Border Transgressions

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

There is a new paper out in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences called Linkages among climate change, crop yields and Mexico–US cross-border migration (hereinafter L2010). It has Supplementary Online Information (SOI) here. The editor of the paper is (the late) Dr. Stephen Schneider.

The paper basically advances the following theory of linkages:

Climate Change —> Reduced Mexican Crop Yields —> Migration to US

Hmmmm … their Abstract says:

Climate change is expected to cause mass human migration, including immigration across international borders. This study quantitatively examines the linkages among variations in climate, agricultural yields, and people’s migration responses by using an instrumental variables approach. Our method allows us to identify the relationship between crop yields and migration without explicitly controlling for all other confounding factors. Using state-level data from Mexico, we find a significant effect of climate-driven changes in crop yields on the rate of emigration to the United States. … Depending on the warming scenarios used and adaptation levels assumed, with other factors held constant, by approximately the year 2080, climate change is estimated to induce 1.4 to 6.7 million adult Mexicans (or 2% to 10% of the current population aged 15–65 y) to emigrate as a result of declines in agricultural productivity alone.

Although the results cannot be mechanically extrapolated to other areas and time periods, our findings are significant from a global perspective given that many regions, especially developing countries, are expected to experience significant declines in agricultural yields as a result of projected warming.

YIKES! … scary. Makes a man think seriously about mitigation.

Figure 1. Large-Scale Device for the Mitigation of the Effects of Climate Change. However, it appears that not everyone is convinced of the need for such climate mitigation, as the accompanying text says “Police in the Mexican border city of Tijuana say they have arrested six men for stealing pieces of the U.S. border fence to sell as scrap metal.”

I often divide things into the good, the bad, and the interesting. Regarding this study, first, the good. The authors have done a workmanlike job of pointing to the data that they used, all of which is online. This is to be highly commended, as it allows a quick determination of the validity of their work.

Next, the bad.

Because they were clear about their data, I was able to replicate their results exactly for the corn yields. My practice is to make replication the first step in any analysis of this type. It verifies whether they have done what they say they have done. In doing so, I discovered a most curious thing.

First, a small digression. “Yield” is how many tonnes of a crop are produced per hectare (or acre) harvested. Yield is affected by a number of things, including location, soil quality, and climate. If the yield in a certain location starts to fall, this is an indication that something is going wrong in the farming cycle in that location.

The curiosity that I discovered is that the paper calculates “yield” in a way that I had never seen. Yield is defined as how much crop production you get for every hectare (or acre) that was harvested. The authors, on the other hand, calculated yield as the amount produced for every hectare (or acre) that was planted. This often yields a very different number.

The source of their data is here.  Click on the “Maiz Grano” (Corn) in the first column, mid page. On the resulting page, click “Producción” (Production), second button from left. Then look in the far left column and click on the “Anuario” (Annual) button. Select 2004 as the year (“Año”) and press the “Consulta” button.

Now take a look at the data for 2004. The headings are:

Ubicación, Sup. Sembrada, Sup. Cosechada, Producción, Rendimiento

Or in English

Location, Area Planted (ha), Area Harvested (ha), Production (tonnes), Yield (tonnes/ha)

Over the period in question (1995-2004) Baja California averaged about 3 tonnes of corn per hectare. For Baja in 2004, their site says

BAJA CALIFORNIA, 592 hectares planted, 10 hectares harvested, 25 tonnes produced, yield 2.5 tonnes/ha

Note that, in common with other authorities, the Mexican web site itself calculated yield as production divided by area harvested, not divided by area planted. This is the normal definition of “yield” used by all other analyists. For example, from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) web site glossary we have (emphasis mine):

Title: Crop yield

Definition:

Harvested production per unit of harvested area for crop products. In most of the cases yield data are not recorded but obtained by dividing the production data by the data on area harvested. …

“Harvested area” in turn is defined as:

Title: Area harvested

Definition:

Data refer to the area from which a crop is gathered. Area harvested, therefore, excludes the area from which, although sown or planted, there was no harvest due to damage, failure, etc. …

From this, it is clear that the authors of L2010 are not calculating the yield correctly. They have calculated the yield for Baja 2004 as 25 tonnes / 592 hectares planted = 0.04 tonnes/ha, a meaningless result. This is why yield is always calculated based on the area harvested, not based on the area planted. Obviously, something happened in Baja in 2004 that wiped out most of the corn crop. But for the remaining area, the yield was 25 tonnes / 10 hectares harvested = 2.5 tonnes/ha, not far from normal.

Overall, this is a very significant error. To take one example of the effect of the error, Figure 2 shows the correlations between Mexican annual temperatures and corn crop yields (correctly and incorrectly calculated).

Figure 2. State by state correlations between annual temperature and corn crop yields, 1995-2004. “Yield” is production / area harvested. “Incorrect Yield” is production / area planted, as used in L2010.

Note that in some States (Aguascalientes, Campeche, Yucatan), one dataset shows a very small correlation between temperature and yield, while the other shows 20%-40% correlation. In some cases (Nueva Leon, Queretaro, San Luis Potosi) one shows positive and one shows negative correlation. Overall, there are many results which are significantly different.

Because the correlations of the yield are central to their analysis, this error invalidates the paper and requires the recalculation of all the relationships. Remember that their thesis is:

Climate Change —> Reduced Mexican Crop Yields —> Migration to US

Note that there are two separate mathematical relationships in their claim. One relates climate change (temperature and rainfall) to changes in yield. The other relates changes in yield to migration rates. An error in the yield, therefore, requires a recalculation of both relationships, with new error bounds, etc.

Since the original web site is in Spanish, this error may simply be a misunderstanding of what the web site says. However, that slides over the question of why they didn’t simply use the yield figures provided in their data source …

I have posted up the Area Planted, Area Harvested, Production, Annual Temperature, and Yield figures here as an Excel spreadsheet. To determine which one they used (area planted or area harvested), it is necessary to take 5-year averages of the data (1995-1999 and 2000-2004) and compare the answers to Table S1 of the Supplementary Online Information. I can reproduce their results only by the incorrect usage of area planted instead of area harvested. Note that “Log Corn Yield” in Table S1 of their paper is the natural log (ln) of the yield.

I have pointed out some good about the study, and some bad, so onwards to the interesting. One interesting thing to me is the variety of responses of different states to increased or decreased temperatures. In a third of the Mexican states, warmer is better for corn (positive correlation). In two-thirds of the Mexican states, on the other hand, cooler is better for corn. Hmmm …

Another interesting thing is the change in the Mexican country average yield for corn. Figure 3 shows both the country average yield and average annual temperature for 1995-2005:

Figure 3. Mexican Corn Yield (red line, left scale) and Temperature (blue line, right scale) Photo Source

Fig. 3 highlights one of the real shortcomings of their study. This is the very short time period that they are investigating. However, taken at face value, this graph does not give much credence to the idea that increasing temperatures will reduce Mexican corn yield … (note that I make no claim that this relationship is meaningful or statistically significant. I only say it does not support the authors’ argument.)

As noted above, there are two mathematical relationships involved in their claim. One is temperature/precipitation vs yield, and the other is yield vs emigration. For the yield vs. emigration, the Mexican dataset is short. So I understand that they have to make do with what they have. But yield versus temperature has a much longer dataset. The temperatures from their source span 1971 to the present, and the state-by-state crop data goes back to 1980. So they should have established the corn yield/temperature link using all of the data available (1980-2009), even though the other yield/emigration link has so much less data.

How does something like this get published? I suspect that this is another example of a member of PNAS using their “Proceedings” publication as a vanity press with little in the way of peer review. The article is edited by Stephen Schneider, who also edited the other recent “blacklist” paper, so it’s clandestinely flying across the border under the peer-review radar …

Hopefully, this will be the last of the posthumous Schneider “science” for us to deal with. The only good thing about Schneider was that when I saw his name on something, I knew I could likely find errors in it … made my job that much easier.

Look, I don’t like to speak ill of the dead. Stephen Schneider was probably a nice man who loved his family and petted puppies and brought the homeless blankets and dinner. But his general claims were often a “post-normal science” abomination, and his scientific work (as in the present instance) was sometimes very slipshod.

In particular, Schneider is noted for his statement regarding the obligations of scientists:

To capture the public imagination, we [scientists] have to offer up some scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and little mention of any doubts one might have. Each of us has to decide the right balance between being effective, and being honest. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.

To me, the most scary scenario is scientists who balance their honesty with effectiveness, or with anything else for that matter. I don’t want scientists who make little mention of their doubts. I don’t want scary scenarios from scientists, that’s why God made Hollywood and the BBC.

I want scientists who are as honest as possible, about their doubts and everything else. Schneider’s view, that scientists should balance honesty and effectiveness, is extremely and insidiously dangerous to science.

So, as un-PC as my view might be, I am overjoyed to see the last post-mortem gasp of Schneider’s apocalyptic alarmism. Am I glad he is dead? No way. As the poet said,

Each man’s death diminishes me,

For I am involved in mankind.

I am very happy, however, that he is no longer teaching at Stanford, that he is no longer writing garbage for me to wade through, and that he is no longer busily filling up the porches of the Stanford students’ ears with “cursed hebenon” …

My regards to all,

w.

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145 thoughts on “Border Transgressions

  1. Sounds like an argument for enforcing our border laws. I mean what is cheaper, carbon tax or fence? tax or fence? think of the jobs a fence will create. tax or jobs?

    Or

    If global warming happens then those south of the border will return to their rightful lands and the wicked europeans will go back to Norway.

    Hmm, sounds like justice is served by allowing global warming. La Raza should back the use of fossil fuels.

  2. Gee, that red line for corn yield looks suspiciously like the rise in CO2 over the same time period……CO2 availability wouldn’t have anything to do with yield……would it? ;)

  3. Very nicely done. This vividly points out that underlying assumptions and methods used to calculate variables makes all the difference in the outcome of a study. They are to be commended in clearly publishing their methodology and this demonstrates why clear methodology allows other scientists to validate or refute conclusions drawn. If this standard had been followed with other climate studies AGW alarmism would never have gotten off the ground.

    Thanks for work well done.

