JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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In a warming world we may get overun by cheap soy and corn

New research shows that the impending climate disaster puts the world in danger of growing too much corn and soy. People won’t know what starving is!

H/t to CO2Science

Qiao et al discovered that when temperatures are raised by a “catastrophic” 2 degrees C, and CO2 is raised to 700 unthinkable ppm corn (aka maize) increases its yield by a remarkable 25%. When hit by both high temperatures and extra CO2, soy bean yield increased even more — by 31%.

Presumably this means crop prices will fall and corn and soy may take over your garden. (So make sure you put in a solar panel to control those new weeds!)

Rumour that nutrient densities will fall — proved to be false. Increased temperature raised the oil content of both crops. And the combo of warmer weather plus CO2 increased most of the nutrients as well. Both crops had more phosphorus, potassium, iron, and zinc. There was a statistically small decrease in calcium in maize, so small it may not be there. The only mineral that definitely declined was manganese in soybeans, and as far as humans go,  there is apparently no one on Earth who has a clinical manganese deficiency [...]

Burn oil so we can eat more chocolate

The fake scare of the season — “climate change is impacting chocolate production”.

Chocolate is produced from the beans that grow on cocoa trees. These plants can only grow in a fairly narrow range of conditions, which makes them vulnerable to changes in the environment.

Unfortunately, climate change is threatening some of these key growing regions. According to the IPCC, rising temperatures and a relative reduction in rainfall could make areas like West Africa less suitable for cocoa production in the future. Changes to the climate are also pushing cocoa-growing regions to higher altitudes in some parts of the world, which can make some crops unsustainable.

We can see just how hard cocoa crops have been hit by record heat and 500 billion tons of carbon.

Global Cocoa production

Since 1989 humans have put out more than 50% of all anthropogenic CO2 emissions since homo sapiens went sapien. There is an undeniable trend here.

Happy Easter to everyone.

h/t Dave B

If world warmed — crops could grow another 1,200 km further North

Climate change might bring more food as it expands into the arctic. In a big surprise, scientists found that agriculture works best in places without much snow and ice.

Burn oil and feed the world

Only a third of the giant northern boreal forest is able to be cropped at the moment. With any luck, serious global warming will set in, allowing us to raise the edge of the zone of arable land and feed millions more hungry people.

Obviously , we need to spend billions to stop this.

Though Canadians and Russians may disagree (especially if they thought CO2 actually mattered, but who does?).

Given CO2′s mixed performance in the last hundred years, I predict disappointment…

[...]

Record hottest year means record bumper wheat crop, opposite of crop models

Last year there were warnings from crop modelers in Nature that heat kills wheat and yields were going to fall in the “near future”, if temperatures rose. In fact global warming was “already slowing wheat gains”. What followed was a record El Nino, and 2015 was the hottest ever year, with 2016 vying to beat it. But instead of wheat doom, this month the USDA forecasts a record yield of wheat with bumper crops globally. Wheat output has grown in Australia, the US, Russia, Ukraine, everywhere pretty much, except the EU where it has been too rainy. Where are the mea culpas?    h/t to the GWPF

Jan 2015, published in Nature.  “Global Wheat Yield May Drop as Temperatures Rise”

“… researchers are now letting farmers know that the world’s wheat yields are excepted decline in the near future, with the world standing to lose six percent of its wheat crop for every degree Celsius that the annual global temperature increases.

“The simulations with the multi-crop models showed that warming is already slowing yield gains, despite observed yield increases in the past, at a majority of wheat-growing locations across the globe,” researcher Senthold Asseng, at the University [...]

18 million square kilometers more greenery due to “carbon pollution” that the Greens hate

What kind of pollution do you want to feed your plants? The carbon kind.

Yet again, a satellite study of leaf area shows that the world is greener than it was in 1982. There are more plants mostly thanks to CO2 aerial fertilization. The biggest benefits from CO2 are in the warm tropics. The extra greenery in colder areas was due to that other disaster called “global warming”. About a tenth of the greening had nothing to do with either carbon pollution or extra warmth and was apparently thanks to nitrogen from man-made fertilizers.

