Is Organic Farming the Cure for Global Warming?
Here we go again. The Organic vs. Conventional agriculture debate has recently graced the pages and website of the Wall Street Journal in the form of two separate opinion pieces. The first article from May 15th argues the superiority of conventional farming methods and downplays the viability of organic methods to produce and abundance of food without increasing the amount of land used for farming, among other things.
The second article, published on May 22nd, claims that organic farming can be as productive as conventional farming, and even goes so far as to claim that organic methods can counteract global warming entirely, and even “could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions.” Read that again. Supposedly, organic methods of farming could single-handedly stop global warming. I’ll admit, it is nice to see a claim for organic that doesn’t rely on unfounded claims of GMOs causing cancer, but I find this one to be just as laughable.
I am no scientist, but I understand and can occasionally spot bad science. The study done to bolster this global warming cure was done by the Rodale Institute, which is a nonprofit that advocates organic practices. (A study conducted by an organization with an admitted agenda should be the first red flag here.) To further the problem, the institute set up trials and studies to prove their hypothesis. That, folks, is bad science. Experiments are supposed to try and falsify a hypothesis, not prove it.
The white paper published by the institute is laden with fear driving commentary and a lack of analyzed data. The study claims that organic has fewer input costs, uses less energy and yields just as much or high compared to conventional methods, even that organic crops are more adaptable to the potential changes attributed to global warming. To use an industry term, this sounds like a “snake oil” study.
If it sounds to good to be true, then it probably is.