  4. One (of many) issues I have with the CAGW crowd is the fixation on temperature. Yeah, they talk about bigger and better storms, and droughts and floods, but looking at corn yields in a usually arid area without looking at rain (and irrigation) seems foolish at best and misleading at worst.

    Past mass migrations in the region have been centered on water, not temperature. To think that temperature will be an adequate metric (or proxy for rainfall) suggests that our precipitation records are in worse shape than our temperature records.

  5. Obviously they calculated “yield” from the number of acres planted because they assumed that acres not harvested failed to produce because of AGW, not some other factor which would just confound the purpose and conclusions of the paper.

  6. I dunno, call me stupid but if you’re going to investigate climate impact on crop production it seems reasonable to see how much crop you get relative to what you have sowed. I guess the idea is that pythons, floods, droughts and what not destroys crop production. Why would you harvest a field which was destroyed? But obviously, given the definition of yield, they should have used another word.

  7. Corn is a very heavy feeder which will quickly deplete any soil where it’s planted year after year. Even with rotation, crop yields depend more on how much fertilizer followed by timing of rainfall. It’s not warmth that hurts corn yield, it’s cold during. A late frost will decimate a crop. And if the planet warms a few degrees, all it means is you get to drill the seed a few days or so earlier.

    Oh, and fertilizer seem to need energy to be produced. And the cheaper the energy the cheaper the fertilizer. The cheaper the fertilizers the higher the yields. The higher the yields the more cows can be fed. The more cows mean more Big Macs, or Burger King, etc., for the world. What could be better?

  8. Do I understand this correctly? If an area is not harvested because it would give near 0% “yield”, they want to use this in their figures. And once included, they want to this data to show a correlation with global warming? Lost crops aren’t due to global warming. Even if it was weather, it’s still not climate, no? And only a portion would be due to weather. I must be missing something because this is… WOW!

    Garbage in, garbage out?

  9. Among other questions, the whole study begs the question, at what altitude were the crops being grown? If the 1/3 with positive correlation were at high altitude (were all other things being equal, we would expect lower temperatures), and the 2/3rds at low altitude, the one could reasonably expect that increasing temperatures would cause distress in the plants, were all other things equal.

    What other things? Water, fertilizer, soil quality, among others. Since we already know that temperature proxies in trees are suspect, trying to make the case with corn without quantifying the other variables is just as suspicious.

  10. Willis,
    Once again, excellent analysis. Someone has to restate the obvious. so, here goes.

    Within a range of temperatures, water supply and fertizer input ( average tempratures are useful. but in agriculture, high and low temps are lot more critical, as they should not cross the bounds within which the plant can thrive ), most agri products increase their production with temperature.

    However, one small caveat about what acreage to use for yield. When we measure severity of droughts, we will use “acreage planted”. when talking about long, severe droughts — like the ones, india and tropical africa go through, every so often — we use “arable land” in all calculations.

  11. This is a study that was perceived as effective, especially given the immigration climate today.

    A fine and fitting epitaph.
    =============

  12. Predicting agricultural yields and the impacts of climate change thereon is not a straightforward matter. Most crops (and farming techniques) are optimized to local climatic conditions; therefore, if one hypothesizes a different climate for a location, one cannot think that farmers would keep using the same crop (even the same cultivar of the crop) and the same farming technology if those are not suitable to the new climate (and especially so if the climate is expected to change gradually over 100 years in the future). Agriculture is not a natural process like the growth of wild vegetation, but an interactive Human/Natural process involving human decisions and knowledge. Available seeds and farming technology would be probably quite different in 2100. Mexican farmers would use different crops, or different cultivars, and apply other water management techniques (such as drip irrigation), among other changes, once the effects of climate change are more clearly felt in the future. General technical progress (including generically altered crops) would produce steady increases in yields, as has been happening in the past (maize yields in Mexico have nearly tripled since the 1950s). On the other hand, the number of farmers and agricultural workers in Mexico (and most other Latin American countries) are declining in absolute and relative numbers, and progressing in socioeconomic standing, and therefore the number affected by future climate change (and reduced standard of living as a result) would be far fewer than now. More than 95% of Mexican population would be urban in 2100 (current UN projections put the percentage at 88% by 2050, steadily rising from 77% in 2010, with no signs of stopping; rural population is shrinking in absolute terms since 2001, and is projected to keep shrinking in the future; total Mexican population is projected to reach zero growth and start declining, due to declining fertility, around 2050). Subsistence farming in Mexico is also rapidly declining, and most ‘campesinos’ depend mostly on the labour market more than on their farms to obtain food and make ends meet.
    International migration would probably increase in the world during this century, as globalization reaches the mobility of labour in addition to the mobility of goods and capital achieved in past decades. But this process would have little to do with climate change, and moreover, it would be beneficial to both origin and destination countries as most migration is.
    I have discussed these matters more extensively, both conceptually and empirically, in my forthcoming book on “Climate change, agriculture and food security in Latin America and the Caribbean”. A prelimary version is available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1619395.

  13. I consider this report, predicting mass, forced migration of Mexicans to the US as highly IRRESPONSIBLE. This, IF believed by the Mexicans, would trigger a stampede of Mexicans fleeing to the US as early as possible before the effects of the percived climate change commence ‘so as to be there first’.
    This report may have a hidden political agenda, aimed at the right wing section of society so as to try to rope them into the AGW band wagon.

    This report stinks.

  14. Isn’t Schneider the fellow who predicted an ice age because the relation between atomospheric CO2 and temperature was trigonometric, and therefore the CO2 effect would be low going forward, and aerosols were reflecting heat. He then discovered that aerosols were local and CO2 was all over. How much research did that take? He [was] not a man to be taken seriously.

  15. And one other question: If climate change is expected to effect Mexico badly, wouldnt it, likewise effect negatively the US, especially California where most Mexicans would end up anyway? So where will Californians migrate to? Is there some sort of similar report on Californian migration due to CC? Of course not.
    The age of stupid is here.

  16. Seeing as how the PC security system is off, what an absolutely stupid premise in the first place. The temp. in Timbuktu is 1/2 a degree higher than average which somehow decreases the corn yield in Mexico forcing millions of Mexicans to risk life and limb AND LEAVE FAMILY BEHIND to get to the U.S. for – what? Corn? To ship back to Mexico for their family? “No Senior, we are not here for dinero, please pay us in corn.”
    And who is/was this guys boss? I thought (I really didn’t, but it works better in the sentence, GO BEARS!) all the Stanford elites were of oh so superior intelligence. I mean being so well published and all. Whomever was involved in this certainly knows little to nothing about Mexico OR immigration.
    And as to how it got funded – oh, let’s not even go there!

  17. From climate change straight to homeland security – the ultimate argument.

    Well, I grew up in a system where it was mandatory to link what you wanted to say with a higher purpose, like the victory of socialism/communism or at least with peace for the world. I would have never expected to see such a perverted approach in the USA.
    Stop it.

  18. I would be interested in further scrutiny of the relationship between immigration and corn crop, as well, for the following reasons:
    Mexico is already IMPORTING corn from the U.S. (primarily yellow feed corn).
    Mexico’s other crops, like flowers and fruits, are far more profitable than corn.
    Over the paper’s time frame, there has been a decrease in the importance of corn to the Mexican diet (with a corresponding increase in consumption of meat).

    Without the statistics, this isn’t leading me to think that corn crop is going to have a huge impact on immigration.

  19. Funny, if it weren’t for migration and immigration there’d be plenty more, like a billion or so more, people in Europe and Russia, and a half or so billion more in Asia an Africa. OMG that’s like almost all the people of the whole of all of the Americas, and a part for EU.

    Must suck worse to be an american in the logic of hindering and opposing migration all things considering how few who didn’t migrate that survived. :p

  20. This latest PNAS piece sounds like something out of a third rate Hollywood movie about third rate political scheming by third rate science.

    Put in simple, direct terms, this sounds more like a call to Tea Party activists and others opposed to illegal immigration to support action on the climate. Support cap and trade to help end illegal immigration!

    This piece is so bad, you just can’t make this stuff up.

  21. wsbriggs says:
    July 28, 2010 at 2:22 pm
    “Among other questions, the whole study begs the question, at what altitude were the crops being grown? If the 1/3 with positive correlation were at high altitude (were all other things being equal, we would expect lower temperatures), and the 2/3rds at low altitude, the one could reasonably expect that increasing temperatures would cause distress in the plants, were all other things equal.”
    Altitude is not a big issue in Mexico, as it is in the Andean countries, especially Peru and Bolivia. Main problem in Mexico is water. H2O is in excess at the low-altitude South, where less than 1/3 of population lives, and scarce in the relatively higher elevation North where more than 2/3 inhabit. Watertables are descending throughout the North, and precipitation is lower. Current IPCC models predict reduced humidity in the North, thus mandating thorough modernization of irrigation systems to improve their efficiency (most commercial agriculture is in the North). This is indeed already taking place, and would undoubtedly keep proceeding in coming decades. Same is valid for the semiarid Brazilian Northwest, where drip irrigation and other pressurized irrigation systems have been driving the increase in irrigated area since the 1980s, quintupling that area in recent decades and with ample margin to continue improving water availability and the efficiency of water management (number of smallholder subsistence farmers and poor agricultural workers is also declining there: Brazil would be 94% urban by 2050, and more than that by 2100; fortunately, more than half of the Northeast, in fact the most populated part, is expected to enjoy increased precipitation as a result of IPCC-predicted climate change).

  22. This is news? Food supply has been a major driver of migration since time began. And not just for people. Think bison for example. Or any other critter. Animals fight over food and water. I see it on a daily basis in my front yard. Duh.

  23. Ah… another great example of ‘stupid farmer’ syndrome!

    In the real world if the local weather regime changes, so do the crops. This is first done by changing the variety grown, but if the regime change becomes drastic, the different species of crop will be grown.

    I live in the country and know many farmers who are very good at making these decisions – their livelihood depends on it. Stupid farmers do not survive for long!

    As ever, the cargo cult science of CAGW thinks nothing will change in the future and people will continue doing exactly what they do now. However, history shows we have always adapted to survive and we will continue to do this in the future.

  24. Sigh, I just got through reading the writings of people obviously not familiar with agriculture, or immigration, and apparently a fairly sparse knowledge of the effects of warming on plant life in general or in history.