Obviously we need a $10 billion dollar program to stop this immediately.

Click to enlarge.

Humans are Greening planet Earth — ABC

The most comprehensive modelling of remote sensing data so far shows the area on Earth covered by plants in this time has increased by 18 million square kilometres — about 2.5 times the size of the Australian continent — largely due to the fertilising effect of carbon dioxide (CO2).

“[The greening] has the ability to fundamentally change the cycling of water and carbon in the climate system,” said Dr Zaichun Zhu, from Peking University in China and lead author [...]

Death, disease, coming in 2050 says model of model

“Half a million deaths by 2050!”

The Lancet study in a nutshell:  Take climate models that don’t work, and guesstimate what might happen to agriculture because of the climate we probably won’t get. Then use those guesses of food production in 2050 to fantasize what that means for human mortality. After all, we don’t know how many people are killed today by “4% less fruit and vege and 0.7% less meat”, but we can estimate what that dietary change will do in 2050 after a medical revolution, 35 years of plant breeding and agricultural changes. Not to mention a few more rounds of global food fads and phases of Vegan, Paleo, Atkins, and 5:2 Fasting.  (But how did they factor in the mortality effect from another 2,000 episodes of MasterChef?)

Seriously, CO2 has increased crop yields, and will continue to do so until we hit 1000ppm (or maybe 2000). Around the planet, plants grow in warm places, and shrivel up and die in cold ones. So do people. Cold kills 20 times as many people as heat does. It must take a lot of modeling to calculate “more deaths” from two good outcomes.

Look at where fruit grows. In a warmer world, the [...]

Burn oil, feed the world, grow plants, save forests, get richer, live longer. Why we urgently need to raise CO2.

It’s time to stop pussy footing around. We need higher levels of CO2. It is morally and ethically irresponsible to be silent while millions starve, biodiversity is under threat, and people are dying from cold weather.

Carbon dioxide increases crops, forest and plant life by 14% and is worth $140 billion, just in agricultural production. Thanks to CO2, forests have been protected because farms are more efficient in a higher CO2 world.

Countries that don’t do their part in producing enough carbon dioxide emissions need to lift their game. Coal use should be favoured over nuclear, hydro, wind and solar. Countries like France are free-riding on the nations like China, the US, and Australia — which are helping to green the world and feed the starving.

Indur Goklany has put together a comprehensive report on the benefits of CO2 for the GWPF.

The advantage of higher CO2 for all C3 crop plants is spectacular. That’s rice, wheat, barley, rye, cotton, sugar beet, spinach, and potato. C4 plants evolved in the last 30 million years to be good at dealing with low CO2 atmospheric concentration (corn, sugarcane, cabbage, broccoli, sedge, daisy.) Most plants are C3.

Figure 1: Carbon dioxide fertilization [...]

Welcome to the CO2 disaster — 4 billion tons more plants, more greenery

During the recent warmest decades on record, Earth suffered under the highest CO2 levels of the last 800,000 years. Life responded to this devastating situation by — flourishing. There are now some 4 billion tons more living matter on the planet than there was in 1993. What a calamity. (And what a lot of carbon credits.)

It has, naturally, got nothing to do with warmth and aerial fertilizer. The researchers tell us it due to that force of nature known as “good luck”. Remember, human CO2 emissions were pollution that was going to afflict life on Earth. After twenty years of predicting the loss of forests and species, it turned out that biology bloomed instead. Notch up another model “success”. The press release headline: Good luck reverses global forest loss. (What else would we expect from UNSW?)

To those who know basic biology — and that almost half the dry weight of plants is carbon, sucked straight out of the air — this is not so much good luck as one entirely foreseeable and foreseen consequence of rising CO2. Acquiring carbon is often a plant’s hardest task. When the sun comes up, a cornfield begins sucking, and by lunch time [...]

