Global Warming and Climate Change

Last month I shared with you a perspective of fossil fuels and carbon sequestering from my perspective as an organic farmer. One of the things that I stated is that "It is important for us to try to be independent thinkers, to research facts for ourselves, and to step back and try to look outside the ‘box’ that everyone is looking in." We hear a lot about global warming and climate change. Billions of dollars are being spent to correct the stated problem. However, one of the things that I noticed when I heard things on the news about global warming and climate change is that they did not state how many degrees that the earth has warmed up. This made me curious to find out the facts. I will share with you what I found.

The National Climatic Data Center of the US Department of Commerce has a chart listing the global temperatures from 1880 to the present. The temperatures listed are in hundredths of a degree Celsius. Note that in the past 107 years the global temperature has changed a little over one half a degree Celsius which is less than the statistical margin of error. According to the statistics, global temperatures have remained stable for the last 10 years. The following is an excerpt from that chart:

1900   -0.0281
1901   -0.0974

1997    0.4615
1998    0.5763
1999    0.3947
2000    0.3629
2001    0.4934
2002    0.5573
2003    0.5565
2004    0.5336
2005    0.6044
2006    0.5428
2007    0.5458

A similar chart can be found at NASA’s website. Please note, this is the first chart I looked at. At first I thought that there were very significant increases in global temperatures until I realized that the temperatures listed on this chart were not in degrees but in .01 degrees Celsius!

I never gave it much thought about how difficult it is to measure the actual global earth temperature until I read the following article on NASA’s website. Note, there is no standardized procedure for measuring the temperatures at various locations around the world. I had assumed that there was a standardized procedure. The following article describes how inaccurate a non-standardized procedure for recording the global air temperature can be. Remember, this is on NASA’s website.

The Elusive Absolute Surface Air Temperature (SAT)

Q. What exactly do we mean by SAT ?

A. I doubt that there is a general agreement how to answer this question. Even at the same location, the temperature near the ground may be very different from the temperature 5 ft above the ground and different again from 10 ft or 50 ft above the ground. Particularly in the presence of vegetation (say in a rain forest), the temperature above the vegetation may be very different from the temperature below the top of the vegetation. A reasonable suggestion might be to use the average temperature of the first 50 ft of air either above ground or above the top of the vegetation. To measure SAT we have to agree on what it is and, as far as I know, no such standard has been suggested or generally adopted. Even if the 50 ft standard were adopted, I cannot imagine that a weather station would build a 50 ft stack of thermometers to be able to find the true SAT at its location.

Q. What do we mean by daily mean SAT ?

A. Again, there is no universally accepted correct answer. Should we note the temperature every 6 hours and report the mean, should we do it every 2 hours, hourly, have a machine record it every second, or simply take the average of the highest and lowest temperature of the day ? On some days the various methods may lead to drastically different results.

Q. What SAT do the local media report ?

A. The media report the reading of 1 particular thermometer of a nearby weather station. This temperature may be very different from the true SAT even at that location and has certainly nothing to do with the true regional SAT. To measure the true regional SAT, we would have to use many 50 ft stacks of thermometers distributed evenly over the whole region, an obvious practical impossibility.

Q. If SATs cannot be measured, how are SAT maps created ?

A. This can only be done with the help of computer models, the same models that are used to create the daily weather forecasts. We may start out the model with the few observed data that are available and fill in the rest with guesses (also called extrapolations) and then let the model run long enough so that the initial guesses no longer matter, but not too long in order to avoid that the inaccuracies of the model become relevant. This may be done starting from conditions from many years, so that the average (called a ‘climatology’) hopefully represents a typical map for the particular month or day of the year.

To read the rest of the page go to:

After reading the above information, I had to wonder if the children’s story of "Chicken Little" has more relevance than just a story for children. Often one of our hens will get excited and alarmed about a perceived threat and get all the other hens squawking about it too. They make a huge racket. It is amusing to watch. After a while they realize that the perceived threat was nothing and they go on about their business.

