Climate change and food (in)security

by Judith Curry

A recent NYTimes article highlighted the issue of climate change impact on global food insecurity.  Roger Pielke Jr has criticizes this analysis in several posts [here and here], arguing that recent extreme weather events are not attributable to AGW and that self-reported food insecurity is at odds with model results from the FAO and USDA.   Lets take a deeper look at the issue of food security, and place climate change in a broader context of this complex issue.

Definition of food security

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) characterizes food security as having:

  • Food Availability: The availability of sufficient quantities of food of appropriate quality, supplied through domestic production or imports (including food aid);
  • Food Access: Access by individuals to adequate resources for acquiring appropriate foods for a nutritious diet;
  • Utilization: Utilization of food through adequate diet, clean water, sanitation and health care to reach a state of nutritional well-being where all physiological needs are met; and
  • Stability: To be food secure, a population, household or individual must have access to adequate food at all times.

Climate variability and change and weather hazards impacts have a substantial impact on the variability of agricultural productivity, which is the major factor in food availability. Whether in terms of crop destruction by extreme weather or because of changing precipitation patterns (chronic drought conditions, for example), the impacts of weather and climate can have a significant destabilizing influence on food security, particularly in regions where a great deal of food insecurity currently exists.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the FAO released an agricultural outlook report in June 2010 that predicts significant increases in food prices in the coming decade. All told, food prices are expected to increase by 40% as a function of population increases, increased demand per capita, and competition for food stocks from the biofuel sector.  The price of wheat and other grains is expected to rise 15-40% and dairy prices are anticipated to rise 16-45%.  Note: a new decadal agricultural outlook is scheduled for release on Jun 17.

Transitory food insecurity associated with weather and climate variability

The pivotal relationship between food and weather presents significant risk and security exposure for regions all over the globe.  From production planning all the way through final consumption, there are numerous critical touch points in the food life cycle where weather and climate can have impacts on crop yields and consumption from minor to catastrophic levels.  For the last forty-plus years organizations around the globe have been working to build the data stores needed to properly assess food and crop risk exposure.

Translating the weather/food connection into a tangible comprehension of risk exposure for areas around the globe requires an understanding not only of production patterns but also the consumption diversity in a region or country.  For instance, a low elevation coastal region positioned in the tropics will have exposure issues related to the production of local crops such as rice, tropical fruits and vegetables.  However, computing the areas total risk level requires a thorough understanding of food import dependency.  This dependency includes food type, source location and quantity, as well as the ability to alternately source local production and primary import shortfalls.

The importance of this issue especially relating to the potential severity in terms of lives lost to food unavailability, as well as regional stability and security issues has led to the creation of numerous national and international agencies whose mandates range from monitoring the weather implications and assessing resulting impacts (Joint Agricultural Weather Facility), to helping improve the decision making process (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Climate Impact on Agriculture(Climpag)) to developing food security issue warning systems (United States Agency for International Development (USAID) , Famine Early Warning Systems Network).

The sheer quantity of efforts underway to deal with weather related food loss and security risk highlights the importance of the issue globally.  These efforts illustrate both benefits and challenges to determining risk exposure vis a vis weather and climate impacts.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been tracking global food production and import data since the 1970s, and has developed an Economic, Statistics and Market Information System in partnership with other agencies to provide extensive data and reports. While the far-reaching food production and import data for countries and regions around the globe is useful, without the proper context it only begins to address the risk exposure.  By combining that data with information like integrated crop yields, population densities and drought vulnerability, we begin to see patterns that help us to start to understand the real weather/food risk exposure.

CCAFS CGIAR has published a new report entitled Mapping Hotspots of Climate Change and Food Insecurity in the Global Tropics.  The report finds:

A new study has matched future climate change “hotspots” with regions already suffering chronic food problems to identify highly-vulnerable populations, chiefly in Africa and South Asia, but potentially in China and Latin America as well, where in fewer than 40 years, the prospect of shorter, hotter or drier growing seasons could imperil hundreds of millions of already-impoverished people.

Now we need a study on the impact of climate change on agriculture in Canada, Russia, North China, and Scandinavia.

Factors contributing to regional structural food insecurity

There is a distinction between structural food insecurity, associated with  poverty and low incomes, and transitory food insecurity that is associated with natural disasters, economic collapse or conflict.

Food insecurity among the rural poor is exacerbated by structural economic problems facing these communities such as trade barriers, inferior markets, and land distribution issues. The inability of the rural poor to make gains from trade by effectively participating in the international commodities market (through exports) results in the exacerbation of rural poverty and subsequent food insecurity.  The agriculture of the rural poor is characterized by low input-low output farming (subsistence and small-yield farming). This community has limited access to productive land, technology, credit and markets, so poor rural households are largely dependent on rain-fed agriculture for their livelihoods and subsistence, and thus are highly vulnerable to adverse weather and climate conditions. The market in which the rural poor participate, as well as the market structure itself, hinders their ability to economically advance.  These markets are often characterized by a lack of economic diversification, limited numbers of buyers, costly and inefficient transaction mechanisms.

The rural poor are also limited by an expensive or non-existent access to capital.  As a result, private moneylenders with exorbitant interest rates – as opposed to formal financial institutions – predominate in many areas in South Asia.  For example, as a result of commonly used loan practices, 50% of farm households in India are indebted to a level that hinders their economic security, and in Pakistan fewer than 5% of the total sums borrowed for agriculture come from formal lenders As noted by the UNISDR, “This exposes rural producers to price swings in response to local variations in production, that can drastically reduce the income that can be obtained from harvests and may encourage a risk-averse preference for subsistence rather than market-based agriculture.

Land ownership and distribution may also be an economically limiting factor – exacerbating rural poverty and perpetuating food insecurity.  Some nations, such as Pakistan, still commonly have in place a feudal-esque land ownership system where the farmers do not own the land and must pay the owners for use of it.  This can result in a portion of what little agricultural income there might be not going towards the economic advancement of the farmer.

There are a host of other issues  in the poorest of the poor regions in Africa, where food distribution is a particular problem, for both political and logistical reasons.   Population growth in itself contributes to structural food security in impoverished countries.   Land and soil degradation is another key issue worldwide that is endangering food security.

Food security issues in South Asia

The focus of my investigations of food security issues to date has been South Asia, particularly the countries of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.  Food insecurity predominates in South Asia.  The role of the agriculture sector throughout South Asia is paramount.  Representing 20% of the region’s GDPand over 45% of South Asia’s employment (ref) , agriculture plays an essential role to the regional economy.  In terms of land surface area, over 50% of the region’s land area is committed to agricultural efforts. This vast spatial coverage and degree of economic importance make this sector particularly susceptible to the most influential cause in annual production variances – weather and climate. The impacts are not confined to the production season but can also cause post-harvest spoilage and loss up to the point of consumption.  For example, in India, spoilage estimates are in excess of 12.8 billion dollars a year.

The primary weather and climate differential influence throughout the region is precipitation.  The majority of annual precipitation comes during the 4 month monsoon rainy season, but is supplemented by two periods of tropical cyclone activity in the Northern Indian Ocean (during April-May and October-November) and annual snowfall over the Himalayas.  While the combination provides an optimal balance to support natural (rain-fed) and irrigated food production throughout South Asia year round, the potential extremes can be devastating to agricultural efforts.  Too much water, exemplified by the 2010 Indus River floods in Pakistan, can completely destroy agricultural output for a season and cause long-lasting damage and subsequent losses to viable crop and livestock areas. The opposing extreme can also be catastrophic, such as the drought of 2002 which impacted over 50% of India’s land area, and resulted in an estimated crop loss value in excess of 360 million dollars. These annual events could become further compounded by climate shifts that may cause multi-year or decadal impacts on Indian Monsoon behavior and influence recurring snowpack levels in the Himalayas.

As an example of specific issues at the country level, consider Pakistan.  Pakistani agriculture is responsible for 25% of GDP, comprises 66% of the labor force, and accounts for 80% of Pakistan’s exports (ref).  And – in terms of agriculture, industry, droughts and floods – water resources and water availability play critical roles in determining the success of the country’s economy.

Pakistan has the world’s largest irrigation system – whereby 80% of cropland uses irrigated water. Most of this is rain-fed irrigation.  In other words, the majority of farmland – and thereby sizable portions of the Pakistani economy – is ultimately dependent on precipitation and its distribution.  This dependence on seasonal rainfall has resulted in poor agricultural practices – resulting in a negative cycle that degrades the land, increasingly placing the agricultural economy at risk, and then a need for increasingly destructive ‘quick-fixes’ with regards to rainfall and agricultural practices.  Due to the existing high variability of precipitation, farmers provide water to their crops when it is available – not necessarily when it is needed.  This “over-watering” has resulted in deteriorated soil quality through salinization, decreased agricultural productivity, and water scarcity. The World Bank reports that 25% of Pakistan’s arable land is highly degraded due to salinity – resulting in an annual loss of 1% of GDP per year. This water scarcity and water pollution (as a result of both agricultural practices and industry) has resulted in a reduction in the supply of water needed for Pakistani agriculture.

Switzerland’s Agency for Development and Cooperation released a report in 2010 that highlighted the dramatic – and increasing – status of food insecurity in Pakistan. Among its key findings are that food insecurity affects 48.6% of the Pakistani population; 34% of Pakistan’s districts are characterized as “extremely food insecure” – a doubling since 2003; and that Pakistan’s poor spend 61.6% of their household income on food – an increase of 5% since 2005-06.

Towards managing the risk of transitory food insecurity

Weather disasters and seasonal drought are major contributors to transitory food insecurity.  Better weather and climate information in the vulnerable regions could go along ways towards mitigating losses from such events.

The expected weather/climate conditions play a fundamental role in decisions regarding what to plant, when to harvest, if/when to irrigate and and fertilize.  Each planting season, a farmer decides what to plant among several choices suitable for the particular yield.  The choices include risky but high paying crops versus safer more resilient low paying crops that may better survive a possible drought.  The decision to harvest includes early harvests that avoid future weather risks, and later harvest that optimizes yields.

Good seasonal forecasts on timescales of 3-4 months could support better cropping decisions.  Forecasts on subseasonal time scales are invaluable for harvesting decisions, and shorter term forecasts are useful for irrigation decisions and protecting crops, seed stock and livestock from floods and tropical cyclones.    Third world countries do not have easy access to first world weather information, and first world scientists and weather forecasters expend little effort addressing regional issues in the developing world.

Forecasts are only useful if they are communicated and understood.  One such effort in this regard is the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (RIMES) for Africa and Asia, which is local NGO whose objective is “building capacity and providing actionable warning information towards forearmed, forewarned and resilient communities.

Can technology deliver on the yield challenge to 2050?

Below is an excerpt from a recent FAO document with the title of this subsection:

It is common that when world grain prices spike as in 2008, a small fraternity of world food watchers raises the Malthusian specter of a world running out of food. Originally premised on satiating the demon of an exploding population, the demon has evolved to include the livestock revolution, and most recently biofuels. Yet since the 1960s, the global application of science to food production has maintained a strong track record of staying ahead of these demands. Even so, looking to 2050 new demons on the supply side such as water and land scarcity and climate change raise voices that “this time it is different!” But after reviewing what is happening in the breadbaskets of the world and what is in the technology pipeline, we remain cautiously optimistic about the ability of world to feed itself to 2050.

First, despite impressive gains in yields over the past 50 years in most of the world, large and economically exploitable yield gaps remain in many places, especially in the developing world and nowhere more so than in sub-Saharan Africa where food supply is the most precarious.

Second, in the short to medium term, there are many technologies that are in their early stage of adoption that promise a win-win combination of enhancing productivity and sustainably managing natural resources. These include conservation farming approaches based on no tillage and the GM technology revolution—both still only used on less than 10 percent of the world’s cropland—as well as the even earlier adoption phase of information and communication technologies (ICT) for more efficient and precise management of modern inputs.

Third, yield gains are not achieved by technology alone, but also require complementary changes in policies and institutions. In much of the developing world, policies are now more favorable for rapid productivity growth, while a range of innovations in risk management, market development, rural finance, organizing farmers, and provision of advisory services, show considerable promise to make markets work better and provide a conducive environment for technology adoption. Indeed, in sub-Saharan Africa these innovations are a necessary condition for wider adoption of critical technologies such as fertilizer.

Fourth, plant breeders continue to make steady gains in potential yield and water-limited potential yield, more slowly than in the past for wheat and rice, but with little slackening in the case of maize; there is no physiological reason why these gains cannot be maintained but progress is becoming more difficult with conventional breeding. Genomics and molecular techniques are now being regularly applied to speed the breeding in the leading multinational seed companies and elsewhere, and their costs are falling rapidly. As well, transgenic (GM) technology has a proven record of over a decade of safe and environmentally sound use and its potential to address critical biotic and abiotic stresses of the developing world, with positive consequences for closing the yield gap, has yet to be tapped. We believe that the next seven to ten years will see its application to major food crops in Asia and Africa and that after its initial adoption, the currently high regulatory costs will begin to fall. We note however that this will require significant additional investment, not least in the areas of phenotyping on a large scale, and that it still takes 10-15 years from the initial investment until resulting technologies begin to have major impact on food supply. Transgenics for greater water-limited potential yield may also appear by then, but trangenics for greater potential yield, arising from significant improvements in photosynthesis, may take longer than even our 2050 horizon.

To be sure these are broad generalizations and there are important differences by crop and region. . . [A]lthough increases in food production in Asia over the past 50 years have been impressive, no country in sub-Saharan Africa has yet experienced a green revolution in food crops in a sustained manner, despite generally better overall performance of the agricultural sector in the past decade.

Yet our review does raise a number of cautions. To no small extent the need to accelerate global cereal yield trends beyond the historic annual rate of 43 kg/ha for 1961-2007 relates to this new demand. By 2020, the industrial world could consume as much grain per capita in their vehicles as the developing world consumes per capita directly for food.

