Gene Logsdon: Playing God With The Weather…


The Contrary Farmer

Thanks to Big Ag and Big Data, our worries about the weather are just about over. There is the possibility, another one of those blessings that is “just around the corner,” when we will know exactly which day to plant which field to which crop to be assured of abundant yields. The long-awaited paradise of guaranteed weather is almost here. And if, God forbid, it doesn’t always work out, Big Insurance will cover our losses. You can’t lose. Sell those stocks, ditch those derivatives, off that money in offshore accounts. Buy up every last acre of farmland out there.

I hope I’m joking, but maybe not. If what I read in the New Yorker (Nov. 11 issue, 2013) comes true, it could happen. Or at least some people think it could happen.  (It is interesting that I keep finding really detailed articles about agriculture in big city newspapers and magazines these days.) Monsanto has just bought something called the Climate Corporation for a billion bucks or so. The Climate Corporation is an insurance company mainly selling crop insurance to farmers at around $40 an acre average, according to the article. The reason this seems (to some) to be good news is that it will make farmers better producers because crop insurance companies like to hedge their bets. For instance, car insurers want cars to be as safe as possible to minimize payouts. Crop insurers want to minimize crop losses for the same reason Climate Corporation has this brilliant notion that Big Data can supply them with enough climate, weather and agronomic information to avoid most catastrophes in the farm fields. Everybody will win. According to this article, Climate Corporation’s scientists “process 50 terabytes of weather information every day, roughly the equivalent of a hundred thousand movies or ten million songs.”  I repeat, every day. “The data include eight years worth of soil, moisture and precipitation records for each of the twenty nine million farm fields in the U.S.”

Did you know there were twenty nine million farm fields in the U.S.?

The company can “create moisture and precipitation maps so precise that in some cases a farmer can determine whether the field on one side of the road is wetter than the field on the other side.” Why are people so worried about NSA snooping into our private lives? Looks like I can’t pee in my corn field any more without Monsanto knowing it.

I wonder if anyone at Climate Corporation understands that one of the biggest joys of farming is walking or driving out to the fields to check on growing conditions.  Doing this on a computer from afar won’t happen until there are no real farmers left. Evidently Big Ag foresees that day coming. Executives will be able to turn on their computers and take a look at the twenty nine million fields out there somewhere over the rainbow and make planting and harvesting decisions. In addition, Monsanto must be dreaming of the ultimate monopoly. It seems to have spent years trying, in effect, to patent all plant life. Now it hopes to patent the weather too.

Echoing the words of a farmer I know who grows crops in three different counties, this insurance deal “is not about better production or protection but just a way to finally gain complete control over us. The old saying has it right. Take not and ye shall not be taken.”

One Comment

Banking gangsters are at risk of involuntary sexual climax when reading this.

Anyone remember the biggest insurance company in the world that had to be nationalized? AIG was, and is likely still is, central to the vast set of securities crimes that continue to be revealed. Various well dressed criminals are paying about ten percent of what they stole in fines to the Feds, without admitting any guilt. What a great time to embark on another grand insurance scam.

So many vast crimes. So little reliable information. No one going to jail. Such an opportune time to steal ever more using the same confidence games over and over without fear of consequence. This is the reality of the day. Hold on to your shirt. The gangsters have their eye on it as they invite the gullible to buy into exotic gambling in the form of speculative finance. Like I said. I have a little trouble having a comic view of all this. On the other hand look forward to the mass media now trumpeting ever more dire temperature rises, sooner, in contradiction to the line that there is “controversy” about global warming (actually climate chaos). I am wondering if all this creates mass intellectual impairment. We just stand there like a herd of buffalo being picked off by a distant marksman, wondering why everyone is falling down and not moving any more. Natural selection has an answer for this problem.

Money has become so concentrated that real equities, that present real opportunities (and not just another artificial bubble) are increasingly scarce. Collectable art prices are going through the stratosphere. A previous era of vast inequality in Europe in the late Middle Ages saw the rich investing in Cathedrals and buying Church dispensations for their sins. This group of thieves don’t seem to care about posterity. Leave the Earth a smoking cinder, they seem to say.