Are we destroying the global climate as fast as some would lead us to believe? From the actual statistics it does not appear so. However, that doesn’t mean we can pollute the air, spray chemicals on our ground and pollute our water. We do have a responsibility to be stewards of the earth and care for it. As I pointed out last month, sequestering carbon is important, not to correct global warming, but to build the fertility and nutrient density of our soils so that we can be healthy and live productive lives. Farmers have been depleting the soils for generations and it is important that we change that direction. Organic farming is moving in the right direction. Thanks for your support.

Fossil Fuels – From a Pasture Based Farmer’s Perspective

Global warming and the need to reduce the use of fossil fuels is often in the news. There are two main camps, those who are concerned about the damage to the environment from the use of fossil fuel and those who think that global warming is all hype and not really an issue. It is easy for us to become puppets of the opinions of what we hear from everyone around us, especially from the media. It is important for us to try to be independent thinkers, to research facts for ourselves, and to step back and try to look outside the "box" that everyone is looking in.

One day as I was thinking about fossil fuels, I suddenly realized what the words "fossil fuel" means. "Fossil fuels" means that it is a fuel that came from fossilized plants and animals from years gone by. In other words, oil is soil fertility buried under the earth! The Middle East, which has had some of the richest supplies of oil, is largely desert. Their soil fertility is buried underground! The Middle East at one point must have have had very, very fertile soil (the Garden of Eden?).

Until recently, I had the impression that fossil fuels, being a non-renewable source of fuel, were like a foreign chemical that we shouldn’t be burning, and that we are contaminating the earth with it. However, when fossil fuels are burned, matter is not destroyed. It is changed into a different form. One form is carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is necessary for plants to live. Plants take in carbon dioxide and create oxygen. The carbon that existed in the carbon dioxide is stored in the plant tissues and in the roots.

Now, as a pasture based farmer, carbon is a very important element in soil fertility. It holds many times its weight in water. Increasing the carbon in the soil is like making the soil into a giant sponge. The more water that the soil is able to hold means that there is less runoff during a rain storm. That means less soil erosion. It  means that soil nutrients are held in the soil and are not as readily leached out. The more carbon that exists in the soil, the more drought resistant the soil is. Carbon is also important to the many microbes, bacteria, and fungi in the soil.

On a pasture based farm such as ours, carbon is sequestered into the soil from the grasses in the pasture. The grass that we see is only half the plant. The roots are equal in size to what we see above ground. When grass is cut, an equal amount of roots die back. For example, if grass in the pasture is one foot high and the animals eat it down to 3 inches high, 9 inches of roots die off. When those roots die off, the carbon in the roots is sequestered into the soil. Therefore, allowing grass to grow and then mowing it off (preferably with animals)  a number of times throughout the year is an important part of sequestering carbon in the soil.

In observing our farm this year, I noticed that there were two one acre plots where the grass grew the best. One was the chestnut orchard, the other was the broiler pasture. Both of those were mowed the most often last year. This year we are increasing the number of times that we mow the laying hen pastures. First we run the sheep and cows in a pasture. Then, after they are moved to the next pasture, we mow off the weeds and any remaining tall grass. This process increases the amount of carbon sequestered into the soil and increases the soil fertility.

Conventional crop farming releases a lot of carbon back into the air. Conventional no-till is better in that it does sequester some carbon into the soil. However, organic is even better at sequestering carbon. Rodale Institute Research Farm has found that organic crop farming will sequester 1000 lbs of carbon per acre per year, which is about 4 times the amount of conventional no-till.

