Climate Change and Food Security Discussion Thread

by Judith Curry

Oops, I didn’t intend to publish that thread with a few notes (accidentally pushed the publish button rather than the save), but it seems like people are interested in the topic, so lets make this a food discussion thread. A full thread to follow in a few days.

142 responses to “Climate Change and Food Security Discussion Thread

  1. Ha! Somebody has pushed the “Publish” button waaaay too soon!! 8-)

    • Jack Hughes

      This whole theme is bonkers.

      Did people in 1960 care what we would eat today ? Does anyone on here plan their own menu for next week ?

      Some people need to get out more 8-)

  2. BTW Judith you might want to include this link about climate change and food security as well.

    It’s a CIA report and will clarify a lot about the current debate.

    • thx for the link, this is very interesting

      • Roy Weiler

        These claims have been made in the past, where are you going with this?

    • An excellent link, and as important today as it was back then…especially considering they were worried about Global Cooling in this report. So the point I’ve made elsewhere stands: we need to prepare for disruptions to the global food supply brought about by climate change (one direction or another), as that (and it’s related effects on politcal instability, mass migrations, etc.) will be the most serious effect of that climate change. We’ve been lucky in the Holocene, but that luck is bound to run out, one way or another.

    • Thanks for the 1974 CIA report on climate change and food security.

      The CIA report, like later IPCC reports, ignores the influence of SIM (solar inertial motion) on climate change and food production.

      The importance of this oversight is illustrated by a quote from the recent interview of Dr. Ivanka Charvátová:

      “Already Sir Isaac Newton in his PRINCIPIA (1687) intuitively came to the following conclusion: “… since that centre of gravity (centre of mass of the solar system) is continually at rest, the Sun, according to the various positions of the planets, must continually move every day, but will never recede far from that centre.”

      This effect is not insignificant. The Sun moves across an area the size of 4.3 solar radiuses, i.e. 0.02 AU or 3.106 km. As a coincidence, the average solar speed is around 50 km/hr. Just like the speed of a car driving downtown.

      The first study about SIM was written by P.D. Jose in year 1965.”

    • Maurizio’s link to the CIA document about the 1970s cooling scare should be compulsory reading for all climate scientists.
      To paraphrase George Orwell,
      “We have always been at war with climate change”.

  3. I have left a couple comments on this matter on Roger Pielke Jr’s blog.

  4. I hope that JC has a bit more to say on this and am sure she will. Food security in a world of changing climate (regardless of cause) should be the number one priority and focus. Whether Trenberth et. al. are correct and AGW is going to create more and more severe and frequent weather disruptions, or others are correct and we are going to enter a period of cooler weather similar to the Little Ice Age, either one could create severe disruption to the global food supply. I think, simply based on the law of averages, that we’ve enjoyed a relatively mild Holocene period during which time agriculture and civilzation have flourished but it is probably coming to a close, one way or another.

    To assume the mild Holocene climate will continue on would be to bet against the longer term trends in the global climate which were marked by periods of dramatic swings in temperatures up and down, and which were far from conducive to large-scale agriculture. Putting resources in to preparing the food supply system for climate changes and, when it makes sense, to secondarily figuring out ways to mitigate the worst of the effects of climate change. Obvioiusly, if climate change is being brought about by AGW, then mitigation might become a bit more realistic, but if we go into some extended period of cold such as the Little Ice Age, preparation should be the entire focus as mitigation would probably be pointless.

    On the likelihood of either happening, I would probably fall with Trenberth, but, as Robert Frost said, “ice is also nice, and would suffice” at disruption to the global food supply which supports the 7+ billion humans.

    • What do you propose we do, at what cost and where does the money come from? Or rather from what is the money taken?

      • I am hardly an expert on agriculture, especially large scale agriculture as is practiced around the world today, but I would imagine there would be many things that can, and perhaps already are being done to begin to harden and prepare the system for climate disruption. This could be anything from the creation of crops that are more hardy in certain kinds of climates (this is of course already being done), to creating new techniques for farming, to the down-scaling of agriculture and making it more local and perhaps more organically based so that global disruptions in the flow and availability of oil (because of weather or other reasons) won’t have as big of an impact on actually getting food on people’s tables. Oil prices and food prices are of course currently quite interlinked as every facet of modern mega-agriculture is based on oil, and unlinking these as much as possible would be a benefit to minimize disruptions.

        Who will pay for all of this? Food prices are increasing faster than even projected in the worst case scenario given by the IPCC when looking at climate change, and they aren’t looking at coming down anytime soon. Should the current drought in China for example continue, they’ll be coming to the world market for more grains than the market may have available. I think you can see where prices might go. So the answer is…if you want to eat, expect to pay more for food. For those who can’t afford food or where it is simply not available, they will either starve (unless given aid) or will begin uprisings in their regions or will migrate. We’ve already seen this in parts of Africa for some time now. The uprisings in N. Africa this past year have a component based on rising food scarcity. The choice may be: do you give food or do you go in later with military force to intervene when things get out of control? But the bottom line is…those better off will pay more for food and one way or another, and they pay for those less well off to either be controlled or fed, or both.

        As a side note: I personally am growing much of my vegetables in a relatively small greenhouse that I can operate year round. I enjoy doing it, but also believe that it gives me a bit of a buffer for what I feel will be many decades of rapidly rising food prices. Not everyone can do this I understand, but at least supporting your small local farmer is the next best step. There might well be times ahead when local produce is the only produce you’ll be able to get at any price.

      • Agriculture already takes place in most the worlds climate zones. Climate change just means more of one sort or another or the climate zones will get shifted around. There isn’t going to be a new climate zone never seen before.