Peak Wheat! One quarter of wheat production will be lost to extreme climate (or maybe Not)

According to a new study released by Nature Climate Change we are, remarkably, at the very peak of conditions for wheat growth worldwide — and it’s all downhill from here. (What are the odds?) The last 15 years, which have been the “hottest on record” and saw massive human CO2 output, were the peak time for wheat. But all that is about to fall off a cliff if we do … more of the same.

To demonstrate that millions will starve: take projections of extremes from broken climate models, and put them in wheat crop models, and then assume we take no adaptive measures for the first time in human history. Ignore that even the IPCC doesn’t think extreme events are necessarily changing: “Climate models are unable to predict extreme events because they lack spatial and temporal resolution. In addition, there is no clear evidence that sustained or worldwide changes in extreme events have occurred in the past few decades. “

There’s been no increase in drought globally in the last 60 years either. Pouring free fertilizer into the sky, along with better agricultural practices, has produced a global boom in crops (See CO2science for scores of studies on biomass [...]

Increasing CO2 threatens human nutrition (From the Annals of Hype)

Disaster Disaster! Driving a car in 2014 could one day cause 2 billion people to suffer from zinc and iron deficiencies leaving them anaemic and prone to infection, and causing a loss of 63 million life-years annually. This is brought to you from the  Annals of Hyped-Science (formerly known as Nature). A sad day indeed.

It’s true that carbon dioxide is plant fertilizer and increases plant yields, so future crops, grown in a CO2 rich world, may not have exactly the same nutrient profile. Presumably future plants will have slightly more useless starchy carbohydrate. It is a kind of dilution effect at work, where plants keep absorbing the same amount of minerals, but spread them out among more carbohydrate.

Before we hit the panic button, lets look the numbers. The new Myers et al study[1] reports that zinc and iron content of rice may fall by, wait for it, five percent. In wheat the iron content could fall by as much as 10%. But no one who has a choice, eats grains like rice or wheat for their iron and zinc content, since both these are poor sources of both. We’re talking about low grade bulk filler food.

Assuming the reduction [...]

CO2 emissions in last 50 years made us $3.5 Trillion wealthier

Millions of people are alive today because the net emissions of carbon dioxide have increased. These extra emissions have provided essential fertilization for crops around the world. Craig Idso has released a new report calculating that the extra value that the rise in CO2 has produced from 1961 – 2011 is equivalent to $3.5 trillion dollars cumulatively. Currently the extra CO2 is worth $160 billion dollars annually. Big-biccies. Projecting forwards, increasing CO2 levels could be worth an extra $9.8 trillion on crop production between now and 2050. Virtually every economic analysis to date does not include the agricultural gains. There are also benefits in health, as warmer winters reduce mortality by more than hotter summers increase deaths. The real economic question then, is “Can we afford to slow CO2 emissions at all?”

While there are negative externalities projected by some climate modelers, their models are unvalidated, proven wrong, and based on unsupported assumptions about clouds and humidity. Compare that to the agricultural gains, which are not just demonstrated in laboratory greenhouses, but confirmed in the field, and with global satellite estimates of increased biomass.

Obviously, the only sensible thing to do at this point is continue our emissions of [...]

Plants suck half the CO2 out of the air around them before lunchtime each day

A paper that is nearly 60 years old shows us just how intrinsically important CO2 is to life.

An acre of corn is a living machine drawing CO2 from the air around it. In windless conditions, CO2 concentrations over a cornfield build up each night as CO2 diffuses from higher air and the organic matter and bacteria create CO2 from the soil.  A paper by Chapman et al  from 1954[1], shows that as soon as the sun comes up, to power-up those dormant photosynthetic cells, the plants rapidly draw down as much CO2 as possible, and when the CO2 levels fall too low, plant growth surely slows.

On a windless day CO2 values rose to 410ppm overnight and fell to 210ppm during the morning.

This graph shows CO2 content of the air over a cornfield on a still day (no wind). Sunrise occurs at 5am and CO2 levels plummet til 8am, reaching their lowest by 1pm, which is nearly half the CO2 concentration of the peak reached overnight. The corn is affecting CO2 levels in air even as high as 150m or 500ft above. These level out by around 8am and only start to increase again, a couple of hours [...]