Third, many countries face huge challenges in achieving food security, even from a narrow perspective of food supply. We are less concerned about China and India, since they should continue to be largely self sufficient for food needs . . . However, there are many countries that do not have the capacity to import large amounts of grain or it would be prohibitively costly to do so, but where population growth is still very high. Most of these are in Africa, but even Pakistan with an estimated 335 m people in 2050 faces a potential food crisis. Climate change will also be a major challenge for many of these countries, adversely affecting yields and diverting R&D resources toward adaptation rather than yield improvement – adding a new dimension to maintenance research.

Finally, past agricultural success has in a sense been achieved by mining of non-renewable resources – fossil energy, phosphate, and much underground water. Our review of the impact of looming limitations of this strategy raises major concerns. This places a premium on improved efficiency of using these resources that must be at the center of the agenda for Feeding the World in 2050. Generally it should be noted that increased yield through breeding and agronomy is lifting resource use efficiency.

The history of agriculture in the twentieth century teaches us that investment in R&D will be the most important determinant of whether our cautious optimism will be realized. . . Resilience, flexibility and policies that favor R&D investment in staple food research and efficient input use will be the pillars upon which future food security depends. Darwin, whose 200th birthday we celebrated this year leaves two relevant statements: “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin,” and, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives….[but]…. the one that is the most adaptable to change.”


This essay has highlighted a number of different issues contributing to food insecurity, along with strategies for dealing with the myriad of complex issues that contribute to food insecurity.  So what are the relative cost/benefits and feasibility of each of the following measures?

  • Better weather and seasonal climate forecasts
  • More agro technology research and development
  • Better soil management to reduce degradation
  • Improved irrigation infrastructure
  • Better access of poor rural farmers to markets, capital, technology
  • Elimination of corn as biofuel
  • CO2 mitigation
  • Population control
  • Others?
In terms of feasibility, global CO2 mitigation ranks as only slightly easier than population control.  In terms of cost/benefit ratio, the first 6 items on the list probably rank the highest.

245 responses to “Climate change and food (in)security

  1. The winners of the 2010 National Corn Grower Contest were
    Sam Santini, Stewartsville, N.J., non-irrigated category, 306.5 bushels per acre
    David Hula, Charles City, VA, no till/strip till irrigated category, 368.4 bushels per acre

    As many readers may know, N.J. and VA rarely have summer temperatures in excess of 100 F, so beware of anyone who tells you higher temperatures improve yields of corn.

    Not surprisingly, the contest confirmed that irrigated corn cultivation resulted in higher yields than non-irrigation cultivation.

    You can see the full results of the contest at…..0-12-17-10

    • M. carey –
      N.J. and VA rarely have summer temperatures in excess of 100 F, so beware of anyone who tells you higher temperatures improve yields of corn.

      AFAIK, no one here has claimed that (maybe i didn’t see it?), but the claim WAS made that for every 1 deg over 30 degC, there would be a 1% loss of productivity. That claim was the result of “interpolated” temp data and precipitation model outputs. Meaning it is suspect from the start.

      Since 30 degC = 86 degF, 100 degF temps would supposedly produce a 14% crop loss. NJ and VA don’t get many 100 deg days – but they do get 90-95 deg days which would still mean a 4 to 9 % crop loss. Which would still be somewhat significant.

      So by your logic and numbers, that 1% per deg would be false. Thank you.

      Note that none of this should be taken too seriously – it’s just a simplified logical conclusion drawn from insufficient information. The situation is far more complex than what is represented by the available numbers.

      • Jim, I put my reply in the wrong place, so here it is again.

        Re your “AFAIK” see the post by Ed Forbes in the previous thread, June 7, 4:09 PM.

        Thanks for doing your version of what my logic might be.

        How’s this for logic: If warm weather is good for plants, even warmer weather is even better for plants.

      • Latimer Alder

        Depends on the plant you study. And where it is evolved to flourish.

        But the abundance and speed of growth in the Tropical Rain Forests (where it is very hot), doesn’t suggest that hot weather is per se bad for plants.

        Compare and contrast with, eg the tundra, where it is colder. There are fewer plants. They grow more slowly.

        At least to a first approximation nature shows us that warmer is usually better for plants to grow. I’ll need a lot of persuading otherwise.

      • ferd berple

        hot and moist conditions as you have in the tropics is great for some crops but not for others. the major problem is insects. you can grow lettuce for example, and it grows very well, but you end up harvesting snails.

      • You should take a look at the story of Goldilocks and the three bears. She makes the observation that sometimes porridge can be too hot, sometimes too cold but also it can be just right!

      • Latimer Alder

        And where are we planting Goldilockses as a staple crop?

        I think those aliens who visit you have been tinkering with your brain again…..

      • ferd berple

        name one place where there is water that it is too hot for plants and animals. The Amazon and Congo river basins are the hottest places on earth on average, and they have the greatest concentration of life.

        Why? Because cooling takes almost zero energy if water is available. While on the other hand, heating takes tons of energy. Thus, life can thrive in hot regions by using water for cooling, while in cold regions life has a very hard time surviving because of the energy demands.

      • ferd berple

        If one looks at the paleo history of earth, for most of the past 600 million years the average temperature of the earth was 22C (72F). This is the same temperature humans find most comfortable and where we set our household thermometers if we can afford the fuel bill.

        The current temperature of the earth is 15C because we are in the middle of a series of ice ages. The idea that current temperatures are somehow “just right” ignores the lessons of evolution. Except for the last few million years, CO2 and temperature has been much higher than at present. We are living in a time of “cold porridge” and except for the domestication of fire human beings would still be confined to a small area of Africa.

        Most people do not know this. An unprotected human cannot survive an average temperature below 27C (82 F). This is the temperature of the tropical jungles. Outside the jungle a human being cannot eat enough food to make up for the heat loss from an unprotected body. Quite simply, human beings cannot survive without technology outside of a tropical jungle.

  2. Below is a more direct link to the winners of the National Corn Growers Contest:

  3. Norm Kalmanovitch

    When 6.5% of the world’s grain (including corn as a grain) is being taken out of the global food supply as feedstock for ethanol and over 8% of the world’s food oil crops are being used for the manufacture of biodiesel, the wealthy pay double for their food and the poor simply starve. This is the only aspect of climate change over which humans have control.
    In 1970 when there was a general realization that the world was likely heading towards a repeat of the littl ice age, governments invested in crops that would better survive colder shorter growing seasons.
    Today we have the technology to know that the global cooling that started in 2002 will likely last for at least another 22 years until the end of solar cycle 25 so we have the knowledge to address the impending food shortage but instead of addressing global cooling we are taking more and more food out of the hands of the poor and using it for very expensive fuel to stop some mythgical global warming.
    The simple truth is that we will indeed be experiencing more and more severe weather because global cooling increases variability in the climate system that induces more frequent and severe storms. Current solar research also points to the same influences that are causing our world to cool also cause increased tectonic activity bringing an increase to the number of earthquakes and volcanoes which also impact the food supply. The only thing that increases food supply is the increase in CO2 emissions which raise the atmospheric CO2 concentration and improve the rate of plant growth.

    • Thanks, Norm.

      The problem is that you use rational thought to argue against propaganda.

      CO2-induced disaster is the government propaganda theme. Any real, potential or imaginary disaster can be used to promote the need for government control:

      a.) Global warming
      b.) Climate change
      c.) Food shortage
      d.) Extreme weather
      e.) Etc, etc

      • That technique has been used by leaders throughout history.
        1. Create a problem.
        2. Solve the problem to prove you are indispensable.

        Look at our current government. Most of the problems they are trying to solve are a result of previous policies. Very few problems are “real” problems. The bigger the government, the bigger the problems they create. The more government you then need to solve the problem. Eventually the system collapse and there is revolution.

        This pattern has been repeated time and time again throughout history. Left unchecked governments grow to consume all available resources in a quest to solve the problems that the government itself creates, until the economy collapses.

        During times of prosperity, the natural growth in the economy hides the problem as the expansion of the economy allows the expansion of the government. However, as soon as the economy stops growing problems develop, as the government plunges the economy into debt to continue its growth.

        Due to the effects of compounding, inflation and/or default eventually become the only solutions to rising debt. Currently the US is inflating the money supply in a effort to deal with the debt. In effect the government is borrowing money to pay the interest on the debt. That is the true “hockey stick”. The US money supply.

    • To perpetuate the AGW myth, world leaders, Al Gore and the UN’s IPCC avoided telling the public the difference between:

      a.) Heat source: The core of the Sun; H-fusion, neutron repulsion, fission, etc.

      b.) Insulators: Loosely packed material that surrounds us or the heat source and prevents sudden temperature changes; Earth’s atmosphere, layers of waste products that surround the solar core, etc.

      c.) Moderators: Large nearby objects that absorb or release heat and thus moderate our temperature; Earth’s oceans, etc.


        Yes that’s right. Al Gore certainly never bothered to tell us all the difference between Hydrogen Fusion (the core of the Sun) and the Atlantic Ocean. I guess he must have had something to hide after all.

      • Thanks, Tonto.

        Can the Lone Ranger address this summary of “The AGW Story ?”

        1. The insulator that surrounds us (the atmosphere) causes global warming.

        2. Earth’s heat source (the Sun) is stable and steady.

        3. Now that Al Gore, the UN’s IPCC and an army of government-paid scientists have a Nobel Prize for developing and promoting 1 and 2 as (settled, consensus science), you can relax and know that Big Brother and new light bulbs will save you from reality – e.g, the massive global solar eruption on 1 Aug 2010 that was “so big, it may have shattered old ideas about solar activity.” [a].

        a.) “Global Eruption Rocks the Sun,” NASA News by Dr. Tony Phillips (13 Dec 2010)

      • No, Oliver; he has nothing to do with the Masked Man. His name is Italian for “stupid, foolish, silly”.
        Just so you know.

  4. It would be wonderful if additional C02 improved the rate of plant growth without changing the plants themselves or the soil the plants grow in. That we be like having our cake and eating it too.

    Oh, I forgot about more CO2 adding to the greenhouse effect. Plants may not appreciate the higher temperatures.

    • M. Carey,
      Plants daily withstand changes in temperature of many degrees.
      Your reference to greenhouse effect seems to be confusing glass greenhouses with the ghg effect in the atmosphere.
      Our hostess has written about the difference extensively.
      Upthread, someone pointed out that tropical forests, famous for rampaging, abundant plant growth, are in places that are…..tropical. Tropical generally means “warm”, or even “hot”.
      Speaking as you do in broad terms of what ‘plants like’ without acknowledging this and reconciling it to your alleged concerns about CO2 makes you look extreme and uninformed, relying on faith in AGW rather than reasoning skills.
      Please clarify yourself if you really do have something to add.

      • “Plants daily withstand changes in temperature of many degrees.”

        That’s kind of like saying people withstand sleep daily.

        Plants need daily changes in temperature of many degrees.

      • M. Carey,
        irt “Plants need daily changes in temperature of many degrees.”
        You are almost there. Take that next step. Come on, it won’t hurt.
        By the way, not all plants need great changes in daily temperatures.
        Plenty are evolved to handle narrow temps just as many can handle widely varying temps.
        Come on, take that next little step in logic.

      • Sure, plants can handle heat outside the optimum range without curling up and dying, but yields suffer.

      • Heat might be good but for most plants frost is deadly.

      • Have you ever farmed?

      • ferd berple

        Can anyone show one place on earth outside of a volcano where, given sufficient water, it is too hot for plants or animals to grow?

        How about the Congo or the Amazon? Dead on the equator. Hotter than hot. Tons of rain. Compare this to any other place on earth. More vegetation or less? More insects or less?

        What causes a problem for plants and animals is a lack of water. This is primarily a result of the deserts that span the globe a 30 degrees N/S which are cause not by warming but by global wind patterns.

  5. David L. Hagen

    Historical records covering 454 years show a clear influence of solar cycles on wheat production. See: Influence of Solar Activity on State of Wheat market in Medieval England, Lev A. Pustilnik, Gregory Yom Din

    We compared statistical properties of the intervals between wheat price bursts during years 1249-1703 with statistical properties of the intervals between minimums of solar cycles during years 1700-2000. . . . We show that for all 10 time moments of the solar activity minimums the observed prices were higher than prices for the correspondent time moments of maximal solar activity (100% sign correlation, on a significance level < 0.2%). We consider these results as a direct evidence of the causal connection between wheat prices bursts and solar activity.

    Brian Fagan (2000) documents The Little Ice Age: How climate made history, 1300-1850 ISBN 0465022723. Colder conditions caused major famines and political upheaval.
    These trends suggest major natural climate drivers.

    Tiwari et al 2009 warn of Dwindling groundwater resources in northern India, from satellite gravity observations
    Geophysical Research letters Vol. 36, L18401, doi:10.1029/2009GL039401

    [1] Northern India and its surroundings, home to roughly 600 million people, is probably the most heavily irrigated region in the world. . . . we conclude the region lost groundwater at a rate of 54 ± 9 km3/yr between April, 2002 (the start of the GRACE mission) and June, 2008. This is probably the largest rate of groundwater loss in any comparable-sized region on Earth. Its likely contribution to sea level rise is roughly equivalent to that from melting Alaskan glaciers. This trend, if sustained, will lead to a major water crisis in this region when this non-renewable resource is exhausted.

    This massive mining of water promises severe impacts on food in NW India far greater than projected “anthropogenic” impacts via “global warming”.

    Very large scale solar thermal desalination and water pumping could probably remediate this major food hazard.

  6. Jim Owen, in the previous thread see post by Ed Forbes, June 7, 4:09 PM.

    If warm weather is good for plants, the warmer the better for plants. NAH !

    • M. carey –
      Jim Owen, in the previous thread see post by Ed Forbes, June 7, 4:09 PM.

      That’s why I didn’t see it in this thread. Thank you.