    The immigration from Mexico wouldn’t have other factors such as, uhmm, I don’t know, maybe BECAUSE THE ENTIRE SOCIAL FABRIC OF THEIR SOCIETY IS CRUMBLING UNDER THE WEIGHT OF THE DRUG LORDS!!!???!!! They are literally, in broad daylight, executing police officers. There is such a wanton disregard for authority and law in so many places, it is a small wonder people are trying to escape their country.

    There are so many flaws in the paper, I don’t think its worth the time to go over them all. I’ve already spent more time on this than it warrants. I honestly don’t know how hot it has to be to thwart crop yields, but we haven’t got anywhere close to that. CO2 causes plant growth. Immigration occurs for many reasons, but I’m trying to think of one instance where a large segment of a population moved to cooler climates in forms of migration or immigration in search of a cooler climate……nope, can’t think of a one. Perhaps there is an example out there somewhere, I’d be interested if someone could come up with one example.

    Perhaps they were counting on the fictional droughts caused by warming? I’m not sure. Low crop yields would cause an individual to move from farming to a different line of work, but unless there are food shortages in Mexico(I’m not aware of any.), why do these twits think people would move because a farmer had a bad couple of years? I could go on and on, but it’s back to work for me.

  25. During an ice age I would think Mexico would be a fine place to go. Who would want to go north. Oops, must be another one of those hoax postings by some hoaxing scientists.

    Unless we USA taxpayers pay zillions to the hoax God we will be inundated with Mexicans. Are they making threats now?

  26. Alex the skeptic said: So where will Californians migrate to?

    Ahhh….that would be the land of Oz.

  27. Q//But his general claims were often a “post-normal science” abomination, and his scientific work (as in the present instance) was sometimes very slipshod.//unQ

    call it as was.. Political activism. It has nothing to do with science. Science is merely the new political weapon of choice.
    regards

  28. someone posted on an earlier thread louise gray/UK Telegraph piece on the State of the Climate Report, which is now all over the MSM. the Australian manages to bring the Oppenheimer/Mexican “story” into their coverage:

    29 July: Australian: AP: Global warming undeniable, say scientists
    Compiled by more than 300 scientists from 48 countries, the report said its analysis of 10 indicators that are “clearly and directly related to surface temperatures, all tell the same story: Global warming is undeniable”…
    The new report, the 20th in a series, focuses only on global warming and does not specify a cause…
    A study by Princeton University researchers released on Monday suggested that continued warming could cause as many as 6.7 million more Mexicans to move to the United States because of drought affecting crops in their country…

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/breaking-news/global-warming-undeniable-say-scientists/story-fn3dxity-1225898240544

    while Fiona inserts claims humans are causing the warming, even tho the Report states no such thing:

    28 July: Financial Times UK: Fiona Harvey:
    Peter Stott, of the UK’s Met Office, which contributed to the NOAA report, said the data showed clearly human influence over the climate…
    Myles Allen, of Oxford University, said it was clear from the accumulated work of climate scientists that greenhouse gases were the problem. He said: “Climategate never really brought climate science into question at all.”…

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/77bc6952-9a7b-11df-87fd-00144feab49a.html

  29. I am sorry but when I first saw this study I saw RED. People are being purposefully run off their farms, starved to death and Dr. Stephen Schneider has the gall to try and link the problem to a few degrees change in temperature when the real cause is KNOWN????

    The problem IS NOT temperature it is The World Trade Organization Agreement on Agriculture and NAFTA.

    Mexican farmers were driven off the land by international trade agreements not by temperature changes. To actually understand the problem you need to realize all the repercussions of the “free trade” agreements.

    Former US president Bill Clinton admits that the US ‘free trade’ policy has forced millions of people in third world countries into poverty and starvation.

    “Today’s global food crisis shows we all blew it, including me when I was president, by treating food crops as commodities instead of as a vital right of the world’s poor, Bill Clinton has told a UN gathering.

    Clinton took aim at decades of international policymaking by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and others, encouraged by the US, that pressured Africans in particular into dropping government subsidies for fertiliser, improved seed and other farm inputs, in economic “structural adjustments” required to win northern aid. Africa’s food self-sufficiency subsequently declined and food imports rose.

    “Food is not a commodity like others,” Clinton said. “We should go back to a policy of maximum food self-sufficiency. It is crazy for us to think we can develop countries around the world without increasing their ability to feed themselves.” [November 2008]

    In the dozens of countries where the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank have imposed structural adjustment programs (SAPs), the people who have seen deterioration in their standards of living, reduced access to public services, devastated environments, and plummeting employment prospect

    More recently:

    I wish I could tell you this was an April Fools joke. I really do.
    “About a month ago [April 2010] Bill Clinton sat in congress and admitted that he played a vital part in the willful destruction of the agricultural base of Haiti in order to “relieve them of the burden of producing their own food so they could leap right into the industrial revolution“. Not only does he try to pass off their neoliberalization scheme as a “mistake” but he admits it was really only good for ”some of my farmers (subsidized rice farmers) in Arkansas“….”

    Here is the nitty gritty on what has actually happened in Mexico thanks to President Clinton’s attack on wold farming through NAFTA and the World Trade Organizations Agreement on Agriculture.

    “According to a study by Jose Romero and Alicia Puyana carried out for the federal government of Mexico, between 1992 and 2002, the number of agricultural households fell an astounding 75% – from 2.3 million to 575, 000…..

    The vacuum created by retreat of the Mexican state from agriculture was filled by large US and Mexican agribusiness. In the post-NAFTA period the bulk of FDI in agricultural sector has been in the agri-business and agro-processing rather than agriculture[15]. As a result a few large trans-national agribusiness firms, mostly US and Mexican, dominate storage, flour milling, grain trading[16] and meat processing. Put differently they dominate the intermediation chain that takes crop or cattle and makes it a marketable commodity. Transnational agribusiness has used this dominant position and a process of vertical and horizontal integration to establish an overwhelming presence in the market for wheat, rice, corn, soya, poultry, meat, pork and eggs….

    There has been a significant increase in migration out of rural areas as livelihoods are lost and farms have been abandoned. The hope was that this migration out of low-productivity agriculture would be absorbed into higher-productivity non-agrarian urban employment. But anemic employment growth in the post-NAFTA period, particularly in manufacturing[20], put paid to that…..To put this in context between 1994 and 2004, Mexico’s labour force grew by approximately 1 million annually[25]. So effectively today Mexico imports food from the USA and exports farmers and agricultural labour.

    It is not just the fact that Mexico’s small and marginal farmers have borne the brunt of the adjustment of Mexican agriculture’s integration into global markets. The spike in food prices in the last couple of years has put enormous pressure on its BOP and the agricultural trade deficit that had begun narrowing has widened sharply,….price increases has meant that import costs of oilseeds, milk, eggs, meat and meat products has increased significantly. At the same time prices for most of Mexico’s agricultural exports such as fruits and vegetables have either stagnated or declined.

    In many ways therefore, despite the strides in agricultural exports, Mexico’s NAFTA based transnational agri-business driven agricultural strategy must be deemed a failure. Food production has stagnated, cultivated area under food production has declined and the underinvestment that has characterized Mexican agriculture in the 1980s has not been reversed. The problem of food security has reappeared and because of large migration of farmers and farm labour to USA, depleting the rural countryside of the human resources it requires for an agrarian revival, even if public policy chose to focus on it…

    …it is important to remember that 95 percent of the world small and marginal farmers live in poor, developing countries and that 75% of the world’s poor survive on agriculture. For developing countries therefore the key to both food security and livelihood security is the ability to protect small and marginal farmers from unfair competition…[There are] 450 million small and marginal farmers (globally)…” http://www.countercurrents.org/mohanty230608.htm

    Other Reading:

    Food Security, Farming, CAFTA and the WTO

    Undermining Abundance: The Big Business of Creating Scarcity

    History, the International HACCP regs and Food

    Stolen harvest: the hijacking of the global food supply

  30. Will this Mexican migration be as swift and overwhelming as the migration of those fleeing rising sea levels?

  31. This reminds me of the Dept of Agricultures Plant Zone Maps. Because of global warming, they have been inching up the temp zones a little each year.
    Saying things like “soon we’ll be growing palm trees in New York”, “bananas in Cleveland” etc

    There are a whole lot of people that are really ticked off after this past winter.

  32. Willis:

    RE: Yield

    One does not harvest areas that do not grow anything due to drought or flood or other weather conditions such as early snows destroying crops which did grow. However, one does not harvest areas due to other situations such as war, drug wars or any other possibility which may prevent harvest of crops which did grow, that is non – weather related. Tough call as to how to look at the data but it must be considered in the same manner throughout not with different definitions of yield intermittent in the analysis. Total production is the issue but one must know when WEATHER was an issue as opposed to some other factor if we are talking about climate causing migrations of people.

  33. Slightly and knowingly OT:
    [snip]

    [reply] This is a science blog, and though your post is not unreasonable, it may sidetrack the topic into a non-science controversial area. Sorry. RT-mod

  34. These people are always trying to connect global warming to the latest “issue” – this is a typical technique that propagandists use and an easy way to identify them.

  35. This is not the first time I saw the climate scienits/media spin blame global warming for the results of big Ag aggression.

    On October 11, 2009 the Guardian UK published a story titled “Food, famine & climate change: India’s scorched earth” They go on to recount a story of a widow whose husband committed suicide by drinking pesticide. “Suicide is the latest epidemic among farming communities as climate change parches the heart of India, destroying agriculture and plunging the poorest families into crippling debt….” http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/oct/11/food-climate-change-famine-india

    Again the story is an out right lie, leaving out the real facts:
    The suicides are not a one off caused by a drought in one season.

