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Money talks

28 Jul 2021 | OP ED Watch

A blog post shines light where climate science has cast much murk. Specifically, in Ontario Farmer, reprinted in the regrettably named Small Dead Animals, Ian Cumming observes that the price of farmland gives the lie to climate alarmism. The greens say crops will fail, drought and floods will sweep away the soil and its occupants, pests will spread and plants will become less nutritious. Ergo people in the know should be dumping their farmland. “But no one in Canadian agriculture, absolutely no one, whether in government, industry, bankers or farmers, has ever said you have to pay way less for land, since yields will be dramatically down over the next three decades due to climate change.” Why? Because in their hearts they know it’s not so.

As a matter of fact, the price of farmland should already have fallen if you believe the many apostles of the view that the climate crisis is already here. But as Cumming notes, even those who claim to think it’s merely approaching fast apparently know they’re just spewing nonsense, or at least hyping it to goad the sheep into a canter, because the price of land, and interest rates on loans, incorporate expectations about the future.

Of course many people pretend to believe in the looming crisis, to avoid scorn and even cancellation, including people in agriculture. But, he observes, “on average, both the farmer and banker see nothing in the data even remotely factual to support the climate zealots' claims. If they did, no one would be paying this price for farmland. They can certainly state otherwise, not wanting to be viewed as dummies and deniers in polite society, when dining with political folks. Their farm organizations do spout climate tripe all the time; however, there is no one pushing to have irrigation installed as necessary long term infrastructure off available rivers.”

Even Mark Carney, who was going to save us all by entering politics but now plans to save us all by staying out, gets the well-deserved knuckle-bone shampoo here. He’s all-in on climate change rhetorically. But, Cummings observes cuttingly, “when he was head of banking in Canada and the UK, he never once instructed ag lenders to ratchet down lending for farmland, since crop production and society will be devastated by climate change.” Never once. As for farmers, “the chaps and lasses adding to their 6,000 acres, or milking 750 cows, paying the top dollar for prime land, didn’t get to that point by being idiots and ignoring facts. They also are not out fundraising and lobbying for a political party or cause. They just do business. Plus doing first class research from all angles before investing.”

We are not in the investment business and if you take our advice you will probably get what you deserve. Plus if we knew the secret to making a fortune on the market, we’d be doing it ourselves, not selling it for a modest fee and saying let us know how it went if you can still afford an internet connection when you’re done. But here’s the thing.

Commodities futures markets and many other sophisticated financial structures let you make bets on the future. They are not casinos, contrary to some populist mythology. They play a vital role in allowing people to manage uncertainty by locking in prices they know they can afford to pay, or receive, so they can concentrate on their core business. But they do also permit speculation.

So go ahead, “David Suzuki, Al Gore, John Kerry, Prince Charles and every Canadian politician at every level” as Cumming puts it. Bet on the falling value of farmland, coastal properties and all the other things you hype.

Of course they have bet. Heavily. But not with their own money. (Except the ones buying farmland and waterfront mansions.) They’re spending billions in public funds directly, including by subsidizing alternative energy, and destroying tens of billions with their regulatory decisions against fossil fuels. But if they’re wrong, it’s not them who pays, and if they’re right, it’s not them who benefits.

As Cumming notes, the phrase about following the money does have to be weighed against fools and theirs being quickly parted. But Al Gore and John Kerry seem pretty canny about their own cash. And they’re not betting the farm on global heating, extreme weather or any of that fashionable talk.

P.S. Ron Barmby, whose very readable Sunlight on Climate Change: A Heretic’s Guide to Global Climate Hysteria we recommend for the concerned but open-minded young person on your gift list, suggests that you “short” the whole theory that CO2 is causing global warming. If you can find a futures market in it, that is.

P.P.S. In that book Barmby also suggests that the politicians and activists also act professionally as though they don’t believe their virtue-signalling (pp. 153-54): “As of this writing, 99.99% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are from countries not on target to meet the reductions needed for the 1.5°C warming target of the Paris agreement. Let me suggest that this 99.99% failure rate does not indicate indifference to pollution or climate change, but rather a measure of skepticism of the 193 remaining signatories that climate change is completely man-made and dangerous.... Or it could be, as my good friend Carl Hodge, a professor of political science at the University of British Columbia, explained to me: as a general rule, the sincerity that governments bring to any multilateral agreement is inversely proportional to the number of governments that sign it.”

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