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Swedish Farmers Have Doubts About Climatologists and Climate Change 567

Posted by timothy
from the collection-of-data-is-not-an-anecdote dept.
cold fjord (826450) writes with this excerpt from ScienceNordic: Researchers the world over almost unanimously agree that our climate is changing ... But many farmers – at least Swedish ones – have experienced mild winters and shifting weather before and are hesitant about trusting the scientists. The researcher who discovered the degree of scepticism among farmers was surprised by her findings. Therese Asplund ... was initially looking into how agricultural magazines covered climate change. Asplund found after studying ten years of issues of the two agricultural sector periodicals ATL and Land Lantbruk that they present climate change as scientifically confirmed, a real problem. But her research took an unexpected direction when she started interviewing farmers in focus groups about climate issues. Asplund had prepared a long list of questions about how the farmers live with the threat of climate change and what they plan to do to cope with the subsequent climate challenges. The conversations took a different course: "They explained that they didn't quite believe in climate changes," she says. "Or at least that these are not triggered by human activities." (Original paper here.)
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Swedish Farmers Have Doubts About Climatologists and Climate Change

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  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @10:44AM (#47344487) Homepage

    Repeat that after me, Mr. Fjord.

    It is expected that there will be areas of happy, mild weather in any scenario you care to imagine. It is to be expected that a bunch of locals in regions suffering from happy, mild weather might not be as concerned about the issue as someone who had their house wiped out by a tornado.

    But it the concerns and insights of either set of persons would be irrelevant to the discussion of GLOBAL climate change (hint, the word that is BOLDED is important).

    Climate in not weather. Weather is not climate.

    • by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @10:53AM (#47344529)

      Meh, I live in Canada, future home of 250,000 km of tropical coastline.

      What's your retirement plan? I've invested all my RRSPs (like a 401k) into scuba gear and sunblock.

      Dive Nanasvik!

    • climate
      noun: climate; plural noun: climates

              the weather conditions prevailing in an area in general or over a long period.

      So, climate *is* weather.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by itzly (3699663)
        If climate *is* weather, then you and I have 1.7 children.
        • You can look up weather by different time periods. By the hour, the day, so why not the week, the month, the year, or even the century? As per the definition, there is no time period where weather ceases to be weather. Therefore climate is just weather over a longer period then we normally use, but that doesn't mean it is no longer weather.

          Which is why climate is weather but weather isn't (always) climate.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by nospam007 (722110) *

      "Repeat that after me, Mr. Fjord."

      You're talking to a Norwegian, the Swede is over there, the one with the H&M Jacket, on the IKEA stool, drinking Absolut Vodka, listening to ABBA, all dead giveaways.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by itzly (3699663)
        It's probably a reference to the submitter: cold fjord (826450) writes with this excerpt from ScienceNordic...
    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      Thing is, we are very sheltered from global effects, because none of the major symptoms of global warming are visible in Fennoscandian region due to persistent environmental factors, such as rising land that is rising much faster than sea levels, or the fact that Gulf Stream effectively amortises us from most of the extreme weather effects.

      The main things that they see are things like price fluctuations, many of which are in fact beneficial to farmers who produce the good that is going to be increasingly sc

    • by argStyopa (232550)

      That's funny, because every time there's some freak weather (or even normal weather that's mildly unpleasant) I could easily post 10+ articles from major public media sources that assert "this is an effect/indicator of climate change".

      Strangely, I don't see all the 'weather isn't climate' folks posting then....

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ArsonSmith (13997)

        The number one rule of science is "Question Everything(*)"

        (*)except Global Warming.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 29, 2014 @10:48AM (#47344501)

    Anecdotally, I don't believe the Earth revolves around the sun and YOU CAN'T MAKE ME.

    That doesn't mean it's not the case, that I'm qualified to research or understand the model or that my opinion holds ANY weight whatsoever.

    What it means is that on some topics, the "majority opinion" doesn't really have much bearing on the facts of the matter - and thus "Democratic" approaches to dealing with problems that are important but beyond the scope/scale of one person or group's anecdotal experiences probably won't be successful without education.

    Should we listen to what they have to say? Absolutely. With that grain of salt handy, absolutely. They aren't 99% of the world's climatologists.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I think the point of the article isn't that this means anything about climate change, rather that these are people likely to be more heavily affected by climate change than anyone else - they are the ones that should be taking an interest and being involved, and the exact opposite appears to be happening, they are denying it.