    Farmer suicides in India: “Now the full toll—surely among the largest sustained waves of suicides in human history—is becoming apparent. And as Sainath emphasizes, these numbers still underestimate the disaster, since women farmers are excluded from the official statistics… It is important that the figure of 150,000 farm suicides is a bottom line estimate…. As Professor Nagaraj puts it: “There is likely to be a serious underestimation of suicides…what has driven the huge increase in farm suicides, particularly in the Big Four or ’Suicide SEZ’ States? “Overall,” says Professor Nagaraj, “there exists since the mid-90s, an acute agrarian crisis. That’s across the country. In the Big Four and some other states, specific factors compound the problem…. Cultivation costs have shot up in these high input zones, with some inputs seeing cost hikes of several hundred per cent… Meanwhile, prices have crashed, as in the case of cotton, due to massive U.S.-EU subsidies to their growers. All due to price rigging with the tightening grip of large corporations over the trade in agricultural commodities. http://alternatives-international.net/article1394.html

    http://www.counterpunch.org/sainath02122009.html

    As far as I am concerned this is akin to murder. President Clinton, Dan Amstutz (who wrote the agreement) the members of Congress who voted for it, and the climate scientists who are busy hiding the real cause – the rigged “free trade agreements” – are morally responsible.

  36. Willis: good job, as usual.

    This is similar to another study, which IIRC, showed that Irish potato production was falling with increased temperatures.

    While the potato harvest was declining, the authors did not look at the total harvest, which was increasing. In other words, while potato production had fallen, total food production had increased over the time studied.

    My Spanish is not good enough to tell, but are other agriculture products on that site?

  37. I hardly think Mexicans need the weather to inspire a move to the USA. Obama and the courts are doing the job already.

  38. Gail Combs says:
    July 28, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Dang Gail, now you’ve got me seeing RED! I knew some of that but….. WOW!
    Yeah, we sure do need more government – – don’t we?
    “In this particular crisis, government isn’t the solution to the problem, government IS the problem!”
    And looking back over the issues cover here, what percentage of the cases is THAT the cause? Far to many….

  39. This a wonderful piece. The complaints about Schneider’s work becomes really quite lyrical. Oh, by the way, having grown up on a working farm, I can explain the difference between “planted” and “harvested.” Farmers report what they planted because that information goes into the government’s Soil Bank and is relevant for government subsidies. They report what they harvested because you have to harvest a minimum amount to keep your property in the Soil Band subsidy program. The fact that they planted more than they harvested does not say anything about the success of the crops. They might not harvest a field that they planted because prices for that crop fell, because they had made enough on other fields, the truck broke, they decided to sell the crop on the side of a highway, they got bored, a better opportunity presented itself, and many other reasons. In other words, if you know anything about farming, you know that the information under “planted” is totally worthless.

  40. I think Michael Oppenheimer believes that he can appeal to the Tea Partiers by linking global warming to an increased flow of illegal immigrants from third world countries. You can see that politics is not exactly his thing.

  41. You really have to dis-entangle the political and economic forces in Mexico from a simple agriculture-climate relationship to predict emigration. People certainly will follow calories if they are starving, but starvation so often results from repressive governmental policies. Mexico’s social stratification and criminal enterprises also exacerbate the normal stresses of farming. You have to parcel out all the factors to have a hope of saying anything meaningful. If it were the product of a young scholar, this analysis would look suspiciously like resume-padding.

  42. US farming efficiency will put Mexican corn out of business and cause a flood of immigrants way before global warming, in fact this is what is already happening. And GMO pollen won’t help the heirloom varieties either especially if any GMO company were to bring in lawyers to stop seed saving claiming to poor farmers that their seed is the company’s intellectual property after polluting it lol

  43. “As the poet said,

    Each man’s death diminishes me,

    For I am involved in mankind.”

    Suit yourself, but I prefer Clarence Darrow’s aphorism: “I’ve never killed a man, but I’ve read many an obituary with a great deal of satisfaction.”

  44. Thank you, Willis, for your continued excellent work in debunking flawed studies. Any immigration study that ignores developing nation population growth is seriously myopic. Mexico currently has 110 million population but is creating jobs for slightly less that half of the yearly increase. The long term birth rate in Mexico is 20 per 1000 or 2%, so the population gain is 2,000,000 persons per year, of which there is no jobs created for 1,000,000. Those one million unemployed persons per year need to find work to survive and look northward. By 2080, at the 2% growth rate, Mexico’s population will be 4 times what it is now. There will be 4,000,000 new jobless with their eyes turned to the north each year.

    It will not be global warming that causes Mexicans to immigrate but overcrowding, lack of jobs, lack of irrigation water, lack of arable land and lack of money to buy fertilizer to grow corn that will cause the mass exodus to the north. There are two potential solutions to the problem: 1) increased purchasing of maquiladoras produced products by the US and Canada and 2) iron fisted birth control programs by the Mexican government. The first solution may be somewhat possible but the second will be exceedingly difficult.

  45. pax says:
    July 28, 2010 at 2:09 pm (Edit)

    I dunno, call me stupid but if you’re going to investigate climate impact on crop production it seems reasonable to see how much crop you get relative to what you have sowed. I guess the idea is that pythons, floods, droughts and what not destroys crop production. Why would you harvest a field which was destroyed? But obviously, given the definition of yield, they should have used another word.

    There are many non-climatic reasons that crops are not harvested. These include such prosaic things as fire, locusts, bad seed, plant diseases, and business failure of the farmer. Why would you want to include the area of production destroyed by non-climate disasters in a study of climate?

  46. It’ probably possible to write a pervasive paper that “Global Warming” causes ordinarily sane politicians to act in insane ways, but who would fund it ?

  47. “All’s fair in love and war.” (We tend to frequently forget that some among us do not think the same way we do. And that there are who some among the ‘some’ do not think the same way most of the ‘some’ think. It’s a ‘Bell Curve’ thing.)

    Was this an honest ‘mistake’ with the column of source data used? Doubtful.
    Was is intentional misinformation designed to ‘further the cause’? Probable.
    What’s the trade off? Most real ‘scientists’ don’t care, and won’t say anything; the lie further’s the cause in a ‘big’ way; the Eschenbach’s and WUWT’s of the world are little ‘pests’ that won’t really make even a dent in the lie.
    Decision? Publish! Publish! Publish!

    On With The Revolution! All’s fair in love and war!

    PS: We might be taking too much water from the Colorado river. California is really way too big for it’s britches. Maybe if we took the Colorado water we send to California and gave it to Mexico we could stop all this border crossing stuff. (But maybe the Drug Lords of Mexico will just grow more Pot too; hard to know what to do, ain’t it? Life’s a beach. Always changing, always the same.)

  48. Milwaukee Bob says:
    July 28, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Dang Gail, now you’ve got me seeing RED! I knew some of that but….. WOW!
    Yeah, we sure do need more government – – don’t we?
    “In this particular crisis, government isn’t the solution to the problem, government IS the problem!”
    And looking back over the issues cover here, what percentage of the cases is THAT the cause? Far to many….
    ______________________________________________________
    What most people do not see, and will not until it is too late, is that Mexico and India are not unique. There is an under the radar war going on over the control of the world food supply. “Free Trade Agreements” World Bank/IMF SAPs, patenting of animals, government regulations, traceability and “international harmonization” of laws are the weapons being used to remove our god given right to grow our own food.

    For example there was a tooth and nail fight over HR875 last spring in the USA.

    HR 875 included this.
    “in any action to enforce the requirements of the food safety law, the connection with interstate commerce required for jurisdiction SHALL BE PRESUMED TO EXIST.”
    The fact you are growing veggies for you and your family does not exclude you from the oversight of the US government!!!

    The Commerce Clause:
    A farmer, Mr. Filburn, grew wheat for his own use. “The government claimed that if Mr. Filburn grew wheat for his own use, he would not be buying it — and that affected interstate commerce” The Supreme court found against the farmer!!!

    http://www.fff.org/freedom/0895g.asp

    The “food safety bills” (there is more than one) will require US farmers to treat their farms as drug manufacturing plants with all the paper work and red tape that entails. A farmer in the UK said the paperwork takes over 60% of his time. The EU has managed to rid Portugal of 60% of their farmers. http://www.i-sis.org.uk/savePolishCountryside.php

    If you want to see the model for the regulations, the UN/WTO international “Guide to Good Farming Practices” is: http://www.oie.int/boutique/extrait/25berlingueri823836_0.pdf

    When you read it think of a subsistance farmer in Africa or South America or India. Heck think of Granny or your daughter having to tag their chickens or pony and report to the US government within 24 hours every time the animal leaves or enters your property. (NAIS -animal traceability) We have been fighting that law (NAIS) in the USA too. Australia, Canada and the EU already lost that battle.

    Unfortunately all the independent farmers will be driven from their land: the land will be bought up by one of the ten big Ag transnational corporations: all the laws against individuals growing food will be in place (think drugs): and only then will the food prices be jacked out of sight. But of course by then it will be too late.

    Welcome to the New Age of Colonization but this time it is the large corporations doing the colonizing and our land, property and labor the target.

  49. Got a news flash for these ivory tower nimrods: 10% of the Mexican-born population already lives in the US. And if the current rate of immigration continues, Mexico will run out of humans to export long before 2080 rolls around.

  50. On the other hand, if recent predictions that global cooling is in the offing are correct, then I suppose Mexico will be forced, in the near future, to produce copious amounts of CO2 to counteract the cooling so as to keep illegal American immigrants from flooding South across Mexico’s northern border. Some global cooling responses will surely include:

    -A Mexico City based CO2 floor-and-trade exchange.
    -A vast demand for CO2 generators that will dot the Mexican landscape
    -A blockbuster film entitled “Another Inconvenient Truth.”
    -Another Nobel prize for Mr. Gore
    -Vast sums of money for research by Mexican universities into AGC.
    -A complete revision of American textbooks to warn grade-school students of Gaia’s peril due to reckless use of low carbon renewable energy sources.
    -A U. N. administered “CO2 Miser Tax” on those countries that don’t produce enough CO2.
    -Foreign aid by Mexico to the U. S. so that America can develop its own CO2 generation capability.

    Time for the prescient investor to get in on the “ground floor.”

  51. It looks like a play to capture the hearts and minds of people who are worried about immigration – but on the other hand, we need to praise the authors for their transparency.

  52. grzejnik says:
    July 28, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    …. And GMO pollen won’t help the heirloom varieties either especially if any GMO company were to bring in lawyers to stop seed saving claiming to poor farmers that their seed is the company’s intellectual property after polluting it lol
    ___________________________________________
    Yes they are already finding banned GMO genes in Mexican corn. Monsanto and the other transnationals are grabbing as many seed varieties as the can get their hands on. There is the “Global Diversity Treaty” that allows big Ag to patent the varieties and then go after the farmers for using “saved seed” containing the “patented” genes.