        The larger impact on price is from expensive energy (oil) since most farming costs are from running the tractors, and transporting the food, and plastic packaging. Its the CO2 taxes that will increase the price of food more than climate warming. A warmer climate is good for growing food (more GDDs and GDUs).

      • Pooh, Dixie

        Add diversion of cropland to ethanol production, or other flights of fancy. I recall that the price of tortillas in Mexico increased when ethanol subsidies were introduced to support E10 gasoline.
        In general, add regulation to your list.

      • If food supply is a problem we should probably quit burining it as fuel. And if CO2 is a problem we should probably start building nuclear power plants and end the nonsense about wind and solar being the fuels to save us.

  5. Hopefullythis site will Attract some farmers rather than theoreticians. 4 AM listening to the Chicago Board Of Trade and current farm commodity prices is influential in deciding not only what to plant, but when. Diary herds are either content and produce milk, or become cranky and dry up. Nothing like 2 1/2 hours of milking before breakfast to give a farmer hands on knowledge of what is working and what is not. So far, the climate alarm is not working. There is a lot more to making butter than the words of climate experts. Visit a family operate farm to help dispel notions of breeding, Genetically modifying grains, and how important is poop. Hmm, there is so much manure in the offerings of climate science, “come on down and set a spell.”

    • I farm. What is it you want me to know? Your text is unintelligible.

      • Now I don’t farm, I just visit farmers and they tell me their stories of what works and what does’t. They plant according to what they think will sell at the best price. The best price is tied up in some future contract, at harvest time. That futures contract is a global commodity. So a poor wheat harvest forecast for Russia suggests that wheat might be a good crop to plant. However, just to hedge one’s bet, corn and ethanol may be a good side bet. Now, how do I know what is happening around the rest of the world? I listen at 4 AM to the Chicago Board of Trade commodity prices and futures contracts. So while I am milking Bessy, I find out what is happening in the rest of the world as to new seeds, weather, subsidies, farm policy, What’s happening inWashington and finally, my local grain elevator. Every day, 4 AM. I’m the grower, everything else follows. If I don’t grow, everything else is, well, academic.

      • I farm too, in NC, and I have milked many a cow before breakfast, but I can’t figure out what RiH008 is trying to say. If the climate warms, we’ll go to warmer weather crops, if it cools, then cooler weather crops. That is easy compared to nematodes, beetles, cows with pinkeye, pigs that won’t stay in and a thousand other unforeseen little roadblocks. Throw in high fuel and energy costs and we might be happy just growing what we need and forgetting the market.

      • What I wanted to say, farmers listen and respond to new and relevant information on a daily basis. Such information is viewed according to the impact upon the futures contract. Information on climate change is factored only so far as the next harvest. What is projected to happen 50 years from now is irrelevant, and frankly hilarious. Everything one step at a time, in it’s due course, and don’t reach further than your handshake.

      • I suspect there may be regional differences here. In the Great Plains, this article captures lingo I first stated hearing among some corn, bean, and wheat farmers in the 1970s. Now it seems ubiquitous there. I moved from the Great Plains to North Carolina in the 1970s, and was introduced to tobacco lingo, which was like a foreign language.

      • That’s a bit of an exaggeration. Crop rotation has been around since ancient times.

  6. Rob Starkey

    The entire issue of fear of food shortages due to climate change is a false problem. Can people please be realistic on this issue?

    There is zero reliable data to tell you what will happen in regards to climate- negatively or positively for any specific region. For anyone to postulate that food production will rise or fall due to climate change is a vast overstatement of their ability to reach a valid conclusion based on available data or models. Over time, yes, some areas production capabilities will fall while other areas will rise. There is no reason to believe that overall food production will be a problem.

    In regards to food availability worldwide, the issues of food shortages are due to food distribution limitations/problems far more than it is due to food production shortfalls. This situation is likely to continue for the future. Please help solve this issue and not a non problem.

    • I don’t know if I’d characterize it as a false problem it’s more of a continual problem that every generation has faced – as the CIA report demonstrates

      • Rob Starkey

        Teddy-it is false to claim that AGW will make the situation markedly worse as several here have done.

      • What is your level of confidence in that assertion, Rob?

        Certainly many scientists think that the situation will become markedly worse as a result of climate change. Older attempts at modelling the effect have often shown a small influence. So when you say “it is false,” do you really mean it is false, or that it hasn’t been proven to your satisfaction? And if you truly believe it is false, what evidence do you have for that hypothesis, and what is your confidence?

  7. Jeff Norris

    Dr. Curry
    Did not your proposed paper to the DoD touch on agriculture and Climate Change? Assuming it is not a burn before reading report can you give an update?

  8. “As Robert Frost said, ‘ice is also nice, and would suffice'”

    Not quite:

    Some say the world will end in fire,
    Some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice,
    I think I know enough of hate
    To say that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.

    • Thank for correction on the Frost poem…his version is also nice and will suffice! I actually once had this memorized back in college, and (along with selected E. E. Cummings poems) would try to impress members of the opposite sex with what a sensitive guy I was. Needless to say, I was less than successful.

      • ian (not the ash)

        Ah, well that was the problem then R. Gates. If you had referred to him as e.e. cummings, they would have swooned!

    • I was introduced to Frost once, at the University of Essex around 1967. Somewhat bizarre – a student presumably involved with his visit had just met/got him on campus, was wildly excited, and introduced him to the first person she saw -me. I didn’t know who he was at the time, she didn’t know who I was, Frost was totally perplexed at being introduc ed to me. I like the poem, though.

  9. I find it strange that these links are offered without comment. Does Dr. Curry agreed that food security is likely to be harmed by climate change, or does she disagree?

