Climate Smart Agriculture

by Judith Curry

In 2010 a cluster of United Nations and pan-African organizations released a little book entitlted “Climate Smart Agriculture.” Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) “seeks to incease sustainable productivity, strengthen farmers’ resilience, reduce agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration.” The little book and the concept are getting a lot of attention here at COP17.  [link]

From the UNFAO page:

Climate change poses many threats to agriculture, including the reduction of agricultural productivity, production stability and incomes in areas of the world that already have high levels of food insecurity and limited means of coping with adverse weather. Being able to transform agriculture to feed a growing population in the face of a changing climate without hindering the natural resource base will not only achieve food security goals but also help mitigate the negative effects of climate change. More productive and resilient agriculture will need better management of natural resources, such as land, water, soil and genetic resources through practices, such as conservation agriculture, integrated pest management, agroforestry and sustainable diets.

From the document “Climate Smart Agriculture: Policies, Practices and Financing for Food Security, Adaptation and Mitigation:”

Agriculture in developing countries must undergo a significant transformation in order to meet the related challenges of achieving food security and responding to climate change. Projections based on population growth and food consumption patterns indicate that agricultural production will need to increase by at least 70 percent to meet demands by 2050. Most estimates also indicate that climate change is likely to reduce agricultural productivity, production stability and incomes in some areas that already have high levels of food insecurity. Developing climate‐smart agriculture1 is thus crucial to achieving future food security and climate change goals. This paper examines some of the key technical, institutional, policy and financial responses required to achieve this transformation. Building on case studies from the field, the paper outlines a range of practices, approaches and tools aimed at increasing the resilience and productivity of agricultural production systems, while also reducing and removing emissions. The second part of the paper surveys institutional and policy options available to promote the transition to climate‐smart agriculture at the smallholder level. Finally, the paper considers current financing gaps and makes innovative suggestions regarding the combined use of different sources, financing mechanisms and delivery systems.

Key Messages:

  1. Agriculture in developing countries must undergo a significant transformation in order to meet the related challenges of food security and climate change.
  2. Effective climate-smart practices already exist and could be implemented in developing country  agricultural systems.
  3. Adopting an ecosystem approach, working at landscape scale and ensuring intersectoral coordination and cooperation is crucial for effective climate change responses.
  4. Considerable investment is required in filling data and knowledge gaps and in research and development of technologies, methodologies, as well as the conservation and production of suitable varieties and breeds
  5. Institutional and financial support will be required to enable smallholders to make the transition to climate-smart agriculture.
  6. Strengthened institutional capacity will be needed to improve dissemination of climate-smart information and coordinate over large areas and numbers of farmers.
  7. Greater consistency between agriculture, food security and climate change policy-making must be achieved at national, regional and international levels.
  8. Available financing, current and projected, are substantially insufficient to meet climate change and food security challenges faced by the agriculture sector.
  9. Synergistically combining financing from public and private sources, as well as those earmarked for climate change and food security are innovative options to meet the investment requirements of the agricultural sector.
  10. To be effective in channelling fast-track financing to agriculture, financing mechanisms will need to take sector-specific considerations into account.

Related posts:

From Climate smart agriculture should be livelihood-smart too:

“Our research shows that when farmers change their farming practices their returns are not immediate and in some cases there is a drop in income. For climate-smart agriculture to work there has to be incentive for farmers to change and maintain new production systems,” says Neufeldt, speaking at the ongoing COP17 Climate Change Talks in Durban, South Africa.

“Climate-smart agriculture won’t be effective unless it specifically targets food security and livelihoods. Farmers must have sufficient incentives to change the way they manage their production systems,” says Neufeldt.

Sayon Kourouma, is a farmer from Guinea, West Africa, who has benefitted from an ICRAF partnership project for peanut tree farmers, that seeks to cater to household needs while improving the way in which local forests are managed.

“I am now earning four times as much as I made in the past,” says,Sayon. “If my children are sick, I don’t have to ask my husband for money, I can pay for medicines myself.”

Other signs of her new-found prosperity include a cow and her mobile phone which she uses to transact business. To cater to her basic necessities, Sayon no longer relies on solutions that bring about deforestation. To her, climate-smart agriculture has helped her adapt to climate change while improving her living standards.

Small or micro-scale farming is the primary source of livelihood for over two-thirds of Africans. With this great number of farmers, climate change adaptation can be enhanced once the farmers have the right incentives to participate in climate-smart agriculture. Farmers in the Thorlakon study believe the most effective way to adapt to climate-related shocks is through improving their general standard of living.

From Climate information:  Malian farmers most valuable tool?

Last year in villages across Mali, some farmers harvested bumper crops of millet, sorghum and maize, while their neighbours struggled to produce a high-enough yield to feed their families. Yet they all faced the same dry spells, high temperatures and unpredictable rains.

So what caused such dramatic difference between these two groups? The first group of farmers was not simply lucky. Rather they were reaping the benefits of having had access to weather information and weather-based farm management advisories, thanks to an innovative programme set up by the Mali government in an effort to stave off hunger.

“The success of Mali’s program has a lot to do with the programme being jointly managed by a number of different groups,” says Dr Robert Zougumoré, CCAFS’ West Africa programme leader.

Government agencies, research institutions, local-language radio stations, extension workers, and farmer groups all play important roles. “However, you have to start with the farmers’ needs; they know best what information is needed to farm successfully,” says Zougumoré.

Often, the agencies that supply climate information are disconnected from the needs of potential users. Farmers want information to guide basic decisions, such as when to plant their seeds. They must time planting early enough to benefit from the full rainy season, but not so early that a dry spell could destroy the seedlings. Good information could help them balance the risks and benefits of early planting.

JC comments:  The strategies outlined here seem quite promising.  Along these lines, Peter Webster and I have been tossing around ideas for making better use of weather forecast information (from days to 3 months) to support smart agriculture in the developing world.  We are working on how to make the finance for this to be eventually self-sustaining through a social business model.  I look forward to your ideas on climate (and weather) smart agriculture.

204 responses to “Climate Smart Agriculture

  1. CO2 makes green things grow better while using less water.
    Smart Agriculture should take advantage of that.
    We must get the CO2 science right.

    • CO2 is a powerful plant hormone analog with differential effects across species.

      We must get the CO2 science right before we continue galloping CO2 emission that is not unlike injecting toddlers with human growth hormones because we like the look of big muscles.

      • Bart R

        Your “toddlers with muscles” analogy is illogical. CO2 is NOT a “powerful plant hormone”.

        It is plant food.(essential for ALL life on our planet).

        Studies show that increased CO2 levels increase crop yield of almost all major crop plants.

        Max

      • Bob | December 4, 2011 at 11:06 pm |

        Why don’t you take a minute and look up the definition of a hormone.

        Could you be more specific, Bob?

        See, I said “hormone-like effects,” not “hormone” per se.

        More specifically, tiny changes in CO2 in the 180-2500 ppmv range are known to sharply impact the key plant hormones ethelyne and the gibberellins. In this way, even small shifts in CO2 have amplified hormonal effects.

        Or do you dispute that ethylene and the gibberellins are plant hormones?

        Compare the tiny concentrations of CO2 that have such huge effects to the levels of Nitrogen or phosphates in plant food. I know well, having hefted many tons of the stuff in my youth, that CO2 has nothing on the weight of other plant foods, in the same way as steroids are needed in tiny amounts compared to the weight of food taken in by an organism.

        The first 180 ppmv of CO2 is plant food. The rest, that’s drug.

        Also, you get no calories by “digesting” steroids. In fact, calories are consumed micrsomially in metabolizing steroids.

        Plants, animals digesting hormones? Not so much with the getting calories, I agree. Flames digesting steroids do produce calories of heat, however.. and CO2 absorbed by plant metabolic processes consume, that is store, calories. Another way they’re like steroids. (But not the point I was making.)

        If you, Bob, are this careless here, where else?

      • Bart R –

        You make several declarations here (in particular, ‘the first 180 ppmv of CO2 is plant food. The rest, that’s drug’). Could you link to the sources, please?

      • manacker | December 4, 2011 at 6:40 pm |

        CO2 is a plant food, this is true. (Very cunning graphic by the way. It simplifies the science. More simple than is possible to still call science. Did you draw it yourself? I’ve known a lot of steroid pushers who didn’t like it when their performance-enhancing ‘medicine’ was badmouthed.)

        You know, you can digest and get calories from alcohol. Come to think of it, you can digest and get calories from steroids as well.

        CO2 is essential for all plant life on our planet (various levels of CO2 depending on specific plant and conditions) at levels coincidentally as high as 180 ppmv. After 180 ppmv, CO2 is tolerated well by most plants up to well over 500 ppmv.

        I’ve participated in past exchanges at Climate Etc., where the following came to light:

        The beneficial plant hormone-like effects of CO2 between 180 ppmv and about 2500 ppmv (at which point no plant shows additional positive outcome) compete with negative hormonal changes in plants: premature leaf loss, overconcentration of vigor into legginess (making plant structures more brittle), root loss, deformities in sexual organs, reduction in nutrient concentration in fruiting bodies, and reduced reproductive success vary across species. Some 90% of the beneficial effects are realized by around 500 ppmv, which plants often obtain at night in dense undergrowth.

        See, like most things, there’s a balance to be struck, and the situation is not so simple as you say.

        You want to drug your crops and all plants on the planet in an uncontrolled experiment without the consent of the rest of us, and you don’t expect there to be a problem?

      • My hoe wants to know, do weeds like CO2?

      • Bart, you are silly. Why don’t you take a minute and look up the definition of a hormone. Also, you get no calories by “digesting” steroids. In fact, calories are consumed micrsomially in metabolizing steroids. If you are this careless here, where else?

      • Bart R

        Thanks for your long dissertation on plant hormones.

        The crux of the matter is:

        – CO2 is a life-essential food for plants and, hence, for all life on Earth
        – elevated levels of CO2 have been shown to enhance yields of most crop plants

        All the rest is “happy talk”.

        Max

      • JCH

        You ask: “Do weeds like CO2?”

        95% of all plants are of the C3 plant variety, while less than 1% are C4.

        Most weeds are of the C4 plant variety, while most crop grains (except corn and millet) are of the C3 variety.

        Tests have shown that both C3 and C4 crops react positively to enhanced CO2 levels, although the effect is greater for the C3 varieties (41% increase with 2xCO2 versus 22%).
        http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/CO2plants.htm

        For example, one test showed
        http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/nf/future_weeds

        C4 pigweed reduced soybean yields at ambient CO2 by 45 percent. At elevated CO2, it reduced yields by only 30 percent

        For more information, see H. Poorter, “Interspecific variation in the growth response to an elevated and ambient CO2 concentration”, Vegetation (1993), pp. 77-97.

        Sylvan H. Wittwer, Food, Climate and Carbon Dioxide, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Fla., 1995, concludes:

        The effects of an enriched CO2 atmosphere on crop productivity, in large measure, as positive, leaving little doubt as the benefits for global food security …. Now, after more than a century, and with the confirmation of thousands of scientific reports, CO2 gives the most remarkable response of all nutrients in plant bulk, is usually in short supply, and is nearly always limiting for photosynthesis … The rising level of atmospheric CO2 is a universally free premium, gaining in magnitude with time, on which we can all reckon for the foreseeable future.

        So looks like you’ll have higher crop yields and less hoeing to do.

        A true win-win situation!

        Max

      • The IDSO family are experts on this topic. See http://www.co2science.org/ and http://www.co2science.org/data/plant_growth/plantgrowth.php. They abstract a lot of the literature. I have never heard of Bart R’s results, but it has been years since I studied this issue. Where are the citations?

        If atmospheric CO2 is the global food supply, do we want to reduce it just when our food needs are rapidly growing? This question should be a major part of the carbon cycle research program , but it is ignored. It is all CAGW research, a travesty.

      • kch | December 5, 2011 at 7:01 am |
        David Wojick | December 5, 2011 at 6:49 am |
        manacker | December 5, 2011 at 5:59 am |
        Thanks for your long dissertation on plant hormones.

        I was trying to avoid a long dissertation on plant hormones, Max. As really, nobody likes reading much about plant hormones, in my experience.

        Perhaps it’s to do with repressed guilt about drugging all those innocent little flowers with performance-enhancing sex-altering substances every time they start up their SUV?

        Whatever it is, your friends the Idso family, experts in the benefits of CO2, and relentless promoters of the ‘benefits’ of CO2, and framers of the discussion of CO2 on their websites and with their foundations and in their literature, selectors of what gets published at their websites and with their support, appear very efficient and finding pretty much only benefits of CO2, for some reason squelching, ignoring, or rephrasing and spinning any indication of CO2 detriments.

        So citing the most one-sided family in all of science on the issue is hardly impressive, Dr. Wojick, and something I’d have expected a man with your vast experience in merchandising science to not be tricked by.
        The crux of the matter is:

        – CO2 is a life-essential food for plants and, hence, for all life on Earth
        – elevated levels of CO2 have been shown to enhance yields of most crop plants

        All the rest is “happy talk”.

        The Idso webfans may like the happy talk. Scientists like, one would hope, truth talk.

        When they speak of “enhance yields of most crop plants”, the Idsos do not lie. Under the steroid-like influence of levels of baseline CO2 rapidly approaching 50% higher than it has ever naturally been, and at nearly 72% above its 800,000 year mean of 230 ppmv, certainly most crops are experiencing increased bulk. Lower nutrient concentration, but increased bulk.

        Most crops, but not all. That is, most have lower nutrient concentration and more bulk, but some just have lower nutrient concentration.

        The effects are nonlinear, and appear largely logarithmic or asymptotic approaching some levels between 800 ppmv and 2500 ppmv. Some 80% of the benefits for most crops has already been obtained at present CO2 levels. The next doubling of CO2 in excess of the pre-industrial maximum will get us to no less than 90% of the benefit CO2 will produce for most crops.

        Note I said benefit. The downsides aren’t as non-linear, and they just keep going and going. Lower nutrient concentration. Shorter lifespan. Shorter shelf life. Reduced reproductive success. Increased brittleness and reduced resistance to damage and disease.

        Now, the benefits, they are subject to Liebig’s Law of the Minimum, so the crops benefit most where ideal conditions of irrigation and fertilizer, high levels of pesticides and even warmth throughout growing season, are available. Otherwise, the excess CO2 goes to waste. Well, not to waste. The detrimental effects are still active.

