Sunday, July 01, 2018

Pray for … CO2!

Greenhouse Gas Shortage
Pray for … CO2!
Rain, too!
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

BJ called this morning in a fluster.
At issue was his ranch truck wouldn’t start. In that he had two new batteries, it wasn’t a matter of lack of starting power. It was what he found that was unsettling. It appeared one of the cable terminals had been beaten with a hammer or a rock and broken off from the terminal. Yes, the truck had been parked out in the pasture, and, yes, that is a normal and customary requirement on a ranch, but who on earth would pull such a stunt?
An unfamiliar vehicle wasn’t seen. Tracks around the truck were obvious, but we have had our little cowboy crew with us for the past week and they make lots of tracks to add to our own. As a matter of default, we looked southward toward the border. That may or may not be the source, but where and how the truck has been parked leaves fewer alternatives save those individuals who adhere to the belief that extractive industries are not welcome on these lands.
So, the mystery remains, but one thing is sure. In every direction we look, our world only appears to be on a collision course toward more contentiousness.
Pray for … CO2
There is an induced CO2 shortage.
Yessiree, there is a shortage of this terroristic greenhouse gas. Just about the time many of us were thinking about investing in eastern Alberta prairie land on the hedge that CO2 will render it le miaulement du chat for future Pima cotton plantings, this bit of set back hits us. What deepens the conundrum is the fact that the equally suspicious capitalistic and environmental barbarians who manufacture fertilizers are the main culprits.
It seems that northern latitude farmers are doing such a good job minimizing inputs that plants are shutting down as a result of adequate seasonal supplies. The outcome is byproduct (compressed) CO2 is not being produced in adequate quantities for its demand.
The problem is so bad that in England as many as 20,000 pubs are beginning to experience stoppages in beer production. Heineken’s John Smith’s Extra Smooth and Amstel kegs have already been hit. That company’s management is reported to be working furiously with customers to minimize disruptions and expected rioting if the problem is not solved. Looming ever larger is the increasing demand that is expected as the stretch run of the World Cup plays out.
“We’d be concerned this is not the time to go looking for a white van man who says (he) can supply (us) with gas,” said a spokesperson contemplating the soccer riots (interestingly, there was nothing said about a black van man).
On the undercard, though, it isn’t just the drunken suds crew who will be facing hardships. Since compressed CO2 stun guns are almost universally now used in the poultry, beef, and hog businesses, protein shortages are expected to increase. The British Poultry Council is reporting that up to 60% of poultry processing plants “could be knocked out within days” as this greenhouse gas shortage ensues.
Interestingly, nothing is being heard from the childhood nutrition advocates. Their handlers are apparently asleep at the helm. It was only beer that garnered center stage in the debate. Not even the Vatican seems to have its antenna raised about the children in the aftermath of the greenhouse gas shortage.
It makes one wonder about the whole business of paid advocacy, doesn’t it?
Rain, too!
Before we get on to shortages of most pressing local and regional concerns, it is important to note that only one CO2 plant is still operating on the European mainland, and it is not producing nearly enough to satisfy demand. Oh, yes, there are plants operating in southern Europe including the outposts of Hungary and Romania, but politics preclude those sources from entering into the proper northern European markets. It seems the outposts can’t navigate the regulatory obstacle course imposed by the gasless countries as dictated by their environmental gestapos.
Regulatory suffocation does have consequences.
So, the UK has a looming beer drought, but we are equally at risk. We are in the throes of yet another regular, tedious monsoonal drought. We need rain!
The forecast for an early monsoon is going up in smoke and dust and the 0-3-month forecast for above average moisture for our area is starting to drift westward. We are so used to that scenario that it isn’t unexpected, but it had felt so good to expect something out of the ordinary.
In the meantime, we will try to gather our families for part of the day on the 4th if our waters are not in need of attention. We will smile a half smile and hope that a monsoonal surprise will visit us just like memories of long ago July 4th rodeo performances in Silver City when it was still largely a hat town and simply a great place live. It was there, without fail, toward the beginning of the calf roping in the afternoon performance that the skies would open and the first summer rain would fall. Everything would stop, the mounted cowboys would remove their hats, lift their barren faces to the sky, and the entire crowd would hoot and holler. The announcer would join, and everybody would breath that wonderful smell of summer rain on a parched land a mile above sea level on the floor at the Sheriff’s Posse Arena.
By no means is there any suggestion that beer wasn’t flowing around town, and, yes, the afternoon thunder storm seemed to stimulate consumption thereof, but there was never a hint of a riot. The labels of Falstaff, Lonestar, Pearl, Schlitz, and Coors were variously sampled for strict quality assurances, but any fisticuffs were not related to shortages.
Westerners don’t riot. We’ve never relied upon mobs to do our bidding.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Yes, pray for rain!”

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