer whose increasing atmospheric concentrations have led to more productive plants, increasing total crop yields by some 10-15 percent to date. The USDA/HHS is at odds with itself in casting a positive light on actions that are geared towards lessening a beneficial outcome for plants, while at the same time espousing a more plant-based diet. And second, the impact that food choices have on greenhouse gas emissions is vanishingly small—especially when cast in terms of climate change. And yet it is in this context that the discussion of GHGs is included in the Scientific Report. The USDA/HHS elevates the import of GHG emissions as a consideration in dietary choice far and above the level of its actual impact. Ultimately, we advised that “climate change concerns don’t belong in dietary guidelines,” although fretting, “[w]e can only guess on what sort of impact our Comment will have, but we can at least say we tried.” Turns out that we were wildly successful. This week, prior to a Congressional hearing on the proposed guidelines, USDA Secretary Tom …

From peace-nik to climate skeptic — Greenpeace co-founder: ‘Duty as a scientist to be skeptical’

“People should understand that there is actually no proof that there is a direct causal relationship between the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the temperature of the world,” Moore said in an interview Thursday with CBC News.

“In the last 20 years, there has been no statistically significant warming of the planet on average, counting the whole world.”


“I disagree with the scientists who are saying that, most of whom are on taxpayer-paid grants and subsidies.”

“They are interested in perpetuating this thing [climate change],” he added.…

Flashback 2014: ‘Why Climate Change Had No Impact on the Syrian Uprising’

Serious people speculated that climate change had ravaged Syria and was behind the drought that preceded the uprising. No matter that the reality is that those who attribute any one disaster to climate change are on ground no firmer than Councillor David Silvester in meteorological terms. But in Syria to speculate about climate change was to create a mystery where none existed.

Despite an abundance of water, between 2006 and 2010 there was a serious drought, which displaced more than 1.5 million subsistence farmers, depriving them of ninety percent of their income. The major cause was a depletion of groundwater. In the new “open” economy after Bashar al-Assad succeeded his father, the regime’s retainers were freed of restraint; they drilled more water than was sustainable to enhance their short-term gain. This happens in partially transformed economies where the monopolised corruption of the State becomes decentralised.

    In short, as in Sudan, a focus on climate change exculpates the regime.

   The “frequency of droughts had not increased over the last 20 years,” Ms. Chatel notes, and it was “not the drought per se, but rather the government’s failure to respond to the ensuing humanitarian crisis” that led to trouble. The regime had also in part causing the drought by over-drawing water:

[T]he desert naturally adapts to droughts and wet periods. … Experiments carried out over a period of ten years … in the eastern desert conclusively showed that the mismanagement and overexploitation of resources lay at the root of desertification, not drought or climate change.
To blame overpopulation or water-scarcity, as the regime does, is to actively mislead.

    In January, a paper published by Francesca de Chatel, a Dutch specialist on water issues in the Arab world, vindicated this view. “[T]here is very little solid evidence” that climate change “will lead to more frequent and harsher droughts, [or] higher temperatures and lower and more unpredictable precipitation levels.” Indeed,

The only available evidence that global warming will lead to more extreme weather events relies on modeling. Data do not really sustain this hypothesis so far.

Moreover, where there are so many other evident causes of the current conflict, it seems unproductive to focus on the possible role of climate change.

     As Ms. Chatel so pithily concludes:

“The possible role of climate change in this chain of events is not only irrelevant; it is also …