        Interestingly, the effects both beneficial and detrimental appear to affect domesticated varieties slightly more strongly than plants in the wild. This may be Liebig’s Law (more of a guideline, really), or something else. I’m
        unaware of any studies that look into why this is in detail.

        And it’s all differential across species. We know different species of plants evolved different mechanisms of handling CO2 at different CO2 levels. About half of all phytoplankton and a large variety of crop plants evolved their dominant mechanism under present conditions of CO2, so are dependent on lower CO2 levels.

        Plants with more elasticity in coping with this hormone-like airborne drug will tend, one expects, to be more ancient lineages.

        Ferns and ivy may thrive. Sorghum, pineapples and tomatoes, not so much.

        And if you want references and citations, try this. Google “CO2 plant hormone,” and just read whatever you won’t find on Idsos sites.

      • Ferns and ivy may thrive. Sorghum, pineapples and tomatoes, not so much.

        That settles it for me. Starving kids in Africa is one thing, but threatening my heirloom tomato crop is simply unacceptable.

        Not to mention my sorghum crop.

      • Bart R –

        My apologies for assuming that someone who spoke so authoritatively on a subject would have the references immediately to hand.

        If this was an old established subject on this blog I could see you telling me to go do my homework, but I was simply requesting a pointer into the research on your claim – which I do not recall having been made here before now.

        As it is, I’m far more likely to wade into manaker and Wojicks references to see if they back up their statements.

      • Bart R

        Thanks for your long filibuster.

        We have beaten this dog to death.

        The data out there is overwhelming. And it tells us very plainly that increased CO2 levels act to enhance crop yields of both C3 and C4 crops, with a higher impact for C3 crops, which include 95% of all plants and most crop plants. Interestingly, most weeds are of the C4 variety, which show somewhat lower response to increased CO2.

        As a side benefit for regions suffering from chronic water shortage or droughts, both C3 and C4 plants improve their water-use efficiency significantly with increased CO2 levels while reducing evapotranspiration.

        http://buythetruth.wordpress.com/2009/06/13/photosynthesis-and-co2-enrichment/

        The study also shows that at higher levels of CO2, the optimal temperatures for photosynthesis increase.

        Several independent studies have been made for the impact of increased CO2 levels on the growth rates of various different crop plants. In addition to the studies on the major grains (corn, rice, wheat, etc.), I have seen studies on soybeans, grapes, avocados, bananas, oranges, apples, strawberries, raspberries, bell peppers, asparagus and lettuce.

        As far as optimum CO2 levels are concerned, one study states:
        http://www.quickgrowsouth.com/gardening_articles/co2_enrichment.html

        Levels of 800 – 1800 ppm have proven to be optimal for the majority of crops grown under protected cultivation and having CO2 monitoring equipment then becomes important to make sure this level is reached and maintained. CO2 enrichment will have its greatest effect on accelerating photosynthesis and growth where other factors are also optimal – that is there is sufficient light for photosynthetic reactions and temperatures are not limited. Temperatures can be run a little higher where CO2 is enriched and light levels are at optimum levels.

        I can provide you links to all the studies cited above, if you are truly interested (BTW, they are not by the Idsos).

        It is a lot of reading, but once you’ve gone through all of it, you will be convinced that higher atmospheric CO2 levels in the range we are likely to see in the distant future from human CO2 emissions will be generally beneficial to crop yields.

        Max

      • spot on manacker, even Bart R is 25%made of carbon; carbon is not a trace element, but a basic building block. Was he talking about CO2; those bubbles in beer and champagne are 988988ppm CO2. 100 000% higher concentration in the champagne bubbles, than outside in nature. Panic Bart R, BOO!!!

      • kch | December 5, 2011 at 1:28 pm |

        My apologies for assuming that someone who spoke so authoritatively on a subject would have the references immediately to hand.

        No, no. It’s I who ought apologize. I was short on time, and hoped to provide a start to independent investigation, rather than provide a serious answer catering to your earnest desire for some source citations.

        If this was an old established subject on this blog I could see you telling me to go do my homework, but I was simply requesting a pointer into the research on your claim – which I do not recall having been made here before now.

        That’d have been the homework of Googling the terms “Climate Etc.” & “Judith Curry” & plant hormone, and looking into the threads starting around February 26 2011 with my own feeble exchanges with the redoubtable Ferdinand Englebeen?

        And feel free to look at the half dozen threads on the blog covering the topic before and after in the comments (on both sides), and to decide for yourself what you believe.

        As it is, I’m far more likely to wade into manaker and Wojicks references to see if they back up their statements.

        And I have no problem with that. At all.

        Wojick’s and manacker’s citations back up my claim, if you spend enough time reading and researching them.

        Indeed, manacker’s C3/C4 claims about general cases of weeds being less benefitted by CO2 while crops are more benefitted (except corn, millet, sorghum, say.. aren’t those the major staple plants of the planet?.. and pineapple and.. Wow, under 1% of all plants is still a huge number of varieties, amounting to about a quarter of the nutrients we take in directly or indirectly.) And even some non-C4 plants are differentially sensitive to CO2, for example during germination.

        What’s the problem with 20%+ increase vs 40%+ increase? Simple: plants compete. This is an uncontrolled, unconsented, unresearched, untested effect we are expected to stand by and let run amok on the Pollyannaish word of CO2 zealots that there’s nothing but “benefit”.

        We’re only a couple of years away from the completion and publication in Germany of the first long term open field trials of CO2 in meadows. This puts us about where temperature was before the Yamal tree ring study. Which is pretty much absolute ignorance.

        The more we learn of CO2 in plants, the less it appears Idsos-like CO2-fanatics know.

        By the way, not to poison the well, but be careful of common tricks when you read about CO2 benefits for plants.

        One such trick takes dwarf varieties and shows the effects of growing them in two greenhouses with different CO2 levels.

        The one with no CO2 added goes below 180 ppmv routinely during the day, starving the dwarf plants.

        The one with over 2000 ppmv CO2 has so much CO2 that the hormones in the dwarf plants reach such levels as to overcome the genetic predisposition toward dwarfism, and the plants grow to their normal nondwarf size.

        This is then touted as a benefit of CO2. Like a 90 lb. Chihuahua would prove dog ‘food’ is healthy.

        So, really, I’m not terribly interested in providing further citations to those in past threads, where I don’t first warn of the manipulations about the field, and satisfy myself that I’ve done everything I can to persuade readers to think critically about what they read, beyond ordinary skepticism.

      • Bart, if anything over 250ppm is a drug, ie abnormal amounts, how does that tie in with prehistoric times when natural ppm was in the 1000s and massive plants were growing?

      • Bart R

        See my response above.

        All your arm waving and rationalizations cannot change change the basic fact that the evidence is unequivocal (to use a good IPCC word) that increased CO2 concentrations, to the levels we are likely to see some day in the far distant future from human CO2 emissions, will be beneficial for most crop plants.

        If you want to read all the scientific reports I have quoted, let me know and I will post links.

        ‘Nuff said.

        Max

      • Bart I think what manacker is saying is that *the science is settled* on the impact of elevated CO2 on plant life around the world. No uncertainty here.

      • Bart R

        FYI here are major crop plants of C3 and C4 types (data from Wiki and other sources):

        millions of metric tons
        C3 crops
        686 Wheat
        678 Rice
        330 Potato
        242 Sugar beet
        230 Soybean
        220 Cassava (manioc)
        152 Barley
        107 Yam
        29 Oat
        20 Beans (dry)
        19 Peas (dry)
        15 Rye
        12 Peas (field)
        7 Beans (green)

        C4 crops
        817 Corn
        690 Sugar cane
        58 Sorghum
        27 Millet

        As the studies I cited reported, the C3 crops will benefit more from 2xCO2 (~40% increase in yield) than the C4 plants (~20% increase).

        Max

      • Bart R –

        Thanks for the pointer to your discussion with FE (as it was buried in the midst of the 1100 comments following a post on another subject, I’d beg a little slack for missing it – by the same token, I’ll apologize for my tone, as I really should have been able to easily find it).

        As it stands, so far I’ve only managed to determine (for myself, anyway) that a further moderate increase in co2 levels (to 500 ppmv?) is probably a mixed blessing, and is probably less destructive to humanity in general than the economic measures needed to stop or reverse the increase in atmospheric co2.

        Still, another set of things to consider….

      • manacker

        the basic fact that the evidence is unequivocal (to use a good IPCC word) that increased CO2 concentrations, to the levels we are likely to see some day in the far distant future from human CO2 emissions, will be beneficial for most crop plants.

        While yourself, the Idsos, and stefanthedenier are convinced, I’m not.

        “Beneficial” reduced concentration of nutrients. “Beneficial” reduced reproductive success. “Beneficial” reduced root growth, thereby reduced soil vigor. “Beneficial” reduced disease resistance and damage repair.

        And really, you actually expect us to believe CO2 alone, by itself, uniformly produces 20%+ “benefit” (which I think must be your word for ‘mass’) in C4 and 40%+ in C3 plants?

        Or are you citing extremely idealized and rare results at the far edge of the data, discounting and eliminating every known downside?

        Unequivocal. Maybe the reason you don’t like when the IPCC uses it is because you don’t know what it actually means.

        Because you do a ton of equivocation about CO2 and plant “benefits”.

        CO2 has plant hormone like effects on plants. The good, and the bad. And the unknown, unexplored, impossible to estimate, impossible to foresee, risky, unconsented, arbitrary experiment forced on all of us by a few of us.

        And you don’t see any ethical question in that drug-dealer attitude at all?

      • A. C. Osborn | December 6, 2011 at 6:34 am |

        Bart, if anything over 250ppm is a drug, ie abnormal amounts, how does that tie in with prehistoric times when natural ppm was in the 1000s and massive plants were growing?

        By “prehistoric” do you mean when, exactly? 50 million years ago is the commonly accepted most recent date when CO2 was in the 1000s ppmv.

        There were no humans. There were few species we know today of any sort (as a ratio of the ones extant today).

        There were no C4 plants; the C4 mechanism didn’t develop until CO2 fell below the 1000s ppmv.

        That’s over half the phytoplancton in the oceans. Crops responsible directly or indirectly for about a quarter the nutrients we take in (other than sugars).

        The massive plants you speak of were largely ferns. You enjoy a good fern salad A.C.?

        I’m not suggesting CO2 will kill off all plants by poisoning them or something. I’m suggesting we’ll have more limited nutrition options, harder times raising some species, and many species — not just C4 plants — that cannot take hold in the new conditions as well as their competitors, and will be forced out.

        CO2 needs only tiny, a few hundred ppmv, doses to have potent hormonal effects on plants. It might be all benefit, sure — that’s doubtful, but possible. It might be mostly beneficial with little downside; still doubtful, but plausible.

        The thing is, we’re being forced to find out all over the planet with no way to opt out because a few Free Riders get to emit whatever they like all over our plants without our consent.

        How is that right?

      • The acronym IOKIYAR needs to be changed to “It’s settled science if you’re a skeptic”.

    • I agree: We need to “get the CO2 science right.”

      That might happen if world leaders “get the nuclear science right” and accept their total powerlessness over the forces that power the sun, the cosmos, and sustain life [1]; Forces that first appeared as a threat of mutual nuclear annihilation unless nations were united against a common enemy that world leaders would supposedly control – Global Climate Change [2].

      For the Holidays I may use a pictorial summary of [1] to communicate a message of peace and assurance to world leaders and ordinary citizens.

      Today’s news from the climate change summit in Durban illustrate the irrational fears that grip those who have not accepted reality and their powerlessness over the forces of nature.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16021217

      1. “Neutron Repulsion”, The APEIRON Journal, in press (2011)
      http://arxiv.org/pdf/1102.1499v1

      2. “Deep roots of the global climate scandal (1971-2011)”
      http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10640850/20110722_Climategate_Roots.pdf

  2. Always think Joel Salatin is worth reading on this topic, as it’s not just the developing world affected.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/life/archive/2011/07/inside-polyface-farm-mecca-of-sustainable-agriculture/242493/

    • Huh. Pasted the wrong link. Apologies:

      http://www.polyfacefarms.com/principles/

      • Where there exists a market, some enterprising individual will development and market a product to meet the demand. Sometimes a profit ensues.
        The larger agriculture question, not answered here, is how do we produce more on less with less? Currently, agriculture feeds more, above the minimum nutritional requirements, than ever before in recorded history. Can we do better? Likely, a better chance exists if politics is harnessed.

      • Brian Sim | December 4, 2011 at 3:53 pm |

        Are you suggesting the Polyface approach to politics?

        Pen up congressmen in a mobile coop, and move them around regularly to prevent overgrazing and spread the fertilizer they produce more evenly?

    • i skimmed that. it’s clear Joel Salatin is a very successful businessman, and I think his farming practices are great, and good for the environment.

      that’s got nothing to do with climate change, except by extreme accident.

      • i should add I only skimmed that because I read the Omnivore’s Dilemma so I had some idea what was coming. TOD didn’t have pictures though.

      • BillC

        I don’t disagree entirely. I’d quibble over the word ‘extreme’ in this context.

        Perhaps I’d say more ‘fortuitous coincident’ or ‘plausible synergy’.

        Either way, when North Americans talk about African or Latin American farms having not even considered our own farms first, we’re shallow hypocrits cast in the willing role of ugly blowhards.

        I put out Salatin’s example as a primer for those who wish to discuss the issue without sounding ignorant and two-faced.

        Where this concern doesn’t apply, Salatin’s generally a welcome read anyway, as a thoughtful farmer with interesting ideas and good track record.

  3. You may find the following book interesting:
    Maletta H. and Maletta E., Climate change, agriculture and food security in Latin America (Brentwood, Essex, 2011).

    Besides the specifics of the Latin American region, the book discusses the conceptual and methodological issues involved in the assessment of probable impacts of climate change on agriculture. Many frequent claims in this matter (including some cited in the post) are based on defective concepts and methods. One of them is the implicit belief that something like a “climate-dumb” agriculture does exist. Agriculture is itself a form of adaptation of human activity to the prevailing (local) environment, and its endogenous modification in the face of a changing climate must be incorporated into any analysis of possible impacts. There are several methods to that effect; the best ones by far are the “integrated assessment” approaches championed (among others) by teams such as the one headed by Dr Gunther Fischer at IIASA. In these approaches, farmers’ endogenous adjustment to prevailing conditions are part of the very definition of agriculture, and cannot be “kept constant” to estimate the “potential impact” of climate change on agriculture. The only impacts of climate change on agriculture are “residual” impacts after endogenous adaptations by farmers and connected economic agents.