    • “Does Dr. Curry agree that food security is likely to be harmed by climate change, or does she disagree?” asks Robert.

      Does one have to take a SIDE? A discussion is supposed to widen our understanding. This blog does just that thanks to the generally serious nature of the comments.

    • Stay tuned, should have a post up on this by the end of the week

  10. Jack Hughes

    It’s worse than we thought™ ;-(

  11. Further global warming in the Northern hemisphere would release huge areas of the Central Siberian and N. Canadian planes for extensive agricultural use, as a manifold compensation for any eventual loss in the lower latitude regions.

    • Maybe or maybe not. We don’t know exactly what will happen, so we need to harden the food supply system to be prepared for anything as we can be sure that the relative calm of the Holocene will come to an end one way or another.

      • Currently ~5% of Canadian land is classified as arable. Of that, almost all of it is efficient production. Canada is a large exporter of food. How much additional arable land will global warming produce in Canada?

        Siberian agriculture progressing rapidly.

      • I think we need to worry about the PDO and AMO.

        “The relationship between drought in the continental US and the phases of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). The most severe droughts occur when the PDO is in a negative phase, and the AMO is in a positive phase.”

        “Should the current positive AMO (warm North Atlantic) conditions persist into the upcoming decade, we suggest two possible drought scenarios that resemble the continental-scale patterns of the 1930s (positive PDO) and 1950s (negative PDO) drought.”

  12. By AGW standards, climate changed dramatically down and then up during the 20th century.
    Food production went up.
    Crops do not care what the ‘global climate is doing’.
    Crops care if they get enough rain and temperature in a broad range of acceptability.
    Since 1988, when global warming was declared a great crisis, what has happened to food security?
    Excepting for the distortions caused by food for fuel schemes, please show us the problems.
    Perhaps in the age of AGW it is the crop of red herrings that seem to be prospering so greatly.

    • Agree about the fuel/land use issue – this also relates to some of the perverse incentives of REDD and REDD+ schemes.
      A few of the relevant arguments (1 and 2) relate to exactly the point you make:
      1) is the amount of rain falling by the same amount in the same places at the same time?
      2) are local temperatures appropriate for the crops that grow in the area for the people they need to feed?
      3) is there enough capacity globally to produce enough inexpensive food globally required and the logistics in place to distribute food accordingly?
      4) are the different uses of water likely to be a problem with extreme weather events on a regular basis?
      5) is population growth making food and water security a problem in some parts of the globe?
      6) Is competition for land and water going to put many countries on the edge of subsistence, which mean more conflict over resources and less capacity in times of poor harvests.
      7) are there likely to be more diseases or crop failure caused by climate change
      8) are the advantages (more CO2 means faster plant growth, higher temperatures might mean better harvests) likely to outweigh the disadvantages?

      • Paul – Beyond the agricultural consequences of increased atmospheric CO2, have any studies been done regarding the food implications for humans of theImpacts of Ocean Acidification on Marine Fauna?

      • You make a great point Fred. We’ve really only been talking here about agriculture. The ocean is a huge source of protein for billions of humans. Any significant changes in the oceans ecosystems will also be very impactful to our food supply.

      • Yes there have. Experiments were done in controlled environments to see how robust certain types of marine fauna were to increasing acidification and temperature. They turned out to be considerably more robust than was generally credited, but some were resistant to surprising extremes. I think I might have the paper saved somewhere, I’ll see if I can dig it out for you.

      • The article linked to above goes into detail regarding the variable responses of marine fauna – some are very sensitivity to pH changes and others quite resistant. It’s a long article, but probably worth reading. However, the heart of the problem lies at the bottom of the food chain rather than with macroscopic fauna. There, acidification has the potential to have a significant adverse impact, even though variability exists between different organisms.

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘has the potential to’ covers a multitude of sins.

        Rather than ‘having the potential to’, is there any evidence of bad things happening that really affect the grub?

        Because my favourite football team ‘has the potential’ to win the FA Cup this season. It ain’t going to happen, though,

      • Fred, the study I saw was not the same one as this, because this one is based on observation in the real world which is somewhat coloured by assumptions it makes regarding AGW. The danger is it may be making false causation/correlations. The study I am referring to was a laboratory controlled study – a controlled environment – old fashioned science. If I recall correctly, it came in for some criticism because of this, that it drew conclusions about the robustness of species to changing temp and CO2 based on a controlled environment. I really must try and dig it out…..

    • Crops care if they get enough rain and temperature in a broad range of acceptability.

      Unfortunately, this is not true. As per research cited in The Economist:

      Days above 30°C are particularly damaging. In otherwise normal conditions, every day the temperature is over this threshold diminishes yields by at least 1%. Moreover, days where the temperature exceeds 32°C do twice the harm of those at 31°C. And during a drought, things are worse still. Then, yields take a hit of 1.7% per day over 30°C.

      This matters because increasing the average temperature only a bit can multiply the number of the hottest days a lot. The research predicts that a 1°C rise in average temperature will reduce yields across two-thirds of the maize-growing region of Africa, even in the absence of drought. Add drought and that effect spreads over the entire area.

      • At least cherry picking won’t suffer. Way to leave out the caveat mentioned
        in the article. This sort of prediction has no basis in the real world production. Even if it were valid in the real world, why wouldn’t they switch to soya beans, rice, or peanuts or something more suitable.

      • That’s not cherry-picking, Teddy. That means something else.

        “why wouldn’t they switch”

        The ability to switch crops has has nothing to do with the assertion “Crops care if they get enough rain and temperature in a broad range of acceptability.” That’s not true. Many of our key cereal crops, including wheat, are quite sensitive to heat, especially in the presence of drought.