    REFERENCES:
    FAO is supporting harmonization of seed rules and regulations

    Global Diversity Treaty: Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA) a standardized contract that will enable much easier access to crop diversity. [ germplasm for patenting] royalty payment (1.1% of sales) is paid only if product is unavailable for further breeding and research. Funds will be devoted to conservation efforts. Translation: Bio-techs Corporations steal seed from third world farmers, patents it and pay money to Bioversity International

    Monsanto, Cargill and Maseca-ADM establish regional seed banks in Mexico

    ICAR: International Animal Patenting

  53. I thought this article was in bad taste. There was really no need to speak ill of schneider so often. I would hope that after the author of this article passes on that there are not bloggers out there getting in digs at him when really there was no need to do so. A paper was found to be erroneous: end of story. No need for the sarcasm “he probably pets puppies” or the post-mortem attacks.

  54. Milwaukee Bob says:
    July 28, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Gail Combs says:
    July 28, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    “Dang Gail, now you’ve got me seeing RED! I knew some of that but….. WOW!
    Yeah, we sure do need more government – – don’t we?
    “In this particular crisis, government isn’t the solution to the problem, government IS the problem!”
    And looking back over the issues cover here, what percentage of the cases is THAT the cause? Far to many….”

    Government is not reason, it is not eloquent, like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.———-(Apologies to George Washington if I missed a word or two.)…..I believe we’re in the “fearful master” stage.

    Yes, we all know it isn’t climate change that brings us the immigrants. Specifically from Mexico, it is the governments on both sides of the border. Both incompetent and ineffectual in their own unique way. NAFTA, the WTO, and the UN, all steps in one direction. Of course, there are other steps being taken. The IPCC, being an extension of the UN is just another step. It is the advocacy papers such as this one we’re commenting on (and the others referenced here) that shakes my faith that we’ll eventually run these global totalitarians off the planet or hunt them down like the mad dogs they are.

  55. “we find a significant effect of climate-driven changes in crop yields on the rate of emigration to the United States.”

    So, there is a statistically signifigant correlation between illegal immigration and climate change? We’d better put a stop to that immigration immediately!

  56. I suppose this would be one of the easiest and fastest ways to get a country to turn socialist too……………

  57. wws says:
    July 28, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    “As the poet said,

    Each man’s death diminishes me,

    For I am involved in mankind.”

    Suit yourself, but I prefer Clarence Darrow’s aphorism: “I’ve never killed a man, but I’ve read many an obituary with a great deal of satisfaction.”
    _________________________________________________________________
    I also prefer Clarence Darrow’s aphorism. My thoughts about Dan Amstutz are about the same as those about people I can not mention on this website. If the international agreements and US laws he wrote are not rescinded his death toll may well be similar to those people but will be stretched over years and uncounted.

    I am a capitalist but this pretty much sums up good old Dan The Rat in the Grain

    Connection between Goldman & Sachs and DAN G. AMSTUTZ

  58. If I’m right in thinking that the key point to the paper was to highlight the indirect danger to crops from climate change (caused by our CO2 increases), surely a more damaging study would research the direct effect on crop yields if we were reducing atmospheric CO2… although they would probably only conclude an increase in ‘rare crop’ site-seeing tourism.

  59. Robert says:
    July 28, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    I thought this article was in bad taste. There was really no need to speak ill of schneider so often. I would hope that after the author of this article passes on that there are not bloggers out there getting in digs at him when really there was no need to do so. A paper was found to be erroneous: end of story. No need for the sarcasm “he probably pets puppies” or the post-mortem attacks.
    _________________________________________________________________-
    Robert, This is war although very few recognize it because it is a war without borders.
    I can speak with admiration for “enemies” such as Robert E. Lee or Erwin Rommel but there are others I can not and those who intentionally support the starvation of children by falsifying studies such as Dan Amstutz are among them.

  60. “Obviously, something happened in Baja in 2004 that wiped out most of the corn crop.”

    Not necessarily, since NAFTA the practice of dumping excess US corn production into Mexico is common. No point in harvesting a crop without a buyer.

    US manufacturing jobs may have moved to Mexico, but Mexican farming jobs moved to the US.

  61. Michael Jankowski says:
    July 28, 2010 at 3:30 pm
    “Will this Mexican migration be as swift and overwhelming as the migration of those fleeing rising sea levels?”

    You mean the 0.3-0.5 millimeters/year of sea level rise envisaged by the IPCC for this century, just above the 0.2 mm/year of the 20th century? A fearsome disaster!! Would drive millions away from the coasts and into the hinterland, and submerge most great cities. The end is nigh.

  62. Well done, Willis. Still keeping ‘em honest…well, no, but at least exposing their dishonesty.

  63. Ref – Robert says:
    July 28, 2010 at 5:10 pm
    “I thought this article was in bad taste.”
    ___________________________________
    No, not at all. We always reap what we sow, even after we’ve gone on to the Happy Hunting Grounds. Dr. Stephen Schneider will long be remembered for his ‘accomplishments’, ‘failures’, and ‘methods'; and so will we all. Sorry if you think he’s getting more than he deserves, I haven’t heard or seen anything that even approaches what he deserves (IMHO).

    May he learn from the mistakes of this life and one day return to do better. How’s that for empathy?

  64. Michael Jankowski says:
    July 28, 2010 at 3:30 pm
    “Will this Mexican migration be as swift and overwhelming as the migration of those fleeing rising sea levels?”
    _________________________
    Hector M. says:
    July 28, 2010 at 5:39 pm
    You mean the 0.3-0.5 millimeters/year of sea level rise envisaged by the IPCC for this century, just above the 0.2 mm/year of the 20th century? A fearsome disaster!! Would drive millions away from the coasts and into the hinterland, and submerge most great cities. The end is nigh
    ____________________________
    That must be why Al Gore bought his seaside mansion in the home of the earthquakes…

  65. Stephen Schneider couldn’t have passed blacklist and faux science manuscripts at PNAS without Ralph Cicerone opening the door.

  66. PNAS has now completely jumped the shark. If the authors had attempted to explain why acres harvested were so much lower than acres planted, maybe they would have an interesting study. Without that, though, it’s just fantasizing. Yield is, and always has been, measured by how much you harvest relative to the size of the area harvested. There is no other acceptable way of measuring it. Otherwise you are incorporating discontinuous factors (fire, mechanical failures, etc.) into what should be a measure of continuous effects (weather, cropping practices, soil fertility, plant strains, etc.). If the description of this study is accurate, it is the result of contemptible distortionary practices on the part of the authors.

  67. Heh, I was wondering about Central America and the northern parts of South America. Will those populations migrate north into Mexico?

  68. Phil R says:
    July 28, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    Heh, I was wondering about Central America and the northern parts of South America. Will those populations migrate north into Mexico?
    _______________________________________________________
    They already are.

    The only reason you do not notice is because:
    1. Mexico has much tighter border control than the USA so there is not quite as much of a flood.

    2. Most Americans can not tell the difference between Mexicans and others. Many of my customers are Spanish speaking and have a variety of homelands including Spain.

  69. Just spitballing here but…

    2007 was teh warmest year since the time the Rio Grande emptied into Africa

    2007 was teh largest corn production year in teh US since teh Mehicans invented maize

    2007 two billion bushels of US corn (20% of total US crop) used for alcohol production up from 0.2 billion bushels in 2000 and (go figure) we’re still as dependent on foreign tequila as ever

    2007 price of corn in Mexico half what it was in 1994 due to NAFTA passage flooding their market with cheap US corn causing 1.3 million small farmers in Mexico to go belly up

    Conclusion is obvious:

    Don’t drive when you can drink!

    Or something like that…

    Obvious!

  70. Robert says:
    July 28, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    I thought this article was in bad taste. There was really no need to speak ill of schneider so often. I would hope that after the author of this article passes on that there are not bloggers out there getting in digs at him when really there was no need to do so. A paper was found to be erroneous: end of story. No need for the sarcasm “he probably pets puppies” or the post-mortem attacks.

    “No need to speak ill of Schneider?” What planet are you from? Schneider and his actions have done untold damage to science. Perhaps you would like to ignore that or sweep it under the rug. Me, not so much. You want to construct a hagiography, that’s your choice, you can pretend he deserved respect. I’d prefer to remind people of just who Schneider really was, an activist politician poorly disguised as a scientist. He not only damaged science when he was alive, he has reached out from the grave with his final paper to continue doing so, making alarmist claims based on shoddy math.

    Finally, if bloggers want to diss me when I’m dead, fine. They diss me plenty when I’m alive … what’s the difference?

  71. harrywr2 says:
    July 28, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    “Obviously, something happened in Baja in 2004 that wiped out most of the corn crop.”

    Not necessarily, since NAFTA the practice of dumping excess US corn production into Mexico is common. No point in harvesting a crop without a buyer.

    US manufacturing jobs may have moved to Mexico, but Mexican farming jobs moved to the US.

    Yes, that’s one of the more common reasons for not harvesting, simply because the price is too low. As I said above, including those kinds of events by using “area planted” in a study of the effect of climate on crops merely makes your results less accurate.

  72. Robert Kral says:
    July 28, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    PNAS has now completely jumped the shark. If the authors had attempted to explain why acres harvested were so much lower than acres planted, maybe they would have an interesting study. Without that, though, it’s just fantasizing. Yield is, and always has been, measured by how much you harvest relative to the size of the area harvested. There is no other acceptable way of measuring it. Otherwise you are incorporating discontinuous factors (fire, mechanical failures, etc.) into what should be a measure of continuous effects (weather, cropping practices, soil fertility, plant strains, etc.). If the description of this study is accurate, it is the result of contemptible distortionary practices on the part of the authors.

    I was with you up to the last sentence. I don’t know whether what they did was an honest mistake or “contemptible distortionary practice”. Given the shoddy general state of climate science, a mistake is far from improbable.

    Since I don’t know what caused the error, and since a mistake is quite possible (particularly since the source data is in Spanish) I’m sticking with “foolish mistake” until otherwise notified.

  73. Pat Frank says:
    July 28, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Stephen Schneider couldn’t have passed blacklist and faux science manuscripts at PNAS without Ralph Cicerone opening the door.