  4. Farmers don’t give a damn about ‘climate.’ Farmers deal with weather. Climate is a statistical idealization – not ‘rain’ or ‘drought.’

    Africa’s farmers need to stop relying on small holdings that they dig with a stick. Does the United States or France feed itself that way? Peasant farming means being on the knife’s edge of starvating every year.

    What African farmers need is tractors and fertilizer and modern agricultural science and access to markets. You know, just like the rest of the ‘developed’ world. This is an attempt to make peasant farmers better peasant farmers, while keeping them ‘down on the farm.’

    The last thing Africans need is outsiders keeping them primitive.

    • Spent a great deal of time in the developing world talking to farmers, have we, MarkB?

      Spent so much time as Hector M. studying the issues involved?

      Worked in farming as much as Joel Salatin?

      Do you have a source to cite to support your claims of need for tractors?

      Not saying you’re wrong. Just interested in the sort of evidence that would support a skeptical inquiry.

      Because I don’t remember tractors liberating any generation of farmer in my family from the mortages and bills and uncertainties of debts undertaken to pay for expensive equipment, for all that not one of them would have gone without.

      • Our factories and cities were filled with people escaping the drudgery of the farm to improve themselves. The ‘back to the farm’ movement of the 1960s-70s – such as it was – was a fantasy of middle class suburban kids who never actually did a day’s work in their lives.
        If you’d personally like to go back to the days of peasant farming, you’re welcome to move to Africa. I’m sure you already have your ticket.

      • MarkB

        The way it was told in my family, the factories and cities were, filled though they may have been by people who found farming drudgery, also the place my grandparents went to in the off season to supplement their farm income, to try to make the farm go a little longer, to try to get by for their family while the farms went through hard times.

        I know given the choice of the drudgery of farm life and the drudgery of the steel mills and mines, what my grandparents would have preferred for themselves.

        I don’t see anything wrong with Joel Salatin’s methods, don’t find them backwards, and I believe you know far too little about the lot of peasants to comment on tickets.

        Many farms today are industrial corporate operations. For corn they’re largely subsidized operations that pump out ethanol to supplement fossil fuels on the taxpayers’ dime.

        Go ahead. Tell me more about farming. Or about all the time you’ve spent in Africa, or anywhere in developing countries.

        Share your wealth of experience and knowledge.

    • MarkB

      I agree. I’ve seen (as a child) the transition from horse-and-plow to tractor. Even a kid can see it is a good transition.

      I agree with what you’ve said about Africa in general, but they first need a political structure that will get tractors where they should be – otherwise you end up with another “oil for food” program.

    • Tractors and fertilizer may or may not be a good approach. Fertilizer is useful in areas where land costs and tilling costs are high – maximizing yield then makes sense. Pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, hybrid seeds are all somewhat expensive (and getting more expensive).

      As for adapting to climate change, I think that’s shooting ahead of the duck Farmers have to adapt to current climate and forecasted weather.

      • Why are they getting more expensive?

      • P.E.

        About 80% of fertilizers worldwide come from petrochemicals via the Haber Process. As petroleum prices increase, so too do fertilizer prices. And vice versa.

        Where one can replace petrochemicals with alternatives, one reduces prices both of food and of transportation.

        There are some other farm chemicals extracted too from petroleum as well.

        Certainly, most tractors run on petrochemicals.

        I haven’t seen many advertisements for hybrid tractors. ;)

        Also, after a run of extreme weather, depleted soils tend to be conditioned by modern methods, so the more extreme the weather, the greater the demand both for fertilizers and for fuel to drive your tractors.

        Or, Joel Salatin’s methods work too, where Joel farms. In other places, I’d tend to ask the local farmers what works, to start.

  5. Farming has always been a capital-intensive industry. Indeed, it’s the first capital industry, predating the invention of written records.

    Modern industrial farming (as conducted in these United States) is the most capital-intensive practical version of agriculture in history, and the most productive, input measured against output.

    With this understood, “Climate Smart Agriculture” has been (and will continue to be) a critical priority – if not the critical priority – in the operations of industrial farmers’ efforts to reconcile resources with the profitable satisfaction of their customers’ demands.

    The arrogance of the “United Nations and pan-African organizations” bureaucrats, politicians, and similar tax-sucking parasites to presume that they have anything productive to teach people who farm for a living anything whatsoever about “Climate Smart Agriculture” is so damnable that it’s difficult to write about it adequately without violating this Web site’s dogwhistle terms of service.

    As long as the predators and parasites of government have run (and continue to run) “the agencies that supply climate information”because these political boondoggles “are disconnected from the needs of potential users” and always will be – industrial farmers in these United States and elsewhere tend not to rely upon them for mission-critical information such as long-range weather forecasting.

    Ever wonder why and how astrophysicist Piers Corbyn (yet another AGW “denier” properly skeptical of “the Team” and its hideous fraud) makes his living by selling such information to subscribers who willingly pay a premium price for access to what “the [government] agencies that supply climate information” are supposed to be giving away for free?

    Let us understand that in the private (voluntary, non-coercive) sector of society, the priority of the farmer who owns his land and his tools and therefore has a keen interest not only in getting maximum immediate return therefrom but also in preserving their value over the years, the decades and the generations will always tend to be better at “Climate Smart Agriculture” than will any government (extortionate, coercive, “breaking things and killing people”) sector thug whose scope of interest is necessarily limited to the next election, the next Five-Year Plan, the next Swiss bank account deposit, the next coup d’état, the next regime change.

    Dr. Curry, shall I attempt now to offer a proper definition of the word “libertarian,” or will you censor that off the board again?

    • Rich, this is not the place for religious diatribes.

      Your ritualized hatred contributes nothing to the discussion.

      Why don’t you print up some pamphlets and hand them out at the airport?

      • Robert, have you ever got anything remotely resembling a reasoned argument to be made?

        Just curous, y’know. I haven’t seen you post anything sane or congruent with reality yet, and I’m wondering if it’s a pose you’ve decided to adopt or you really are as gibberingly insane as you appear to be.

  6. Dr. Curry, has anyone done an African continent presentation like the one you did for the US with ENSO and PDO? It would seem with the GLOBAL concerns some of our global neighbors would already have some better longer term forecasting information to work with.

    I do agree though that farmers need good short and long term forecasts first, then they can watch commodities markets via cellular phone like a growing number of my winter clients :)

  7. The challenge to mount a smart agricultural response to climate change must inevitably seen as a set of regional efforts rather than a global one. There is some evidence that global increases in temperature have been associated with a modest reduction in crop yield over the past three decades- Climate Change and Crop Production – but this varies greatly from crop to crop and region to region. It is also difficult to interpret the data because correlations between changing temperature and changing crop yields are confounded by many other variables. Even in Africa, a particularly vulnerable region, different areas are likely to experience different effects from future climate change.

    Future effects will also depend on the degree of climate change, depending on the balance between favorable and unfavorable influences. Among the former, the CO2 fertilization effect is the most prominent up to fairly high CO2 concentrations. Temperature rises, however, are beneficial or deleterious depending on location. In some cool regions, increased crop yields are likely, whereas crop reductions (or reduced food protein content per unit weight) from heat stress are likely in many warm climates, particularly when soil nitrogen is limiting. With very substantial increases in temperature, the balance between reductions and increases in food crops is likely to grow more unfavorable. The other major unfavorable factors are drought, flash floods, insects, and infectious agents.

    Some, but not all potential harm can be mitigated by proactive adaptive efforts, including the replacement of crops that do poorly in a given climate with those that do better. How quickly this can be accomplished affordably and on a societal basis, particularly in poor countries, is problematic – it requires coordinated efforts that can’t be accomplished by individual farmers. In the absence of adequate adaptation, both food shortages and population migration are likely to result. Agricultural technology to increase food production has advanced enormously over the past century, with great global benefit, but populations and population subsets that are undernourished have also grown and are likely to grow further – there is no sign that starvation is about to be eliminated.

    A different concern relates to agriculture in coastal regions that is threatened by rising sea levels. Here, adaptive efforts will need to include protective barriers against encroachment by water, salinity, and storm surges. This is likely to be practical in some areas, and less so in others.

    Although not an agricultural issue, global food production also depends on the sea. Here, irrespective of temperature change, ocean acidification from rising CO2, and its effects on the marine food chain, are a source of potential food shortages, although that prospect is less immediate than effects on agriculture. It would be very difficult to adapt to.

    • Great comment as usual, Fred.

      I would only add that water availability is another major factor (affected by loss of glacier runoff, increased evaporation, destruction of freshwater sources by rising sea levels). Also, the prevalence of extreme weather events (floods, drought, heat waves) is important, as well as the average climate.

    • Fred
      Sometimes you write the some of the silliest things in your comments and on this thread are excellent examples. Let’s look at your perspective and how you seem to 1st believe that higher CO2 is a potential disaster and then write statements that make your unsubstantiated beliefs seem like facts.
      Fred writes- “There is some evidence that global increases in temperature have been associated with a modest reduction in crop yield over the past three decades”
      My response- Fred you know the evidence you cite is totally flawed and the conclusion unsupportable, yet you spread the lie. Shame on you Fred.

      Fred writes- “Temperature rises, however, are beneficial or deleterious depending on location.”

      My response- It all depends on the crops and there is no reason the same crops have to be planted in the same location in perpetuity. Farmers have been changing what they grow in specific locations since human agriculture began.

      Fred writes- “it requires coordinated efforts that can’t be accomplished by individual farmers.”

      My response- Why can’t individual farmers make the necessary changes in what they plan to grow from season to season? Do the different seeds cost that much more—NO. Why is a government response needed? Because Lord Fred thinks so?

      Fred writes- “whereas crop reductions (or reduced food protein content per unit weight) from heat stress are likely in many warm climates, particularly when soil nitrogen is limiting. With very substantial increases in temperature, the balance between reductions and increases in food crops is likely to grow more unfavorable.

      My response- Reductions need only come about if farmers are not intelligent enough to adjust what they are growing and how they are fertilizing based upon conditions. Why Fred, do you assume that intelligent, previously successful farmers would not do what farmers have been doing for thousands of years?

      Fred writes- “A different concern relates to agriculture in coastal regions that is threatened by rising sea levels.”

      My response- What is you evidence of dangerous sea level rise to date? Oh that’s right, there is none to date. Looking over a long term basis, sea level will inevitability rise as we are near the historic low of sea level. If it rises due to warming, it certainly is not going to rise so quickly that people can’t move and or adapt very easily.

      Fred writes- “The 2011 Lobell paper indicating a reduction in global crop production with increasing CO2 and temperature of the past three decades is the best evidence we have to date.

      My response- LOL- What makes that terrible “propaganda like” paper the best available to date?

      Fred writes- “so the critical issue is the ability of production to keep pace in the presence of the temperature/CO2 increases in comparison with how well production could perform without those increases. This will remain critical as long as many regions of the globe still harbor undernourished populations, indicating that we need to optimize production rather than merely expand it.”

      My response- Fred, what world do you live in, because it is not the real world in which I live? Food shortages and wide scale starvation today, and for the foreseeable future are the result of how the planet is governed by individual nation states and the ability to distribute food and pay for that food given how the political and economic system of the planet operates. There are countries that grow more than they can consume, and there are countries that grow less than they need. There is no obligation for those growing more to provide it to those who do not have enough. That is a simple harsh fact that is highly unlikely to change in the near future.

      Fred writes- “The decline in crop productivity relative to performance in the absence of CO2 and temperature increases is predominantly a temperature effect, because it is partially but not completely offset by the CO2 fertilization effect.”

      My response- Another untrue statement by Fred written as if it was an undisputed fact. The declines Fred referenced can’t be attributed to either temperature or CO2 with any reasonable accuracy.

      • Hey Rob, how is that IPCC SLR prediction for 2011 doing?

      • And the 20 year trend is showing what? FYI- there was no 2011 IPCC prediction, only one that thought there would be a 1000 mm rise by 2100.

      • It shows that people who refer to it as showing something are, your word, silly. Now, if it showed sea level had dropped by 90 meters in the last 20 years, the IPCC prediction for 2100 might have a problem.

        FYI – that’s what I told you in the other thread.

      • t on the other thread I believe you showed a link from Real Climate that was a bit of a smoke screen. Did you notice they put a chart together based on a 2001 IPCC report and not the 2007 AR4. There is no sea level rise consistant with that feared in 2007

      • No, somebody else published a link to RC.

        I said SLR models do not make a specific prediction for 2011. The rate over the last 20 years is congruent with all predictions by 2100, including Hansen’s theoretical of up to 5 meters. You keep throwing it out as though it has something to say about 2100. It really doesn’t.

      • JCH

        If I understand your point correctly, you are writing that although sea level is rising slower than the 100mm per decade rate that would result in a rise of 1000mm by 2100, it could still accelerate and hit that number. I agree it could, but you must also agree, there is no reason to believe it will based on available information

      • Rob –

        There is no obligation for those growing more to provide it to those who do not have enough.

        I assume that you mean in a logistical sense that there is no international law stating such an obligation and no international police force to enforce such an obligation even if there were?

        Is that how you determine that it is a “fact” that there is no obligation?

        Do you think that we should determine facts of obligation based only on agreed upon international laws that have enforcement mechanisms?

      • Joshua,

        I think in the sense that it’s an unfortunate “fact” I agree. Moral obligations aside.

      • BillC –

        Sure – in a legalistic way that’s true, but my question is how do different sorts of obligation affect our approach to policies; so, what are the precise relationships between legal and/or other types of obligations and policy development, support for “climate smart agriculture,” etc. Of what relevance, exactly, is a legal determination of what is or isn’t an obligation?

      • Countries that grow more than they need provide it to those in need because they feel a “moral” need. That view can change rapidly in response to political considerations. A lot of people die of starvation in N Korea and more food is not given to them due to political considerations. Just reality folks.

      • Guess I’m not going to get an answer to my question, huh?

      • Joshua

        My personal views on the subject are unimportant to the overall issue. What is important is how the world is actually governed. Some of you wish to ignore reality in determining how thing are accomplished.

      • Rob –

        In the real world, nations do consider subjective assessment of moral obligation in determining various kinds of policies (and, of course, legal obligations are also fundamentally subjective and often formulated and implemented based on assessments of moral obligation).

        Consider this hypothetical: suppose there is conclusive proof that increased CO2 emissions increase plant productivity only if it is accompanied by increased application of fertilizers, and that w/o that increased supply of fertilizers, increased CO2 emissions have a deliterious impact on agriculture. Consequently, in countries where farmers have the means to supply additional fertilizers the net effect of increased CO2 is positive, but in countries where farmers lack the resources in increase the supply of fertilizer, the net effect is negative.