        But I’m sure your idea of growing peanuts instead of wheat will break the whole problem right open.

      • Latimer Alder

        Am I wrong in thinking that there are clever people who are quite good at picking the right varieties of crop to grow under the right growing conditions for their conditions? I think they are called ‘farmers’

        And that the variety of different seed types available even within the same generic crop type is pretty wide nowadays?

        Or do we just assume that the only acceptable agricultural answer to any problem is never to have to do anything differently from the exact way we do it now.

        Because I;m d**ned sure that farming today in UK is a lot different from the way it was 100 years ago, We have, for example, a lot fewer horses used for tranpsortation than we used to, and hence less manure for spreading on the fields.

        Were the farmers of the 1930s and later wrong to adapt their techniques to the existing conditions? Because that seems to be your argument.

      • Robert,

        The author’s claim is a 1% loss in African maize crop yields for every day over 30C in non-drought conditions, which seemed a fairly precise calculation to me.

        Here is how they got their temperature and precipitation measurements:

        “Daily minimum and maximum temperatures and precipitation for each trial were estimated by interpolation of daily measurements made in the World Meteorological Organization, World Weather Watch Program (obtained from The locations of stations with data are shown in Fig. 1, although many stations have incomplete records over the study period (1999–2007).”

        Estimating temperature by interpolation from African weather stations, many of which had incomplete records. Yup, just what one would expect from a CAGW article published in Nature.

        And is there conclusion based on actual drops in yields measured during the various trials? Nope:

        “The effect of weather on yields was modelled using a linear fixed-effects model, with three weather variables….”

        Questionable temperature and precipitations stats, with breaks in the record, run through a computer model created by the authors, show… warming is dangerous. And with Michael Mann style statistical precision. Somehow I am not impressed.

        If 30C days are so hard on crops, I wonder how they grow so much corn here in Illinois?

      • This was supposed to be a reply to:

        Robert | June 8, 2011 at 11:34 am | Reply

        below. No idea how it got here.

      • Using imprecise weather data can only decrease the effect. Thus this part of your critique is not justified. I don’t know enough about the study to comment otherwise on it’s reliability.

      • Ummm, the fact that the effect might be decreased from what they reported was my point. The data they used, as in so many CAGW articles, just isn’t precise enough to support the precision of their claim. Just as it is ridiculous for Mann to claim to be able to reproduce annual global average temperature records to within tenths of a degree using proxies.

        (Though I am curious how a change would necessarily be negative, without knowing the direction of the potential errors in temperature and precipitation. It should be possible that the error could be positive. Although, given human nature and teh zeal of CAGW proponents, I think the chances off them underestimating the effect they were looking for was probably nil.)

      • Lesser efficiently in the analysis decreases the signal seen in the analysis. Thus the real phenomenon must be stronger than what is observed. This is the point that I made.

      • That strikes me as absolute nonsense. Poor data and/or poor analysis does not translate into a necessarily greater “signal.” Poor data or poor analysis results in poor results, period. There is less certainty that there is a signal at all if we don’t even know if the fundamental data underestimates, or over estimates, the climate conditions the “scientists” include in their model.

      • There may be a valid question on the statistical significance of the correlation, but assuming that the correlation is statistically significant and keeping the observation fixed, we may conclude that the actual effect must be stronger, if the analysis has lost part of the signal, than in the case, where such loss doesn’t occur..

        Whether the signal is statistically significant can be judged from the data.

        It is very difficult to imagine, how the low quality weather data from nearby weather stations would correlate more strongly or even as strongly with the growth as the actual weather at the right location does. It is on the contrary obvious that the correlation must be weaker with the low quality weather data, but correcting for this error is not possible. Thus the results must represent this weakened correlation (and the real correlation must be stronger, if there is a good signal even in the weakened data).

      • “There may be a valid question on the statistical significance of the correlation, but assuming that the correlation is statistically significant and keeping the observation fixed.”

        So the data may be so bad the result is statistically insignificant…which was my point.

        “It is very difficult to imagine, how the low quality weather data from nearby weather stations would correlate more strongly or even as strongly with the growth as the actual weather at the right location does.”

        It’s not hard to imagine for me at all. Their main point was that there was a reduction of 1% in yields for each day above 30C. Now I’m not a rocket scientist (or even a climate scientist for that matter), but it seems to me that if they are off on the number of 30C days, even assuming there is any “signal” (as CAGWers always so desperately want to do), and assuming they could control for all other factors that impacted growth during the trials, the “signal” could be either weaker or stronger depending on whether there were more or fewer 30C days than they calculated.

        The reflexive need to defend the use of bad data, massaged by computer models created by the CAGW authors to prove their preconceived results, does not strengthen the case for the more reasonable AGW arguments.

      • “It is difficult to relate the management conditions in these trials to those in actual farmers’ fields. One clear difference is that these particular trials use fairly high rates of fertilizer to avoid nitrogen (N) stress, whereas most farmers outside South Africa and Zimbabwe have historically applied little N fertilizer.”

        Translation: Our conclusion is bullshit.

      • Latimer Alder

        Can you provide a link to the original source please?

        I seem to remember quite a kerfuffle when this was first published, then the story was quietly dropped as it was discovered to be complete nonsense. Based on a dumb model on a Playstation or something, but not on actual observations.

        I may be wrong. but the original link will help to nail it one way or another, Thanks.

      • “Can you provide a link to the original source please?”


        “Nonlinear heat effects on African maize as evidenced by historical yield trials”

        “I seem to remember quite a kerfuffle . . .”

        That could use a citation too. Sounds a lot like “skeptic” wishful thinking to me.