    I don’t know enough about the inner workings of the PNAS to know if that is true or not. I have read that NAS members can submit a manuscript to PNAS which does not have to pass the regular peer review. I’m not aware if Ralph Cicerone is involved in the process or not. However, you are correct that Cicerone is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  74. Willis Eschenbach says:
    July 28, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    “There are many non-climatic reasons that crops are not harvested. These include such prosaic things as fire, locusts, bad seed, plant diseases, and business failure of the farmer. Why would you want to include the area of production destroyed by non-climate disasters in a study of climate?”

    I side with pax and the authors on this one. Why exclude crop failures due to droughts, hail and floods when doing a climate study. Surely the majority of non-harvested crops are due to natural effects like this. You may get an overly rosy picture by excluding such failures, and should look closely at the reasons for them before dismissing them all in bulk in case you have missed major droughts, for example.

  75. This freeway road sign has been in use in the San Diego area for many, many years. It is so iconic that T-shirts are sold with the image.

    And here are the poor Mexican farmers entering the U.S.

    The problem predates the current administration [watch the background evidence of desperate farmers escaping the Mexican climate holocaust].

    Even as the poor Mexican farmers emigrate, they take their cultural values with them.

    Amazingly, Mexico is plagued by climate change much more than other countries.

    Poor Mexican farmers. Only Dr Stephen Schneider surely understood their plight.

    Good deconstruction job as usual, Willis. Editor Schneider’s paper was total crap, as he certainly should have known.

  76. With all the Mexicans illegally crossing our southern borders, the number of farm workers in Mexico will decrease, which in turn will decrease Mexico’s food supply, which will cause more migration, which will …… It looks like we’ve finally found the elusive AGW positive feedback.

  77. re; border transgressions

    My wife’s ancestors were, as she pointed out to me 30 years ago shortly after we met, living here (Texas) for 10,000 years before a boatload of my ancestors arrived on the Mayflower.

    So I says to her, tell me that in Spanish ya hot little tamale, it turns me on.

    Then she got mad. Her only language is the King’s English.

  78. gail combs –
    your link to goldman sachs/amstutz connection is not working properly, tho i was able to go to the homepage and do somesearching…

    btw perhaps someone can contact Diana Liverman?

    Arizona Daily Star: Climate change predicted to cause Mexican influx
    Diana Liverman, a University of Arizona climate researcher, criticized the new study for basing its forecasts in part on research that she worked on in the early 1990s that looked at crop yields in only two central Mexico sites.
    In reply, Oppenheimer said the Princeton study found similar results in a second crop-yield study, and the crop reductions predicted for Mexico are typical of what has been predicted for other countries in that latitude.
    Liverman said that while she believes climate change could cause widespread migration, she has seen no study documenting it. Having studied the problems of Mexican farmers for two decades, she said she has found that a bad economy, the government’s withdrawal of agricultural subsidies and the North American Free Trade Agreement have caused problems far greater than climate change.

    http://azstarnet.com/news/local/border/article_7a77f457-a50d-5c40-b26a-a8072befedfe.html

  79. One reason that there are so few hectares harvested in Baja though there are many planted is that drug farmers grow pot in between rows of corn. Drug rivals and DEA raids burn these fields to the ground, thus no harvest is possible.

    Now, since most illegals coming across the border are mules carrying drugs, it stands to reason that the more hectares that are planted as “corn” but are in reality marijuana, there will be greater need for more mules to carry the larger pot crop, hence you get more illegals when drug gangs have higher yields of marijuana….

  80. In the movie HOOSIERS, during the state chanpionship game an early time-out is called because the protagonist team (the Huskers) is getting whupped. As the players reach the bench, one of the players says: “This is embarrassing!” If I were a member of the AGW team (the Hucksters), that’s how I’d feel after reading the PNAS paper “proving” cause and effect between global warming and Mexican northern migration. And for you AGWers who want to respond by saying: “Yeah but the Huskers won the game”, I have this response. The Huskers were coached by a reformed bully who taught fundamentals. The Hucksters are coached by a cadre of practicing bullies who wouldn’t know a fundamental if it bit them on the butt.

  81. Willis, I admire your generous impulse in calling this a mistake rather than deliberate distortion. But think of it this way: if they were writing an article involving measurements of blood pressure, and instead of the standard metrics of blood pressure they made up their own measurement, what would you call that? Honest mistake or hanky-panky?

  82. In a previous comment I erroneously referred to “0.3 to 0.5 mm/year of sea level rise envisaged by IPCC”. Sorry for that. It should have been 3 to 5 mm/year (about 30-50 cm per century). However, the rest of the comment stands.

  83. Jim D says:
    July 28, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    ….I side with pax and the authors on this one. Why exclude crop failures due to droughts, hail and floods when doing a climate study. Surely the majority of non-harvested crops are due to natural effects like this. You may get an overly rosy picture by excluding such failures, and should look closely at the reasons for them before dismissing them all in bulk in case you have missed major droughts, for example.
    ______________________________________________________
    Because you had better start determining exactly why each field was not harvested such as corn earworm (Helicoverpazea), fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda), black cutworm (Agrotis ipsilon), and western bean cutworm (Striacosta albicosta) larva, European corn borer, stalk rot or rootworm damage, not to mention the cows got out and munched their way through the field, the equipment is broken, you broke a leg…..

    (European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis) and corn root worm (Diabrotica sp), the most widespread and damaging insect pests of corn in the U.S. Corn Belt.)

    You can lose an entire field to any of these diseases or pests and in some cases, especially if insecticides and fungicides are not available, the only control may be to burn the field. I lost every single apple in my orchard to the Plum Cucurio. It is a big problem in fruit treas and can easily take 98% of the crop. You have a 24 hour window to spray for the plum cucurio or you lose the year’s crop. (I do not grow corn so I do not know if there are similar problems)

    That is why the yield per acre is used.

  84. @willis

    “Look, I don’t like to speak ill of the dead.”

    Must have been quite a painful experience writing this article then.

  85. Willis, another confounding factor is that the migrants are human beings, not ants. They get paid more and enjoy superior benefits harvesting US corn! Maybe the Baja corn was left behind by workers who went to harvest California corn.

  86. A fantastic “quote of the day” is made near the end of the article.
    “I don’t want scary scenarios from scientists, that’s why God made Hollywood and the BBC.”

  87. Jim D says:
    July 28, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    July 28, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    “There are many non-climatic reasons that crops are not harvested. These include such prosaic things as fire, locusts, bad seed, plant diseases, and business failure of the farmer. Why would you want to include the area of production destroyed by non-climate disasters in a study of climate?”

    I side with pax and the authors on this one. Why exclude crop failures due to droughts, hail and floods when doing a climate study. Surely the majority of non-harvested crops are due to natural effects like this.

    You generally want to exclude such catastrophic effects in most studies of gradual changes, regardless of their cause. This is particularly true when we have absolutely no idea whether the changes are climate related, or are due to low prices, equipment breakdowns, fires, labor strikes, lack of transportation, fungus-infested seeds, plant diseases, or other non-climate reasons.

    For example, if we want to see if a nutrition regime improves the speed of a sprinter, we would not want to include the times when the sprinter stumbles coming off the blocks. All that does is include erroneous noise.

    This is all ex post facto reasoning, however. If they wanted to use production / area planted instead of production / area harvested like everyone else on the planet uses, they needed to both point that out and justify their action. And to justify their actions, they would need to do more than simply make your claim that “Surely the majority of non-harvested crops are due to natural effects.” They would need to show how much of the catastrophic losses are caused by climate and how much are not.

    Since they did neither, I hold that it is in fact an error.

  88. Gail Combs says:
    July 28, 2010 at 8:51 pm
    “Because you had better start determining exactly why each field was not harvested such as corn earworm (Helicoverpazea), fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda), black cutworm (Agrotis ipsilon), and western bean cutworm (Striacosta albicosta) larva, European corn borer, stalk rot or rootworm damage, not to mention the cows got out and munched their way through the field, the equipment is broken, you broke a leg…..”

    Have you ruled out that pests/fungi can relate to climate in any way? Hint: how about pine bark beetle? Willis also didn’t want to include fires; not so sure about that one either. If the additional factors leading to non-harvesting were truly random, they would have destroyed rather than enhanced the correlations.

  89. Dave Springer says:
    July 28, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    re; border transgressions

    My wife’s ancestors were, as she pointed out to me 30 years ago shortly after we met, living here (Texas) for 10,000 years before a boatload of my ancestors arrived on the Mayflower.

    Yes, there are those who are descended from the early Asian immigrants … but we’re all immigrants on this continent.

  90. Thanks, Willis!

    According to my colleagues at University of Illinois, our state will probably be a net winner assuming AGW (increased temperatures & carbon dioxide concentrations) actually occurs. Therefore, your formula may be modified as follows:

    Climate Change —> Increased Illinois Crop Yields —> Migration to US

    Unlike many, I don’t have that many problems with the migration issue. My town is full of recent immigrants & they are decent folks. We just need to fix the process.

  91. Robert Kral says:
    July 28, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    Willis, I admire your generous impulse in calling this a mistake rather than deliberate distortion. But think of it this way: if they were writing an article involving measurements of blood pressure, and instead of the standard metrics of blood pressure they made up their own measurement, what would you call that? Honest mistake or hanky-panky?

    Robert, I see no evidence that they “made up their own measurement”. I think that they made a simple error and didn’t notice it. Honest (but foolish) mistake still gets my vote.

    I worked a good chunk of my life keeping the books for various companies. One problem that I have seen over and over is that spreadsheets and computers make everything look so good, so people get lazy. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve found major errors in critical spreadsheets with just a little bit of error trapping.

    This problem is endemic in climate science. The most egregious form is where some group puts together the latest whiz-bang data adjustment software for calculating global temperatures. Then it is tested on a few sites and applied to a few thousand sites … but the necessary quality control, where someone looks at every single site to make sure the program hasn’t done something stupid, somehow never gets done. Then we end up with things like the records in Darwin and Matanuska, where the adjustment makes absolutely no sense and follows no logic.

  92. I see that a couple of other authors have weighed in:

    Roger Pielke

    Lubos Motl

    I would note that neither they, nor anyone else I have read, has noticed the error with the yield. They point out a number of other idiocies in the paper, but they don’t get to the problem with the yield calculation. This is why my practice is to first replicate the work of the authors using the original data.