      If warm weather is good for plants, the warmer the better for plants. NAH !

      Depends a lot on water. But then, too much water can be bad.

      And being tired is bad for my thought process – my numbers in the previous post are not right. Not gonna go through it again though.

    • David L. Hagen

      M. curey
      Please provide constructive contributions – or else stop wasting bandwidth and our time.

  7. “My logic” and your numbers! What a combination!

    Being tired isn’t good for my thought process either.

  8. More CO2 and warmer makes green things grow better. In history, the warm times were the times with abundance. The Medieval Warm Period was a time of plenty and a time of voluntary migration. The Little Ice Age that followed was a time of starvation, disease and forced migration. Extra CO2 allows better growth with less water. Less CO2 and colder makes green things grow smaller and slower while using more water. Manmade CO2 has had very little, if any, influence on Global Warming. It has helped improve crop yields. They say that ice is melting because the earth is warming. That is backwards. The earth has been warming because ice has been melting and albedo has been decreasing. Now that we have record low Arctic Sea Ice Events, the Arctic Ocean Effect snow is increasing and that will bring cooling. Warm oceans bring ample and extreme precipitation. Cold oceans bring extreme drought because when the water is frozen it does not evaporate and there is little rain or snow.

    None of the major problems on earth were caused by Global Warming due to Manmade CO2. Any reduction in CO2 will reduce crop yields, require more water use and will not cool the earth. The earth will cool on its own, as it has time and time again, and they will take false credit if CO2 does get reduced. Many more people will starve and run out of water if CO2 is reduced.

    Read Leighton Stuart’s book, “Fire, Ice and Paradise” He has done the research on CO2 and documented it for you to read.

    • Indeed, though that analysis is the target of infinite obfuscation attempts.

      Another issue not highlighted here is the perverse and malign effects of food aid, in collapsing local markets and production. No one can compete with “free”. Centrally grown and distributed food is the logical outcome of such trends, and is fraught with mega-calamity potential.

  9. Food prices have risen sharply in recent years. The reasons would include not only climate issues in many parts of the world, but also the increased demand due to a rising standard of living in many Asian countries , the diversion of some agricultural produce to biofuels, and the rising cost of oil and therefore fertilisers which are derived from it.

    So a move away from fossil fuels can be justified not only because of CO2 issues, it is also justified because we should start to think of commodities, such as oil, less as fuels, to be just burnt, and more as a natural resource from which usable materials, such as fertilisers, can be derived.

    • Tonto, you’re the only one that thinks that way.

    • tonto52,
      The reasons food prices are up has nothing to with climate and everything to do with the climate community pushing bad policies that reward people to raise food for fuel in a plan to allegedly mitigate CO2.

      • Food crops have suffered heavy damage in Australia and Russia recently from climate related events.
        I would say it was more the farming lobby, and you don’t get much better lobbiests than them, who pushed the idea of biofuels. I would say that opposition to that idea would be one a few genuine areas of agreement between climate deniers and sensible people :-)

      • Latimer Alder

        Is ‘climate-related event’ another term for ‘weather’?

        If so, is this the first time that such things have ever happened? Because I think you;ll find that even back to biblical times bad weather (hot, cold, dry. wet) has led to famines and pestilence.

        If ”climate-related’ is not another term for weather you’d better start explaining exactly what you mean. And let us know what observational methods we should/can employ to distinguish between the two. Just so that we know for next time something bad happens which one we’re dealing with.

        Please provide a diagnostic guide to distinguish ‘climate-related events’ from weather. Thanks.

      • I think I explained before that it is not possible to say with absolute certainty that any particular weather event is caused by climate change but if hurricanes, cylcones have increased by n% then we can say that the probability of any particular event being caused by climate change is 100*n/(100+n) %

        Look Judith Curry used to understand all this. I’m sure she’ll be able to explain if you ask her nicely!

      • And IF they decrease by n%, what conclusion would you draw?

        Did you actually check the links to Ryan Maue’s hurricane numbers?

        Do you understand that IF the present “cooling” trend continues, hurricanes and extreme events may become more frequent, but not due to warming?

      • Latimer Alder

        Would you like to run your numbers past a statistician before making such a bold claim? Or even explain your logic? Or are you Mikey Mann in disguise…incapable/unwilling to do either?

      • hurricanes and cyclones have not increased. if anything the trend is negative.

        100*0/(100+0) % = 0/100% = 0% chance caused by climate change.

      • No, not climate, weather. Why do AGW beleivers always end up chasing weather and calling it ‘climate’? Russia gets occasional heatwaves, and Australia oscialltes between drought and flood.
        The crops suffered form weather events, just as has been happening since plants began.

      • “I love a sunburnt country, of droughts and flooding rains….”

        – Dorothy Mackellar, 1904

      • Sorry, misquoted:

        “I love a sunburnt country,
        A land of sweeping plains,
        Of ragged mountain ranges,
        Of drought and flooding rains.”

    • Rob Starkey

      Or maybe the countries whose populations are growing at an unsupportable rate should be taking care of that problem and shouldn’t be continually be looking for hand outs from others

  10. Roger Pielke Jr. believes wheat rust is a bigger threat in the short term than CO2. I’m not sure I understand his thinking. Rising CO2 is supposed to cause increases in global temperature, and the warning is supposed to contribute to the spread of wheat rust

    • The optimal temp is 15-20 degrees for wheat rust.

    • Key word here is supposed. CO2 does not seem to be very effective at increasing global temperature. It would be VERY surprising if it was. What would stop global temperature and CO2 from amplifying/feeding eachother? What is the stabilising/limiting factor?

  11. It also needs leaf wetness, and a warmer world is supposed to be a wetter world.

    I’m not a wheat expert, but I imagine milder winters ( 15-20 C ) could make winter wheat more vulnerable to rust.

    • Latimer Alder

      Adn you imagine that we’d all just sit around for a hundred year doing nothing differently and keeping everything else exactly the same?

      That if rust became a problem to winter wheat the plant guys wouldn’t take a look at seeing if there were different varieties?

      That it wouldn’t occur to a city engineer to put an extra brick in the sea wall if sea levels rose by a foot or two?

      That people would just build their houses exactly where they are today and wait to slowly drown?

      The point here is that ‘climate change’ is a slow process. Rising sealevels are not like a tsunami.. all over in less than a minute and with no time to react. It would take generations to go up a few feet. Similarly warmer winters wouldn’t happen overnight.

      It is really naive and pretty stupid to imagine that the world is gong to stay utterly static over the timescale of a century or more.

      • Latimer Alder

        The rather disagreeable little old lady who lives next door to me is rising 87 and she hates things to change at all. She has settled into her routine and finds any small disruptions very difficult and stressful for her.

        I’m surprised and disappointed that those who (I imagine) like to think of themselves as radical and visionary are so inherently and deeply conservative as to think exactly like she does.

        ‘Change is bad, now is awful, the future is dreadful, only yesterday was good, if only things weren’t like they are today, somebody must be punished……..’

        the mantra of the elderly throughout history……

      • Too bad plant diseases don’t sit around doing nothing instead of developing ways of surviving and thriving.

      • Evolution is God’s way of keeping us from being bored. :-)

  12. “Seasonal climate forecasts”…I presume that puts all the IPCC-related work out of reach.

    A season doesn’t last 30 years.

    • Given that climate is multi-decadal average weather there is no such thing as a seasonal climate forecast, unless it refers to, say, average winter temps over the next 50 years.

  13. Believing a bad forecast may be far worse than believing none.

    • Probabilistic forecasts combined with hedging strategies produce a statistical win over a number of seasons

      • Jack Hughes

        Judith, have you got an example of this?

        Are you talking about an individual farmer ? Or something else ?

      • it’s standard practice in the finance world, and I believe mining companies have been introduced to it during the past decade. Hopefully it’s not unknown in the agricultural world?

      • The financial world is a good example of how bad things can get.

      • This paper is about flood forecasting on the lower reaches of two major rivers ten days out. The results are not particularly encouraging. More important perhaps is that most of this sort of flooding is due to precip that occurred more than ten days back. You seem to be using precip forecasts solely because the upstream countries will not share streamflow data. That data would provide a much better forecast so this is a political problem not a scientific one.

      • Bill Hooke also discusses this general issue

      • Jack Hughes

        I was hoping for a double-blind study:
        One group of farmers using the “Probabilistic forecasts combined with hedging strategies” and a control group using placebo forecasts.

        Did this study ever happen ?

      • Given that probabilistic forecasts can be just as wrong as discrete forecasts, and for a very long time, the only way to get a statistical win is via the hedging strategies (whatever that means, usually very little). I doubt these hedging strategies apply to regional food production. If I build an irrigation system that is never needed what is my hedging strategy?

        Moreover, what is a statistical win when a single season can produce disaster? Nor can farmers plant probabilistic crops. Or are we talking about some centrally planned global system to smooth things out? It sounds that way.

      • David,

        This appears to be similar in concept to Keynes’ observation [he wasn’t wrong about everything ;-) ] that markets can be wrong longer than we can stay solvent. Or the business plan that fails to account for the fact that the big profits don’t start til long after the cash runs out.

    • Isn’t no forecast a forecast?

      • only on Opposite day or for those fluent in double speak.

      • If you there will be a change, that’s a forecast.

        If you say there will be no change, that’s a forecast.

        If you say there will be a change but there will be no change, you are very confused.

      • Perhaps no forecast is a forecast for a Bhudist, but otherwise not. You may be thinking of the fact that no action is a decision. No forecast means being open to a range of possibilities, while believing a forecast often means being unprepared for other possibilities, putting all one’s eggs in the forecast basket, as it were. For example, a Backcountry Hiker with no rain gear.

      • Implicit in a “do nothing policy” is a “nothing will happen” forecast.

  14. Jack Hughes

    Melting Himalayan glaciers mean more space for fields :-)

    Rising sea levels mean more ocean which means more space for more fish :-)

  15. Joe Lalonde


    In my area, the farmers have developed a very good system of co-operative farming.
    Each farmer purchases their specialty equipment for what they are growing and shares the equipment around as to keep their fields with a different crop.
    It takes the financial burden of one farmer buying all these different equipment to sit while they change their crops.

  16. Two bad things are going on between the lines of the NYT piece. First of course is promoting the AGW scare. Second is promoting NOAA’s proposed National Climate Service, to parallel the National Weather Service and institutionalize climate modeling. The science does not support either.

    • David,
      Much AGW promotion reeks of rent seeking and profiteering and bureaucratic empire building. All three of which are counter productive and cost tax payers and, as we see in food-for-fuel subsidy plans, do absolutely nothing beyond enriching those who participate.

      • Joe Lalonde


        You forgotten that it has generated a generation of “peer-reviewers” that has decimated the integrity of science. The free grant fund for AGW promotion has pushed green technology, which was promised, but poor in technology innovations that are very costly.

  17. David – the tools to minimize financial risk are there. Trouble is, they do not maximize profit. So which one do we go for, less risk of a disastrous crop or more opportunity for a bumper one?

    • Whenever possible and as much as possible, we recognize the inalienable right to freedom and insure that individuals have the freedom to make those decisions for themselves. Markets will result, hedging futures will marry the risk averse and the risk preferrers.

  18. Better access of poor rural farmers to markets, capital, technology – Most important! China went from net importer of cereals to net exporter once a little capitalism was accepted by the state.

    Elimination of corn as biofuel – Biofuel highlighted problems but did not create them. Corn ethanol was to be a use of surplus corn that cost to store and had low market value. Many latin American countries started counting on nearly free surplus corn instead of improving their own production. Food welfare gone bad. Until surplus cereals are truly surplus/unusable for food, they should not be used for fuel. It has made more nations aware of their need for better food security, a good thing.

    These first two items stimulate the awareness of the need for the others. Agriculture is a business and need inspires innovation.

    Better weather and seasonal climate forecasts
    More agro technology research and development
    Better soil management to reduce degradation
    Improved irrigation infrastructure
    CO2 mitigation

    Others? Reduced waste. Developed nations wastes more food now because of the “Best used by” date and sophisticated tastes. Undeveloped nations waste food because of poor storage, distribution and packaging.

    Policy- Regional not global has always been a huge factor. Intentional or not, it leads to Population control. Different societies will have their own preferred methods of population control. Regional policy or lack of policy will determine the method of choice. Academic discussions on population control have lead to rather intense debates in the past with global consequences.

  19. What has not been mentioned here is the role of the western environmental organisations in attempting to prevent the use of genetically modified disease resistant crops right across a lot of Africa and South East Asia.
    On the health front it was the forcing of the plant breeders not to release the genetically modified Golden Rice which has numerous micro nutrient health benefits particularly in helping overcome the vitamin A deficiency that is a real health problem in the Asian rice growing areas.
    Somebody who has already done some work on the effects on crop production in North America if global cooling sets in is David Archibald who has a very short paper on his web site on the retreat of the northern crop growth limits as temperatures fall. And judging by the problems Canadian growers are experiencing at the moment getting crops sown and harvested in extremely cold and wet conditions in the Prairie provinces he might have something right in his article.

    What I find rather hard to swallow [ no pun ] is the constant claims that food is getting too expensive for the poor of the world.
    These following are Australian figures so very long term exchange rates come into it but not to the extent that would nullify the basic question I am posing.

    In 1932 in the depths of the Great Depression one tonne of wheat was worth just a little less than the minimum or basic wage set by the various state arbitration wage setting bodies of the time. That figure was a little less than 3 pounds / tonne.

    In 1948 when there was starvation in Europe in the aftermath of the turmoil of WW2, one tonne of wheat was worth 25 pounds / tonne in the farmer’s pocket after freight, handling and every thing else had been subtracted off his income.
    The basic wage of the time across Australia was 7 pounds and ten shillings ie 7.5 pounds per week Most workers took home around 9 pounds per week.
    In 1948 one tonne of Australian wheat was worth over 2.5 week’s wages.