        Should the citizens of countries that both emit disproportionate amounts of CO2 and have the resources to supply the needed fertilizer not consider the impact in countries that are different in those respects, or should they only consider the strict legal obligations when they make policy decisions?

        And Rob – IMO, we can share a more fruitful dialog if you restrain from making assumptions about my grasp on reality, based on assumptions you make about the grasp on reality among some group of people you determine that you should associate me with, and whether or not I share beliefs with that group of people.

        I never said that your personal opinion is “important,” but I would like to know what it is. If at some point you change your mind and decide that you’d like to answer my questions, I’d like to read your thoughts.

      • Joshua asked:
        1. Is that how you determine that it is a “fact” that there is no obligation? –Basically yes. There is also the issue of historical precedence with the country needing or requesting aid. The key word is obligation.
        2. Do you think that we should determine facts of obligation based only on agreed upon international laws that have enforcement mechanisms?—NO. A variety of issues come into play. In the case of the US providing aid, these include but are not limited to, the ability of the US to afford to provide said aid, the government in power in the country needing aid, what the country is doing about the problem itself, etc, etc.

      • Rob – One of the reasons I link to data sources is so that readers can draw their own conclusions. I believe the sources support what I’ve written, but others can make up their own mind.

      • Fred

        I have gone through that paper in some detail, and wonder what in it you thought was so special to claim it is the “best analysis”. It relied upon models that can not accurately predict future rainfall levels at any location for the analysis. How is this valid? It assumed farmers would make stupid decisions that farmers have not made for thousands of years? Is that reasonable? Perhaps, it was just a paper that supported what you already believe so that is why you liked it.

      • Rob – Since the reference is available, readers can read it to make their own judgments. The estimates regarding productivity of the past 30 years simply looked at the difference between productivity in the presence of the observed climate changes with what the trend would have been if it had continued from previous times without any subsequent climate impact. It did not assume stupidity on the part of farmers. It cited references to other work showing similar results.

        It also acknowledged uncertainties inherent in studies of this type, which is proper scientific procedure. My impression, though, is not that you claim that it’s imperfect, which of course it inevitably must be, but that you are determined to disbelieve this and any other evidence that potentially threatens your view that anthropogenic climate change is either a minor concern or one that can’t be significantly mitigated. We all have our biases, but not to that extent – at least I hope not. It that’s unfair to you, I apologize. In any case, this is why it’s important to inform readers of the source underlying our conclusions, including conflicting evidence if we’re aware of it. That allows readers to do something other than try to referee blog arguments.

      • Fred
        I consistently reject conclusions about the impacts to specific areas of the planet based upon the outputs of the current GCMs. Imo this is scientifically the only valid position since the models are not only unable to be demonstrated as accurate, but are actually being developed in a means that is completely different with and contrary to general engineering principles for computer model development.

        The current models are absolutely unable to accurately make the predictions necessary to be used in the type of assessments written by Lobell. That is not just my opinion, but a demonstrated fact. Let’s not even get into the process of averaging the results of the models, or having the same model giving dramatically different results depending on how many times it is run.

        Fred—why would you believe the output of a current GCM predicting that a specific area of the planet would be harmed? If you do, you are either uninformed, (which I do not believe you are) of deluding yourself.

      • Rob – Having discussed what I believe is your misconception about the role of GCMs previously, I won’t repeat my argument here, but I would invite readers to visit the Lobell reference regarding climate change impacts on agriculture (and references therein). I recognize my own inability to persuade you on this or numerous other topics you’ve discussed, and I’m OK with that, although I don’t think my assessments on climate are delusional, despite your assertion.

      • Fred
        You write: “your misconception about the role of GCMs previously” By this do you mean that I think model development and outputs should follow an engineering process? Are you just ducking an issue again?

  8. Judith

    My cheap and simple automated weather station has a sucess rate of around 75% for 24/36 hour forecasts, the Met office around 60%. The Met office does slightly better when theres a long settled spell.

    Adapting to climate change is difficult-our councils in Britain are obligated to spend money on teaching local businesses how to adapt and prosper to climate change (many of them around here are tourism related). It is quite difficult to plan for an an abstract that in any case may or may not follow the expected script as temperatures plunge rather than rise.
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcet/

    Spending tax payers money encouraging our local cafes to pretend they are located in the French Riviera instead of the English Riviera is a bit pointless when you have day after day of rain rather than sun.

    So I am not sure that it is possible or desirable to plan for climate change but it is highly desirable to plan for weather.

    Would cheap automated weather stations be of any use in the scenario you paint? Their highly graphic weather symbols are easy to follow and the units could easily be sponsored by well wishers.

    tonyb

    • The weather stations idea is one that has a great deal of merit for short term weather forecasts as the weather in one area will soon become the weather in surrounding areas.

      Furthermore, if these sufficient numbers of these stations could be positioned on the oceans and other remote areas around the globe, the information that could be accumulated would yield significantly better climate data than is currently available.

      • To clarify, the ocean weather stations could be solar powered and preset to home to specified GPS co-ordinates by some form of propulsion.

        There also could be stations that operate at different levels between the ocean’s surface and the sea bed through a similar automatic homing process.

        There also could be stations that are permitted to move freely on the oceans surface and thus track various currents and monitor water temperature changes etc.

        There could also be periodic measurements taken at various levels of the atmosphere and stratosphere through the use of balloons on a more systematic basis than is currently done via the weather balloons.

        These stations would be obviously be more sophisticated than those mentioned by TonyB but a worthwhile global investment that would provide the volume and range of data that would be needed if dynamic modelling of climate is to be accomplished with any reasonable prospect of success.

  9. The average age of the US farmer is 58 years old. One third of farmers are past retirement age. So forgetting for a moment about the developing world, if America is to continue feeding so much of this planet, we are going to need a lot of farmers in this country and pretty soon.

    While all this is happening, food “safety” regulations result in the driving of small local food production operations out of business resulting in huge conglomerates taking in raw product from around the country, processing it, and redistributing the resulting product back across the nation. Contamination at one place can now sicken people coast to coast and result in the recall of millions of pounds of food instead of limiting the impact to the local area where it can be quickly spotted and the source identified.

    I’m not sure we want agricultural operations across the world mimicking what we have become. Too much regulation can actually be more harmful in the long run. I’d settle for a relaxation of regulations and a return to more small local processing operations handling local production for local sale.

    • “I’d settle for a relaxation of regulations and a return to more small local processing operations handling local production for local sale.”

      Wouldn’t that be great! I would have to sell fish to a fish house, which can’t cut fish because they don’t have a three hole sink and a separate hand wash sink (can’t get the permits thanks to sewer restrictions), buy my fish back at the restaurant so I can cut and portion the fish (yep that is legal, but I can’t cut them first, they have to be “landed” whole), then sell them back to the fish house so they can sell them retail/wholesale. Net result, $4.59 a pound is inflated to $11.99 a pound. BTW, that Mahi Mahi, aka Dolphin the fish or Dorado for the west coasters, ranges from $1.25 to $2.75 a pound at the fish house, Yellowtail snapper $2.50, Grouper was $3.20 last time I looked, what y’all paying at the store?

  10. I read the first part of the first sentence from the UNFAO. “Climate change poses many threats to agriculture.” I assume “climate change” is a code word for CAGW. At this point I stopped reading any more garbage. CAGW simply does not exist. Period.

    • 100% agree.

      More contradictions from Dr. Curry who seem to need the AGW canard on life support instead of pulling the plug outright.

    • Nice to have a first-person account of how denialism look from the inside.

      You recognize a forbidden concept (even though it’s a straw man argument that is not, strickly speaking, a real theory), even where it is not mentioned; your mind slams shut.

      Future psychologists thank you for making their investigations easier.

      • Present-day psychologists are happily engrossed in the ‘psycho-pathology of fundamentalism as exemplified by Robert ‘Self-Tracker’ Misanthrope.
        Such a classic example of the disease.

  11. Clearly we need more government programs and more well-fed bureaucrats to run them.

  12. As a retired Australian grain farmer there are commenters here who will say my situation doesn’t apply to the less developed world.
    Farmers are the same the world over. Even their problems are the same, both in agricultural production and in dealing with the subtle denigration of farmers as a lower and dumber and ignorant caste throughout modern and increasingly city based societies everywhere.
    Pay farmers well for what they produce and they will produce even more but society takes the directly opposite view that farmers should get more “efficient” what ever that means in a biologically dependent and diverse and chaotic natural environment and something that the city based “experts” who live to a closely programmed, well established existence really haven’t got a bloody clue about in the agricultural context.
    Instead we farmers are told repeatedly that we have to take lower prices and smaller incomes so as to “compete” ie; to keep the price of food down so that greater profits will accrue to that increasing throng of those who over the last half century have, often through the promotion of regulation, inserted themselves between the farmer and his ultimate customer, the end consumer.

    The following are Australian figures;
    In 1932 in the depths of the Great Depression, Australian wheat was worth about 3 pounds [ $6 ] per ton.
    The minimum wages fixed at the time in 1932 were around 3 pounds
    [ $6 ] per week.
    The price of one ton of wheat in 1932 was the equivalent of a worker’s legal weekly minimum wage.

    In 1948 with starvation in Europe following the chaos of the end of WW2 wheat was worth 25 pounds [ $50 ] to the farmer at the farm gate after all his external transport and storage charges had been deducted.
    The minimum or basic wage was 7 pounds and ten shillings [ $7.50 ]
    Most workers took home about 9 pounds per week [ $18 ]
    One ton of wheat was worth about two and half week’s wages.

    In 1968 with a world wheat glut and with the future for grain farming in Australia looking dire and with the “experts” all telling us that we were finished as farmers, the wheat we were allowed to deliver ; ie “quota wheat” was fetching $62 / tonne [ Australia had moved from the pound to the AUD by then ]
    Non “quota” wheat was about $40 / tonne if you could find a market for it.
    Tradesman’s wages were $55 / week.
    Even in what we then thought of as being one of the worst times in farming, in 1968 a tonne of wheat was still worth around a week’s wages.

    In Oct 1972 came Russia’s Great Grain Robbery when the desperate Russians who unbeknown to the west had almost run out of grain through bad planning and drought, cleaned out the world’s grain supplies in only a week or so of carefully planned buying.
    In a matter of days wheat went from $62 / tonne to $150 / tonne.
    The minimum Australian wage then was around $80 to $90 week.
    A tonne of Wheat in 1973 was worth about one and half week’s wages.

    In 2011 here in Australia and as we are totally unsubsidised we are competitive with any other countries world grain prices so these prices are indicative of world prices.
    2011 harvest prices for wheat which is being harvested right now are around $220 / tonne for the better quality grades of wheat.
    A lot less as in $190 for slightly lower grades of wheat
    And that price is at the delivery point . Road freight from farm to the delivery point has to be deducted from that &220 / tonne.

    The legal minimum wage in Australia today is $590 /week
    The average wage in Australia today is around $950 / week.

    It now takes 3 tonnes of wheat to match the minimum wage and nearly 5 tonnes of wheat to match the average wage in Australia today.

    And yet we have a now increasingly city based society and so called experts and politicians demanding that we farmers continue to “meet the market”
    Ok, let them first have to live and operate a sophisticated business as millions of farmers do every day in today’s economy with only the income levels equivalent of the 1970’s and then if they survive which few would do, then we will give their demands consideration.

    In the first two thirds of the 20th century, the “poor” could apparently afford to pay for our grain at those “high” prices of the past. Now we are being told that our grain is too expensive and the “poor” cannot afford our grain at the current prices.

    Somebody is lying and there has to be a gross distortion of the markets with these sorts of claims.

    If there is a world food shortage and that is highly likely in the years to come, the blame will be totally on the stupidity of those “experts” and vested interests in the super markets and processors in cahoots with the comfortable, well paid academic and political classes who have kept forcing farmers prices down to the extent that farmers everywhere can no longer survive or at the very least afford the expense of adopting new technologies to keep pushing up their production which the planet’s increasing population is going to need and soon.
    Furthermore , with the immense amounts of public finance being diverted to the stupidity of the so called global warming and government debt levels climbing like a high rise elevator, research funds have been steadily cut for agricultural research right across the world in both developed and developing countries or many years now according to my Ag science friends involved in Ag research.
    The stupidity here is that you can’t just ramp up production of agricultural products on demand like you can with widgets or cars or whatever other industrial goods.
    You need a decade of plant breeding just to get one new improved variety of a crop. You need a decade of research before that to get the genetics and characteristics of what the plant breeder wants to develop before he even starts on trying to breed a new variety . The plant breeder may throw away a half million cross bred plants just to find that one that is better than most others.
    The stupidity of the massive cutting of world wide agricultural research with it’s inherent long lead times may yet come back to haunt the world with wide spread hunger as the technologies will not be there for the farmers to use to increase food production just when such increases are most needed as the global population and living standards continue to rise.

    [ I have a brother who was the Agricultural officer in charge of making the refugees food self sufficient in a huge refugee camp of 65,000 people in the 1970's in Tanzania. And they became self sufficient in that 3 years he was in charge ]

    In Africa, before getting all carried away with western style and often useless to African’s, programs.

    Provide clean water on tap in adequate quantities to every African family
    Build roads that will allow farmers to transport their produce to better paying markets.
    Build electrical grids and power generators that will supply cheap reliable power to every family as cheap reliable energy is one of keys to increased agricultural production and to a society that is sustainable and attractive enough to keep it’s youngest and brightest..
    Provide small medical clinics staffed by trained persons. Doctors in numbers to be meaningful are still a long way off for most of Africa but medical facilities where there were none are an enormous advance.
    Develop medical systems that do not need refrigeration for long term storage of medical products.

    And most importantly . stop and prevent western countries supplying massively subsidised so called “food aid” that is merely a reason to dump unwanted food production on under developed countries at prices that the local farmers haven’t a hope in hell of competing against.
    And so you destroy the farmer’s livelihood, increase dire poverty and promote food shortages and starvation when the “cheap food aid’ no longer appears and there is no longer a viable farming structure left to replace that disappearing “food aid”..

    African farmers are just as intelligent and thinking and hard working as any other society and they also want a better life.
    Instead they like farmers everywhere are increasingly regarded as society’s lowest caste.
    Only when that quite recent development of the arrogant superiority of the academic, political and business class attitudes to the food producers, the farmers, changes again to one of respect and the consequences of better facilities and better research and uplifting changes to life styles for farmers and their families will the world see just what farmers can really produce.

