Solve These Climate Change Report Mysteries

Reader Contribution by Steven Mcfadden
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It’s up to you. It’s up to me. It’s up to everyone who has a stake in a stable climate, ample food and fiber, and shelter from the storms — the increasingly savage storms that are Earth’s new normal. We’ve got some mysteries to unravel.

If you are depending on the life-support basics listed above, then answer this: Why did the US Agriculture Department (USDA) attempt to bury America’s action plan for conducting science into climate change so that farmers could be empowered with facts to respond wisely to what’s happening in the world?

The critical 33-page USDA action plan, paid for with our tax dollars, was stuffed somewhere in a bureaucratic closet never to be allowed into public light of day. But thanks to a civic-minded whistleblower and a reporter, the plan was leaked to Politico. As stated at its start, the plan outlines how scientific research can help farmers to understand, to adapt to, and to minimize the increasingly disruptive impact of climate change.

I must concede that “why did the USDA bury the report?” is a dull question to frame as a mystery. At least part of the answer is as plain and pitiful as a flooded farm field. The White House has chosen to believe climate change is unreal, and it has staffed its agencies with other “everything-is-just-ducky” true believers.

But we just learned this month that the glaciers in Alaska are melting 100 times faster than anyone thought. That’s just one stunning element of hundreds of elements telling us – via science and basic common-sense observation – that climate change is dangerously real, whether the USDA wants to speak truth about it or not. 

A better mystery to mull is the mystery of what we — knowing that the government will neither accept the reality of climate change nor act wisely in response — might do ourselves to promote a stable climate, community food security, and general well-being.

That’s a mystery worth solving. And that’s a mystery worthy of intelligent, dynamic action.

Enlightened Self-interest

 “A great challenge of today,” the late Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess wrote, “is to save the planet from further devastation that violates both the enlightened self-interest of humans and non-humans, and decreases the potential of joyful existence for all.”

Naess wrote those words decades ago. Over the years the unreeling of reality has exposed his challenge as even more starkly in our faces.

Noble appeals for people to exhibit moral-intelligent behavior are impotent in the face of the steady, helter-skelter derangement of the planet, Naess felt. He observed that such appeals tend to have little impact. Instead, he argued that human beings are more likely to change through encouragement.

With that in mind, I encourage you, if you have read this far, to engage another question, which for the sake of symmetry you can call a mystery if you want.

Would you feel more secure, more encouraged in life, if you and your household were producing some of your own food, or in some way directly supporting the people in your community who are developing clean, sustainable, healthy food systems?

If you are enhancing your household and community food security in any way, shape, or form, then you are practicing basic agroecology, and that is indeed enlightened self-interest. It’s enlightened community, national, and global interest as well.

The main philosophical thread woven by Arne Naess is known as deep ecology. And one of the key tenets of deep ecology is the understanding that when we are learning about the Earth and defending our home planet through wise farming and food systems — as the closeted USDA report advocates — we are defending ourselves.

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Independent journalist Steven McFadden is rooted in agrarian cyberspace at Information about his wider work and all of his nonfiction books is available at

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