We are facing a global food crisis. From my perspective, after understanding that fossil fuels are really the soil fertility from years ago buried in the earth and knowing the importance of carbon in the soil, I believe that it was a blessing to mankind that oil was discovered so that we can produce more food now when we need it the most. Much of the oil reserves are in places that can’t be farmed – under the ocean floor, Alaska, and in the deserts of the Middle East. We need that buried soil fertility so that we can feed the world. There may be a better way of transferring the soil fertility from fossil fuels to the soil than by burning them and then trying to sequester the carbon through plants. That is for us to discover. However, there is already a lot of soil fertility that we have put up in the air (carbon dioxide) that needs to be sequestered so that we can clean the air and increase the soil fertility of our farmlands. This is just one more reason why organic and pasture based farming is the better way to go than conventional chemical farming and the confinement rearing of animals and chickens.

The answer to many of our environmental concerns – air pollution, soil erosion, the contamination of our water supplies from farm chemicals and animal manures, the polluting of the Chesapeake Bay, etc. is in developing better ways of sequestering carbon into our farmlands and in making the soil a bigger sponge with greater fertility. As you hear all the negative environmental news, remember, all is not doom and gloom. There is a better way of farming and you are supporting it!

Illegal Substance Produces Healthier, Larger Chickens

This month our chickens look like they will be larger than what they usually are in the summer months. We have seen a significant improvement in the health of the chickens and a better growth rate which we attribute to feeding them one to two gallons a day of an "illegal" substance for the first three or four weeks. If we sold you this substance, or even gave it to you, we could be arrested for doing so! This substance is raw skim milk from our grassfed cows. We skim the cream off our surplus milk, make butter for our own use and feed the skim milk to the chickens. Raw milk from grassfed cows is an important food for health. Hopefully, one day it will be legal to buy raw milk in Maryland.

Creative Destruction Related to Farms

When I (Myron) was young, the United States produced a lot of extra food that was exported to many countries. The U.S. was called the breadbasket of the world. But times have changed. The number of farms have decreased, population has increased and we now import almost 50% of our food. What has perplexed me is that the government doesn’t seem to care that each year we have to import a greater portion of our food. Part of our national security is our ability to produce our own food and not have to rely on other countries for our food. There are many things we can live without, but we can’t live without food.

Recently, I found out the reason why farms have been declining in America. It is part of financial engineering by the Federal Reserve in an attempt to create a higher standard of living for Americans. The economic theory is called "Creative Destruction". The philosophy of creative destruction also explains why the U.S. government changed regulations for domestic manufacturing and clothing factories so that it became too costly to produce their products in the U.S. The result has been that most of our manufacturing segment has moved oversees. Before we go any further, I want to make it clear that the concept of creative destruction is not a conspiracy theory of someone speculating on the motives of the Federal Reserve. It is a philosophy that the Fed has clearly stated it is using. The following are former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan’s own words from a speech given on Oct. 21, 2007:

"We have been doing things different for quite a long period of years. And many of them turned out to be awful. So I think that the issue always rests in capitalist market economy which as you point out has its roots and its necessities in creative destruction because remember it is only creative destruction that creates higher standards of living.

"Because by definition creative destruction is essentially moving the capital from less productive obsolescent industries to cutting edge technology related industries and by definition the moving a body of capital from the low output per man hour type industries to higher man hour output industries and that obviously raises the average and its only the average increase in productivity which generates higher standards of living. There is no other way that we have found and that includes having oil in the ground or gold somewhere. Adam Smith is right it is essentially the wealth of nations is determined by productivity and productivity can be advanced only in broad economies such as those which we deal with by a form of competitiveness and that generates creative destruction.

"As I say in the book I’ve just written there is a very significant problem here of the destruction part. Because remember when you move the capital from the lesser productive industries to the more, you also have to move people. And its always been a major problem in the fact that there are losers as well as winners and how to handle that problem is always been critical and necessary in order to maintain a viable market system. But the truth of the matter is there is no other system which has worked as well." (From the website:

Richard Fisher, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, in a speech to the governors of the southern states, said the following:

"The destructive side of capitalism’s creative destruction is evident in lost jobs. Let me share a few numbers for the states you govern. The number of workers in apparel manufacturing in your states decreased 80 percent between 1990 and 2005. In the same 15-year period, payrolls fell 18 percent at paper manufacturers and 15 percent for furniture makers. The number of farm workers decreased 6 percent, and the number of mine workers declined 5 percent. That is pretty painful stuff. And it is not ancient history. It all occurred within a time frame that is fresh in the memory of everyone in this room—between 1990 and 2005.