    • ROM – Outstanding comments!

    • As an ex-farmer myself I agree entirely with your comments ROM. I developed my farm from scratch from 1959, when I was nineteen, but sold it in 1966 when I saw the writing on the wall.

      I retrained as an economist in 1972 and have been a CPA and financial planner since 1985. I heard the same story from my farming clients many, many times.

      The latest developments with Australia’s monopoly grocery chains shows that farmers and suppliers are being screwed once more.

      Your thoughts on Africa also apply to many parts of Asia. I also think that the political systems in many of these areas are not stable enough to ensure that any aid that is provided ends up where it was intended.

      • http://www.ted.com/talks/esther_duflo_social_experiments_to_fight_poverty.html

        I’ve seen this posted here before, and repost it from time to time, as it is perennially applicable when we start deciding for other people how they ought to live, based on our own experiences.

      • I found your link to be very good Bart R. Thanks for providing it. There certainly are cultural and other reasons why foreign aid provided should be done with appropriate input from the people themselves.

        Our performance with aid to our indigenous people is atrocious and certainly precludes us as a group from telling others how to solve their problems!

        I still feel that running water, cheap power and better infrastructure such as sewerage works, more schools, more hospitals and better roads will be beneficial but strongly agree that appropriate education and consultation with local communities takes place first.

        However, even before this point is reached, a stable political system is imperative.

      • Bart R –

        Thanks for posting that.
        Fascinating and powerful.

      • Bart, what total hypocrisy, do you or do you not advocate that the world controls CO2 output?
        Are you therefeore not “deciding for other people how they ought to live, based on our own experiences.”

      • A. C. Osborn | December 6, 2011 at 7:18 am |

        To answer your question, I do not advocate that the world controls CO2 output.

        I advocate that the world pays the owners of the Carbon Cycle (that is, every citizen per capita) due and proper compensation (that is, the price the market will bear) for emitting CO2 that the Carbon Cycle — a classical scarce economic resource — processes.

        I am therefeore [sic] not deciding for people how they ought live. I’m deciding for myself I want my money from the parasitical Free Riders who have pulled the wool over government’s eyes and persuaded government to abandon its duty to ensure a fair Market.

        A. C. Osborn, I want my money. Where is it?

    • Tamino has a point. I would suggest what you do is write a research paper, a blog article, something, instead of just posting a graph with your signature on it. That is a common theme among the alternative theorists, in that they seem to think that their idea is so obvious, that all they have to do is flash a chart and think that everyone will get it. Every one of the “maddening” theories that get posted on this blog have that characteristic. (I can give a couple exceptions but those are even more far out there then yours)

      • Joe L’s graph is easy to read and very intuitive when you see it.

      • BillC | December 4, 2011 at 5:41 pm |

        My graphs are easy to read and very intuitive when you see them.

        I still take the trouble to narrate them to some level usually, and generally with the forewarning that they’re only pictures, with no intrinsic value, and even at that, I find WHT’s observation valuable admonishment of my increasingly sloppy habits.

      • Good one. As a chart from an ancient mariner would be.

      • Two well versed scientists Dr. Svalgaard of Stanford and Dr. Steig of Washington Universities have all information required. None have protested any irregularity. Tamino has obviously seen in the graph what I am aiming at, found it in contradiction with his perception of reality. Being rude on his blog is forgivable but issuing demands on someone else’s is not on. He was also exceptionally rude to Dr. Curry which in civilised society is not acceptable. Since his blog is closed to my posts, and I do not whish to misuse hospitality of RealClimate let him show his face on the WUWT or the tallbloke’s where I post regularly, where everyone is welcome, providing they can maintain civility, and we can exchange ideas on merits of my posts.
        Hey Tamino old boy what do you say?

      • OK, I see a little better what you are trying to do. What I would recommend is to do a real cross-correlation of pairs of time series. The cross-correlation will automatically do all the leads and lags between the time series and would add some credibility to the Pearson’s correlation coefficients you are presenting. This is really needed because it is standard practice among analysts that do time series analysis.

      • vukcevic | December 4, 2011 at 6:29 pm |

        Without commenting on the content or conclusion, I can see little in the format or degree of narrative accompanying the graphs to complain overly about conventionally.

        (You may know, I prefer open data to apply to things in science, but it’s hardly the conventional standard.)

        I don’t follow RealClimate overmuch, so I have to wonder what they’re going on about, if this is typical of your presentations.

  13. What is a social business model for weeks to months weather forecasts? But this has nothing to do with climate, sequestration, etc.

    • The idea is to transmit and effectively utilize the information at the level of villages and individual farmers. This is the layer that would involve the social business.

      • Judith

        Just to clarify further. I have attended two seminars on creating social businesses. Both stresed the important of involving a wide range of people and that it should at least pay its own way or preferably make a ‘profit’ that would then be ploughed back into the local community. Is this what you mean by ‘social business?’
        tonyb

      • Pretty much. From the wikipedia:

        I”n Yunus’ definition, a social business is a non-loss, non-dividend company designed to address a social objective within the highly regulated marketplace of today. It is distinct from a non-profit because the business should seek to generate a modest profit but this will be used to expand the company’s reach, improve the product or service or in other ways to subsidise the social mission. In fact a wider definition of social business is possible, including any business which has a social rather than financial objective.”

        With our work in South Asia, we have been closely following the efforts of Yunus.

        I am planning a future thread trying to develop ideas for applying social business ideas to climate adaptation; agriculture is the most obvious application

      • Every business has a social objective, namely satisfying a need or desire in ways that people are willing to pay for. Selling weather forecasts to farmers is no different. As a farmer (horses), I subscribe to Accuweather’s pro site.

      • Judith

        This is presumably the area you mean by South asia.

        http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/SOUTHASIAEXT/0,,pagePK:158889~piPK:146815~theSitePK:223547,00.html

        As you know, each country is hugely different to each other as regards climate and some, like India, vary greatly even within their own borders.

        Some of those countries or regions we identifed as cooling in our study ‘in search of cooling trends.’ Has a climate audit of each country/region been carried out in order to ensure they are part of the global warming scenario? Do we know that their climates are actually diverging from the past? How long do their records go back? Isn’t climate such an abstract that it is impossible to ask poor farmers to plan 30 years in advance for something that may not even be happening?

        Obviously it would be very easy to administer the wrong medicine if an assumption of changing climate is made that turns out to be wrong.

        It is weather, short and medium term, i.e from a day to not more than one season ahead-that is likely to prove most useful. However bearing in mind that national weather serevices are all heavily subsidised and try to make money from their business sector, I’m not sure I can see how your initial weather based suggestions can be turned into thriving local social businesses.

        I will wait for your forthcoming thread on the subject and hope I can then make a more constructive input.
        tonyb

      • Sounds like either a tax or a subscription business model. Subscriptions would have a significant free rider problem, since people can easily tell others what the forecast is. Getting paid for distributed information is a serious challenge, due in part to blogs. But a lot of people are looking at it. (I blog for the Society of Scholarly Publishers — http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/.) It’s a fun problem.

      • well we were thinking of a subscription business model. The main interface person would be the person in the village with the computer and the cell phone (this model would make less sense in more developed countries where a majority of farmers have access to computers and cell phones).

        for more developed regions, middle men who make $$ off the farmers would pay, distributing the info to the farmers.

        THese are ideas, anyways.

      • Judy:
        Is one option to get those who are selling farmers key supplies, i.e., seed, fertilizer and equipement, or who are financing an operation, to underwrite such a service since they are direct beneficiaries of any improvement in farmer productivity?

  14. Judith Curry

    This UNFAO report does make some very sound suggestions, including your ideas of

    better use of weather forecast information (from days to 3 months) to support smart agriculture in the developing world.

    In particular, I like your idea of making the financing for the project self-sustaining (rather than dependent on continuous outside funding).

    But I have a problem with the basic premise. UNFAO start off by warning us (bold face by me):

    Agriculture in developing countries must undergo a significant transformation in order to meet the related challenges of achieving food security and responding to climate change. Projections based on population growth and food consumption patterns indicate that agricultural production will need to increase by at least 70 percent to meet demands by 2050. Most estimates also indicate that climate change is likely to reduce agricultural productivity, production stability and incomes in some areas that already have high levels of food insecurity.

    Let’s do a quick reality check on this statement.

    Apparently FAO is relying on “estimates” that “climate change” (i.e. anthropogenic global warming) “is likely to reduce agricultural productivity”.

    One such estimate was made by Lobell et al. (2011):
    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/333/6042/616.abstract

    Efforts to anticipate how climate change will affect future food availability can benefit from understanding the impacts of changes to date. We found that in the cropping regions and growing seasons of most countries, with the important exception of the United States, temperature trends from 1980 to 2008 exceeded one standard deviation of historic year-to-year variability. Models that link yields of the four largest commodity crops to weather indicate that global maize and wheat production declined by 3.8 and 5.5%, respectively, relative to a counterfactual without climate trends. For soybeans and rice, winners and losers largely balanced out. Climate trends were large enough in some countries to offset a significant portion of the increases in average yields that arose from technology, carbon dioxide fertilization, and other factors.

    IOW, the models suggested that the recent warming has been associated with a reduction in global crop yields.

    The actual record shows that the models cited by Lobell do not reflect the real world.

    Global grain production trends are shown here:
    http://bigpictureagriculture.blogspot.com/2011/04/how-does-need-to-double-world-crop.html

    Before moving forward, let us look at what has happened to grain production over the last 40 years. In 1970, the production of corn, milled rice, and wheat was 788 million tonnes. By 2010, the production of those three grains was 1.912 billion tonnes, an increase of 142 percent.

    Looking at the grains individually, corn production increased from 268 million tonnes to 814 million tonnes, an increase of over 200 percent. The production of milled rice increased from 213 million tonnes in 1970 to 452 million tonnes in 2010—an increase of over 110 percent. Wheat production, the largest of the three grains in 1970, was 307 million tonnes. By 2010, wheat production had increased by over 110 percent to 648 million tonnes.

    For all three grains, the 40-year increase was over 140 percent.

    In addition, soybean production was 42 million tonnes in 1970. By 2010, world production of soybeans had increased to 258 million tonnes—that’s a whopping 513 percent increase.

    Citing data from the same Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), a separate report on global rice production tells us:
    http://irri.org/knowledge/publications/rice-today/rice-facts/seven-billion-and-counting-what-does-this-mean-for-global-rice-food-security?print=1&tmpl=component

    During this period, global paddy rice production more than doubled from 312 million tons in 1970-71 to 677 million tons in 2010-11.

    This is an increase of 117 percent, similar to that shown in the other report.

    IOW the yields of major crops increased by 2.4 times since 1970.

    Over the same period atmospheric CO2 increased from 324 to 390 ppmv (plus 20%) and “globally and annually averaged land and sea surface temperature” (HadCRUT3) increased between 0.4 and 0.5°C.

    (Note that human population increased 1.9 times over the same period – from 3.7 to 7.0 billion – and starvation rates have decreased markedly.)

    Introducing “climate smart production systems” sounds great (and is nothing new, at all).

    However, I find that it is regrettable that organizations like UNFAO apparently feel that they need to resort to fear mongering in order to get the funding they need for the programs they are proposing, when this is not supported by the actual facts on the ground, which even they report!

    Max

    • Max

      Thank you for quantifying exactly what I was thinking. You saved me a heap of digging around for sources and I agree with you whole-heartedly.

      This phrase –

      Most estimates also indicate that climate change is likely to reduce agricultural productivity

      struck me too. It is indeed fear-mongering and completely unsupported by any evidence. But of course, without it as a presumption, what is there to panic about? Where would the need be for desperate pleas and endless funds?

      I think there certainly are things that impinge on agricultural production – poverty, war, and lack of democracy come to mind. It strikes me as extremely odd that people who say most fervently that “it is the poor who will suffer most from climate change” seem the least keen on the poor becoming not-poor.

      Given a choice, how many people are going to say no thanks to a doubling of their standard of living to avoid a theoretical rise in temperature of a tenth of a degree?

    • Personally, I think “climate change” is a red herring on this issue. It is really weather variability and unanticipated extreme events. Focusing on time scales out to 3 months could make a huge improvement in agricultural productivity.

      • Your right.
        Climate change is the red herring to the issue so that attention is being attached to the future food problem.
        Industry will NOT get involved as the costs are too high for investing in an area that is too unpredictable. Fund security is more important than food security.

      • Judith Curry

        You recommend a common-sense solution to impacts of extreme weather events on agriculture: give the farmers better medium-range weather forecasts, so they can plan ahead and adapt where necessary.

        Yes, I fully agree that “climate change” is a red herring on this issue, and it is unfortunate that UNFAO had to use this red herring in an attempt to frighten people into supporting their program.

        Max

  15. The last thing farmers need is a bunch of bureaucrats and NGO parasites using climate fear as an excuse to tell them what to do.
    And to the extent any of this is inspired by Ehrlich or the other neo-Malthusians, it is an even bigger waste of time.
    Farmers should be helping farmers.
    But Africa, if I recall, got suckered into rejecting GM crops, so the main tool for adaptation is off the table in Africa.

  16. It appears that warmer temperatures and higher CO2 has help feed a lot of people.

  17. The 2011 Lobell paper indicating a reduction in global crop production with increasing CO2 and temperature of the past three decades is the best evidence we have to date. It’s not absolutely conclusive because of the many other factors affecting agricultural productivity (primarily technological advances, but also increased cultivation areas designed to meet increased demand, as well as other factors), but there is no means of arriving at absolutely conclusive results. Simply looking at changes in crop yields overall is not a useful metric in light of major improvements in technology and changes in land area devoted to food crops. Total food production and population are both increasing, and so the critical issue is the ability of production to keep pace in the presence of the temperature/CO2 increases in comparison with how well production could perform without those increases. This will remain critical as long as many regions of the globe still harbor undernourished populations, indicating that we need to optimize production rather than merely expand it.

    The decline in crop productivity relative to performance in the absence of CO2 and temperature increases is predominantly a temperature effect, because it is partially but not completely offset by the CO2 fertilization effect. The evidence is useful for future planning in that it identifies both vulnerable regions and vulnerable crops. It will also be important to continue to gather data on productivity as a function of climate while using the existing data as a guideline. It will be particularly important to evaluate productivity on a regional rather than simply a global basis because of the many differences among regions.