    • by u38cg (607297)
      While in general I agree with you - you are talking about a group of people here who do their life's work at the junction of the earth and the air. It is true they may be misguided or misinformed. But their opinions were not arrived at through talk radio.
      • While in general I agree with you - you are talking about a group of people here who do their life's work at the junction of the earth and the air. It is true they may be misguided or misinformed. But their opinions were not arrived at through talk radio.

        No, they formed them through the internet, like everyone else these days. Where do you think these people live, anyway?

      • by ultranova (717540) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @12:58PM (#47345169)

        While in general I agree with you - you are talking about a group of people here who do their life's work at the junction of the earth and the air. It is true they may be misguided or misinformed. But their opinions were not arrived at through talk radio.

        The chances are that they arrived at them through the time-honored "head in bushes" -method: Something will cause me great harm if true. I don't really have any real power over it, nor any way to significantly mitigate the damage through preparation. Therefore, I'll disbelief it to protect myself from stress and worry.

        If true, such feeling of disempowerment is a bigger problem to Sweden than climate change. The latter is ultimately a matter of enduring hardship and adapting, which is something the Nordics are quite familiar with; but the former is a spiritual malaise that ultimately leads to dysfunctional society and democracy de facto falling and degenerating to corporacy, as has happened in the US.

  • That proves it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @10:50AM (#47344517) Homepage Journal
    We can safely discard decades of satellite data and trends on global weather and climate, and the analysis of all climatologists all around the world, because a few carefully choosen farmers in sweden think that it is not happening.
    • That's not what the article says. Perhaps you should read it more carefully.
  • by mdsolar (1045926) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @10:59AM (#47344565) Homepage Journal
    Maps showing anomalies for summer heat in the paper "Perception of climate change" by Hansen et al. show Sweden as having led a charmed existence so far. http://www.pnas.org/content/10... [pnas.org]

    The US Northwest and Mid-Atlantic, A region around the Urals and China have been fortunate thus far as well.
    • The US Northwest and Mid-Atlantic, A region around the Urals and China have been fortunate thus far as well.

      I've been to Scandinavia and it's COLD there. TBH if I lived there I'd want all the warming I could get.

  • They want to make Scandinavia the breadbasket of Europe.
  • So I went into the thesis.

    There is NOTHING quantitative here. Department of Thematic Studies? WTF?

    As far as I can tell this is a conclusion based on building castles in the air.

  • by Livius (318358) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @11:38AM (#47344769)

    The key is the last item in the article:

    “This is a resistance to decrees which they think undermine competitive Swedish agricultural production,”

    The researcher has probably never spent time on a farm. She apparently had a stereotype of farmers as victims of big industry helplessly struggling to live in harmony with nature in the face of changing climate. In real life farmers are industry - the agricultural industry. They work very hard to maintain a farm, a farm being something radically out of balance with nature. Unless the laws and 'free' 'trade' agreements change to alter their economic incentives, their focus will be on their immediate, short-term economic situation and whatever mythology is tied up with their understanding of those economics.

    The telling part is "Or at least that these are not triggered by human activities." If the climate is changing, then the question of the cause is the first part of finding a solution, but the problem does not magically become less serious depending on who or what the cause is. Someone who goes off-topic about human activities is trying - poorly - to rationalize their denial.

  • And as we know, farmers are on the cutting edge of science.
    • And as we know, farmers are on the cutting edge of science.

      Many are, actually, because agricultural science is one area where the government both funds it very well (at least in the US) and there's a lot of work put into practical applications. (Some) farmers are using RTK GPS for tending their fields, robots equipped with vision processing to pick fruit (a piece of fruit's IR reflectivity is an excellent way to judge ripeness) and so on.

      I know someone who owns a milk farm. He jokes he's got a "degree

    • by thule (9041)
      Actually... successful farmers do need to keep up with the latest and greatest and evaluate cost/benefit of those advances. I really hate that people think that farmers are idiots. The ones that are, went out of business years ago.
  • I've never eaten any food from Sweden, other than a few candy fish. Is it logical for me to doubt the existence of Swedish agriculture based on it not affecting me (as far as I know)?

