Recently, one of my grandsons read one of my offerings and asked, “You don’t have a computer; where do you get your facts?”

I leave you with that simply as a commentary on his generation. The fact is, all my life I have tried to absorb knowledge from people who are smarter than I am. Thus, my subscriptions include a sizeable share of scientific periodicals prepared by people dedicated to accurate scientific data, not politics. Most people would rather watch paint dry, but start reading some of these; they can scare the daylights out of you.

Some projections in the August Scientific American indicate by 2050 we must increase food production by 70 percent and we must eradicate plant and animal diseases to accomplish that requirement. I didn’t write “goals.” I wrote “requirement.”

The December National Geographic states that by 2050 Earth’s population will reach 10 billion, three times as much as a 1957 base they established for comparison, forcing massive resets in how we house, educate, feed and provide energy without burning up the planet. A major player in these projections is the agricultural midwestern U.S., with Iowa as the linchpin.

Recently, Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA, stated Washington, D.C., should look at our farmers as “partners” in protecting water supplies. Farmers are under pressure to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous runoff in streams, lakes and rivers to shrink the Gulf “dead zone.” The problem he ignored is that the vertical integration of production by large conglomerate companies works against common sense preservation measures for soil and water runoff and animal waste pollution. The greedy proprietors of corporate farming want reduced costs and instant profits now, not some time in the future.

On Dec. 3, the Des Moines Register stated the Miller Creek Watershed would spend $100,000 to pay farmers to plant cover crops. I can’t believe a Republican advanced that idea. Farmers should be shown how to accomplish these tasks on their own. That brings us to a simple premise. We must organize a cabinet rank institution to explore and develop ways to guarantee immediate profit from instituting environmental measures to preserve our land, clean our air and purify our runoff water. The premise is simple; making it work will require knocking some heads together. That includes knocking some heads in an administration that seems bent on plundering our land for maximum profit and “damn the future.”

You see, saving our planet and country requires recruiting government, private enterprise and the scientific community to bring together and extrapolate all data and to scatter across the country to advise the farm and livestock producers that environmental measures can be profitable now, not later. The point is (Republicans will love this) to show owners their conservation enterprises can be profitable immediately.

Many farmers say, “I take measures to protect the environment.” That’s only part of the picture. Generally, what grows in those unplowed erosion barriers? Weeds! However, if these barriers could sustain a money crop while performing their functions, all contour farmers would gain extra income. What money crops? That would be the function of the investigative agency I recently mentioned.

There is another aspect of the environment that could be handled easily, not by just the farm community but everybody — trees. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, blamed for our global warming, and transpire oxygen. We need more trees, particularly where few exist. Part of the picture could be fruit, nuts and other saleable cash crop trees to cover the cost of planting.

The end result? Cleaner, more breathable air. The July Scientific American has an article on “Intact Forest Landscaping” of 500 square kilometers or more. Their thrust is forests are disappearing and must be replaced. Older trees can provide lumber, much needed, but should be replaced immediately. Trees are good for the air and also represent a cash source.

The premise I’ve proposed can generate some blowback. “What makes Smith think he is so smart?” He doesn’t. Reread the opening paragraph.

Stanley Smith is a former Cedar Falls City Council member.

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