  93. Dave Springer says:
    July 28, 2010 at 9:15 pm
    @willis

    “Look, I don’t like to speak ill of the dead.”

    Must have been quite a painful experience writing this article then.

    Analyzing any of Stephen Schneider’s work is painful …

    Also, please note that I tried (obviously unsuccessfully) to distinguish between the man himself, and the destruction that he caused. He may have been a good guy, I don’t know, never met the man.

    But he did a lot of damage, and I have no intention of forgetting that just because he is dead.

  94. Ted Annonson says:
    July 28, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    A fantastic “quote of the day” is made near the end of the article.

    “I don’t want scary scenarios from scientists, that’s why God made Hollywood and the BBC.”

    Thanks, Ted, I was particularly happy with that line myself.

  95. Neo: July 28, 2010 at 4:39 pm
    It’s probably possible to write a pervasive paper that “Global Warming” causes ordinarily sane politicians to act in insane ways, but who would fund it ?

    You’d first need funding to find ordinarily-sane politicians — the only sane one we have in New Jersey is the governor.

  96. Fascinating … An obvious attempt to bring the radical right over to the side of the radical left. (Like that would ever happen.) Me? I like Mexicans. I’ve spent quite a lot of time in Mexico working with engineers, business people, even farmers. Salt of the earth and very smart hard-woring people.

    [Tongue in cheek.] I’m more worried about those damn Canadians. We’re highly dependent on their oil. We spend our precious dollars (which we partly earn by under-paying Mexicans) on buying oil from Canadians. We buy more oil from them then we do from anyplace else, even Mexico. And we buy more oil from Mexioc than we do from the Middle East. But those damn Canadians spend all our oil dollars on giving their children free health care, so they have pretty teeth and poofy hair, and a good education, so they have posh accents. Then they march those kids over our border to take all the GOOD “American” jobs. Jobs like TV news anchoring, acting (I repeat myself), running banks, etc. Heck, if it pays well, and requires good teeth and nice hair, there will be raft loads of those damn, suspiciously un-smelly, Canadians clamoring doing it.

    You never see a Canadian doing the super-important jobs like cleaning toilets, mowing lawns or building things. Mexican immigrants (many of whom aren’t actually Mexican ) will work hard for low pay. They’ll work even harder for a good wage. Just like the Native American, English, Irish, Italian, French, Pollish , Serbian, Croatian, German, etc., immigrans who cleaned the toilets before the Mexicans. Today we call us U.S. people.

    Plus, have you ever noticed how so many Canadians claim not to belive in global warming? Now we know why. They want warming to drive us up to their future balmy climate so we can clean their toilets. The bastards.

    : )

    – dT

  97. re: Gail Combs says: July 28, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    That must be why Al Gore bought his seaside mansion in the home of the earthquakes…
    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    Speaking of Al’s lovely seaside mansion… does anyone here know for sure if its beach side v cliff side? The latter rather puts a damper on our using it as evidence of his perfidy…. I dread the thought of mentioning it only to have someone reply, ya, but its 200 ft. up from the sea level on a cliff (doh!). Then I’d just have to look up the figures on the avg monthly electrical usage of his other mansion v. average homes – but I like the sea side one, if legit. Hum… wonder what the avg. electrical usage of his sea side mansion is?

  98. Willis post

    From this, it is clear that the authors of L2010 are not calculating the yield correctly. They have calculated the yield for Baja 2004 as 25 tonnes / 592 hectares planted = 0.04 tonnes/ha, a meaningless result. This is why yield is always calculated based on the area harvested, not based on the area planted. Obviously, something happened in Baja in 2004 that wiped out most of the corn crop. But for the remaining area, the yield was 25 tonnes / 10 hectares harvested = 2.5 tonnes/ha, not far from normal.

    ————-
    The point is: what drives the movement of people? If say 50 percent of farmers
    ion a region have no crop that year – will they stay because on a minority of farms
    the yield was average? Or will they take it more personally and consider migration?
    Perhaps unclear use of terms, but the argument can still be valid.

    average

  99. Jim D: July 28, 2010 at 10:07 pm
    Have you ruled out that pests/fungi can relate to climate in any way? Hint: how about pine bark beetle?

    I was gonna say something snarky about pine bark beetles and corn, but I’ll just observe that beetle infestations only explode in the absence of wildfires, which normally limit the population. And diseases usually only take hold in corn that’s been *drought* stressed, not heat stressed.

    Willis also didn’t want to include fires; not so sure about that one either.

    Smart move. Even GISS hasn’t predicted that AGW will cause wildfires to start ravaging corn fields.

    If the additional factors leading to non-harvesting were truly random, they would have destroyed rather than enhanced the correlations.

    You can pretty much count on a consistent amount of damage from corn pests. Even though the amount of damage they do each year will vary by individual species, the overall loss will be relatively constant, unless the population of one particular group explodes.

  100. Thanks, Willis, for your most important post.

    The no. 1 reason for giving the Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore and the Climatists in IPCC was:
    – that they exposed the threat to peace by immigrants fleeing their countries (in the developing world) to other countries (in the developed world) because of global warming.

    And thus, Al Gore and the Climatists made the world aware that it must work to keep the people where they are, thus avoiding war, famine, riots, etc. That would keep the world a better place.

    Therefore, in order to keep people where they are, there must be a transfer of wealth from developed countries to developing countries, and that’s where the carbon taxes come in.

    And all this must be controlled by a super-national force, which can only be the UN.

    Al Gore and the Climatists sounds like a popular 60s doo-wop group, doesn’t it?

    Willis attacks the reasoning at the heart of the matter with global warming. The thing is, the climatists know that in itself, global warming may not be dangerous. But the illegal immigration and the wars and the riots … ought to be avoided. Control, control!

  101. mikael pihlström says:
    July 29, 2010 at 1:09 am

    Willis post

    From this, it is clear that the authors of L2010 are not calculating the yield correctly. They have calculated the yield for Baja 2004 as 25 tonnes / 592 hectares planted = 0.04 tonnes/ha, a meaningless result. This is why yield is always calculated based on the area harvested, not based on the area planted. Obviously, something happened in Baja in 2004 that wiped out most of the corn crop. But for the remaining area, the yield was 25 tonnes / 10 hectares harvested = 2.5 tonnes/ha, not far from normal.

    ————-
    The point is: what drives the movement of people? If say 50 percent of farmers in a region have no crop that year – will they stay because on a minority of farmsthe yield was average? Or will they take it more personally and consider migration?

    Perhaps unclear use of terms, but the argument can still be valid.

    Again I say, you could make that argument. However, if you are trying to link climate change to migration as is their stated goal, it is useless (and actually counterproductive) to include other non-climate factors such as you suggest, particularly if those other factors have a big effect. All that does is add noise to the data and make the math less reliable.

    In any case, this is Monday-morning post justification of their actions. If they wanted to make that argument, they needed to a) say that’s what they were doing, b) justify it, and c) call it something other than yield. As they did none of those, I say it was a mistake. “Yield” is a well-known and clearly defined quantity. They claimed they were using yield. In fact they used something else.

    Perhaps the “something else” is more useful than yield, although I don’t think so in the context of the paper. But that’s not the point. They claimed to use yield, and didn’t use yield. Bad scientists, no cookies for them.

  102. Willis,
    Excellent work!
    This is the type of example of shoddy science I have been trying to fight in other areas.
    Cherry picking to make a point rather than follow ALL the variables to a TRUE conclusion.

    I would guess if the research was NOT to create sensationalism, it wouldn’t be published.

  103. Yesterday I put this story up on tips and notes hoping Willis Eschenbach would deal with it as I smelt a rat. Thank you Willis.

    I also found out one interesting fact which is that that Mexico was where the agricultural revolution started.

    “By 1963, 95 percent of Mexico’s wheat lands grew the new semi-dwarf seeds of the green revolution. The result: a harvest six times the 1944 level, the year Borlaug arrived in Mexico.

    Even Borlaug had trouble believing the adaptability of the new seed. Test plots around the world began to show similarly dramatic gains in yield. Climates from Sweden to Argentina would prove acceptable to the new seed. Borlaug had more than accomplished the goal of the Mexican project. Mexico was not only self-sufficient in wheat, it had grain to export. Mexican farmers, who a few years earlier didn’t know how to use fertilizer, became international seed dealers, supplying the green revolution in other countries.” http://www.agbioworld.org/biotech-info/topics/borlaug/minnesota.html

    Norman Borlaug and the agricultural revolution

    http://search.umn.edu/s/umnews/index.php?query=borlaug+mexico&x=21&y=13

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gb_fsKObiTI2Quwargw4snaBhKuAD9AM79R81

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/sci-tech/09-borlaug-father-of-green-revolution-dead–szh-04

  104. What bothers me the most about reports like this is the unstated assertion that some how humans can change the climate.

    If we scare enough people about the effects of climate change (nobody I know has ever denied that it is changing), then we can scare them into doing anything we want – like paying carbon taxes and sending money to all these third world nations, etc.

  105. Jim D says:
    July 28, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    …..Have you ruled out that pests/fungi can relate to climate in any way? Hint: how about pine bark beetle? Willis also didn’t want to include fires; not so sure about that one either. If the additional factors leading to non-harvesting were truly random, they would have destroyed rather than enhanced the correlations.
    ________________________________________________________________
    Then you have to start disentangling the El Nino, La Nina effects too.

    By the way, are you going to conclude the USA Dust Bowl of the 1930s was caused by “global warming” too??? The effect of “climate” on crops was devastating.

    “…The Dust Bowl got its name after Black Sunday, April 14, 1935. More and more dust storms had been blowing up in the years leading up to that day. In 1932, 14 dust storms were recorded on the Plains. In 1933, there were 38 storms. By 1934, it was estimated that 100 million acres of farmland had lost all or most of the topsoil to the winds. By April 1935, there had been weeks of dust storms, but the cloud that appeared on the horizon that Sunday was the worst. Winds were clocked at 60 mph. Then it hit.

    “The impact is like a shovelful of fine sand flung against the face,”..