      • Latimer Alder

        I asked the question because my memory was unclear. Hence my remark that the citation would help to nail it. And that ‘I may be wrong’. Pretty unequivocal, n’est-ce pas?

      • And days below ~15oC are damaging as well.
        You are dodging the point.
        Notice, by the way, that you are relying as always on models created by AGW partisans.
        Crops have proven to be amazingly maleable and can be tweaked to climate.
        There is no such thing as ‘crops’ per se. There are plants people choose to plant.
        The crops planted in Russia or Canada is different from the crops planted furhter south.
        Tropical Africa will be different from Kansas or Argenitna.
        Crops planted today are different from crops of 100 years ago.
        As always, when an AGW claim of catstrophe is analyzed reasonably, it falls apart.

      • As a rule of thumb, anything that has survived so far in an environment red in tooth, claw, hurricane, earthquake, drought and ice, is unlikely to disappear in front of our very eyes. Unless we’re actively killing each and every individual of that species, that is.

      • Latimer Alder

        Nah. Green plants have only been around about 700 million years on the Earth.

        Far too young to have put any climatic survival mechanisms in their DNA yet, I’m sure. :-)

        But how did all those plants get along in the Carboniferous when it was hot and humid……maybe they had special cooling plants to mop their little brows……?.

      • Interestingly, the grains plants such as wheat, which supplies a great deal of the calories for the 7+ billion people on this planet is largely a product of the Holocene. It certainly existed before the Holocene, but not in a form that would make it a viable crop. Wheat as a viable food grain is a product of the mild weather of the Holocene as is human civilization and in fact there is a close connection between the rise of civilization and the transformation of wheat into a viable grain for farming and both have the roots in the mild interglacial weather of the Holocene.

      • nterestingly, the grains plants such as wheat, which supplies a great deal of the calories for the 7+ billion people on this planet is largely a product of the Holocene.

        Yes – somewhere around 12,000 years BP in the Mideast. Corn/maize appeared in useful form at least 4500 years BP in Mexico. In both cases, their ancestry originated prior to the Holocene. In the case of wheat, by the start of the Holocene it had already been genetically modified by selective breeding to allow yield increases.

      • Latimer Alder

        At the risk of being a pedant, all plants ancestry originated a very long time ago. As did yours and mine.

      • Wheat as a viable food grain is a product of the mild weather of the Holocene

        I shall add that to the list of AGW-related miracles!

      • My wife’s ancestors were very successful wheat farmers in Russia. When they immigrated they brought winter wheat from Russia to the Great Plains. They settled from Canada to Oklahoma. Wheat was like gold. They even named a town Eureka.

      • Latimer Alder


        Interesting though the discussion about maize, wheat, corn and, stuff has been, we shouldn’t forget rice which is a major staple (the major staple?) worldwide.

        Just thought that the concentration on familiar crops from the US might have been blinkering the discussion a bit.

      • We grow rice. Rice emits methane. Like cows, its days may be numbered.

      • Latimer Alder


        There is experimental proof that under certain conditions, I can produce methane. Should I be fearful for my future?

      • The flooded paddies are the source of the methane. Research has suggested that draining the soil can “drastically” reduce the methane emissions.

        Ironically, those conducting the research found that the way to offset yield decreases from drought was to increase the level of CO2 the plants were exposed to.

      • If you chew your cud a lot and are attracted to girls named Elsie, you might be a ruminant. If so, you would be in very big trouble.

        Foozering stinks, but it’s pretty harmless.

      • If you suffer from recurring methane emissions, install a collection system and sell it to the gas company. Every little bit helps.


      • Human beings are malleable too. What we need are some new varieties of starvation-resistant poor people. New people varieties; new plant varieties; looming drought-caused starvation problem disappears.

        I have a cactus that looks just like ears of corn. Maybe I can eat it. Looks edible.

      • JCH,
        Hmmmmm……I guess that is snarky?
        Perhaps you could take lessons from
        someone who actually knew how to do snark greatly?
        However, since your prooposal flies in the face of the reality that we are reducing the levels of starvatoin, I wonder if perhaps you are suggesting the need for starvation resistant poor people to survive the policies the AGW community is so desperately pushing for?

      • Latimer Alder

        Martha has recently told us that there is 7% more rainfall because of AGW not less.

        Perhaps those responsible for the breeding programme for the starvation resistant poor people should also place a premium on webbed feet and swimming abilities. A collection of mermaids would be good place to start…..

      • “You are dodging the point.”

        No, hunter, you are dodging the point. The point is that this statement:

        “Crops care if they get enough rain and temperature in a broad range of acceptability”

        . . . is not factually accurate. So you want to change the subject, talk about planting peanuts instead of wheat, appeal to hypothetical genetic improvements in the future, what have you.

        You’re so predictable. Sorry, Paul Revere did not ride to warm the British, and wheat, for one, does not prosper “in a broad range of acceptability,” but like most crops, in a fairly narrow one.

        Enough with the hand-waving.

      • Robert,
        Not to put too fine a point on it, but your ignorance of plants and crops is amazing.
        Your inability to comprehend the reality of this is…..typical of dedicated true believers.

      • “Crops care if they get enough rain and temperature in a broad range of acceptability”

        This is a very accurate statement. It is general in nature. The word ‘broad’ may be to general.

        But hunter forgot to add “enough CO2” which they all love.:)

      • mkelly,
        For most plants, as horticulturists have learned, the amount of CO2 they love is quite high.

      • Robert –
        wheat, for one, does not prosper “in a broad range of acceptability,” but like most crops, in a fairly narrow one.