  • A couple of years ago I talked with a swedish meteorologist that explained me it's quite difficult to shame people in his country about their impact on global warming, because definitely when you spend a very large part of the year with few sunny hours and one meter of snow at your door stop, "a bit warmer" definitely doesn't sound this bad.
    I expect this applies to Swedish farmers as well...

    • by PPH (736903)

      Sweden and some other northerly countries are probably situated in much better locations to observe minor climatic variations. A bit hotter probably doesn't mean much in the Midwest of the USA, where they already have long growing seasons. It means a lot where a few degrees can make the difference between sucess and failure of a crop and an entire society. And having such a sensitive indicator makes them better judges of past climate patterns.

    • by am 2k (217885)

      Well, if the Gulf Stream [wikipedia.org] ceases to exist due to the changes (which has been considered a couple of times), the Swedes won't be all that glad I guess. Siberia will look like a warm and cozy place in comparison. Rome will be a bit colder than New York.

  • by wisebabo (638845) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @12:10PM (#47344943) Journal

    So while I'm not ready to completely discount the stories of some Swedish "focus groups" (from the article), that anecdotal evidence would be balanced (overwhelmed? flooded? washed away? submerged?) by the experiences of tens of millions of rice farmers here in S.E. Asia (Mekong delta) who are literally seeing their future disappear before their eyes.

    I think the rate of inundation by the ocean here (I live in Vietnam) is getting ridiculous, I frequently read in the local papers about KILOMETERS per year of rice paddies being lost to the sea; if not by direct submergence then by saltwater infiltration. I don't think there's a shadow of a doubt to these farmers that SOMETHING very bad is happening, though honestly I'm not sure if many of them have even heard of climate change.

    Now of course there are a lot of other things going on that could be contributing to this. Overuse of groundwater, damming of the Mekong, improper irrigation; I'm not a climate scientist and I haven't screened out those effects (of course climate scientists who've looked at this closely have and they say the effect is real). But neither are those Swedes climate scientists so if their unprofessional opinion is that nothing out of the ordinary is going on, well I've got ten times (a hundred times? a thousand times?) more opinions here to counter that. Then again, there just might be some biases in listening more to white europeans as opposed to brown asians so maybe their opinions don't count. (I rarely if ever see any articles in Western media about the tremendous loss to agriculture that these farmers in the Mekong are facing; the rice basket to HUNDREDS of millions of people; nor do I see articles about the gloomy forecasts made by the governments here that in 20 years or so millions of people in cities like mine, saigon, will be flooded out).

    • by PPH (736903)

      Now of course there are a lot of other things going on that could be contributing to this. Overuse of groundwater, damming of the Mekong, improper irrigation;

      All possible. And you need an answer in a timely manner. And if its going to be expensive to implement, you are going to need some level of certainy before your country invests millions in schemes to correct the wrong problem.

      I'm not a climate scientist and I haven't screened out those effects

      But if you were a climate scientist, everything would look like AGW. And if you were a hydrologist, everything would look like ground water mismanagement. It seems that every special interest requires its own scientific discipline in order to secure the most funding possible. Wouldn't

  • by Hartree (191324) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @12:10PM (#47344947)

    If we get rid of all the farmers, not only will we have unity of ideas, but everyone will starve so we've solved anthropogenic global warming.

    Of course, even at this point it may well take a long time for the existing effects to reverse, but we can rest easy in our graves. ;)

    (Extreme tongue in cheek warning for the humorless bastards on both sides of this flamepit topic who'd take anything seriously no master how ridiculous.)

  • by mark_reh (2015546) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @01:12PM (#47345241) Journal

    I guess we Americans aren't the only stupid people in the world!

  • by Jawnn (445279) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @01:36PM (#47345361)
    Just yet another small group relying on provincialist reasoning to deny the existence of something that vast majority of the world's experts agree, after carefully collating data collected on a truly global scale, does exist. Same ignorant denialist shit. Different day. If you substitute "Energy Industry Shill on Fox News" for "Swedish Farmers" would this even be news?
  • Climate change is happening and nothing is going to stop it. The thing is, nobody is willing to make sacrifices to stop human-made climate change. Essentially we will have to cease being such zealous consumers of resources. That 's never going happen generally because very few people are willing to:

    Give up your cars, including hybrids and electricals. Those may be low or zero-emission vehicles, but the factory where they were build isn't.
    Cancel your annual flight down south each winter.
    Give up your 300W

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