    In 1968 when there was a huge glut of wheat in the world and we farmers here in Australia with no government subsidies to support us could see no future for us, wheat was allowed to be delivered to the national silo system called quota wheat was worth some $62 / tonne
    [ we changed currency in the mid 1960’s from pounds to dollars. One pound was worth two dollars at the change over. ]
    Non quota,ie; surplus wheat was paid for at about $42 / tonne when it could be sold.
    A tradesman’s wages was $55 / week.
    One tonne of wheat in a situation in 1967 where there was a glut of wheat in the world was still worth around one week’s wages.

    In October 1972 came the Great Grain Robbery when the Russians who unbeknown to the west who thought they had another big harvest from the propaganda figures, were in diabolical trouble with food supplies, bought 6 million tonnes of american wheat in 5 week days. Wheat jumped from $64 / tonne on friday evening to $150 / tonne by the following mid week as there was now a shortage of wheat in the world. The Australian weekly take home pay then was around $90 / week
    One tonne of wheat was worth about 1.5 weeks wages.

    In 2008 wheat here in Australia was worth about $170 / tonne to the farmer.
    The minimum wage was about $570 / week
    It took 3 tonnes of wheat to equal one week’s minimum wage.

    This last harvest year 2010 / 2011 [ we harvest through christmas and well into the new year down in SE Australia ] wheat is currently fetching around the $270 / tonne with prices higher recently. The minimum wage is now some $680 / week.
    At these “high” prices if you believe the media it takes 2.5 tonnes of wheat to equal one week’s minimum wage as set by the age fixing body here in Australia.

    To put this in context, wheat here in Australia in 2011, when measured against the legal minimum weekly wage, is now worth less than a third to the farmer of what it was only some 40 years ago.

    Something is badly amiss when there are complaints that the poor can’t afford food anymore and it’s not the world’s farmers who are at fault for they also are slowly being forced back into a peasant type existence even in western societies by the pressures being applied from within the wealthy city based populations and businesses.

    From personal farming experience and watching farmers and farming myself for most of my 73 years starting at about 14 yeas old, I can say, pay us and pay us very well for what we produce.
    Indeed, pay us the same as any professional expects instead of a mere pittance after all the risks we take with weather, disease, merchants , markets and every body in between getting their cut before the farmer ever gets paid, then you will get all the food you want.
    Don’t pay the farmers enough and you will eventually go hungry.
    Nobody can produce under the totally unpredictable natural conditions farmers operate under every day of their lives and then not be adequately compensated.
    They will respond in manner that the experts cannot even contemplate if they too know they will be paid for their production that allows them to also live at a standard that the rest of the society expects as it’s right.

  20. other strategies for food security are keeping stores of grain and another is being able to have others that will sell to you and having the money to pay for it. The storage helped Russia in it’s heat waves and has been used since ancient times. I think it was Jacob that bought grain from Egypt for example.

    • Keep in mind that excess food leads to lower prices and that forces farmers out of business so there is a hidden benefit to high prices – as long as that is going to the farmers that are producing. However, excessive subsiding and planning also leads to terrible inefficiencies. The best method for food security has been market forces. Crop insurance can be a help but can also become a form of subsidy.

      • Eliminating farm subsidies would be a good way to increase imports and decrease exports of farm products, making us more dependent on foreign sources for our food and making other countries less dependent on us.

      • If your farmers become more competitive then they will increase imports, as long as they are not loosing their farms on a massive scale.

  21. One to add to the “Others” category: Reducing the level of corruption that inhibits efforts to better manage soil, improve infrastructure and secure access to markets, capital, and technology.

  22. Judith has written an important post.

    Re The List

    As a human being (just to reassure omnologos), I can see how the first six items on the list could rank highest in terms of the next few decades from the perspective of a country like the United States; but that it is disconnected from the realities of other parts of the world and responsibility-taking relating to mitigation of effects/impacts after a few decades.

    The U.S. and other industrialized countries are less vulnerable to climate change than countries where farmers and citizens do not have resources to adapt. Several of the list’s preferred options require agricultural research, training and credit not available in many vulnerable regions, and adjustments to practices that are too costly for many farmers (particularly in the most vulnerable regions) to implement, or for some in the U.S. and similar countries to implement longterm. And of course many farmers and citizens in the most vulnerable regions have no resources for social dislocation. While the list seems to recognize that many regions around the world do not have the basic health and social infrastructure and natural resource base of the United States to adapt, it does not seem to make anything but an academic connection to that. The not-infrequent jingoistic and sometimes racist remarks from denizens adds to this discoonnection on many threads.

    The U.S. and other countries with food surplus will need to produce even more, not less of food crops to assist vulnerable regions so it is necessary to discuss the aid and programs it will need to offer, from an American perspective – at both a humanitarian level and the level of responsibility-taking/social justice, especially if it turns out to be the case that refusing to take action on emissions causes enormous suffering to people in other parts of the world both short and (due to runaway warming/no emissions reduction) longterm. Science has provided some insight into emissions, temperature and impacts and will continue to do so.

    Also, the list seems unaware that food security in most northern communities e.g. in Canada, have transportation infrastructure problems due to melting permafrost and food (in)security includes unprecedented recent change in migratory patterns of animals. The Arctic is on the forefront of climate change and its people are inextricably tied to the local environment. The list is too White and too focused on the interests of industrialized countries. At least Judith doesn’t pretend to pay lip service to indigenous peoples and farmers in developing nations, vulnerable people in your own country, or the perspective of people in other nations. It is what it is, and I respect that she will not pretend otherwise.

    Re. Canadian studies on impacts/food security, there are many – and synthesized in comprehensive reports by e.g. NRC, Agriculture Canada, and DIAND. Those reports and studies are not hard to find on the internet.

    • Rob Starkey

      So the core of your position is that it is the responsibility of the US taxpayers to do things that may harm its citizens because it would be of potential benefit to other nations who are not addressing the core problems in their own countries.

    • Martha, can back up your racism accusations with some actual examples other than in your active imagination?

      Also, the ice roads in the north are only forecast to be reduced by a few weeks. Most ice roads are for mining operations that are manned by people that are moved in from many locations and demographics are spread out. If the food supplies were to be endangered (it never will because it is ridiculous) they would just have to ship more during the colder months or do more flights or restrict the external mining transport.

  23. Judith,

    When will you address the Orwelian speak? The phrase climate change means climate change. It does not mean AGW nor ACC nor CO2GW! It is muddying the waters and it’s an obstacle to science progress.

    Regarding food (in)security, yes climate change can have big impact on our food and it is global COOLING that is critical. And not only food security – all aspects of human life will be impacted.

    • Dr. Curry,
      Why is Malthus so popular when he has been proven so wrong?

      • “You can always make news with doomsday predictions”

        Fortunately, Julian Simon also pointed out that “you can usually make money betting against them.”

    • Oh, now all of a sudden, it’s “natural or not”! Not long ago natural climate change was taboo on warmists blogs. Nature is indeed the only authority.

    • The second link is a good example of how to bring risk management (insurance) into an area that has little financial infrastructure. Innovations like that are critical to helping those areas break out of the cycle of famine and worse famine. I also like Andy’s emphasis on the fact that this is something needed regardless of blame for the conditions.

  24. Excellent post, Dr Curry. All the policy measures mentioned are indeed effective. Some remarks:
    1. Although the four dimensions of food security mentioned (availability, access, utilization and stability) are correct, the definition of food security (agreed on by everyone in successive World Food Summits since 1996 and elsewhere) focus on access to food by individuals (especially economic access). The definition states:
    Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.
    Further clarification in the relevant documents make clear that local food production is not a necessary requirement for food security: besides world availability, it is trade and being non-poor are essential components for food security. Even transient falls in local production can be usually offset by trade: a bad crop in Germany or Sweden does not usually cause food insecurity. Food emergencies caused by extreme weather are mostly local in nature). Countries with very scarce local production may still enjoy food security out of high incomes and export revenues (consider Saudi Arabia).
    2. Regarding impact of climate change on agricultural production, it is worth mentioning that the IPCC defines two measures of impact: potential (i.e. without considering adaptation) and residual (after adaptation is taken into account). Many “naive” assessment of agricultural impact refer to “potential” impact. But this is misleading, since there is no possibility (even theoretical) of considering the impact of climate change on agriculture in the absence of any adaptation: agriculture is not a natural phenomenon, such as wild vegetation, but a result of interaction between Man and Nature, and is itself a form of adaptation. For corn in 2100 to have a lesser yield in New Jersey, due to intervening climate change, NJ farmers in 2100 should be planting corn (the same variety of corn) with the same technology used today, at those specific places in NJ where it is grown today, something very unlikely. Every year farmers use the best of their knowledge to plant at the correct time according to recent and current weather records and forecasts, using the best seeds at their disposal, and the most adequate farming practices they know and are able to afford. All these changes from year to year, from decade to decade, from one farmer generation to the next. If the climate becomes to hot for corn in NJ, probably those farmers would shift to another crop, or to some other variety of maize more resistant to increased temperature (since maize was first domesticated and currently grown extensively in the tropics, that should not be so difficult).
    Climate change modifies the boundaries of agro-ecological zones and (at each juncture) price and climate considerations make farmers prefer one or another form of farming (crop mix, technology, etc.) including changing land use (e.g. to livestock).
    Existing assessments by various methodologies, chiefly Integrated Assessment models as developed by Gunther Fischer et al at IIASA (Laxenburg, Austria), show that climate change (and corresponding adaptation of farming practices) would have a minor effect overall (relative to projected farm output in 2050-80), which may be slightly positive or slightly negative at world level depending on model assumptions, but acting on a much higher agricultural output (either in cereals or total farm GDP). The impact would strongly positive (more output with than without climate change) in temperate zones such as North America, Europa, Central-Northern Asia, and the Southern Cone of South America, and also at higher altitudes (such as the Andes) where cold, rather than heat, is the main constraint. It may have some negative impact on tropical agriculture, especially at the end of the century (FAO and the IPCC concur that even in the most severe climate change scenarios the effect up to 2050 would be barely perceptible either way). Several researchers have also concluded that water supply for agriculture would not cause problems at world level, even if some specific areas may become drier while others become wetter (overall, the land over the planet is projected to become wetter due to higher precipitation). Agriculture, then, may shift out of some especially dry environments, and into others more suitable for production.
    3. The population bomb pf the 1960s and 1970s has been defused, even in the timid world of UN population projections. Total world population projected for 2050 (in every region of the world) has been steadily diminishing in each successive revision of UN projections since the 1990s to the latest available (2008)..It will probably keep falling because current fertility hypotheses are still too high in view of current trends in fertility itself and in demographic drivers such as income and education. By 2050 world population will be growing at a very slow pace, and (by the same principles) would start diminishing shortly afterwards (that is in the Medium Variant; the more realistic Low Variant has it starting to decline earlier). By the way, IPCC scenarios in TAR and AR4 use obsolete population projections from the 1990s, all much higher than today’s figures.
    4. Even desperately pessimistic projections of economic growth (much, much lower than current and historical trends) along with updated population trends show ALL regions of the world can be expected to be significantly richer by 2050-2100, with a small and decreasing share of people employed in agriculture, and doing much better than today’s subsistence farmers (who will be just a few by then). Economic access to food will be greatly enhanced by higher income and increased trade: existing projections of insufficient food intake show the rate of undernourishment steadily diminishing, to reach non-significant levels by the second half of the century.

    The conceptual issues, world level prospects and the case of Latin America are examined in my forthcoming book, co-authored by my environmental scientist son:
    Hector Maletta and Emiliano Maletta, “Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security in Latin America” (Multi Science Publishing, Brentwood, Essex, UK).

  25. CCs (Climate Catastrophists) would have us die of heath exhaustion, drown with the sea level rise and now starve to death; humanity is doomed!

  26. “Factors contributing to regional structural food insecurity

    There is a distinction between structural food insecurity, associated with poverty and low incomes, and transitory food insecurity that is associated with natural disasters, economic collapse or conflict.”

    Poverty is not the disease of those parts of the world causing food insecurity, poverty is just another symptom. Look at countries’ rankings in the Index of Economic Freedom, and ask yourself how many of the top 50 countries suffer food insecurity, versus how many of the bottom 50.

    The answer to the scarcity that results from central planning, and central control, is not better control, or smarter planners. The West cannot control the agricultural economies of poor nations any better than the socialists who run those economies can. What we can do is open our markets, and encourage movement toward more efficient, and far more innovative, free market economies.

    Western development agencies, including the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, are total disasters on this front – limousine progressives lecturing the West on foreign aid, tossing billions at corrupt governments, while doing nothing to address the real disease (perhaps too busy molesting hotel maids). The parallels to the climate debate would be comic if they weren’t so sad.

  27. Pooh, Dixie

    Re: Conclusion, which lists some possible measures. Consider the American (and Canadian) experiences. (Implementation of some measures may require a Jeffersonian rebellion in other countries.)

    Better weather and seasonal climate forecasts
    – Local knowledge
    – Local forecasts disseminated by radio
    More agro technology research and development
    – Dissemination of local knowledge about what works and does not work (cooperative extensions, farm bureaus).
    – The much-maligned seed companies are working on it.
    Land management by farmers as owners
    – Land grants
    – Better soil management to reduce degradation
    – Windbreaks (rows of trees)
    – Improved irrigation infrastructure
    – Humus and manure
    – Contour plowing
    – Water traps (are cheaper than dirt)
    – Terraces (Andean mountains)
    Better access of poor rural farmers to markets, capital, technology
    – Under free enterprise (a.k.a., liberty) this is automatic once productivity produces surplus.
    – Mechanization. For example, there are harvester companies that follow the season from state to state and companies that build grain elevators.
    – There is some government role in preventing price exploitation and allocation, especially for transportation
    Elimination of bureaucratic meddling (control)
    – The Delta Smelt is back (June 9, 2011). 500,000 acre drought, despite deep snow pack.
    – Elimination of corn as biofuel
    CO2 mitigation
    – Counterproductive
    Population control
    – Rural population reduction results from increased agricultural productivity
    – Essential: private ownership

    Additions and comments welcome!