        40 years ago I was the system engineer on a Global crop inventory program which at the time was specifically aimed at wheat. We tracked hweat crops in Africa, India, South America, Canada, Siberia, China, the US, Europe – IOW, ANYPLACE wheat was grown. And the temp range ran from -80 to +130 depending on the season and location and type of wheat (there is more than one variety).

        IOW – your statement is horse puckey.

      • Jim,
        Robert demonstrates perfectly the urbanized hubris of the AGW believer.
        How many of them have been stuck outside during a serious thunderstorm or hurricane?
        How many of the true believers have ever worked and actually raised crops or cattle? How many have seen real drought or been in a flood?
        No wonder they confuse models and projections for experimental results.
        Frankly the idea that a ~1o change in average temps in a system that daily varies in many places 10’s of degrees is only the starting point for the inanity of the AGW movement.

      • Yup – at one point I almost choked when he implied that he didn’t live in or very near a city. That’s not something one can hide in any but the most casual conversation – and mostly not then.

        The annual temp range in Siberia runs to about 150 deg or more. And they DO grow wheat there. Either that or we spent a lot of time, energy and money tracking their wheat crop for – well. more than a few years. I suspect that program is stll extant – although it may have submerged into the “black” world again.- which is where it came from in the first place.

      • Robert,
        It has been abundantly demonstrated here by others with citations and examples that I am not dodging the point and that you are dodging the point.
        Crops are successfully grown across a very wide range of temperatures worldwide.
        To ignore this in favor of some bloviated prose as you do is to demonstrate the power of wishful thinking over reality.

      • They deliberately induced drought conditions?

        WAIT! Even worse … they made it up!

        “The net effect of warming on yields was computed for each trial by artificially raising observed temperatures on each day by 1 °C, recomputing temperature indices such as GDD8,30, and using the regression equations to predict the new yield.”

        Drought stress?

        “The second most common treatment was managed drought stress, where the varieties were irrigated in a rain-free period until plants were established, and then irrigation was cut off to induce moisture stress during flowering and grain-filling”

        “Using data from crop trials exaggerates the problem. Why? The plants are well fertilized, unlike most maize grown in Africa. Under-fertilized crops have lower average yields (which is why encouraging appropriate fertilization is so important), as one would expect, and so they tend to not be as badly damaged by temperature and drought as well-fertilized crops.”

      • “WAIT! Even worse … they made it up!”

        Yes, we get it, you don’t know what science is, you’re a man of faith.

        We know that; you don’t have to demonstrate your ignorance in every thread.

      • Latimer Alder

        They grow maize in the mid-West of the USA

        It gets very hot there in summer and cold in the winter. How can this be reconciled with the ‘results’ of the paper above?

        Can it be that they choose to use varieties that suit their climate? The crafty devils!

    • Pooh, Dixie

      As the Indians (Native Americans) taught the Pilgrims:
      Drop one of those red herrings into each corn hill with the seed and enjoy increased production.

      • It’s amazing the fear and hysteria deniers express when confronted by experimental evidence. It’s like watching a mouse after it sees an owl.

      • Robert,
        Please let us know when you are going to confront us with something factual or experimentally based.
        I am sure it will be a unique experience for us all.

    • hunter

      Perhaps in the age of AGW it is the crop of red herrings that seem to be prospering so greatly.

      Fred Moolten has posted an opinion on the negative impact of “ocean acidification” on certain marine species – perhaps it was a “red herring”.


  13. Joe Lalonde


    What seems to be forgotten is dramatic changes in any region can be quite devastating to the region has adapted to a certain weather or heat. Move a native planet 100 miles away and it could die due to not being used to that climate of the area.
    Next we rely on bugs such a bees to pollinate our crops. Some farmers this year are having a hard time for the bees to leave the hive due to too much precipitation in the regional areas.

    • Rob Starkey


      What seems to be forgotten by many who fear AGW is that the weather changes over time regardless of human actions.

      • Rob,

        The rate of change is very important. Natural climatic changes of this magnitude take thousands to millions of years; species adapt, but not that fast.

      • Bad Andrew

        “Natural climatic changes of this magnitude take thousands to millions of years”


        Do tree rings reveal this information to you? How do you know this?


      • Andrew,

        It’s a science thing. Google “paleoclimate” and do some homework.

      • Bad Andrew


        Science by Google. No wonder Robert is where he is.


      • The last interglacial (the Eemian) ended in around 400 years.

        If anyone cares to read the page the following quote comes from, he/she will be amazed at how quickly climate does change.

        “Though the time at which the Eemian interglacial ended is subject to some uncertainty (it was probably around 110,000 years ago), what does seem evident from the sediment records that cross this boundary is that it was a relatively sudden event and not a gradual slide into colder conditions taking many thousands of years. The recent high-resolution Atlantic sediment record of Adkins et al (1997) suggests that the move from interglacial to much colder-than-present glacial conditions occurred over a period of less than 400 years (with the limitations on the resolution of the sediment record leaving open the possibility that the change was in fact very much more rapid than this).”

      • In fact, the climate can change in just a few years very dramatically as shown by the rapid onset of the Younger Dryas.

      • Robert,
        Do you mean paleo-climate like this?
        The climate is not changing in unprecednted ways.

      • Weather and climate do vary. Understanding how climate interacts with agriculture is critical to being prepared to deal with those shift regardless of the cause. Failure to do so can pose problems. One need not favor mitigation to recognize the danger inherent in those shifts.

      • One need not favor mitigation to recognize the danger inherent in those shifts.

        “dangers and opportunities inherent…”

      • “dangers and opportunities inherent…”

        Fair enough.