    • Fred Moolten

      You write:

      The 2011 Lobell paper indicating a reduction in global crop production with increasing CO2 and temperature of the past three decades is the best evidence we have to date.

      WRONG

      The best evidence we have to date are the actually observed increases in major crop yields since 1970, rather than Lobell’s GIGO model simulations.

      Empirical data based on actual physical observations always trump model simulations, Fred.

      Max

      • The best empirical data were what Lobell used to estimate that rises in CO2/temperature have slightly diminished crop productivity over the past 30 years, with the negative temperature effect outweighing the effect of CO2 fertilization. Since the paper is linked to above, readers can visit it to draw their own conclusions. The paper didn’t ask simply whether crop yields have increased, but whether the increase (due mainly to technological improvements and increased population demand) was aided or hindered by CO2/temperature rises. The latter was found to be the most likely conclusion. It’s not an absolute certainty, but not to put too fine a point to it, the suggestion that this question can be answered without a model is actually quite absurd, since we need to know all the influences on crop productivity and not just the climatic ones.

        When better data arrive, we might modify the conclusions, but at this point, the estimates are the best guide we have. Equally important, both past and future data will need to be applied to regional estimates, because of great regional differences in productivity and in their vulnerability to climate change impacts.

      • Fred

        I have read the Lobell article and I’m not sure that the co2/temperature link can be made in a negative fashion. Can you point to the specific parts of the article where he states this without a great deal of equivocation and hedging round?
        tonyb

      • manacker,
        Fred don’t need no stinkin’ facts and crop numbers.
        He has his models.

    • Fred –

      “Total food production and population are both increasing, and so the critical issue is the ability of production to keep pace in the presence of the temperature/CO2 increases in comparison with how well production could perform without those increases. This will remain critical as long as many regions of the globe still harbor undernourished populations, indicating that we need to optimize production rather than merely expand it.”

      With respect I think this is profoundly wrong. Total food production is currently related to only one thing which is the amount of wealth required to buy it. People are undernourished not because there is not the capacity to produce sufficient food. Nothing could be further from the truth. People are undernourished for one single reason – they cannot afford to buy the food that other people would produce were there a greater demand [And by demand I don't mean need or want - just the cash being offered]

      In countries where populations are moving to cities, subsistence farmland is being turned over to forest, parks, scrub-land and even golf courses.

      You talk about the ability of production to keep pace…... This is a complete red herring – production has no need of making any effort to keep pace, certainly not with population. It just meets the changing demand, and the demand correlates not with need or hunger, but with ability to pay. Production only gives the impression of just keeping pace with demand because it would be ridiculous if it exceeded it. Undernourished people merely add to the illusion.

      Most countries of the world don’t produce the extra food that they are eminently capable of, because the food would go to waste, not because people aren’t hungry.

      Poverty is the problem Fred, not food production.

      • P.S.

        I think the world can effortlessly provide ten billion people with as much food as they can possibly eat.

        Assuming they all have credit cards.

      • Nope! All debit cards and cash until bakers start plowing their own land :)

      • P.P.S

        Or at least some ready cash :)

      • Anteros – I think you’re right that poverty is a problem, and a big one, but it’s not the only problem. It’s also not going to go away any time soon, and so the interaction of drought, temperature stress, agricultural pests, antiquated farming methods, and poverty will continue to keep many people undernourished until we ameliorate these conditions. If there were no poverty, climate change impacts would be less of a concern, although not completely absent in areas suffering from weather extremes that become more common. However, we have to address the world as it is, and even as we address poverty (I don’t think we’re doing a good job), it’s also important to mitigate its impact by addressing the climate issues. The existence of widespread malnutrition tells us that we’re not keeping pace adequately. The same reasoning can be applied to overpopulation – it creates problems that would be less serious if population weren’t growing, but that doesn’t mean that the solution to undernutrition is simply population control in a world where that isn’t about to happen anytime soon.

        To me, framing these issues as either/or scenarios – it’s either poverty or climate change impacts that need to be addressed – tends in the real world of political and social inertia to result in neither one receiving the effort it deserves. As long as climate change poses threats – and it does – I don’t see an alternative to dealing with them.

      • Fred –

        I think you’re missing the trend , which is what Max was trying to point out. You say this –

        The existence of widespread malnutrition tells us that we’re not keeping pace adequately.

        That simply isn’t true – widespread malnutrition does not tell us that.

        What we need to know is how widespread malnutrition is compared to how it was at some other point in the past.

        I will assert that today, 7 billion people are better fed than 3 billion were in the past. Or 1 billion. Or half a billion. More food is produced per capita today than at any time in human history. And not only that, but all 7 billion can be fed adequately – with plenty to spare. Poverty is the problem, and I agree with Max that 0.5 degrees C is an irrelevance in comparison.

        I absolutely concur that we have to deal with the real world – we have to be pragmatic and down-to-earth. In the last 25 years, how successful has emissions-reductions been? My expectation is that the next 25 years will be remarkably similar. So my pragmatic conclusion is that the money frittered away on hopeless windmills and feeding corn to automobilies would be a thousand times better spent on development in poor but stable regions of the world.

        The study you cite would only have the tiniest bit of relevance if there was not enough food being produced to feed everybody.

        There is

      • Anteros – To me, the issue is not whether agricultural productivity has improved – that’s indisputable, and due to enormous advances in technology. What the evidence shows, with its caveats, is that the improvement is less than it might have been in the absence of the climatic impacts. Since many people are still undernourished, these climate impacts will therefore have been detrimental to their welfare.

        The other point is one I tried to address already. The potential to feed everybody can only be realized in an ideal world, including one without poverty. If we can eliminate all poverty worldwide over the next few decades, then we needn’t worry very much about climate change effects on crop yields. If we can’t, then we need to work on both poverty and climate to help people more than addressing either one alone.

      • Another analogy is to point out that medical science and public health efforts have greatly improved human health and longevity. That doesn’t obviate the need to address heart disease, cancer, AIDS, malaria, cholera, and a multitude of other afflictions, nor does the fact that poverty seriously undermines health in many societies exempt us from working on the medical aspects of the problem.

      • Fred –

        I feel, frustratingly, that you’re missing the point, even though it has been made clearly a number of times. You say –

        “Since many people are still undernourished, these climate impacts will therefore have been detrimental to their welfare.”

        This is simply not true.

        People are not undernourished because some impact has made it the case that there is not enough food. There is definitely enough food. People are undernourished because they do not have enough money to buy the food that is produced

        Increases in productivity in agriculture are, of course, welcome. But they are only as important as other increases in productivity. And that will be the case forever – unless at some point in the future there simply isn’t enough food. And there is absolutely no sign of that ever happening. The ‘spare capacity’ is vast. What is deficient is the wealth (or the distribution of wealth) with which to purchase it.

        The problem of there ‘not being enough food’ is an ex-problem. It is relevant to the past, not the present or the future, so tenths of degrees of temperature influences on agricultural productivity are one of the most ridiculous concerns I have ever heard.

      • Anteros – I don’t want to prolong this much further, but the reason people are undernourished is, I believe, because there isn’t enough food to feed them. Both climate and poverty can contribute to this, and I don’t think we can simply dismiss one because of the existence of the other. The potential capacity to produce and transport and sell enough food isn’t the issue if it isn’t being produced and transported and purchased in adequate amounts. It seems that it’s being underproduced compared with need – that’s why so many people are hungry – and there’s evidence for a climatic factor in this. I think it should be addressed, but if we simply say that we can potentially feed everyone, then people will continue to go hungry.

      • Fred –

        Ok, we’ll have to make no headway. But you do truly surprise me.

        If you accept that today, more food is produced per capita than ever before, and that there is spare capacity – both facts which are well documented, and understood, then for you to say –

        but the reason people are undernourished is, I believe, because there isn’t enough food to feed them.

        Is to appear to believe something that is patently, demonstrably false. It is not true!

        There is, I agree, nothing more to say.

        But I’d urge you to think some more about your reasoning.

      • Remember, he’s had enough medical training to latch onto one habit of some doctors.
        =========

      • I thought my reasoning was both clear and logical, Anteros, but I suppose I may not have been clear enough. Capacity isn’t the issue, and we can agree there’s enough capacity to feed everyone. But the reality is that for very many people, not enough food is available. The causes are multifactorial, and you correctly cite poverty as a major factor, but the evidence reported by Lobell, and earlier by others, indicates that climate change has also impaired production compared with what it would be without the climate impacts. When poverty, climate change, population growth, and other variables interact to deprive some people of enough food, they suffer.

        How do we solve multifactorial problems? If fixing any one cause can completely solve the problem, and we can fix that cause completely, that would be ideal. But we can’t come close to fixing poverty, overpopulation, dislocated populations, inadequate transport systems, and other variables completely, so we work on as many elements as we can, climate change among them. As long as addressing the climate change issue can make a difference, and the cited evidence suggests it can, I believe we should address it (there are other climate impacts unrelated to agriculture that also justify this, but they are outside the purview of this discussion).

        In some sense, these discussions invoke the common either/or issue, whereby to address a need, someone will claim that “the problem is not A, it’s B”. In my experience, that rarely means that the individual is proposing to fix B, but rather to do nothing about A. When multiple factors conspire to create a hardship and none is completely fixable, there is seldom a reason not to work on both A and B. In this case, one of those two is climate change. If there is a reason not to do anything about it, I haven’t seen it provided.

      • Anteros “I feel, frustratingly, that you’re missing the point, even though it has been made clearly a number of times.”

        Lord Melbury is still staring at the bricks….

      • Fred, have you any estimate of how much basic foodstuff is now used for non basic “luxury” foodstuff at elevated prices, like the thousands of different cakes and biscuits available in the developed world?
        How many undernourished would that basic foodstuff feed if it was at it’s basic price?

      • A. C. Osborn on December 6, 2011 at 7:31 AM writes to Fred:

        …have you any estimate of how much basic foodstuff is now used for non basic “luxury” foodstuff at elevated prices, like the thousands of different cakes and biscuits available in the developed world?

        How many undernourished would that basic foodstuff feed if it was at it’s basic price?

        So we should ship Dunkin’ Donuts and Tastycakes and Twinkies and designer cupcakes to the “many undernourished” who lack sufficiencies of “basic foodstuff” and everything will be wonderful and happy and kumbaya and all the rest of that warm-‘n-fuzzy stuff?

        Osborn, anybody reading here (including you and Fred) must certainly know – or ought to know – that the reason for starvation in Third World hell-holes isn’t that folks in remote other places like Teaneck, NJ, are using “basic foodstuff” to bake “non basic ‘luxury’ foodstuff at elevated prices” but rather that those Third World hell-holes suffer under regimes of kakistokleptocratic bastids who use starvation as a weapon against the populations of the polities they afflict.

        While putting an end to Viennese pastry and Parisian confections and Illinois all-you-can-eat buffets will doubtless prove very slimming among those of us in the First World, it ain’t gonna do the “many undernourished” in Somalia or whatever a goddam bit of good.

        Are you for real, or didja just forget to insert a “[/sarc]” tag at the end of your post?

  18. There is often insufficient bank capital in poor countries for farmers to borrow so they can buy farm equipment, seed, and fertilizer. There may not even be a banking system. Another gap is transportation. Africa in particular due to topography and history has terrible roads, few railroads, and almost no river transport (due to rapids/waterfalls). This means a farmer can not get his crops to a market. Food storage is also a gap. Climate change is the least of their problems. A technological farming system like in USA has no worries about climate change because it is a business with educated managers who will quickly change crops, planting dates etc as the need arises. Tropical areas are not even expected to suffer much warming–it mostly warms in higher latitudes.
    A warning is that the fad of climate change & agric can harm farmers. In India many farmers were persuaded to plant jatropa (sp?) to produce biofuel oil, but oil yields were terrible and they lost their shirts. A fad of “sustainable” agriculture is a cover in many cases also for keeping farming primitive and “natural” but this also keeps the farmers poor and not able to adapt to changing climate (if it were to occur).

    • Craig Loehle writes on December 4, 2011 at 8:32 PM:

      There is often insufficient bank capital in poor countries for farmers to borrow so they can buy farm equipment, seed, and fertilizer. There may not even be a banking system. Another gap is transportation. Africa in particular due to topography and history has terrible roads, few railroads, and almost no river transport (due to rapids/waterfalls). This means a farmer can not get his crops to a market.

      Marvelous ignorance of history. Ever consider how commercial agriculture – agriculture above the level of subsistence farming – developed in these United States a couple of centuries ago?

      Because the “fall line” of the Appalachian Mountains imposed a limit on river traffic, farm production had to be brought by commercial roads (commonly turnpikes built by private companies funded by farmers themselves and other local investors who didn’t rely on “bank capital” because of banks’ ruinous interest charges) to river ports, with railroads commonly developed on the same basis up beyond the fall line.

      All of this to get farm products and lumber and other materials to eastern markets.

      Now, if there were really a market demand for the agricultural production of these “poor countries” (in Africa, say) – as there certainly had been in Rhodesia before it became “Zimbabwe” and was taken over by the present tribal kleptokakistocracy – there’d be no difficulty in attracting even “bank capital” to construct and expand the transportation system elements needed to get beyond the “topography” in pretty much the same way as (and with not much more advanced technology than) in early 19th-Century America.

      But first there has to be government constrained under the rule of law to protect rather than violate the individual human right to private property.

      And thus we get back – ever and anon – to the cause of libertarianism and the fact that government is most emphatically not the solution to any problem of an economic nature.

      Hell, as we’ve seen (and are continuing to see) in Africa, government very much is the problem.

      • Your right about governments are the problem.
        Through policy changes and imposed regulations, farms in Canada are being classed into the industry and must abide by all safety regulations. From workers wearing hard hats to safety boots to fall arrest training to imposing workers compensation on farmers paying wages.
        Unless farms are done by machinery, many are opting to yank labor intensive crops or closing family farms.

      • David Livingstone, whose personal motto was “Christianity, Commerce and Civilisation”, devoted the latter part of his career to connecting fecund regions of “Darkest Africa” commercially to the coast. He believed that his principal objective, the spreading of Christianity, could only be attained among prosperous people, and that the people of central Africa could only be prosperous if they could get produce to coastal markets. Of course he was thwarted, because as Craig rightly observes, the topography of central Africa defied any attempt to establish a means of bringing anything it might produce to market. To surmount these natural obstacles today would stretch the resources of countries governed like Switzerland, let alone by the the warlords and kleptocratic protegees of the UN that actually do run the place. So I think your accusation of historical ignorance is, er, misdirected.