  28. Pioneer and DeKalb could greatly expand their seed markets now by developing corn that has greater heat-resistance without sacrificing yield. Raising crop-specific temperature ceilings for optimum yields, however, is easier said than done.

    • Corn yields are 8 time more now than they were in 1940 but 1940 was about the same as 1900. I don’t think corn is suffering.

      • Can you find an agronomist who believes corn yield don’t suffer at above 95 F?

        If not, can you find one who says science is certain to raise the temperature ceiling for optimum yields?

    • North America is cooling. How does corn react to rapid cooling?

      • Yields have been rising.

      • So we are muddling through pretty darn well.
        Why should we spend trillions on some ginned up phony generational guilt trip?

      • It’s only phony if you ideology requires you to believe it’s phony. Free-market worship, for example, could require it.

      • Latimer Alder


        Surely it’s phony if you don’t happen to believe in it. Independent of political ideology.

        And for the life of me I can;t see how whether you believe that free markets are a good thing or not can influence whether you feel such ‘guilt’. Nor vice versa.

        Surely they are in different dimensions in an n-dimensional belief space…where n is probably a reasonably big teenaged number.

      • I like free markets and competition when I’m buying. When I’m selling, I don’t want competition. I want a monopoly.

      • Latimer Alder


      • I don’t worship free markets, M. Carey. Nor do I worship, as you do, apocalyptic claptrap dressed up as science.
        The interesting question is what drives believers like yourself to accept such transparent pap like CO2 causing a worldwide climate crisis that can only be dealt with using tools that cannot work?

      • It’s no coincidence that much of the AGW denial comes from proponents of laissez-faire (government hands-off) capitalism, who are opposed to the government action on environmental problems in general.

      • It’s also no coincidence that AGW believers are dominated by those who have no faith in humanity but put all their faith in the ability of government to cure all ills and who lack either the education or the intelligence to understand the true nature of government.

        I worked for the government in various capacities for nearly 50 years. I have no illusions that the government is humanitarian, efficient, cost effective, intelligent, non-ideological or interested in the welfare of either its citizens or the planet. The imperative of government is power, influence/control and self-perpetuation – nothing more.

      • So you ignore my answer and just repeat your false assertion.
        You also seem unable to answer or even respond meaningfully to my question.
        Are you in fact some sort of spambot and unable to converse or answer questions?
        If not, why are you unable to answer?

      • You stated above, for instance, that yields are up.
        Yet you claim we are in a crisis.
        I point out we are muddling along pretty well, which is based on partly on the fact that yields are up.
        You wander off into economic philosophy and a need for al skeptics to believe a certain way.
        I point out that I do not believe a certain way, and you simply restate your false assertion about economic philosophy and skepticism.
        I could also point out that much AGW promotion comes from people who are demonstrated rent seekers, bureaucrats and government paid workers, who dearly need tax payer money to achieve their goals.

  29. Hector’s point directs back to food as a development issue. One way to define development is in fact as a measure of how many alternatives you’ve got. If the crop fails and you can drive to Tesco, you’re much more developed than if the alternative is to feed grasses to the family. Mitigation becomes then an expensive sideshow that will only make things worse. Even adaptation gets confined as a means not a goal, as the most important thing to do is the most obvious and historically proven as marvelously effective: help people to develop. Then they’ll take care of adapting themselves: after all, they will have lots of alternatives.

  30. I have thought long and hard as to whether to comment at all. This is Judith’s blog, and she can introduce any subject she likes. I just find any subject that assumes that CAGW is real and not a hoax to be completely uninteresting. How you mitigate against something like CO2, I have absolutely no idea. CO2 mitigation seems like the ultimate in oxymorons.

    But I would like to comment on “Elimination of corn as biofuel”. I know little about this subject, but I find the objections to biofuels to be overly simplistic, and not very believable. I can see moral objections to using food as fuel, but I am not sure they are any more than moral.

    But there is a danger that cellulose ethanol could be tarred with the same brush as sugar and starch ethanol. Of all the so-called “renewable” energy sources, cellulose ehtanol seems to me to be the only one at the moment that has any hope of being successful. The energy can be stored, and used on vehicular traffic. I understand that it is economic as long as the wholesale price for gas is above $2 per gallon in the USA. The price is now about $3.

    I have no affiliation with the firm, but I understand Poet is the leading producer of food ethanol, and is likely to be the first to produce cellulose ethanol in commercial quantities under it’s Project Liberty, starting in 2012. Whether this production would be viable if Poet were not the leading producer of corn ethanol, I doubt. I understand Shell owns the rights ot the Iogen process, but it does not seem to be interested in taking that technology to a commercial stage. If Poet is right in projecting 12 billion gallons of cellulose ehtanol per year by 2020, then it seems to me that this project needs all the encouragement it can get.

    • Cellulosic ethanol is vastly preferable to corn ethanol, since it isn’t competing with food

      • We have owned a cornfield since 1918. No human being ever ate the corn raised on it. Never. Until ethanol came along, it was always used to feed livestock, which is obviously food. Livestock are not suffering for a lack of corn. The residue from the fermentation of corn ethanol is still fed to cattle. So the net loss to the human food chain due to corn ethanol is often exaggerated.

      • But don’t exaggerate the quality of the residue. The nutrient content of that feed is not as good as traditional silage that was bred to feed cattle and not to make ethanol.

      • Net, Teddy.

        If you want to believe that the pigs and cattle in Iowa are skinny because their food is being diverted to ethanol, believe it. Many of the farmers who raise corn for ethanol also raise pigs and cattle. I do not think they are that stupid.

      • I didn’t say they were. Those bi-products have to be used in moderation. Most farmers take nutrients very seriously and they make sure they feed their cattle well, not poorly. If they are using feed with less nutrient they have to make that up with other feed or supplements.

      • Since the net benefits of using ethanol are actually negative, every cent and acre dedicated to producing it is worse than wasted.

    • “How you mitigate against something like CO2, I have absolutely no idea”

      This question is really not that hard to answer. The priority is to emit less of it [CO2]. Which is possible if energy from fossil fuels is replaced with renewable energy and even with nuclear energy , which is arguably just as renewable if all future possible sources are taken into account.
      Secondly the ability of the Earth to absorb CO2 needs to be maintained. This means having healthy oceans and forests.

      • tonto –
        The priority is to emit less of it [CO2]. Which is possible if energy from fossil fuels is replaced with renewable energy

        What renewable energy? Do you have any idea what the IPCC will be calling “renewable energy” in the AR5? Like many alarmists, you fling words around as if they mean only what you think they mean. But they many times have meanings of which you seem to be unaware. Try to remember that you don’t get to define the words.

        Anyway – WHAT renewable energy? Wind, solar and hydro are incapable of replacing fossil. And we’ve already talked about nuclear, so you know better even if you don’t believe it.. So… do you have a fusion reactor in your back pocket? Or maybe some magical device left behind by those aliens?

        This means having healthy oceans and forests.

        IF you manage to shut off fossil energy, what do you think will happen to the forests? Can you say “burn, baby, burn”? If you’re interested, I’ll explain – if not, I won’t waste my time.

      • Jim Owen,
        I probably overestimated some levels of intelligence by introducing the concept of ‘hypothetical aliens’ into the argument. Feynman did the same too – just try Googling “Feynman’s celebrated thought-experiment of communicating spatial directions to an alien”. But I doubt if his students stumbled on the issue of the likelihood that aliens didn’t exist in quite the same way.

        So it still looks like you are saying that fixing the CO2 issue is just too hard. Therefore it can’t possibly be a problem in the first place. Can you spot the flaw in that line of argumant?

      • tonto –
        So it still looks like you are saying that fixing the CO2 issue is just too hard. Therefore it can’t possibly be a problem in the first place. Can you spot the flaw in that line of argumant?

        Didn’t say it was too hard – I’ve said –

        1) No one has yet shown that it’s a problem and that it’s necessary to solve it. Y’all point to CO2 and quote Arrhenius and assume that that’s the major problem and that it MUST be solved. But neither you nor Trenberth nor anyone else can answer those pesky questions that still keep cropping up. If this was medical research you wouldn’t be allowed to be anywhere close to beginning live trials. You’d still be back in the lab trying to figure out what you were doing and why what you were doing wasn’t working. Instead, y’all are filled with a level of certainty that’s entirely unwarranted (and unscientific) and you want to lead the human race into this brave new world that you can’t even define, much less determine a cost for.

        2) There have been all kinds of silly proposals wrt what needs to be done. if you’re taking them seriously then you need to look to your own intelligence. Mine is doing just fine. We’ve “talked” about those proposals – Cap and Trade carbon tax, alternative energy, etc – and in terms of effectiveness they don’t come close to solving anything. In terms of cost – they’re just a rathole that even a rat wouldn’t have. You can’t define the cost – nor can you define the benefits of that cost. Nor can you define either the the benefits or the cost of NOT solving the problem as you put it. All you can do is a LOT of hand waving about how terrible it will be if we don’t DO SOMETHING. I’m a lot closer to being able to define how terrible it’ll be if we DO SOMETHING.

        3) Do you understand that IF humans are turned loose on a problem, they solve it? Do you also understand that there are those whose nature is to CONTROL – and I’m not talking about all those horrible “corporations” – but rather the politicians (including the UN and IPCC), heads of scientific societies, media, environmental organizations, etc. And that all those CONTROLLERS do is to get in the way of those who would actually solve the problem – if there is a problem. Think regulation and legislation – among other things. Notice that the CONTROLLERS have never in their lives solved any major problem – and never will. They’re no more competent to do that than a climate scientist is to predict what the climate will be in 20 years – or 200 years. Think the US Congress and Medicare.

        So – is your “problem” too hard to solve?

        Not if it can be defined (which it hasn’t been) and if you ( the CONTROLLERS) get out of the way of the problem solvers and let them work (which you won’t).

        For example – do I know how to determine ‘sensitivity’? Betcher sweet patootie.
        Can it be done? Not yet (for technical reasons) but it CAN be approached. (Lindzen & Choi have a clue)
        Will it be done? Yes, but not the ways that have been repeatedly tried and failed. And In 5 to 10 years, it’ll be easy – ANYBODY with a big enough computer and access to the basic data will be able to do it. (Yeah – that ‘s another problem)


        It’ll prove to be unnecessary (the high probability path)

        You have a problem – you’re not a hunter – or a scientist.

      • Latimer Alder

        Feynman used the aliens in an example of how difficult it is to communicate unambiguously.

        He did not use them as a ‘deys ex machina’ suddenly arriving to say ‘And Tonto is right!’

        We fully understand your ‘argument’ and it is lame and pathetic. No surprises there.

      • tonto52,
        I have read Feynman much of my life. I like Feynman. tonto52, you are no Feynman.
        The intelligence you overestimated was not that of your readers.

      • Jim – tonto52 has just told you the solution to world poverty is to print more money, and wars will stop overnight if we just hug each other.

        How many times do we need to read him make the same point again, when he’s unable to come up with any practical solution?

      • omnologos –
        Jim – tonto52 has just told you the solution to world poverty is to print more money, and wars will stop overnight if we just hug each other.

        Well, we’re printing more money and I don’t see any less poverty. In fact, it seems to be spreading like a nasty viral flu. And the government is actively aiding the spread of the epidemic.

        I suspect tonto has never been to a war. Movies don’t count – they never show enough blood and they don’t provide the right overpowering odors.

      • tonto52,
        For a question not hard to answer, you have an amazingly hard time giving a clean answer that is specific and factual.

  31. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

    Okay lets all just stop for a second.

    There is no war on starvation going on, there is a war on obesity going on. This global warming stuff is unbelievable. I don’t think I’ve heard Obama or any politician for that matter talk about a stream or a river in at least 20 years. The United States is drowning in food, it is our greatest surplus and this irrefutable. On another shameful side note, I just read an article by one of the worst climate scientists if not the worst, Heidi Cullen. The article is called “The “C” word”. In it, she asserts that we will be seeing droughts and also heavy downpours of rain.


    I know you’re sitting at home or in your office getting a big laugh out of all this. What do you believe? Is 2+2=4? You don’t seem to have a position on anything, from 2+2 to whether or not there is water in the ocean. If you feel embarrassed to answer my simple questions, please provide me with an email address. How can you be a climate scientist and not know why they don’t base temperatures of the historic GAT? In a 16 game football season, a team might finish the last 8 games, 7-1. Thus, they have a winning trend. But in the first 8 games, they went 1-7 so they don’t make the playoffs. This is exactly how the false talk of a “warming trend” is constructed.

    • Much as it pains me to support a ‘beyond hope’ climate denier, especially one who feels the need to tell us all he has a ‘phd’ , I do have to say that you might have a point when you say to Judith “You don’t seem to have a position on anything” !

  32. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.


    Can you find anyone stupid enough to plant corn on a beach?

    I should’ve gotten into climate science because it is composed of some of the stupidest people in the entire world. However MCarey, I concede that ice cream will indeed probably melt at 95F, you’ve got me there.

  33. That’s the upper limit of what corn can take before yield starts diminishing. I think above 95 F the corn has to start using some of itself to remain alive, leaving less of itself for us.

  34. Casinos




    • You can’t eat casinos, but the Amerind tribes have found that they raise a good crop of cash.

