The cattle industry has learned a valuable lesson – that is that it can ill afford to concede key words to the opposition in the battle for the minds of consumers. Environmentalism is the prime example.
There was a time when the mention of the word would send shivers up and down the spine of ranchers. That’s despite the fact that ranchers are environmentalism’s most avid followers, as stewardship of the environment and the land isn’t a noble concept; it’s the primary name of the game.
Yet, for a while, we almost conceded that term to the radical fringe of activists, who wished to make it a key word for other motives. However, we saw the light and embraced the term, thus staking our claim on being the original environmentalists – which we are.
We’re in the process of doing the same with sustainability. It’s another key word the opposition had hoped to coopt and distort, and it appears they’ll lose that battle, too.
Animal welfare is another important term, but we haven’t been quite so successful with making it our own. Ironically, animal welfare is probably the most profound or well-established of all the ethos that is embodied by animal agriculture.
We’ve seen the light, however, and the abandoned initiatives in Colorado, where the Humane Society of the U.S.(HSUS) has pulled back (for the time being) its attack on animal agriculture. HSUS’s polling had indicated that animal welfare was a winning issue for it, but the livestock industry stepped up and met the challenge. In a battle for ownership of words – which is what this battle really is all about – producers made it clear they wouldn’t allow HSUS to define “animal welfare” as “anti-livestock production.”
Climate change is the other area that we in livestock production probably need to embrace, despite the fact that it, too, is often a code word for being anti-Americanism, anti-capitalism, anti-free market, and anti-livestock. Global warming may be a myth, but climate change, regardless of the cause, is an inevitable fact. And it’s come to embody every part of the radical progressive movement, and is being advanced as the Holy Grail by nearly every segment.
Climate change is perhaps the poster child of the evolution we’ve watched take place in science. In many cases, science has become a tool with which to advance an agenda rather than a method of finding truth. Much of mainstream media, the pseudo-intellectual elite, academia, and the government have embraced it in such a way that anyone who questions the premise is today labeled a heretic. In that respect, they’ve won.
It was announced this week that the Pentagon is building strategies around the impacts of climate change and the impending implications from weather-induced instability across the planet. Another report stated the inevitability of the collapse of the Arctic ice pack, and a significant rise in sea level.
The latter so typical of the climate alarmists’ approach, in that while the change is currently minimal or non-existent, it will escalate tremendously in 300-500 years, reaping devastation if action is not taken now. The science of convenience is growing smarter, and they’ve realized that disastrous predictions must be far enough out that their validity can’t be tested, or proven wrong.
The models on which all this discussion is based proved that cynicism occurs when predictions do not materialize. Nobody will be able to assert they are false with certainty when the calamity is moved to the future, but the responsibility of dealing with it placed squarely on now.
Every weather event is now a vindication. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a drought or flooding, cold or heat, tornados, earth quakes, or even volcanic activity. All of it now falls under the umbrella of climate change. Normality is now seen as the outlier only to be explained away as a temporary blip.
In such an environment we, too, must become champions of climate change and be leaders in advancing its demise. Just think of the consternation in all of those camps, if agriculture and livestock production in general were to become active players in the frontline defense of climate change.
Troy Marshall’s opinions are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.
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