‘We now treat farmers as polluters … which is a very strange perspective’
Jaap Hanekamp is skeptical of the received wisdom in science. He won’t stop asking a simple question: “But, is this true?”
When it comes to the Dutch government’s calculations of ammonia and nitrogen oxide deposition—the basis of climate mandates that would slash livestock numbers and put many farmers out of work—Hanekamp is especially critical of “the science.”
He thinks it relies on vague definitions, excessive deference to expert judgment, and a narrow focus on costs rather than both costs and benefits.
“We now treat farmers as polluters, end of story, which is a very strange perspective,” he said.
Hanekamp, an associate professor of chemistry at University College Roosevelt in the Netherlands, made the comments in an interview with Roman Balmakov, host of EpochTV’s “Facts Matter.”
A 2019 Dutch court decision that hindered the construction of livestock facilities triggered an earlier round of protests by farmers.
A Science article on the protests described some of the harms attributed to nitrogen emissions: “In 118 of 162 Dutch nature reserves, nitrogen deposits now exceed ecological risk thresholds by an average of 50 percent.
“In dunes, bogs, and heathlands, home to species adapted to a lack of nitrogen, plant diversity has decreased as nitrogen-loving grasses, shrubs, and trees move in.”
“Nitrogen chemicals are nutrients—you need them for growing plants,” Hanekamp said.
Hanekamp believes the government has focused on nitrogen almost to the exclusion of other factors that affect nature, such as the location of groundwater relative to the surface.
He also questions whether the ecosystem shifts prompted by greater nitrogen deposition can be properly defined as “damage.”
“Is a change in biodiversity bad in itself, or is it just change?” he asked.
He pointed out that the Netherlands is far from pristine wilderness. Much of the land is artificial, reclaimed from the sea over recent centuries thanks to the ingenuity of man.