  35. Indeed, they do !

  36. Any crop, say corn, has many varieties and cultivars. Each of them is suitable along a certain range of climate variables. It maximizes yield (other things equal) in a narrower range somewhere within the viability range. The envelope of viability or optimality ranges (including many varieties and cultivars, under various farming techniques) is quite large.
    The idea that something happens to the crop if temperature reaches 100F or 40C is rather simplistic: plants go by degree-days, and the distribution of degree days (and water) along their vegetative cycle. One day or two at 100F is not the end of the world for any corn or wheat plant. On the other hand, IPCC climate change projections involve increases between 1.5 and 4.5 C (worldwide average), with maximum increase in the Arctic and much less in temperate and tropical latitudes. Take current temps in any corn growing area of the US, add 2-3°C, and you get the conditions now existing a few hundred miles South of that place. Seeds from Mexican or Brazilian corn are already available that are quite suitable for that situation. In the meantime, large swaths of land in the Northern US and Canada will have by then a longer no-frost period, enabling cultivation where none was possible, or longer-growing crops, and/or higher yields in the appropriate crops (say wheat, either spring or winter).
    Maize is actively grown in the US, as well as in Mexico (its historical origin zone) and most tropical countries in the world, just as wheat grows at widely different climates from Ukraine or Canada to the scorching heat of the Sahel. In the American continent corn (maize) grows all the way through from the US to the Argentine plains. Of course, different varieties and cultivars are used at the various countries and zones,, and in some places irrigation is needed to maximize yield through higher response to fertilizer (even in the humid pampas of Argentina, complementary irrigation is often used in particularly dry summer spells, for which some farmers have pivots ready to use, with water from nearby rivers or from the underground, needed usually for just a few days).

    • Corn is a big crop in North Dakota, and Eastern Canada.

      Currently Canada claims 5% of their land is arable. Are you saying the percentage of arable land will go up as temperatures warm?

      • Malthus was proven wrong a long time ago.

      • Malthus did not calculate Canada’s arable land percentage. I think Canadian soil scientists of some sort made that calculation.

        Yes, skeptics like to avoid talking about precipitation and arable land. They prefer to talk about temperature and CO2, which is why they spew a fair amount of agricultural nonsense.

      • So what is wrong with Canadian farm land? It yields more each decade. Your haven’t made any point. Most of the land in Canada is rock, tundra, and forest. That’s not news to anyone. Only 10% of land is arable world wide, whats wrong with 5%?

      • Nothing is wrong with it. It’s very productive. Canadian farmers and ranchers export a lot of food.

      • So what is your point then?

      • You got that exactly wrong – it’s not the sceptics who like talking about temperature and CO2.

      • Read the thread again. The skeptics love to talk about plants liking warmth and CO2. Gee, how could anything go wrong?

      • Who started the warmth and CO2 conversation?

        It did not start on this thread.

        Nor was it started by a skeptic.

      • JCH,
        Where do most land plants grow?
        What gas do horticulturists add to their greenhouses to induce more growth?

      • Lol, I believe most of them grow on a planet called earth.

        Greenhouses are great things. My Grandmother had one. Leaked like a sieve. Had to heat the crap out of it. Too bad she didn’t know about CO2 enrichment. Instead of 4 boxes of Garden Club ribbons, maybe she could have had 8 boxes full.

      • Of course, JCH. It would happen in all locations where cold, not heat, is the constraint. This is the case of most temperate zones in North America, Europe, Northern and Central Asia, the Southern Cone of South America, New Zealand, Southern Australia, to some extent South Africa, and also at high altitudes such as in the Andes and the Himalayas (temperatures go down about 1°C per 100-150m, so a rise of 3° would rise the cropline by about 300-450m, on average: local conditions may vary due to convection or topography).

      • They predict a huge increase in what growing areas in Canada if it warms.

  37. Judy,

    As Matt Ridley highlighted, avg global income has trebled since 1970. Food production and distribution is simply an economic subject like the production and distribution of every other economically valuable resource. As global income and wealth increase, most of the issues you highlighted will be eliminated in processes that won’t even be noticed by many.

    Don’t be surprised if these issues take up as much room in the history books as the great whale oil crisis of the 1890s and the great urban manure disposal crises of the 1930s and 40s.

    • This doesn’t solve the food problem in Africa, this situation is way more complex than food production and distribution.

      • “way more complex”?

        What else is there? Once you reach a level of production that is beyond mere survival, Distribution becomes everything. All known issues (wars, taxes, import duties, corruption, lack of market access, etc) are disruptions to Distribution.

      • Excellent summary article Judith on a tough subject. I think you’ve done a better job here than some have done in entire books.

      • Africa has one problem preventing it from being the bread basket of Earth:

      • Corruption is THE world problem. It is the root of the biest and mother of all problems.

        The solution is transparency.

      • Now if the IPCC and climate science could learn that…..

  38. “Also, the ice roads in the north are only forecast to be reduced by a few weeks. Most ice roads are for mining operations that are manned by people that are moved in from many locations and demographics are spread out. If the food supplies were to be endangered (it never will because it is ridiculous) they would just have to ship more during the colder months or do more flights or restrict the external mining transport.” Teddy

    I’m sure Inuit will be thrilled to hear that once again another White idiot down south thinks they don’t exist.

    You think rapidly melting permafrost is only about ice roads for mining companies?
    It determines the ecosystem in the North. Inuit communities are built on it.

    This is perhaps even more glaringly racist than just the usual comments about continuing business as usual at indigenous expense.

    You have a nice day.

    • Martha –
      This is perhaps even more glaringly racist than just the usual comments about continuing business as usual at indigenous expense.

      Who runs the trucking companies that use that road, as well as the support facilities – and (probably) the mining companies? You might want to check on that.

    • Martha,

      You said that “Canada, have transportation infrastructure problems due to melting permafrost” so other than the ice roads what transportation infrastructure problem are you talking about exactly?

      btw, your sanctimony only indicates a weak argument.

  39. Zimbobwa was the bread basket for sub Sahra Africa. Now it is a basket case. It went from one to the other by destroying commercial farms to small plots of land to satisfy tribal allegences. Tribalism is the structural African norm. Tribalism dictates to whom one speaks, lends money or assistance , or whom one hires for jobs. Who one knows is more important than what on knows. Structural reform in the guise of cultural reform would go a long way to address local food production, markets, access to capital, weather forcasting and developing a skilled/farming savvy work force. As stated many times before, food aide depresses local markets. Food aide, although well intentioned delays people from making some of the cultural changes that would go a long way to developing local self sufficiency. Redirecting attention to climate change and assigning blame to external agencies, distracts and gives political elite an excuse to avoid the social reforms that would lead to food security. Distribution issues requires crossing boundaries and cultural barriers retard such movements of goods and services. Again, social changes, especially in how people conduct their daily lives are needed more than any focus on a never ending changing climate.

    • Some say that Africa is too rural, that higher urbanization would lead to higher development and that urbanization is why once poor asian countries have changed into developed countries.

  40. Sigh. For the sake of efficiency, then:
    Rob S
    My position is that it is necessary to take appropriate responsibility in a variety of ways; that taking appropriate responsibility doesn’t look the same for all; that this will evolve over time; and that it involves the rest of the world. Does that help you?

    “Pretty good summary of the madness that AGW belief can lead to” Hunter
    I wonder if that is why what I think is represented in actual analysis, real decision-making, and planning for programs; and what you think, is not.
    (It’s all a big conspiracy to screw you. Thank God you spotted it. )

    You two boys ALSO have a good day.

    • Martha,
      Perhaps you actually believe that skeptics like me think AGW is all just a big conspiracy.
      If so, you are more ignorant than could have imagined.
      Bad ideas like AGW need no conspiracy. Just gullible people like you to buy into it no matter the evidence.
      If you don’t really think I believe it is all a big conspiracy, then you are just another cynical hack.
      Which is it, I wonder?

  41. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

    There is no food problem in Africa, there is no food problem, period! I’ve read all the comments and I’ve summed up the real problem to be a massive over analysis of a simple problem. There is a leadership problem in Africa. That idiot Mugabe booted all of the white farmers off of their lands. And before Martha starts crying about racism, a lot of those farmers employed mostly black workers. The United States has plenty of food to supply the world but the problem is when we send the food, dictators like Mugabe seize it and take it for themselves or resell it at higher prices. On a side note, I think it’s absolutely hysterical that there is a so called war on obesity going on in this country. Something the “experts” never tell you is that a fat person is about 100% more likely to be happy than some anexoric person who worries about everything they eat. I sometimes envy fat people because I know they’ve gotten to eat so much more delicious food than myself. Would you rather have an obesity problem or a starvation problem?

    • Pooh, Dixie

      You mention Zimbabwe and its “president” Mugabe. Cancun proposed the developed world send $100 billion / year to developing countries. And who proposed this? The delegate from Zimbabwe (a.k.a., the Mugabe dictatorship / kleptocracy).

      Pre-COP Ministerial meeting, Mexico City, November 4-5, 2010, Marquis Reforma Hotel, Mexico. Elements for a balanced outcome Speaking notes
      AWG-LCA Chairperson, Mrs. Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe (Zimbabwe)

      Page 16: IV. Finance, technology and capacity-building
      A. Finance: Scaled up, new and additional, predictable and adequate funding shall be provided to developing country Parties;
      • Option 1: Developed country Parties commit, in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation, to a goal of mobilizing jointly USD 100 billion dollars per year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries;
      Option 2: Developed country Parties and other parties included in Annex II to the Convention commit to provide 1.5% of their GDP per year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. (This option was later dropped.)

      Mukahanana-Sangarwe, Mrs. Margaret. 2010. Possible elements of the outcome. (Cancun). Note by the Chair. Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention. Cancun, Mexico: IPCC, November 29.

      There is a downside to giving “undeveloped” countries a co-equal voice in the Committee of Parties.

    • No food problem in Africa? I suppose we’ll have to take your word on that though some may disagree.
      However, you are certainly correct that there is an obesity crisis in the USA and many developed countries. Its not entirely unrelated to the climate issue. Countries like Germany and Holland go to a lot of trouble to make the roads in their cities as cycle friendly as possible. Sights like this are commonplace:

      Body fat is an excellent source of biofuel!

      • Latimer Alder

        Interesting. The source you cite says that

        ‘Hunger Notes believes that the principal underlying cause of poverty and hunger is the ordinary operation of the economic and political systems in the world’

        Doesn’t seem to be blaming ‘climate change’ for it. Instead they say

        ‘The world produces enough food to feed everyone’

        But the problem they actually see is

        ‘Essentially control over resources and income is based on military, political and economic power that typically ends up in the hands of a minority, who live well, while those at the bottom barely survive, if they do.’

        Even if they are correct (which I doubt), buggering around with CO2 levels won;t address any of these issues.

        And, just before I leave for my cycling weekend in Dieppe, France, your final picture appears to show massive civil disobedience in Germany. The sign in the top left says ‘No bicycle parking’

        It pays to be quite selective in posting links on blogs. People occasionally read them.

      • Very interesting indeed…

        ‘Hunger Notes believes that the principal underlying cause of poverty and hunger is the ordinary operation of the economic and political systems in the world’

        The ordinary operation of the economic and political system under which I live doesn’t seem to promote poverty and hunger. I imagine most, if not all, those commenting here would have to admit the same. There must be some common thread for those countries where this is the case…hmmm?

  42. Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

    Rarely do I come across somebody so in tune with the human life force, someone who can spot veiled racism so keenly. Martha, if you would not mind, I would greatly appreciate your guest editorial abilities. Please review all of my comments and ensure there are no potentially racist innuendos.

  43. Besides the effect on agriculture of changes in temperature and precipitation, it is very important to incorporate the positive impact on plant growth and water requirements of increased atmospheric CO2. Crops of the C3 type, like wheat, are expected to increase their yield in proportions varying approx between 20% and 50% just because of this factor; in C4 crops like maize, the effect on yield is lower (up to 20%) but with a very significant reduction in water requirements: as more carbon is available for photosynthesis, plants absorb it faster, thus losing less water through their stomata (the “pores” in the underside of leaves). Both kinds of effects (on yield and on water needs) are enormously important, because the direct effects on yields of increased temperature (for the same variety of each crop) are of the same order of magnitude than yield gains for increased CO2, and economizing on water is also crucial since some areas with C4 crops like tropical maize would become drier with climate change. Second-generation or Open-Air experiments under elevated atmospheric CO2 have been now been extensively carried out and assessed (many of these studies were published after the AR4 closing date for peer-reviewed evidence, and were thus not fully reflected in that report).

    • The sheer perversity of the attack on CO2 is clearly demonstrated by the benefits it brings to agriculture. Not clearly enough, apparently, for the Warmistas. Or maybe too clearly, as they are at pains to try and throw discussions of the issue off track. See below.

  44. The effects on crops due to increased temperature, precipitation and CO2 mentioned in my comment above correspond to increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration from recent levels about 380 ppm to an experimentally created level of 550 ppm. Scientists think that increases already occurred in CO2 concentration, from preindustrial (about 270-280 ppm) to current or recent levels of about 380-390 ppm, may have caused part of the increase in yields observed between Malthus’ times and our own. To my knowledge nobody has as yet performed any experiment (with a artificially reduced CO2 atmosphere) to prove this experimentally. However, most of the increase in crop yields is due to other factors, chiefly artificial selection (or genetic modification) of seeds, increased use of fertilizer and better plant protection.

    • That study would be challenging. It might be difficult to get heritage or heirloom plants, soils, agricultural practices and climates. But assuming you did present compelling evidence that a few percent of the increase in yields was a result of rising CO2 levels. What conclusions could you draw from such findings.

      • Latimer Alder

        I think I would draw the conclusion that the argument that rising CO2 is always bad for crop yields had been demonstrated to be wrong. And that (at least in some cases) the opposite was true.

        It would also confirm
        my thoughts the argument that absolutely everything to do with gently rising global temperatures and/or rising CO2 levels must by definition by leading us to hell in a handcart and must be stopped at all costs is completely one-sided.

        As others have pointed out, there is absolutely no logical reason to think that the global temperatures of the past century (or the one before that or the one before that….) were somehow optimum, and that any deviation from them is necessarily a bad thing. There are strong arguments to show that a warmer world would be, on balance. a better world.