        It should also be noted that in the circumstance I referenced above (French famine leading up to the Revolution), the disaster came not just from a climatic shift, but also from the French reaction to it. Where other European nations got through the poor cereal harvests by leaning heavier on potatoes, the French refused.

        Crops don’t plant themselves, so whether a particular shift leads to “winners” or “losers” is not solely dependant on the climate.

    • Latimer Alder

      Indeed. But even if the climate does change as the worst of the alarmists predict, we can always (apart form in the very hottest areas) find plants that appreciate the then-existing climate rather than the once-was climate.

      So while plant A may no longer like growing up your coiled spring gyroscropic rotational experiment apparatus in your back garden, I’m pretty sure that there will be a plant B that does.

      You can do the experiment. Go out of your front door. Walk south (assuming you live in the NH). As you walk the species of plants will change around you. You can consider this walk to be accelerated time-travel through climate change. If you don;t get to a point where there are no plants at arid and lifeless wasteland, then you should start to worry about the effect of CC on plants. Otherwise look forward to your ability to grow exotic species if the worst fears of the alarmists are realised.

      But there will still be plants that will grow places.

  14. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

    A food shortage. Is this some sort of dumb joke? Have any of you ever been to a Wal-mart? They have pickle jars 3ft tall. In fact, food is our greatest surplus.

    @Joe Lablonde
    Joe, we breed bees. If we run out of bees, it would be the dumbest thing ever.

  15. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

    @Rob Starkey

    Totally agree, Rob, this food shortage business is just another hoax. I’m pretty sure at this point a lot of climatologists know that global warming is a hoax but they just don’t admit it.

    • Don’t know what kind of PhD you are, but you might want to read a bit more before you call the global food shortage a hoax. Despite record harvests in some areas, there has been weather related deficits in others, plus a growing demand coming from Asia. Food prices are near record highs and the law of supply and demand ought to tell you thar the tighter supply side is no hoax.

      • Food price are almost always near record highs. Its one of the ways we track inflation. Inflation is normal. The recent costs are due to high petro chemical costs. Made worse by those that want to restrict energy production.

  16. “…Days above 30°C are particularly damaging. In otherwise normal conditions, every day the temperature is over this threshold diminishes yields by at least 1%. Moreover, days where the temperature exceeds 32°C do twice the harm of those at 31°C….”
    I am always amazed when I read stuff like this. This discussion is also going on over at the Blackboard. Take corn for example. As a basic crop, it makes a good example.
    There are those who say “..optimal growing temperature for sweet corn is 60 F to 75 F, with 50 F as a minimum and 95 F as a maximum…” Perhaps true as a rule of thumb, but…..
    “..California corn silage differs from corn silage grown in cooler regions of the US. To illustrate the uniqueness of California corn silage, a comparison with corn silage produced in Wisconsin (the second largest dairy state in the US) follows…”
    “..Yields are approximately 10 tons more per acre in California than in Wisconsin. High yield hybrids with 115 days or more relative maturity can perform very well under California growing conditions, but not in cooler climates. In the West, corn plants are 10 to 15% taller (personal communication with senior researcher from a corn breeding company). Wisconsin corn silage production relies on rain, while in California we have the advantage of using timely crop irrigation…”

    The numbers speak for themselves. Water, not high temps, more control for corn yields. Heat has an effect, but can be controlled if you have water.
    My understanding in that for the Mid West, high temps and drought go together. High temps are a normal fact of life in the Central Valley that uses 100% irrigation for corn crops.
    The San Joaquin Valley of the Central Valley has 86% of the California corn acreage, of which 80% is for dairy silage. The state’s average yield of grain corn for 2006-2008 (the number I have quick to hand) was just over 5 tons per acre. For that same period the average for silage corn was 26.7 tons per acre (70% moisture).
    Sweet corn is also raised and tends to be planted between February through June for harvest July through October.
    Take a look at the summer temps in the Central Valley. Long periods of max temps over 100d F is common. Min temps are also high.

    So if temps over 30d C is such a killer, why does the California Central Valley outperform just about any area in the world you want to point to in ag production yields?

  17. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

    I ask this simple question all the time and nobody has an answer. When discussing global temperatures, why are we not basing them off of the historic GAT? For example, people say the world is warming. I take this to mean we are above global average temperatures. However, we find that this isn’t the case at all. When discussing rising temperatures, people are only speaking about a small window in time, either 1800-present, 1850-present or 1969-present. Factually, the world is cooling because we are currently below historic GAT. Furthermore, the most recent cooling trend was much longer and more sustained than the recent warming. So another fact is that the trend has been cooling temperatures. Please, can somebody explain this? I have asked Judy several times and she refuses to answer, which is very dissappointing.

  18. Pooh, Dixie

    There is an alternative. The African Oasis Project is a missionary initiative. Churches donate to the Project. The Project drills deep wells to potable and agricultural water. A well costs around $20K. Once there is water, the people can help themselves; no bureaucracy required.

    • Pooh, Dixie –
      This is the kind of thing I’ve been supporting for 20 years, although not in Africa. But there is a problem – and that is the lack of trained maintenance personnel for the wells. I’ve done well maintenance and repair in Haiti – it’s not hard, doesn’t require a lot of technical training, but It IS necessary if the wells are to be kept running. Left to their own devices, when a well stops running, untrained local people will just shrug their shoulders and go back to what Grandpa used to do (whatever that might have been). BTDT and have the scars to porve it..

      • Pooh, Dixie

        KUDOS, Jim!

        My grandad had a well. I’m sure he maintained it himself. I also have no doubt that the Africans can do it, too. A few spare leathers and flaps can be left as maintenance spares. See this link for a picture of the technical complexity of the well. :-)

  19. The monthly global mean temperature anomaly for April 2011 is out, and it is 0.40 deg C.

    It is 0.21 deg C less than recorded maximum of 0.61 deg C for April 1998.