        But Africa is the site of one of the warmists’ most egregious, misanthropic and empty-headed absurdities.

        I happen to be a bit of a fan of empires. Life in a strong empire is, on balance, and with many, many qualifications, better than outside them. The British Empire, in particular, bequeathed to its former constituents a host of cultural and institutional benefits – rule of law, property rights, and so forth, to say nothing of the English language. Although much of this cultural inheritance was squandered by half a century of post-colonial misrule, some remained, and Britain’s former possessions have prospered pretty much in direct proportion to the extent to which they have preserved them.

        God alone knows what will fix Africa, but it has its green shoots, sometimes literally, and nothing should be done which makes a hard job harder. Of course one finds the same “progressives” who witter about carbon gushing with ostentatious concern at the “plight of Africa”. But in Kenya, for instance, there is a growing horticulture industry, a welcome diversification of its economy which strives to add value by air-delivered export of premium quality produce, notably green beans. But the progressives of Europe have become seized of the notion of “food miles”, and vociferously oppose the consumption of air-delivered Kenyan beans. The beans, of course, travel as a backhaul commodity, usually under the seats of tourists on an aircraft that will fly, and burn its fuel with or without them, but of course that’s a tad subtle for the progressives, and in any case they know it’s impolite to scrutinise the bleatings of the environmentalists too closely. So the very people who should be gobbling up Kenyan beans and doing their bit to complete the colonial bargain are doing their level, bedwetting best to nip African prosperity in the bud, and have made doing so a cause celebre.

        Shame on them.

      • The British Empire, in particular, bequeathed to its former constituents a host of cultural and institutional benefits – rule of law, property rights, and so forth, to say nothing of the English language.

        lol!

      • Joshua –

        Lol I agree – but you shouldn’t knock it until you’ve had to do without it…

        You might have had to put up with the bard rendered into German..

      • The value of the English lies in its mutual intelligibility as a language of trade. No other language on earth is more likely to be spoken, if only at a rudimentary level, by a foreigner its users meet. India, for instance, has developed a call-centre with relative ease because a large proportion has at least some fluency in English. By contrast I’m not sure how the call-centre business is traveling in Brazil, but I can’t see much international demand for Portguese-spoken assistance over the phone. And if a Brazilian wants to engage in international commerce, he MUST learn a bit of – what – Russian? Mandarin? Urdu? – no, English. And he will thus be at a disadvantage to anyone who learned it, at least as a second language (eg the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, etc.).

        The beauty of English is a secondary benefit, unlikely to be apparent to the vast majority of users.

      • It’s the aggregative character of the American Language (Britspeak, too) that makes it useful, “beauty” be damned.

        I disremember who it was characterized it as the result of Norman men-at-arms trying to seduce Anglo-Saxon barmaids, but the language is certainly never shy of borrowing expressions from any language on the planet and making ‘em common usage.

        Nothing of the dogwhistle L’Académie française bullpuckey about the language of us “goddams,” and never will be.

      • Anteros, sorry, that should read

        “a large proportion OF ITS POPULATION has at least some fluency in English.”

        “And he will thus be at a disadvantage to anyone who learned it, at least as a second language FROM INFANCY (eg the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, etc.)”

      • I agree that the British generally left their former colonies in far better shape for democratic rule with the legacies of the Westminster system of government and English Common Law.

        While some former colonies have human rights issues, due mainly to excessive influence of the military, the strength of the Commonwealth of Nations stands testimony to the continued influence that Britain has.

      • Hear hear! And even the counties that have turned into basket-cases still have a sense of humour :)

      • Peter Davies

        I would agree that, in general, the British left their colonies in better shape than other colonial powers of the time.

        For a good treatise on this (among other things), I can recommend The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and some So Poor by David S. Landes.

        Max

      • manacker on December 5, 2011 at 2:41 PM writes:

        For a good treatise on this (among other things), I can recommend The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and some So Poor [1998] by David S. Landes.

        I found this work of Dr. Landes shortly after it was published, and was astonished to learn that he had been a professor of economics at Patrice Lumumba University’s Cambridge campus. Contrary to leftie-luser “academic” critics, it beats the snot out of Jared Diamond‘s earlier (1997) Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, offering a more coherent consideration of the many factors – beyond the accidents of geography – which figure into sociocultural material prosperity or the lack thereof.

        Dr. Landes had discovered that an economy can only function properly if the rights of the individual human being – specifically the rights to life, liberty, and property – are not transgressed against by their governments.

        These negative rights (upon which are predicated all positive rights) function economically in much the same way that negative feedback functions in physiology to secure that homeostatic internal environment wherein the individual cells of the body can survive and provide for each another.

        An economy, like the internal environment of a healthy human body, regulates itself. Attempts to consciously command the economy – like efforts to purposefully regulate physiology – will always run into problems of deranged feedback (as, indeed, they always have). The only law that operates invariably in the realm of dirigiste political economics is the law of unintended consequences (as “The Carter Malaise” demonstrated so exquisitely in the late 1970s and is being demonstrating by our Kenyan Keynesian in “The Obama Downgrade” today).

        That such a discovery should be articulated by an emeritus member of the academic staff of Harvard University struck me as just plain astonishing. How the devil did Dr. Landes manage to disguise such a capacity for common sense during his years in Stalingrad-on-the-Charles, anyway? Surely anyone with the ability to perceive such a truth – and speak it so eloquently – should long ago have been sniffed out by his raveningly socialist colleagues, to be killed and eaten thereby.

      • Perhaps to counteract climate deniers’ general lack of respect for law, democracy, reason, and facility with the English language, we could arrange for them to stripped of the citizenship they misuse and placed under the rule of the formerly colonized, so that the blessings of a few centuries of ruthless economic exploitation and denial of their basic human rights can similarly enrich them.

  19. My wife and I participated in the funding of a program by the Dominican non-profit, Sur Futuro (funding partners included the Japanese governmental aid organization JICA, UN FAO, and LDS Humanitarian Services), in which communities in the dry southwestern Dominican Republic were provided with the materials necessary to bring irrigation water to their fields from year-around sources many kilometers away, to feed drip irrigation systems…allowing them to produce three dependable crops a year in the place of the one ‘iffy’ crop obtainable by rain-fed farming. The program specified that the communities re-pay the costs of the materials over time from their increased profits, and those repayments were then used to fund other communities in the area. Hugely successful.
    In my experience, today’s assistance programs often focus on the wrong issues, conflating ‘organic’ and so-called ‘sustainable’ farming methods with the help local farmers really need. In our case, they needed dependable irrigation water which was supplemented with water-conservation methods.
    I did note that of the ten Key Messages of the UN FAO report, seven deal with financing (well, demands for financing) and none with any real implementation.
    Dr. Curry is absolutely right: for most farmers, dependably correct weather predictions on week, month, and season scales make or break farmers. In less developed areas, this is even more important, as farmers have often only once chance to get planting dates right, there are no resources to re-plant if a dry spell or wet spell spoils the first planting.

    • Of course this all depends on being able to dependably predict the weather a month or season in advance. I think this is probably impossible, due to the chaotic nature of weather.

      Bear in mind that (1) believing a wrong forecast can be far worse than (2) believing none and preparing for a range of possible conditions. As the old mountain song goes: “Beans and greens didn’t turn out, but Lord, God, the taters oh.”

  20. If you want to help farmers: “turn your radio on.” Farmers need information on weather patterns, access to varietal seeds (read genetically modified seeds) that may have long growth and high yields or short growth and low yields, seeds that are best in wet or best in dry season; fertilizers to nudge the yield curve; a market for their production above basic needs. Where do one get such information? “turn your radio on.”

  21. More CO2 = Free Lunch

    I would be skeptical about that one.

    • M. carey

      There’s no free lunch.

      But more CO2 does enhance crop yields.

      How much the 20% increase in CO2 had to do with the 2.4X increase in major crop yields over the period from 1970 to today is anyone’s guess, as there were many other factors.

      It is highly unlikely IMO that the 0.4-0.5C increase in global temperature over the same period had much to do with it (since this increase is so small).

      I could imagine that much of the increase was driven by demand: world population increased by 1.9X over the same period.

      And, as could have been expected, starvation rates sank significantly over the same period, as did global life expectancy.

      So maybe there was no “free lunch”. But at least there was a “lunch” (where there had not been one 30 years ago).

      Max

      • Correction: global life expectancy increased from 1970 to today

      • If enhanced levels of Co2 doesn’t increase crop yields, the farmers who choose a level of 1000-1400ppm for indoor controlled environments are wasting their time.

        I wonder why they do it?

      • Overwhelming desire to waste their money. They just can’t help it.
        ==========

      • Indoors farmers can control everything that determines crop yields. Outdoors farmers can’t. Has anyone though of how to air-condtion rice patties and wheat fields?

      • CO2 enhance crop yields at the expense of what?

  22. ‘Smart’ refers to the sting of the lash.
    =====

  23. “They say plants love CO2, but we may not love what CO2 can do to plants.”

    http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/thegreengrok/fertilizationeffect

    Higher levels of CO2 can reduce the nutritional value of the plants we eat(e.g., lowering the amount of protein in wheat).

    • Eat an egg along with your morning toast, M. carey, and you’ll get all the protein you need (for your brain).

      Max

    • I was raised on a farm and we did not feed pure grain only. We did not eat pure grain only. An all protein diet is not a healthy diet.
      I don’t see a problem with a small lowering of protein per gram. So you get a little less protein per gram, but you get a lot more grams of protein and used less water.

      • Herman, grain is not an all protein diet. You need to mix some legumes with the grain (for example, peanut butter on bread) and even then you probably should add a vitamin supplement to get some iron and other things you may be missing. But I don’t mean to preach. Eat whatever you like. It’s your life.

  24. Prof Curry I see this as just more UN sponsored guff and nonsense. Parse the words and you get to the real issue – I don’t think I’m being cynical:

    1. Agriculture in developing countries must undergo a significant transformation in order to meet the related challenges of food security and climate change.
    – focus on developing countries only, it’s a better spin story even though ‘climate change’ is apparently a global concern

    2. Effective climate-smart practices already exist and could be implemented in developing country agricultural systems.
    – developed countries already do well with agriculture, they need to share with developing countries

    3. Adopting an ecosystem approach, working at landscape scale and ensuring intersectoral coordination and cooperation is crucial for effective climate change responses.
    – a green agenda with the UN at forefront and lots of NGOs like WWF involved is ‘crucial’, [puhlease]

    4. Considerable investment is required in filling data and knowledge gaps and in research and development of technologies, methodologies, as well as the conservation and production of suitable varieties and breeds
    Institutional and financial support will be required to enable smallholders to make the transition to climate-smart agriculture.
    – lots of money will have to be given to the UN and to climate alarmists and NGOs

    5. Institutional and financial support will be required to enable smallholders to make the transition to climate-smart agriculture.
    – developed country taxpayers and World Bank must be made pay

    6. Strengthened institutional capacity will be needed to improve dissemination of climate-smart information and coordinate over large areas and numbers of farmers.
    – more power should be given to the UN and to NGOs so they can take the money (see 6)

    7. Greater consistency between agriculture, food security and climate change policy-making must be achieved at national, regional and international levels.
    – more UN treaties and protocols are necessary, local issues be damned

    8. Available financing, current and projected, are substantially insufficient to meet climate change and food security challenges faced by the agriculture sector.
    – more money, dammit, never less money (see 6)

    9. Synergistically combining financing from public and private sources, as well as those earmarked for climate change and food security are innovative options to meet the investment requirements of the agricultural sector.
    – more money must be paid on top of existing climate change budgets, not instead of

    10. To be effective in channelling fast-track financing to agriculture, financing mechanisms will need to take sector-specific considerations into account.
    – new taxes on energy sector, transport sector et al will be necessary, and the UN will channel the money – see 7.

    Apologies for length.

  25. This strikes me as a very important topic. But once again, the evidence is that drop yields have been monotone increasing over the last 50 years as temperatures and CO2 have been increasing. The prima facia evidence indicates that in the past higher CO2 levels corresponded to higher biosphere productivity as witnessed by the fossil fuels we are burning today. I’m not sure I get this. Surely, warming will open new agricultural areas in the Northern hemisphere and may make some others less productive, but on balance it seems to me obvious that productivity will increase.

    I saw a program on the Discovery channel I think that said in essence that the future of our planet without human intervention is most unpleasant. There will be another supercontinent and with decreasing CO2 levels, vegetation will decrease dramatically. I hadn’t realized this, but apparently grasses are well adapted to lower modern levels of CO2 and this program projected that forests would decrease dramatically and that grasses would become more common. Perhaps the low CO2 future is bleaker than the mankind induced higher CO2 future.

    • And you did not question a single moment of that program…hmmm

    • This strikes me as a very important topic. But once again, the evidence is that drop yields have been monotone increasing over the last 50 years as temperatures and CO2 have been increasing. The prima facia evidence indicates that in the past higher CO2 levels corresponded to higher biosphere productivity as witnessed by the fossil fuels we are burning today. I’m not sure I get this.

      You can say that again. You don’t get it.

      First step: Do you understand why scientists have found that global warming, driven mostly by anthropogenic CO2, negatively affects crop yields?

  26. Oliver,

    In the end, it still will be wasted money on wasted studies with no outcome.

    We could have extremely cheap energy but where is the profit in that?
    Our knowledge base could be very good but who’s career would that effect?
    Science and fiction could have been definitely be defined. Where is the uncertainty in this?
    Many peoples lives are controlled by others…where is the merry christmas of that?

  27. Joe Lalonde
    Just hang on in there,
    Centrifugal force, angular velocity, angular and tangential acceleration, rotation, length of the day LOD, etc.
    Principal long term component in the land temperature (BEST- Santa Fe) = principal component in LOD
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/BEST-LOD.htm

  28. Smart Agriculture should not be discussed without including this two links.
    http://plantsneedco2.org/
    http://co2isgreen.org/

  29. But for the Haber process it would be difficult to feed the world’s population. If genetic engineers could develop nitrogen fixing corn (akin to what exists for soybeans naturally) it would reduce CO2 emissions is a big way.

    • HankHenry on December 5, 2011 at 11:04 AM had dared to write:

      If genetic engineers could develop nitrogen fixing corn (akin to what exists for soybeans naturally) it would reduce CO2 emissions is a big way.

      Ooh, genmod! Unclean! Unclean! Never will the kindly masters of the European Union ever allow genmod seeds or pollen or products within their pristine plenum! Especially not in Africa, our once and future cluster of colonies! Never-never-never!

