Funny, we thought news of President Obama’s new “Climate Hubs” initiative for the agriculture industry would bring out a chorus of climate change deniers, but it’s been almost a full day since they were announced and we’re not hearing much — yet. While we’re waiting, let’s take a closer look these new Regional Hubs for Risk Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change, as they are formally called.
There are seven Climate Hubs, spearheaded by the US Department of Agriculture. Here’s the mission in a nutshell:
Climate Hubs will address increasing risks such as fires, invasive pests, devastating floods, and crippling droughts on a regional basis, aiming to translate science and research into information to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners on ways to adapt and adjust their resource management.
Word about the Climate Hubs actually leaked out last summer in a June 5 speech to the National Press Club, when USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced his intention to link the agency’s long running research partners and form new partnerships to develop stronger information resources aimed at forecasting, adaptation, and risk mitigation.
Aside from the obvious academic partners and non-governmental organizations, the list includes the Department of Interior, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Native Nations and related organizations, state departments of environment and agriculture, and farmer organizations and related trade groups.
We’re going to take an educated guess at a couple of other federal agencies that could play a role. The Department of Defense is one that comes to mind. As a whole, DoD has been in the vanguard of climate change planning, and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has played point with forceful defenses of climate science.
The Navy has also aggressively pursued biofuel initiatives including a major partnership with USDA, aimed at kickstarting the market for biofuel crops.
The Environmental Protection Agency would also factor into the Climate Hubs initiative, given its landmark agricultural biogas initiative in partnership with USDA.
And of course, the Department of Energy could come into play, given its role in funding for biofuel initiatives.
Climate Hubs And Sub-Hubs
You can get a complete list of the Climate Hubs from the USDA, but here’s a sketch. Aside from the seven main hubs, there are three Subsidiary Hubs (Sub Hubs) set up to address issues unique to three regions: the Southwest (specialty crops and Southwest forests), Southeast (issues unique to the Caribbean), and Midwest (Lake State forest).
The new Climate Hubs initiative follows on the heels of at least two other major climate-adaptive services that USDA has developed for the agriculture industry.
One is the adoption of new science based guidelines for cover crop management, aimed at preventing erosion, improving soil including nutrition and water content, suppressing weeds, and breaking pest cycles.
Another is the release of a carbon management tool called COMET-FARM, aimed at helping producers calculate carbon removal by the soil and vegetation on their land.
As for the outrage, we can think of about 31 members of the House of Representatives who should be turning purple right about now, based on a hearing conducted back in 2011 by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, in which all 31 Republican members of the committee pondered the merits of climate science, and denied it.
In an attempt to get that sentiment on the legislative record, last January Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) offered up an amendment to an energy bill stating the reality of climate change, which garnered 24 “no” votes from Republicans on that same committee.
If we run across a response to the new Climate Hubs initiative from any of those 24, we’ll keep you posted.
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