The USDA Should Lead Greening Research, but it is doing nothing.

As we keep asking:

1. How much has the increase in carbon dioxide levels contributed to feeding the world so far?
2. What is it likely to contribute in future?
3. How much of this benefit will be lost if the carbon dioxide increase is slowed or halted?

The entire focus of the USGCRP budget is on the downside of carbon dioxide increase. The upside, greening, and the risk of loosing this possibly enormous benefit, is being ignored by the Department of Agriculture. As a result the policy community is almost completely ignorant of the issue. The USDA should have the lead for this research, but it is doing nothing.

Here is the Department of Agriculture USGCRP Summary:

Areas of Global Change Research. Research sponsored by USDA focuses on understanding terrestrial systems and the effects of global change (including water balance, atmospheric deposition, vegetative quality, and UV-B radiation) on food and fiber production in agricultural, forest, and range ecosystems. It includes research on interactions between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere; the contributions of agricultural sources of methyl bromide to stratospheric ozone depletion, and possible alternatives and substitutes for this fumigant; methane generation and nitrous oxide release; soil properties, including moisture, erosion, organic matter, nutrient fluxes, and microbes; relationship of global change to forest and range fires, insects, and plant pathogens; agricultural management systems; and validation of satellite measurements.

1999 Programs are described for the following USDA Services:
ARS Agricultural Research Service
CREES Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service
ERS Economic Research Service
FS Forest Service
NRCS Natural Resources Conservation Service

ARS Program Highlights. The goals of the ARS global change research program are to document and mitigate impacts of global change on agricultural and range land ecosystems, to assess agriculture's role as a contributor to the causes of global change, and to provide policy makers and agricultural producers with sound scientific information upon which to base their decisions. In FY99, the research will continue to focus on four broad areas: 1) Experimental determinations of the direct effects of rising atmospheric CO2 levels, increasing temperatures, and their interaction with the physiology and performance of crop plants and with ecosystem processes that control productivity of grazing lands; 2) carbon and nitrogen cycling and fluxes between the terrestrial surface and the atmosphere, including sequestration of carbon in soils and vegetation; 3) changes in hydrological processes associated with climate change that may impact water quality, efficiency of use by crops, and availability for industry, urban use, and irrigated agriculture; and 4) the development of a suite of simulation models with required inputs for predicting responses of crops, watersheds, and managed ecosystems to global change.

CSREES is responsible for administration of USDA extramural research in partnership with the Land Grant University System. A major component of the Agency's FY99 global change research is continued development of a UV-B Monitoring Network. The purpose of the network is to provide USDA and the agricultural community with information necessary to determine whether changing levels of UV-B have an effect on food and fiber production in the United States. CSREES's National Research Initiative Competitive Grants (NRICG) program also supports fundamental and mission-linked research, which is designed to increase our understanding of the possible impacts of global environmental change on the sustainability of agriculture and forestry. Research projects are supported that will reduce uncertainty regarding the effects of possible changes in temperature and precipitation patterns, rising CO2 levels, and altered radiation (including UV-B) on crop productivity, natural resources, hydrological processes, and water availability. The NRICG solicits global change research in four programs: 1) Plant Responses to the Environment; 2) Forest/Range/Crop/Aquatic Ecosystems; 3) Soils and Soil Biology; and 4) NSF/DOE/NASA/USDA/EPA Joint Program on Terrestrial Ecology and Global Change (TECO).

In FY99, ERS will continue efforts to improve understanding of the economics of global change and agriculture. Global modeling and analysis will focus on agricultural links to biodiversity, land-use change, and the ability to satisfy increased demands for agricultural goods and services while minimizing damage to the world's natural resources. Farm-level analysis will focus on the role of learning in adaptation.

Forest Service global change research seeks to establish a sound scientific basis for making regional, national, and international resource management and policy decisions in the context of global change issues. Studies are currently being conducted to determine how atmospheric changes and potential climatic change may affect forest productivity, forest health, and species distributions. Ecosystem-scale experiments involving increased CO2 and other environmental factors have begun at several sites representing major U.S. forest types. As the uncertainty in model predictions is reduced, analysts may begin to describe likely socioeconomic effects of global change on forests in the various regions of the United States. For example, the Mapped Atmosphere-Plant-Soil System simulates ecosystem distribution and function under current and potential future climates. Forests in the coterminous United States could experience partial decline or massive dieback over as much as 40-85% of their distribution. The Forest Health Monitoring Program aids global change research by establishing a long-term set of information describing changes and trends in forest ecosystems, helping scientists detect the effects of global change and other factors over time.

NRCS provides technical and financial assistance in conjunction with conservation partners to managers of privately owned lands for the conservation and wise use of natural resources. In the context of global change, impacts affecting nutrient cycling, animal waste management, air quality, hydric soil environments, soil carbon sequestration and dynamics, and the extent and role of permafrost affected soils are studied as part of terrestrial ecosystem dynamics.

Related Research. In addition to focused USGCRP research, the USDA sponsors significant research contributing to the assessment of global change effects on the agricultural food and fiber production systems and the forest and forest ecosystems of the U.S. and worldwide. Programs include long-term studies addressing the structure, function, and management of forest and grassland ecosystems; research in applied sciences, including soils, climate, food and fiber crops, pest management, forest fish and wildlife, and social sciences; implementation of ecosystem management on the national forests and grasslands; and human interaction with natural resources.

Mapping of Budget Request to Appropriations Legislation. In the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, USGCRP activities are funded under Title I-Agricultural Programs, within the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) Research and Education Activities, and Economic Research Service (ERS) accounts; and under Title II- Conservation Programs, within the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Operations account. In the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, USDA USGCRP activities are funded in the USDA Forest Service (FS) section under Title II-Related Agencies, within the FS Forest Research account.

Table of Contents

Carbon Dioxide -- The Miracle of Food.

Introduction to the Greening Theory.

The Green Revolution: feeding the global population.

Technology and the Green Revolution.

Government Policy Toward Carbon Dioxide: why is it negative?

A Huge Hole in the Climate Change Science.

The USDA Should Lead Greening Research, but it is doing nothing.

Outline of a Greening Effect Benefit and Risk Assessment.