Rocky Barker: White says climate change worse on range than ranching

Rocky Barker: White says climate change worse on range than ranching. Idaho Statesman.

I thought this might be joke. RM

Certainly a lesson in bad logic. Of course, a nearby supernova would be worse than climate change; duh.

White, of course, is trying to argue that conservationists should spend more time working on climate change and less on bad grazing practices. Unfortunately for White, grazing lands not suitable for grazing or overgrazing makes the effect of climate change yet more severe. Removing livestock, especially cattle, makes the rangelands more resistant to climate change.

Recent studies (cited on this blog by Brian Ertz), also indicate that the practice of grazing marginal and submarginal lands changes them from carbon sinks (meaning they take up a net amount of carbon from the atmosphere) into carbon sources (release a net amount of carbon and other greenhouse gases to the atmosphere).

Therefore, fighting to reduce grazing is an excellent way to retard climate change. So please volunteer to help.



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  1. john weis Avatar
    john weis

    I wrote an op ed in the sl trib a few weeks ago on this very subject, and got, last count, 81 thumbs down. people in utah don’t want to hear this. add climate change to bad grazing practices and you end up with land that won’t support any life except that with four wheels and a red flag. or maybe that is the goal??

  2. JB Avatar


    Roughly 72% of Utahans voted for Bush in the last presidential election, making Utah the most conservative state in the union (at least by that measure). My guess is at least half of those still haven’t accepted the indisputable fact that the earth’s climate is warming, let alone the idea that we might need to do something about it.

    Kudos for writing the letter, sorry to hear that it fell upon deaf ears.

  3. Brian Ertz Avatar

    it really defies reason what White is trying to get at – and why Barker would pass this along without a simple phone-call to others who might hold a different understanding – a substantiated understanding. It didn’t happen. White’s claims have been passed along by so many other publications – this is not even original – but it is irresponsible given the nature of global warming. I suppose that people want it to be true – they want it to be easy or happy.

    I am not convinced that global warming is worse for the range than livestock grazing either. There is certainly that potential – but the pervasive presence of livestock have been decimating Western watersheds and wildlife habitat for a very long time – fundamentally altering the constitution of wildlife and vegetation communities on a lot of land. It has, after all, been attributable to more listed/imperiled species than any other activity in the West.

    I agree with you Ralph – it’s absurd to suggest that because one or another is “worse” we should abandon regard for the other — it defies reason — especially when grazing compounds and accelerates the negative effect of global warming.

  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I like Rocky. He’s an old friend with many keen insights, but his writing shows a tendency, no doubt encouraged by the Idaho Statesman, to want to have everyone together holding hands singing songs of harmony — exploiter and exploited alike.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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