      • I would probably confirm the experiments already done with an increase of CO2 over current levels: yields increase (generally from 20 to 50%) in C3 crops; yields increase (generally up to 20%) and water is economized (usually by 30 to 50%, in some cases up to 80%) in C4 crops. It is not necessary to use the varieties in use 200 years ago: more recently used varieties would also do, since these experiments are based on the same varieties under different atmospheric composition. On the other hand, germoplasm banks, such as in FAO, have seeds from cereal (and other plants) varieties used since the time of the Pharaohs: getting seeds cultivated in 1800 or 1900 is no challenge at all.

  45. Corn yields begin to suffer when daily temperatures rise above 95 F. Warm nights can also diminish yields.

    “Warm nightly temperatures over 70° greatly speeds up dark respiration and causes the excessive burning of sugars that could have been used to produce grain.”

    • Latimer Alder

      Is that a peer-reviewed article…or do you just regurgitate anything published on the internet? It is an opinion piece by an individual in the Ohio Country Journal. No experiments, no citations.

      Must try harder.

  46. “Clean specific and factual?”

    OK try this one:

    CO2 atmospheric concentrations are rising at typically 2-3 ppmv per year. The analogy would be that we are polluting, or if you don’t like the word we can say changing the characteristics of, a lake upon which we all depend. The effect is cumulative not proportional to rate at which we do that. The lake is capable of claeaning itself to some extent but only at half the rate of our pollution.

    If it were a river then, of course, the pollution would be proportional to the emissions.

    So I would suggest an immediate target should be too avoid venturing further into the unknown than is possible to avoid. Let’s aim to first stabilise atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

    • Your problem with that assertion is that it is not know if C02 is ACTUALLY a pollutant.

      I’m not asserting either way (playing devils advocate here), but short of a dodgy EPA ruling, all we have is the cAGW theory.

      Personally, i’d be concentrating on all other pollution not co2 (though some energy sources have other pollutants inexorably linked to co2 release).

      • Yes I’m not sure that pollutant is the right word for CO2 either. Certainly some CO2 in the atmosphere is a good thing, Without it the Earth would freeze almost from pole to pole. But too much CO2 isn’t a good thing either. Its not a difficult concept. We all know that ingredients have to be just right when cooking. No-one doubles the amount of sugar or salt on the grounds that if one teaspoonful is good then two must be better.
        Is there a better word?

      • Latimer Alder

        And what is your considered view of ‘just the right amount’ for CO2.

        Show your working and be prepared to justify your reasoning.

      • WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming

        “But too much CO2 isn’t a good thing either.”

        Please define how much is “too much” and why it is “too much”… with references please.


        I guess some of you guys may not believe the Earth is much more than a few thousand years old but scientific evidence would indicate the CO2 record in the last half a million years to be:

        Anything over 300ppmv is unusual. Plants and animals on the planet have all evolved in, and are therefore optimised, to function in the mix of gases which made up our atmosphere until about 150 years ago. Whether we can ever get CO2 back to anywhere near 300ppmv I would doubt, but that would be ideal.

        Essentially, we are saying we know these levels are safe. We certainly don’t believe we can be reckless and say 1500ppmv, or whatever number may be dreamed up, is safe just because we haven’t tried it out in practice. The burden on proof should be on those wide eyed ideologues who have suggested otherwise. Show us that what you are suggesting is safe before we try it – even if it is just a computer model.

        Of course there are those who would argue that God made the planet and we should do our best to keep it working as originally designed. That’s another way of looking at it which many would say was just as valid as the above argument.

      • Tonto52:

        I guess some of you guys may not believe the Earth is much more than a few thousand years old but scientific evidence would indicate the CO2 record in the last half a million years to be

        Are we to assume from this that you believe the Earth to be half a million years old? Otherwise why not look at the data for at least a few hundred million years before that, and see what that tells us?


        That data tells us that CO2 sea levels. Several hundred feet higher. Is that what you want again?

        Incidentally humanity and nearly all present day species did not co-exist with dinosaurs. They evolved to suit that environment. We didn’t. It was pretty much the same two million years ago as now. But even if you dispute that, the small human population at the time could easily move away from the coast if sea levels did rise. Its not so easily with close to a world population of 10 billion people.

      • And sea levels are several hundred feet higher than they were 20 thousand years ago. And Europe, Asia and North America are no longer buried under a few miles of ice.
        Which period would you have us return to?
        And how do you make the jump from ~3mm sea level rise per year to several hundred feet?

    • Pooh, Dixie

      CO2 Pollution? You should blame the Congress of the United States for carbon dioxide “pollution”.
      When Congress reacted to the the Donora (PA) and the Great London Smog disasters, it “crafted” the Clean Air Act (CAA). Therein, it defined “pollution”. Read on, because the definition not only covers CO2, even dihydrogen monoxide is covered. The EPA had authority to rule whether of not it was “dangerous”; which it later did, overruling an internal report to the contrary (Alan Carlin). Note that the EPA had originally declined to so rule (2007), but came around in 2008 under the policies of Carol Browner.

      The Supreme Court had noted that the CAA is “Broad”, “Sweeping”, “Capacious” and covers everything airborne. However, SCOTUS had no choice; it had to apply the law as written by Congress. You may recall that pundits, media and certain scientists immediately began to call CO2 a “pollutant”. That meme continues to this day.


      Page 04, 05 (Syllabus): #3. Because greenhouse gases fit well within the Act’s capacious definition of “air pollutant,” EPA has statutory authority to regulate emission of such gases from new motor vehicles. That definition— which includes “any air pollution agent . . . , including any physical,chemical, . . . substance . . . emitted into . . . the ambient air . . . , §7602(g) (emphasis added)—embraces all airborne compounds of whatever stripe”.

      Page 26 (Opinion): The statutory text forecloses EPA’s reading. The Clean Air Act’s sweeping definition of “air pollutant” includes “any air pollution agent or combination of such agents, including any physical, chemical . . . substance or matter which is emitted into or otherwise enters the ambient air . . . .” §7602(g) (emphasis added).

      Page 29 (Opinion): While the Congresses that drafted §202(a)(1) might not have appreciated the possibility that burning fossil fuels could lead to global warming, they did understand that without regulatory flexibility, changing circumstances and scientific developments would soon render the Clean Air Act obsolete. The broad language of §202(a)(1) reflects an intentional effort to confer the flexibility necessary to forestall such obsolescence. See Pennsylvania Dept. of Corrections v. Yeskey, 524 U. S. 206, 212 (1998) (“[T]he fact that a statute can be applied in situations not expressly anticipated by Congress does not demonstrate ambiguity. It demonstrates breadth” (internal quotation marks omitted)). Because greenhouse gases fit well within the Clean Air Act’s capacious definition of “air pollutant,” we hold that EPA has the statutory authority to regulate the emission of such gases from new motor vehicles.

      SCALIA, J. (Dissenting, Page 10 footnote 2): Not only is EPA’s interpretation (in opposition to Massachusetts’ suit) reasonable, it is far more plausible than the Court’s alternative. As the Court correctly points out, “all airborne compounds of whatever stripe,” ante, at 26, would qualify as “physical, chemical, . . . substance[s] or matter which [are] emitted into or otherwise ente[r] the ambient air,” 42 U. S. C. §7602(g). It follows that everything airborne, from Frisbees to flatulence, qualifies as an “air pollutant.” This reading of the statute defies common sense.

    • tonto52,
      Not what the policy should say. You are just repeating that you want CO2 to decrease. That is the equivalent of saying you want to win a contest.
      What is the execution, at what cost, of what the policy says?

  47. Here’s a simple, concise post by Wills Eschenbach about food supply and the bogus climate link

    And if anybody is talking about food supply situation in Africa with reference to climate change, I can only ask incredulously ” Are you off your rocker? Do you know anything about Africa “?

  48. The real problem is the world’s poor won’t play the part of victim even when they’ve been battered by floods.

    • Latimer Alder

      Worth posting the key points in case readers don;t have time to follow your link

      For Pakistan

       In spite of the post-flood problems, the 2011 winter wheat
      harvest has been estimated at a near record level of 24 million
       Wheat prices have come down and rice prices are stabilized in
      recent months
       Food security has improved significantly but the lingering
      effects of 2010 floods and high inflation remain problems for the
      affected/low income population

      Looks like whatever their other problems there’s going to be enough to eat. Good news.

      • Spot on, Latimer. Here’s the FAO link

        Now this shows that the whole brouhahaa of Climate Change, Pakistan, Food security etc. is absolute rot. People who loftily talk about such issues are armchair non-experts who probably haven’t set foot in a farm in their lives and wouldn’t know a crop from a weed. They sit and theorise grandly about issues on which they have zero knowledge or competence.

  49. tonto52 writes ” The priority is to emit less of it [CO2].” in response to my thought that CO2 mitigation is an oxymoron. What I cannot understand is where is the science that leads tonto52 to believe that it is a priority to emit less CO2. I am fully aware that there is hypothesis put forward by the proponents of CAGW that adding CO2 to the atmosphere will cause major problems. But this is merely a hypothesis, with no observed data to support it.

    I know Judith and many others continually recite the mantra that CAGW is real, but it has no scientific basis. And that is the problem with this sort of subject. As I have noted before, if you assume that CAGW is a problem, then all further discussion is a load of nonsense. We need to go back to square one, and first establish that CAGW is real. No-one has done this.

    • @ JC Some questions:
      So what about plain old AGW? Do you agree that that’s real?
      Adding the C would depend on how bad AGW turned out to be. Wouldn’t you agree?
      Care to put a figure on that?
      What would you say the safe limit was on CO2 level?

      • Pooh, Dixie

        Here is a figure: under 1.2 oC is absolutely safe. Not only is 1.2 oC the difference in average temperature between Boston and New York, it is well within the daily High-Low temperature range everywhere but the South Pole in winter (/sarc)

      • tonto52 writes “@ JC Some questions:
        So what about plain old AGW? Do you agree that that’s real?
        Adding the C would depend on how bad AGW turned out to be. Wouldn’t you agree?
        Care to put a figure on that?
        What would you say the safe limit was on CO2 level?”

        To answer the questions in order.

        I agree that AGW is real. I agree that adding the C depends on how much global temperatutres rise as a result of adding CO2. No, I cannot put a figure on it, and so far as I can tell, nor can anyone else. The proponents of CAGW simply cannot bring themselves to say that we just dont know. Since there is no observed data, no-one can say how much global temperatures will rise as a result of adding CO2 from current levels. However, what we do know is that what limited data we do have indicates that the effect of adding CO2 to the atmosphere is probaly somewhere between extremely small and negligible with respect to temperature.

        The safe limit to CO2 concentration is when it becomes dangerous to life. I understand this is somewhere around 5000 ppmv. I also understand that if all the carbon from fossil fuels were to be turned into CO2, then the level would be around 2000 ppmv. I suggest that any level up to 1500 ppmv is perfectly acceptable.

      • No, 5000 ppm (0.5%) is no problem. If O2 concentration is not compromised, even 5+ times more than that is tolerable.

        My motto: “2,100 ppm by 2100 or Bust!”
        The world’s flora will rejoice.

      • WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming

        “What would you say the safe limit was on CO2 level?”

        What would you say the UNSAFE limit was?

  50. Ad let’s talk about Australia. record harvest in spite of floods and natural disasters. Nothing to do with any climate change nonsense

    And what about Russia, the other so called food security problem counry? They have a lot more wheat to export this year, a record, as they actually exaggerated losses last year and when the crops and harvest are flowing in this year, they have run out of storage space and need to export

    So all the alarms and wild claims by AGW clan are bogus, without any substance. To talk about ” climate change ” affecting food security is one of the biggest lies.

    • Latimer Alder

      Oh goodie. So all the foods whose prices went up ‘because of the bad harvest in Russia’ will become cheaper again in our local supermarket?

      Or will the flying pigs eat them all up first.



      Yes let’s talk about Australia.

      You should read these stories a little more carefully. “Earnings from grain handling and marketing were all higher due to the record eastern Australian winter crop harvest”

      The floods in Australia were in December and January. Everyone knows these are the winter months, right? Er, well it might come as a surprise to some that in half the world, including Australia, the winter months are June and July. No Australian floods then – at least as far as we know from what we read in Murdoch’s papers like the Australian :-)

      • Latimer Alder

        Yet again you fail to read the links. The link from The Australian is quite clear. They are predicted crop yields for this coming harvest . The issuing authority is

        ‘The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Science’

        and take into account a slight downturn in expected yields for Queensland because of floods and stuff. But the rest of Oz is largely doing very nicely thank you.

      • Latimer Alder

        Forgot to say. With a record harvest in the hottest or second hottest year ever recorded (or so we are told), can anyone now seriously doubt that warmer is better for these crops? Or does correlation not equal causatoion in this case?

        Just wondered.

      • Tonto, learn to read what is written in the links before spouting off. You seem to have a penchant for dontopedalogy. In case you don’t understand the term, which is very likely, google it.


        Furthermore the gross tonnage doesn’t necessarily tell the full story. Wheat subject to wet conditions can be unsuitable for milling and has to be downgraded for use as animal feed.

        The simple reason that world wheat prices are high is due to a relatively poor harvest worldwide in 2010 and the first few months of 2011. That’s not to say production isn’t much higher than it was a decade ago but so oil production is higher now than it was a decade ago and yet prices are much higher for oil too.

        Demand is the other side of the equation of course and that’s also much higher than it was both for wheat and oil. It only takes an unexpected shortfall of a few percent, in both, to send prices shooting up.

      • Latimer Alder

        So you agree that global warming in the past decade has been the major factor in increasing production to record levels? Excellent.


        I would agree that warmer weather has helped agricultural production in certain areas. Apparently potatoes can now be grown in Greenland. Shipping companies may like AGW because they can now navigate the NE and NW passages. So, yes, there are benefits. But do those benefits outweigh the costs?

