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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]