"And yet, despite these employment losses, each state in the Southern region now has a larger job base than it did in 1990. North Carolina, for example, has created 1 million net new jobs since 1990. Texas’ employment has risen by more than 3 million since 1990.

"Why? Because the creative side of creative destruction outpaced the destructive side. Your economies replaced lost jobs in declining sectors with new ones in emerging, higher-value-added sectors. Between 1990 and 2005, the number of data processing and Internet service provider workers in Southern states increased 65 percent. Professional services workers grew 63 percent. Financial services employees increased 31 percent. Retail employment grew 23 percent. By 2005, the financial and real estate services sectors employed as many Southern workers as the manufacturing sector. Lodging and food services accounted for the same share of the Southern workforce as construction.

"Health care sector employment in the South alone grew by 2.3 million from 1990 to 2005. Let me put that in perspective: For every manufacturing job lost in the Southern states between 1990 and 2005, the health care sector created 2.4 new jobs."  (from the website

Time will tell if creative destruction is the greatest thing the Federal Reserve ever did, or if it will turn out, to use Alan Greenspan’s words, "to be awful". There are a number of questions that comes to my mind.  Is creative destruction sustainable in the long run when we give up industries, food and clothing, that are basic necessities of life? If creative destruction is sustainable, why do we need 2.4 new health care workers for every manufacturing job that was lost? Is our health decreasing so fast from eating cheap food that we need that many more health care workers? Do politicians really believe that increasing the health care industry is more sustainable for the US economy in the long run than producing food?

Cathy and I are of the opinion that the intentional creative destruction of local farms and the government’s encouragement of eating cheap food has been a mistake. However, rather than focus on the negative, on our farm we are rowing against the flow of creative destruction to provide you with nutritious, nutrient dense, healthy, local food that is difficult to find, but which is important for your health. This year we encourage you to eat local for your health and the financial health of the local farms who are rowing against the flow of creative destruction.

World Food Crisis

An indicator that the intentional creative destruction of local farms was a bad idea is that there is a growing shortage of food worldwide. The food shortage is only partially caused by biofuel production. The total world production of food is not enough. The poorest countries are being hit the hardest because they can’t afford the higher cost of food. The price of rice has increased from $460 a ton to over $1000 in just a few month’s time. That also means that humanitarian relief can now feed less than half as many people as before with the same amount of money. Twelve countries have had food riots, and the prime minister of Haiti was run out of office because of their food shortage.

Our dependence on other countries for food is greater than most people realize. Most people have no idea the total volume of food that they consume each year. Nor do they realize how difficult it would be for each family to produce all the food that their family needs for the entire year if they had to. I know we didn’t realize how difficult it was until we started farming. We raise almost all the meat we eat. We produce all the eggs we want. Our two cows provide most of the milk, butter, ice cream, and yogurt we eat. We have a large garden, and Cathy freezes and cans lots of vegetables. You would think that we were almost self sufficient, but we are not! We still spend around $6,000 at the grocery store or for other off farm food purchases for our family of eight. That amount includes total grocery store purchases which includes toilet paper, detergents, etc. Producing everything  you eat for an entire year is difficult.

There is a slogan that applies to the present food crisis: "Think globally, act locally". The more food we produce and consume locally, the less food that has to be imported and taken from poorer countries who can’t compete with us price wise for the food. If we eat more potatoes and less rice, it means more rice will be available for others. We encourage you to consider doing some gardening this year. If you have not yet started a garden or even just a few tomato plants, it is not too late to do it.