      HankHenry, you are condemned as heretic! Heretic in thought, heretic in word, heretic in deed, and a night out with the boys.

      Cardinal Fang! Bring out the comfy chair!

  30. If elevated CO2 has a significant impact on plant fertilization then presumably individual plant species – which are adapted for today’s climate – are going to have to adapt to take advantage of the new conditions, and some species will adapt better than others.

    So you have a new race for survival and presumably plant species that can’t adapt as fast or as much as their competitors risk being driven to extinction. I am not thinking so much of farms but wild areas. Also extinctions of plants would affect the food chain and potentially force animals have to adapt too.

    So I think the idea that with elevated CO2 everything just grows better is missing a potential problem.

    • lolwot

      Nice speculation on what would presumably happen to the plant world with increased CO2 levels.

      My speculation (just as valid or invalid as yours) is that C3 crops would show the most benefit from increased CO2 levels. These comprise most of the food crops we grow.

      C4 crops, such as corn, millet and sugar cane, would show less growth enhancement, although studies show that higher CO2 makes them more drought-resistant, as well.

      Studies show that C4 crops increase yield by around 40% with 2xCO2 and C4 crops by around 20%.

      So my speculation is that the increased levels of CO2 will contribute, in a small way, to the continued increase in crop yields that have been experienced globally since 1970.

      I do not believe that the very small increase in global temperature of 0.4 to 0.5C over this period, have had any real impact on crop yields, but I would expect if temperatures in the grain-growing regions at higher latitudes increase by several tenths of a degree, this could extend growing seasons and ranges, thereby giving an additional boost to crop yields globally.

      In addition, there are good reasons to believe that the gradual “greening” of the Sahel and some other semi-desert regions, which we are witnessing, may continue as a result of gradual global warming, further increasing the amount of arable land and global crop yield.

      The biggest increase will come from the use of improved agricultural techniques and crop seeds, targeted fertilization, better irrigation, etc., as it probably did in the past.

      But this is just my speculation.

      Max

      • Your speculation is as valid as the peer reviewed papers the IPCC utilizes.

      • Said the one scientifically ignorant person to the other.

        I’m not surprised you think uninformed speculation is “as valid” as real science.

        But it’s still amazing when people will come out and say stuff that dumb.

      • Robert

        If you were not an unscientific nitwit you would listen to engineers who have looked at the current GCMs and rejected the conclusions based on their outputs as unvalid. I am guessing you are no engineer are you? Liberial arts major in college perhaps?

      • Heh, he’s in a field where authoritative pronouncements are accepted uncritically, and it shows, doesn’t it?
        =============

      • John Carpenter

        We don’t know Roberts educational background… he won’t say. He says it’s because the deniers are out to get him and has to remain anonymous… problem with that is no one cares what he says principly b/c he chooses to remain anonymous, and well…. b/c he is on the fringe. Guess i’d remain anonymous too if I spouted out like Robert. It takes courage to put your real self out there when you talk big. Robert likes the comfort of hiding behind a mask.. safer that way and doesn’t take any courage.

      • Oh, I respect anonymity. Sometimes it’s the path to the truth. Imagine if climate science could have been peer reviewed anonymously. They wouldn’t now be neck deep in quicksand.
        ==========

      • John Carpenter

        Kim, I respect anonymity too, but not when one writes a blog and writes as if from an expert position. No cookie for Robert.

      • If you were not an unscientific nitwit . . .

        The belief that “speculation” is “as valid” as peer-reviewed science explains a lot about how you have come to your more — colorful — views.

        It’s not surprising that someone that thinks speculation is just as good as painstakingly gathering data used to do real science, also has nothing but ad homenim with which to defend the practice.

        I am guessing you are no engineer are you? Liberial arts major in college perhaps?

        Certainly not a “Liberial” arts major, whatever that is.

        I notice you don’t contest either your scientific ignorance, or the fact that you said that speculation is “is valid” as peer-reviewed science. You simply launched into a painfully clumsy attack in which you denounce “Liberial arts major[s].”

        Of course, you have no idea what I do, but since you’ve admitted you think speculation is “as valid” as actually gathering facts, I guess it’s not surprising you would “speculate.”

        Non of which is helping you get past your embarrassing admission. ;)

      • John –

        It takes courage to put your real self out there when you talk big.

        I find this argument that you can differentiate someone’s level of “courage” on the basis of whether they assign a real or fake name to their blog (or blog comments) to be rather weak.

        Anonymity can provide someone the room to explore ideas they might not otherwise, but that does not equate to being cowardly. And there are plenty of non-anonymous commenters and bloggers that certainly (IMO) don’t exactly fit the descriptor of courageous. Far from it (e.g., Anthony Watts made a false accusation against me, wouldn’t post my defense, and has subsequently ducked my challenges to him to back his accusation with his money. Pretty cowardly, I’d say, even though he also likes to self-servingly point to his Internet non-anonymity as proof of his “courage”).

        I generally respect your posts, but I have to wonder if you, also, aren’t being selective in your choice of criteria to determine cowardice in a way that is self-serving.

      • John Carpenter

        “I generally respect your posts, but I have to wonder if you, also, aren’t being selective in your choice of criteria to determine cowardice in a way that is self-serving.”

        Yes Joshua, I can be that way, I’ll admit it. I have a particular bone to pick with the way Robert presents his messages. His authoritarian tone is self defeating for himself… he is capable of more civil discourse b/c I’ve seen it, but he chooses to play in the gutter most of the time.

        I have to admit that I too like to play in the gutter every now and then. :)

      • Yes Joshua, I can be that way, I’ll admit it. I have a particular bone to pick with the way Robert presents his messages.

        Interesting that you don’t have the stones to actually criticize the thing that is bothering you — instead, you issue a laughable rant that you admit is hypocritical and dishonest — but, gee, I just make you so mad.

        Personally I found your whole little meltdown beneath contempt, and only your admission that it’s a dishonest attack based on personal animosity that provokes as much as a flicker of interest. Joshua may think you are capable of better, but everything I’ve seen from you is on a par with the hunter-kim-andrew axis of bellignorance.

      • John Carpenter

        Hardly a rant, just observations. Not hypocritical either… but spot on. BTW, it was not Joshua who thought I could do better, it was you who I thought was capable of being better. I guess I’ll write you off as a lost cause now… since you can’t comprehend what I am saying or follow the dialougue very well.

      • John –

        I have a particular bone to pick with the way Robert presents his messages. His authoritarian tone is self defeating for himself… he is capable of more civil discourse b/c I’ve seen it, but he chooses to play in the gutter most of the time.

        That’s cool. But he’s not all alone playing in the gutter. Just sayin’

      • manacker on December 5, 2011 at 3:00 PM had writte:

        Studies show that C4 crops increase yield by around 40% with 2xCO2 and C4 crops by around 20%.

        So my speculation is that the increased levels of CO2 will contribute, in a small way, to the continued increase in crop yields that have been experienced globally since 1970.

        I do not believe that the very small increase in global temperature of 0.4 to 0.5C over this period, have had any real impact on crop yields, but I would expect if temperatures in the grain-growing regions at higher latitudes increase by several tenths of a degree, this could extend growing seasons and ranges, thereby giving an additional boost to crop yields globally.

        It’d be appreciated if references to the “Studies [which] show that C4 crops increase yield by around 40% with 2xCO2 and C4 crops by around 20%” could be provided. Might could come in useful.

        With the understanding that the slow, relatively steady global temperature rebound from the Little Ice Age (which began in 1700, the LIA having been considered to have finally petered out by about 1850) and the anthropogenic increases in atmospheric CO2 are almost certainly phenomena independent one of the other, the Maunder-type solar minimum which we seem now to be experiencing looks to be fortuitously and unintentionally mitigated by our race’s “greedy” desire to purposefully burn the petrochemical fuel stocks with which our planet is stocked in such abundance.

        In a 1992 response to the “We’re All Gonna Die!” AGW scare, speculative fiction writers Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle and Michael Flynn collaborated on a novel titled Fallen Angels (now freely available online in its entirety, courtesy of the writers and their publisher) in which they advanced for dramatic purposes the surmise that only the greenhouse effect of man-made atmospheric CO2 had been staving off another real marching-glaciers-burying-Chicago-and-heading-for-New-Orleans ice age, and when the “green” fascisti got political control of these United States as well as Europe to wipe our filthy, dirty, evil “carbon footprint” off Mother Gaea’s lap, the glaciers did, indeed, roll southwards to make of our planet an Iceball Earth.

        Needless to say, Dr. Pournelle, Mr. Flynn, and Mr. Niven overstated the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide in their “Throw another log on the fire!” endorsement of the world-saving benefits of “carbon pollution,” but then they were only going along with the noise being made by what would later become “Mike’s Hockey Team” among the yelping mob of bunko artists even then masquerading as “climate scientists.”

        But I recommend the novel to all reading here. Interesting look into non-climatologists’ skeptical reception of the AGW bogosity twenty years ago.

      • Rich Matarese

        I posted this once, in response to Bart R, but will repeat the specific reference you request.

        Tests have shown that both C3 and C4 crops react positively to enhanced CO2 levels, although the effect is greater for the C3 varieties (41% increase with 2xCO2 versus 22%).
        http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/CO2plants.htm

        For more information, see H. Poorter, “Interspecific variation in the growth response to an elevated and ambient CO2 concentration”, Vegetation (1993), pp. 77-97.
        http://www.science.poorter.eu/1993_Poorter_Vegetatio.pdf

        Max

      • Could you describe for us the increased growth observed in Russian wheat in 2010? In Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas yields in 2011? During Australia’s repeated(prolonged) droughts over this past decade? How well did CO2 fertilize southern Europe in 2003?

        These are just a few of the areas impacted as the surface area of the globe experiencing highly unusual heat waves has grown from less than 1% to somewhere around 10% over the past few decades.

      • Chris G

        An update on Russian wheat:

        http://www.basel.ru/en/media/pressa/2011/agro_01_11_2011/

        Russia’s wheat industry has made an exceptional comeback in global trade since the lifting on July 1 of the export ban that had choked off the outward flow and sent international prices suddenly upward less than one year before.
        In late September, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov predicted that total grain exports could reach 23 million tonnes in the 2011-12 marketing year, at least three quarters of which will be wheat. This would surpass the record levels exceeding 20 million tonnes achieved in 2009-10 and 2008-09.

        And its impact on US producers:

        http://blogs.desmoinesregister.com/dmr/index.php/2011/11/14/russian-wheat-crop-a-drag-for-u-s/

        Russia and the Ukraine and Kazakhstan apparently are producing enough wheat and corn this year to overwhelm markets and cut into what were profitable exports markets last year for U.S. and Europe.

        Max

      • Paul in Sweden

        “This would surpass the record levels exceeding 20 million tonnes achieved in 2009-10 and 2008-09.”

        Most certainly you will find that this is not inconsistent with climate model predictions.

      • Here, let me help you with connecting the dots.

        http://lmgtfy.com/?q=tunisia+food+prices

      • Chris G on December 7, 2011 at 12:31 AM writes:

        Here, let me help you with connecting the dots.

        …and then provides a search access to Google that scans for “tunisia,” “food,” and “prices” to offer up about 40,600,000 results in the various news media and other online sources regarding how the civil unrest in the Sandbox called the “Arab Spring” has been from its beginning engendered by global increases in staple food prices, emphasis unequivocally on the cereal grains required to bake the bread upon which the entire Arab world depends for its primary dietary carbohydrate calorie intake.

        And – surprise! – it’s due to the “renewables” idiocies of los warmistas, emphasis on the great “biofuels” boondoggle, especially the conversion of cereal grains like corn (maize) to ethyl alcohol.

        Not that I haven’t been repeating this fact in this forum for weeks now. See the full text of the NECSI report of September 21, 2011, prepared for the U.S. Army Research Office, freely available online.

      • Chris G,
        There is no trend line in droughts, heat waves, floods or storms over the last ~150 years.
        Why do AGW beleivers persist in claiming otherwise?
        When Australia has a drought, other areas have bumper crops.
        Etc.

      • I asked about 2010, you know, the year they banned imports because they were worried about feeding themselves.

        Lurker,
        Inaccurate. Hansen makes some observations; no models, no math beyond basic stats, just simple observations. Climate change is not in the future; it has already started to have impact.
        http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2011/20111110_NewClimateDice.pdf

        Are you really trying to say that heat waves and droughts are not on the rise? Every temperature record that exists shows a marked increase over the last 60 years, and you are claiming that there is no upward trend in heat waves. Kind of curious where you put the extra heat.

        The hot spots seldom show up in the same place every year, but the area they cover is steadily growing.

  31. Switching from burning animal dung and wood to using methane bioreactors would cut down the cancer rate and increase crop yields.
    All you need is work and common building materials. The Chinese Communist party had a fantastic guide published in the 50’s, designed for peasants to understand and use. There is an online translation somewhere, but I can’t find the damned thing.
    Here is a whole set of nice guides:-

    http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/BioFuel/biofuels.htm#Methane

  32. Here is an African climate grant/loan program that includes agriculture:

    “The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund Renewable Energy and Adaptation to Climate Technologies Funding Window.

    Deadline for Applications 15th December 2011. Visit the AECF website http://www.aecfafrica.org/react/ for more information and to download the application form and guidance notes.

    The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) provides grants and interest free loans to businesses who wish to implement innovative, commercially viable, high impact projects in Africa in the areas of agriculture, financial services, renewable energy, and technologies for adapting to climate change.

    The AECF has launched the second round of Renewable Energy and Adaptation to Climate Technologies (REACT Round 2), to catalyze private sector investment and innovation in low cost, clean energy and climate change technologies.

    REACT Round 2 seeks proposals for business ideas that will transform the way in which clean energy is provided to rural businesses and households, provide solutions that will help small farmers adapt and reduce their vulnerability to climate change, and increase financial services in support of clean energy and climate change solutions. Proposals should combine commercial viability with development impact.

    African and international for-profit companies are eligible to apply. (There is no restriction on where the applicant company is from.) Funding is provided as grants and interest free repayable grants. Supported projects must take place in one or more of the following countries in East Africa: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. The application deadline is December 15th, 2011. Visit the AECF website http://www.aecfafrica.org/react/ for more information and to download the application form and guidance notes.”

  33. Just like bio-fuels, a few years from now, CSA will be exposed not to be make development sustainable but poverty and hunger sustainable.

    Read: http://devconsultancygroup.blogspot.com/2011/11/oxfams-and-actionaids-climate-smart.html

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