        Agricultural production has increased enormously in the last 100 years largely, I would argue thanks to cheap energy and cheap fertilisers. That looks like its coming to an end and could be a more immediate threat to food security than AGW. I’m not qualified to say if 0.8 degC warming has had beneficial effect on agricultural production. Yes, it is possible that it has, but that doesn’t mean that 2 or even 3 degrees of warming will be even better. Arable land does tend to be more productive when its above rather than below sea level.

      • Latimer Alder

        Perhaps you would like to calculate how much such land would be lost for a three foot rise in sealevel?

  51. “You said that “Canada, have transportation infrastructure problems due to melting permafrost” so other than the ice roads what transportation infrastructure problem are you talking about exactly” teddy

    What I actually said is:
    “I’m sure Inuit will be thrilled to hear that once again another White idiot down south thinks they don’t exist. You think rapidly melting permafrost is only about ice roads for mining companies? It determines the ecosystem in the North. Inuit communities are built on it.”
    So tell me — what part of ‘ecosystem in the North’ or ‘Inuit communities are built on it’ did you not understand?

    Why don’t you start small. Where are you, right now? Are you sitting on a chair in your home? What is that home sitting on? Do you have water? How does that water get there? Do you have sewage? If you go outside, what are you and all the other animals walking on? Are there plants on it?


    As my friend jim owen unwittingly alludes to, post-colonial Nunavut (he seems to confuse it with mining-intense NWT) is struggling to ensure indigenous management of natural resources. An addiction to fossil fuels has become as much of a problem in the North as anywhere else.

    The government and people of Nunavut have many challenges in relation to both conservation and their exploitation by the south; and are already impacted by climate change. Leading planning for transition to renewable sources closer at hand and increased resource management by indigenous communities and the territorial government is beginning to reduce dependency.

    And there are other Arctic nations.

    Very challenging. Funny how people already affected by climate change don’t deny the reality of it and are on the frontlines of planning for change.

    p.s. If all this is too much for your interest level, then you can just concern yourself with — well, yourself. Climate science has had something to say about very rapidly melting permafrost: it is likely accelerating the warming, because of the release of all that stored carbon.
    However, I do value my time – and I am satisfied to end any further conversation with you.

    Have a nice day.

    • “Transportation infrastructure problems” was a cut and paste from your post but whatever you seem to want to a straw man.

      Anyhow, not all the permafrost is going to melt and the problems they have cannot be blamed on CO2, IMHO. It’s more complex than that. I know I don’t live there and don’t understand all their problem but obviously you understand everything. So all I will say is that its the foxy rich liberals like you they need to worry about that condems their situation because it is these outsiders who discourage improvement by only making the people into victims.

    • Martha once again writes meaningless, and unsupportable points.

    • The government and people of Nunavut have many challenges in relation to both conservation and their exploitation by the south; and are already impacted by climate change. Leading planning for transition to renewable sources closer at hand and increased resource management by indigenous communities and the territorial government is beginning to reduce dependency.

      I KNOW I’ve read those lines before, just can’t remember right now where you plagiarized them from.

      And there are other Arctic nations.

      Nunavut is NOT a nation, it’s a Canadian Province and would not have been created if it had not been economically self-sustaining.

      As my friend jim owen unwittingly alludes to, post-colonial Nunavut (he seems to confuse it with mining-intense NWT)

      1) I doubt that I number among your few friends.

      2) I don’t believe I mentioned Nunavut – that’s your invention

      3) One of the principal industries of Nunavut is mining

      4) IIRC, the original conversation involved ice roads. Since Nunavut apparently has a total of 20 km of roadway, the conversaton was obviously NOT directed at Nunavut.

      • Martha was referring to Nunavut in her post but then I thought she probably meant other Arctic nations than Canada(rather than Nunavut) like the US, Russia, Greenland as the “other Arctic nations”. Even though its adds nothing to her argument. Technically Nunavut is a territory rather than a province.

      • Technically Nunavut is a territory rather than a province.

        You’re right, Teddy. My bad. Not being Canadian, I sometimes forget that Canada still has “frontier” Territories – even though I’ve been to some of them and have this great desire to return.

        Martha was referring to Nunavut in her post but then I thought she probably meant other Arctic nations than Canada(rather than Nunavut) like the US, Russia, Greenland

        One would hope that would be true – BUT – afer a paragraph about Nunavut, she says –

        And there are other Arctic nations.

        If she meant what you infer, then she should learn how to express her thoughts in English.

    • > Canada, have transportation infrastructure problems due to melting permafrost.

      The biggest problems appear to be around the city of Ottawa because, as we may know, the Canadian’s capital building is a small replica of the White House made out of ice:

  52. And what’s the reason for corn supply being so tight in the US? Cold weather, not warming.

    And with the biofuels mandate for automobiles, expect more corn to go into fuels than food.

    Yes, Climate Change is to blame for eveything, more specifically, policies based on Climate Change laid down by politicians and bureaucrats with the support of the AGW clan, which is causing all the problems.

    • I don’t know about you, but I can drive a tractor all day long in chilly spring weather. Now, rainy spring weather is another matter. Mild and rainy, I can get stuck. Chilly and rainy, I can get stuck. Hot and rainy, I can get stuck.

      Oh no, another blight of skinny cattle is upon us. And pigs, my gawd, there is nothing more pathetic looking than a skinny pig.

  53. curryja writes “Cellulosic ethanol is vastly preferable to corn ethanol, since it isn’t competing with food.”

    Fair enough, but you have not addressed the idea I proposed. I have seen an estimate that if all the available biomass created as cellulose by the US agriculature induistry were to be turned into ethanol, it would power all the vehicles in the USA. It does not matter if this is true, there is clearly a lot of potential good in producing cellulose ethanol.

    The recent hisrtoy of this is that a pilot plant came into production by Iogen around 1995. This process has not turned into a commercial enterprise. Range fuels used different technology, and their attempt to produce cellulose ethanol in commercial quantities failed. Now Poet, using similar technology to Iogen, has a pilot plant in operation. Shovels are in the ground and a commercial platn should be built by 2012. It remains to be seen if the enterprise will be successful.

    But the reason that any commercial plant is being built ar all, so far as I can see, is because Poet already has aviable a food ethanol industry in operation. Without this knowhow, and the technology to distill and distribute the ethanol, a commercial cellulose ethanol plant could not be a reality in 2012, or any other time in the foreseeable future.

    What is certain is that if the plant is a commercial success, the farmers producing the corn will get more money for the same crop. But nothing would happen if food ethanol were not already in operation.

    Surely the promise of huge quantities of cellulose ethanol, resulting from the already existing food ethanol production, should be considerd as a positive for food ethanol.

    • Lee Raymond used to say that all of the cellulosic ethanol potential of the United States would replace ~60% of our liquid fuel needs. The question is, what amount of arable land would have to be dedicated to supplying cellulosic ethanol plants?

      • JCH writes “The question is, what amount of arable land would have to be dedicated to supplying cellulosic ethanol plants?”

        I dont think you understand the idea. In the case of Poet, farmers now deliver corn cobs to the ethanol plant. Poet distills the sugar and starch, and sells the protein for cattle food. At the moment the rest of the corncob is waste. The idea is to grind the rest of the corn cob up, and produce cellulose etahnol from this feedstock. If this works, Poet will pay the farmer more for the corn delivered. It will take no more land or effort on the part of the farmer to produce the cellulose ehtanol. It is a sort of bonus from the food ethanol process. Poet estimates that this process can be used for it to produce around 3 billion gallons of cellulose ethanol a year by 2020. After that, who knows what feedstock could be used, without using any more agricultural land.

      • In my reading, the cellulosic people have always had their sights set on crop residue, so it’s in their math.

        I have never read a cellulosic ethanol proposal claiming to replace a significant percentage of liquid fossil fuel that did not include an absorption of some farmland to cellulosic feedstock. It would probably equal CRP. And I believe Corn is the major source of that stock.

  54. Our book on this subject is available for pre-order in Amazon (both US and UK) : It is announced to be available by August 3, 2011 (a bit later than I thought).
    Hector Maletta and Emiliano Maletta. Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security in Latin America.

    Besides the case of Latin America, on which it focuses, the book includes extensive conceptual discussions, and also some data and projections for the entire world. We plan a further book with worldwide scope.

    • Hector, It sounds very interesting. Does your book also go into the subjects of ‘carrying capacity’ and the ‘water crisis’?

  55. Yes, Teddy. There are copious studies on the impact of climate change on water availability on a gridcell basis worldwide, especially by authors such as Alcamo or Petra Doll. The IIASA team led by Gunther Fischer has also estimated the water requirements and water supply (by agro-ecological zone in the various gridcells) for agricultural growth to meet the demand up to 2080, using integrated assessment models.
    All these estimates are based on agroecological zoning (AEZ), and the projected displacement of their boundaries due to climate changes. All projected food (and more widely, agricultural) production is compatible with existing projections of water availability and water requirements (for agriculture and other uses).
    Some of the models are based on existing irrigated areas, while others contain an endogenously generated demand for additional irrigation, the cost of which is built into the projections (normally the annual amortization, maintenance and operation costs of such additional irrigation is well below the crops’ gross margin, and is not considered if it is not).
    Carrying capacity is also included by way of the agro-ecological zones. Besides, one has to recall that carrying capacity depends on relative costs and prices (one could grow crops at the South Pole, by hydroponics and artificial lighting and heating, but the cost would be probably too high). Our book does not include an estimation of “maximum carrying capacity”, since that concept makes really little sense. However, Fischer et al have estimated food production (in suitable AEZ) even in the extremely unlikely case of the enormous population growth postulated in the A2 scenarios of IPCC, with the result that the globe could produce that much food and more, woith minimum technical innovation, and moreover, the percent of population with insufficient food intake would be less than one half the amount of 1990 (or 2010 for that matter). In fact, the highest forecasts of food output appear in the worst-case global warming scenarios such as A2 or A1F1, because more warming and more CO2 (within the levels projected by IPCC for those scenarios).implies more agricultural output.

  56. “Excessive Heat and Humidity Not Ideal for Corn” says seed producer Great Lakes Hybrids.

    According to the company, “At daytime temperatures above 86°F, the corn plant has lower net photosynthetic energy production and, therefore, fewer assimilates (e.g., sugars) available for corn kernel development.”

    The company also says excessive heat at night(above 70F or 80F) can be harmful to corn. For more on the negative effect of heat as well as the ways humidity can hurt corn, see:

    • GroundedInReality

      Is that really what you have? Appeal to the “authority” of a seed company?

      So how much have corn yields dropped over the past century? Does Great Lakes Hybrids have that answer?

      • Nah, but they probably would have us believe increased yields resulted largely from improved hybrids (suprise !).

        You can’t trust seed companies anyway. The first think I do with a pack of garden seed is throw away the pack, so I don’t have to read the instructions.

  57. In terms of feasibility, global CO2 mitigation ranks as only slightly easier than population control. In terms of cost/benefit ratio, the first 6 items on the list probably rank the highest.

    After a long essay on food insecurity which said next to nothing about the present or expected impact of climate change, JC closes with two assertions which are not supported by anything that preceded them.

    I was looking forward to this post, and I’m disappointed to see it amount to nothing more than hand-waving.

    • GroundedInReality

      Amen. How about some of the “climate scientists” trying to put some facts behind things like cost/benefits of mitigation strategies?

      I can just see my next 1:1 meeting with my manager (I’m a marketing strategist at a Fortune 10 company):

      Me: Of the 10 strategies we have to grow our business, numbers 1, 2, 4, 7, and 8 probably have the best cost/benefit ratios.

      Him: What else can you tell me?

      Me: Well, in terms of feasibility, growing our market share ranks as only slightly easier than population control.

      Him: Thanks. Don’t worry, you won’t have to try to grow our share. I’ve decided to find someone else who has a clue. Thanks for playing, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

  58. Robert,
    1. Population control by the people themselves is an automatic result of having sufficient income, and (as a consequence) better education and health care (especially for women). There is a well established and very close relationship between those variables and fertility.
    2. “Present” effect of climate change (CC) on agriculture is probably close to nil. Attribution of extreme events to CC is not warranted by now. And even extreme events do not cause food insecurity except the are is extremely poor (floods or droughts in Germany or Britain, or for that matter in Argentina or Chile, Jordan or Lybia, Indonesia or Sri Lanka, do not cause food insecurity).
    3. According to the IPCC WG2 (even with the biases observed by the IAC in their report), and also the FAO and most independent assessments, the effects of CC on agriculture may become perceptible only with a relatively large increase in global temperature (above 2 or 3 C), and therefore would become perceptible only in the second half or near the end of the 21st century.
    4. Some semi-.arid tropical areas may become under stress in agricultural terms if the climate becomes extremely hotter and drier than now. Even if no alternative crops were available for that situation in 100 years time, the probable outcome would be migration of the people (gradually over 100 years) rather than starvation. The great majority of world population in 2100 would be urban, and would not rely on their own little farm to secure food (just as you and me don’t). Gains in agriculture elsewhere (as a result of CC as well as technological change) would generally offset most of the losses in those specific places, and (as the IPCC and FAO reckons) trade (international and domestic) is an essential component of household food security. You do not need to produce your food in your own backyard, village, district or country: it can be brought to you by trade, at lower cost, even from distant places, if somebody is still living there in a hundred years time once the climate at that place has become unfit for living..

    • ““Present” effect of climate change (CC) on agriculture is probably close to nil. ”

      Gather up your evidence for that, write it up, and submit it to a journal. I look forward to reading it.

      Otherwise, this airy assertion is simply more hand-waving.

  59. Dear Judith,
    Thank you for highlighting our recent work with FAO in East Asia. Just a clarification: Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Warning System for Africa & Asia is a regional intergovernmental organizational and not a local NGO.

    Manik on behalf of RIMES

  60. FAO has launched an assessment of climate change and food (in)security and seeks comments on the scope:

    Probably they are assuming the IPCC view on the climate side, which if so makes the study relatively worthless.