Farming and Health—There is Much More To Learn

Several months ago we realized that we need to learn more about farming and health. Yes, pasture raised meats are important, and organic is important, but they are only two pieces of the pie, not the whole pie or the whole picture. We asked God again to teach us how to farm and from then to now has been an intense learning time. I feel like I am being catapulted along faster than my little brain can absorb everything.

One of the things we learned was at a seminar in Lancaster Pa. where Dr. Arden Anderson was one of the speakers. Dr. Anderson is a medical doctor as well as an agronomist — an unusual combination of training but one which all doctors should have. One of the things that he said was that insects are the garbage crew. If insects are eating a plant or fruit or vegetable, it means it is garbage and is not nutritious enough to eat. He has found that by increasing the mineral and nutrient content of the plant, fruit, or vegetable, insects will leave it alone. Their digestive system cannot handle the increased nutrients in the plants. They get diarrhea and die. Modern science and farming has taken a different approach. They kill the garbage crew (insects) and feed us the "garbage"! The majority of the food we eat today is "garbage".

After we were home again a Bible verse came to our minds "Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things so that thy youth is renewed like the eagles" (Psalms 103:5) How does an eagle renew its youth? How can we become young again? The answer is fascinating. An eagle can live to be as much as 50 years old. Periodically, after a certain number of years, an eagle will go somewhere by itself. It will shed all of its old feathers and grow new feathers. Its claws will grow until new claws have appeared. When the eagle returns to its natural habitat it looks like a young eagle even though it is many years old.

We too, just like the eagle, are continually shedding old cells and new cells are taking their place. Regardless of how old you are, you are not more than about 16 years old!! You will be 16 until the day you die! About the only cells that are with us from birth are our brain cells and perhaps our nerve cells.

  • Gut lining cells are about 5 days old.

  • Skin cells are 14 days old

  • Red blood cells are 120 old or less

  • The entire human skeleton is replaced every 10 years or so.

  • The cells in the liver have a turnover time of 300 to 500 days.

  • Muscle cells are about 15 years old.

  • Gut cells other than the lining are about 16 years old.

Suddenly I realized how people before the flood could have lived to be 900+ years old. The fountain of youth is within us and our youth is continually being renewed. At least that is how the body was originally designed to work. There is a prophecy in Isaiah that when the Messiah comes for the 1000 year reign, people will again live very long lives. "There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die a hundred years old; but the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed." (Isaiah 65:20)

So why are we not living longer now? Part of the answer is found in Psalms 103:5 where it explains how our youth is renewed. It states that our mouth is filled with good things and then our youth is renewed like the eagles. The problem is that we have been eating garbage (food) that is grown in mineral and nutrient depleted soils. This is not a new problem. Farmers and rain have been depleting the soils since the flood. The soil is not nearly as rich, healthy, and productive as it has the potential of being. Our cells are built from the garbage. When our new cells replace the old cells, the new ones are made from mineral and nutrient deficient food, just like the ones they replaced. The new cells don’t have the energy to be youthful. However, if we fill our mouths with good things and eat nutrient dense foods, then our new cells will be stronger and more healthy than our old cells – the renewing of our youth.

Understanding that the cells in our body are renewed on a regular basis sheds some light on our health. One is that it is possible to change the makeup of our bodies over time by changing what we eat. We are not necessarily doomed because of where our body is now health wise. Another is that our body is what it is because of what we have eaten over the last 16 years and what we eat now will affect the quality of some of our cells for the next 16 years. We like instant results in health, but in reality, some of the health renewal will take years of eating right until all the cells are rebuilt with healthy components. This concept of our youth being renewed like the eagles has shed a whole new light on the importance of us producing nutrient dense nutritional food. Again, let me emphasize that this is not the full picture of what constitutes health, it is only one piece of the full picture.