    The IPCC projections are wrong.

  20. It will be interesting to see some real data here on crop yields, etc. versus slightly warmer global temperatures and higher atmospheric CO2 levels.

    Undoubtedly there could well be regional or local changes which may be partly positive and partly negative, but the reports I have seen so far would indicate that the net overall global effect will be positive for two reasons:

    – increased growth rates of most C3 and C4 crops at higher CO2 concentrations
    – increased arable land surface area in northern latitudes (Russia, Canada, etc.) as well as longer growing seasons at slightly warmer temperatures.


  21. An important question regarding food shortages is this:
    Does mitigation as prescribed by the AGW community have any realistic or cost effective impact on food security?

  22. “I’m pretty sure at this point a lot of climatologists know that global warming is a hoax but they just don’t admit it.”

    I go back and forth on this. I keep quoting Upton Sinclair lately, “It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding.” Sorry, I won’t do it again, but it’s damn apt.

    But then of course, there’s real misunderstanding, and feigned. I keep thinking that if I were a climate scientist with an IQ over 97 and thus was able to understand that it’s only a matter of time before this AGW thing is exposed for what it is, I’d want to get out ahead of it. Like those insiders prescient enough (though let’s face it, it didn’t take all that much prescience) to call the dot-com and real estate bubbles, and who thereby made their reputations while everyone else looks forever more like hopeless morons…

    For some perhaps, it’s a matter of timing. They want to make the leap, but they don’t want to be too early, leaving themselves vulnerable perhaps to very real career setbacks.

    I can see how for many of them this might be a real dilemma.

    • “But then of course, there’s real misunderstanding, and feigned.”


      This is true. Then there is the silence from people (who should know better) that speaks 1000 words.

      It reminds me of the scene in “Saving Private Ryan” where an American soldier and a German soldier are wrestling over a bayonet, with another American soldier watching nearby, who could use a gun and save his “buddy”, but he just sits there looking for whatever reason (cowardice?)… and his “buddy” loses.

      This is where climate scientists are. Their wisdom and their fortitude only go so far. When it comes to helping us citizens with this problem, they are deer in the headlights.


    • pokerguy

      Yeah. Exit strategy and timing are key factors.

      I know a guy who bailed out at Enron (selling his shares at a profit) around 2 years before the company imploded.


  23. Keep in mind everybody that just like “Martha”‘s only reason to pop around is to gratuitously insult Judith, “Robert” is here with the single-minded goal of eliciting intemperate outbursts from skeptics. Hence the former’s inability to exchange views with anybody and the latter’s determination to deny the undeniable and affirm the untenable (eg no crops in hot climates, plus the Paradisiac Holocene fallacy) and proneness to expectorate his own outbursts against slow-witted deniers.

    Neither of them acts here as a human being so there’s only so much one should expect from eliciting further comments (the odd unintentionally funny remark aside).

    • Latimer Alder

      Perhaps we should look upon them both like a boxer does his sparring partners. Useful stooges that we can limber up our arguments against, but not serious contenders. Just paid patsies really.

    • omnologos –
      I labelled Robert a troll a long time ago. Not likely to retract that. In which case, the cure is for everybody to ignore him.

      But so many of his statements are so egregiously outlandish – or just plain wrong – that it’s difficult to not respond. Beside which – it’s sometimes just irresistably tempting to “poke” him and watch the results.

      Of course, it IS a problem when someone forgets (or doesn’t know) and takes him seriously. I must confess, I’m a recovering “Robertaholic”. I had more fun than the Law allows for too long with him. :-)

    • Robert is free to practice his religion here if he wants.

      • Just like the rest of us – as long as we behave. :-)

        Why else would I object to banning him when it was suggested?

      • I am not suggesting to ban “Robert” either. But I am not interested in communicating to internet personas that don’t want to be human.

  24. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

    Yeah Robert goes on and on about the rate of change….it is completely irrelevant. The earth had over 7000 ppm and took all of it out and made rocks with it. Robert’s argument is that something the earth did before can’t be done again, even though it is on a smaller scale.

  25. “In fact, the climate can change in just a few years very dramatically as shown by the rapid onset of the Younger Dryas.”

    I think I recall reading it might have been over just a few decades… or perhaps even less. In my darker moments during which I find it easy to imagine all sorts of catastrophes, this scares me. Much, much scarier than any supposed sudden warming.

    I’m old enough to remember all the hype concerning the coming ice age back in the 70’s, and I had no trouble believing it. Warming on the other hand, even in the days when I’d have said I was a believer, seems inherently harder for me to swallow, perhaps because it doesn’t play on any instinctive fears…

    Deep within my lizard brain, cold and ice strike me as terrible. I don’t know about anybody else, but I like warm weather…Generally speaking, the hotter the better. Even ifn the slim chance the alarmist case is correct, it’s impossible for me to believe that it will be universally terrible. I never, ever hear then admit that for many a warmer world is a better world.

    • Coming from a cold climate, I agree, but someone from Death Valley may have a different opinion. At some point it will get hotter and at another It will be colder just like in the past. Change happens. Rate of change only matters if it bring a new danger that we cannot adapt to. Nothing has been shown that fits that.

  26. “It is difficult to relate the management conditions in these trials to those in actual farmers’ fields. One clear difference is that these particular trials use fairly high rates of fertilizer to avoid nitrogen (N) stress, whereas most farmers outside South Africa and Zimbabwe have historically applied little N fertilizer.”

    Translation: Our conclusion is bull****.