    The impact of the Dust Bowl was felt all over the U.S…. one of FDR’s advisors, Hugh Hammond Bennett, was in Washington D.C. on his way to testify before Congress about the need for soil conservation legislation…. As a dusty gloom spread over the nation’s capital and blotted out the sun, Bennett explained, “This, gentlemen, is what I have been talking about.”

    The Dust Bowl had estimates of over 7,000 left dead from dust pneumonia and other dust related deaths. 2.5million left homeless, or forced to migrate.

    Gee shouldn’t we conclude that the dust bowl was caused by CO2 emmision – global warming??? But before you can do that you have to figure out what graphs to use.

    US temperature graphs:

    CO2 graph:

  106. Ray says:
    July 28, 2010 at 2:18 pm
    What about…
    Mexican Immigrants –> Bad US economy –> Mexicans go back to Mexico.


    Not only the economy but harsh new immigration laws. CLICK

    “This Thursday will mark day one of implementation of Arizona’s harsh new law that makes it a state crime to be in the state illegally. Not surprisingly, immigrants are fleeing the state, with reports of shops in heavily Latino areas being shuttered, immigrants purchasing large duffel bags for hasty departures, Latino children leaving schools and apartment buildings quickly being vacated. “

    /sarc on/ Global warming in Arizona is causing Mexicans to move south!!! / sarc off/
    One day you will all realise that it is the FUNDING of climate research that has utterly corrupted the scientific method. Why should WUWT always have to carry out the peer review process?

  107. First off Willis, as a USDA employee I can inform you that we consider yield/acres planted as a good parameter to distinguish crop loss resulting from insufficient water as opposed to crop loss resulting from incompetent production practices (for disaster payment determination. The reasoning is of the many possible explanations for yield loss described here and above (fertilization amount versus cost, insect infestation/damage, late planting, weed competition, improper variety selection, invalid soil preparation techniques, etc. etc. etc.), all of which are under the control of the operator/landowner, precipitation is most “highly likely” the only parameter resulting in yields reduced enough to forego harvesting. In other words, if you have a bad insect problem that is untreated, or don’t apply enough fertilizer, or plant too late because of laziness or wet soil, or plant a cultivar unfit for your soil, or plow the ground rather then other cultivation methods (productivity related to soil organic matter) or irrigate too much or too little, etc. etc., you will still get a yield that is cost effective to harvest. Absolute failures due to temperature are almost always associated with cold. An example of this association is high temperature during pollination (tasseling) can significantly reduce kernel set, but very rarely leads to abandonment. Therefore, since we know precipitation in the USA has increased during the last century, a better parameter to determine abandonment would be an association with precipitation. Is the data available for that? As an aside, evidence suggests that precipitation is also the parameter that is “highly likely” responsible for tree ring growth differences.

  108. Poor Schneider. He never did find that balance between selling ones’ scientific soul and simply telling the truth. Telling the truth is always much simpler.

  109. Gail Combs. my thanks for the brilliant info and links,
    and to Willis also, I got the msn9 link sent earlier on this among other insanities and was wild.
    your debunking is appreciated.

  110. pat: July 28, 2010 at 8:10 pm
    In reply, Oppenheimer said the Princeton study found similar results in a second crop-yield study, and the crop reductions predicted for Mexico are typical of what has been predicted for other countries in that latitude.
    Liverman said that while she believes climate change could cause widespread migration, she has seen no study documenting it.

    Continuing from http://azstarnet.com/news/local/border/article_7a77f457-a50d-5c40-b26a-a8072befedfe.html

    “Having studied the problems of Mexican farmers for two decades, she [Diana Liverman] said she has found that a bad economy, the government’s withdrawal of agricultural subsidies and the North American Free Trade Agreement have caused problems far greater than climate change.”

    Oppenheimer’s study used a computer model that used hotter and drier as the sole variable.

    “A statistical estimator, a tool that uses only the portion of variations in crop yields across states that is predicted by changes in climate (e.g., temperature and rainfall), was used to estimate the sensitivity of emigration to crop yields. Projections of the effect of climate change on crop yield in the future then were used to estimate future migration flows, assuming all other factors except climate would be unchanged.”

    http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S28/01/83M53/index.xml

  111. Willis says:
    “Perhaps the “something else” is more useful than yield, although I don’t think so in the context of the paper. But that’s not the point. They claimed to use yield, and didn’t use yield. Bad scientists, no cookies for them.”

    That was my point. If you plant 1000 acres but can only harvest 100 due to weather or war or whatever, you can still have a high yield but that misses the point. You need to look at acres planted for your yield number plus you need to know WHY the residual ares were not harvested before you talk about cause and effect. Yield as it is defined per acre harvested has no meaning in this analysis. Then, of course, the light year jump as to the cause of immigration is another problem.

  112. Willis Eschenbach says:
    July 28, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    Jim D says:
    July 28, 2010 at 7:50 pm
    ….
    I side with pax and the authors on this one. Why exclude crop failures due to droughts, hail and floods when doing a climate study. Surely the majority of non-harvested crops are due to natural effects like this.

    You generally want to exclude such catastrophic effects in most studies of gradual changes, regardless of their cause. This is particularly true when we have absolutely no idea whether the changes are climate related, or are due to low prices, equipment breakdowns, fires, labor strikes, lack of transportation, fungus-infested seeds, plant diseases, or other non-climate reasons.

    I’m no agricultural economist, but my inclination would be to agree with Pax and Jim D that product per acre planted is the more meaningful measure of the success of agriculture (provided the numbers are not contrived to maximize subisidies as Theo Goodwin suggests). If an acre was really planted, it was withheld from other crops, grazing, industry, or other land uses. Also, the farmer went to the expense of ploughing or drilling plus the cost of the seed. If it’s not worth harvesting this is an even bigger failure, perhaps, than merely obtaining a low product per acre harvested.

    Climate (mostly too little or too much precipitation, but perhaps temperature) can affect both the decision to harvest and the product per acre harvested, so it seems reasonable to wrap the two into one index of product per acre planted. Other factors can also have an effect, but that is why we include a noise term in any model.

    [Willis -- ]

    For example, if we want to see if a nutrition regime improves the speed of a sprinter, we would not want to include the times when the sprinter stumbles coming off the blocks. All that does is include erroneous noise.

    If a perverse diet causes a sprinter to stumble off the blocks, that should count against the diet as much as slow times without stumbles.

    So while perhaps the article’s definition of “yield” doesn’t correspond to that generally used in this literature, and perhaps a different term, such as “planting yield,” should have been used, I don’t see that this in itself renders the article meaningless.

  113. Tim Clark says:
    July 29, 2010 at 6:39 am

    First off Willis, as a USDA employee I can inform you that we consider yield/acres planted as a good parameter to distinguish crop loss resulting from insufficient water as opposed to crop loss resulting from incompetent production practices (for disaster payment determination. The reasoning is of the many possible explanations for yield loss described here and above (fertilization amount versus cost, insect infestation/damage, late planting, weed competition, improper variety selection, invalid soil preparation techniques, etc. etc. etc.), all of which are under the control of the operator/landowner, precipitation is most “highly likely” the only parameter resulting in yields reduced enough to forego harvesting. In other words, if you have a bad insect problem that is untreated, or don’t apply enough fertilizer, or plant too late because of laziness or wet soil, or plant a cultivar unfit for your soil, or plow the ground rather then other cultivation methods (productivity related to soil organic matter) or irrigate too much or too little, etc. etc., you will still get a yield that is cost effective to harvest. Absolute failures due to temperature are almost always associated with cold. An example of this association is high temperature during pollination (tasseling) can significantly reduce kernel set, but very rarely leads to abandonment. Therefore, since we know precipitation in the USA has increased during the last century, a better parameter to determine abandonment would be an association with precipitation. Is the data available for that? As an aside, evidence suggests that precipitation is also the parameter that is “highly likely” responsible for tree ring growth differences.

    Tim, as you indicate, you “consider yield/acres planted as a good parameter to distinguish crop loss resulting from insufficient water as opposed to crop loss resulting from incompetent production practices”. First, I think you mean “production/acres planted”, not “yield/acres planted”.

    In Baja California in 2004, out of 592 hectares planted, 582 of them provided no crop at all. However, the remaining 10 hectares were able to produce at about the normal rate. Is it your claim that this was due to “insufficient water”? Because I doubt that very, very much. None of these hectares were irrigated, so why would 10 hectares do fine in your supposed drought, and all the rest of them die?

    Finally, you say that you use the production/acres planted to determine catastrophic loss. But the L2010 analysis is not looking to determine catastrophic losses, it is looking for a relationship between corn production and temperature/precip.

    Hu McCulloch says:
    July 29, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    July 28, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    Jim D says:
    July 28, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    ….
    I side with pax and the authors on this one. Why exclude crop failures due to droughts, hail and floods when doing a climate study. Surely the majority of non-harvested crops are due to natural effects like this.

    You generally want to exclude such catastrophic effects in most studies of gradual changes, regardless of their cause. This is particularly true when we have absolutely no idea whether the changes are climate related, or are due to low prices, equipment breakdowns, fires, labor strikes, lack of transportation, fungus-infested seeds, plant diseases, or other non-climate reasons.

    I’m no agricultural economist, but my inclination would be to agree with Pax and Jim D that product per acre planted is the more meaningful measure of the success of agriculture (provided the numbers are not contrived to maximize subisidies as Theo Goodwin suggests). If an acre was really planted, it was withheld from other crops, grazing, industry, or other land uses. Also, the farmer went to the expense of ploughing or drilling plus the cost of the seed. If it’s not worth harvesting this is an even bigger failure, perhaps, than merely obtaining a low product per acre harvested.

    Hu, the problem is that they are trying to relate climate to crop yield. They are related, there’s no doubt of that. But including occasional catastrophic failures from unknown causes will not improve the accuracy of the results. You seem to assume that all crop failures are climate related. I can assure you that is not true.

    Climate (mostly too little or too much precipitation, but perhaps temperature) can affect both the decision to harvest and the product per acre harvested, so it seems reasonable to wrap the two into one index of product per acre planted. Other factors can also have an effect, but that is why we include a noise term in any model.

    I’m not following that. What does that have to do with using area planted?

    [Willis -- ]

    For example, if we want to see if a nutrition regime improves the speed of a sprinter, we would not want to include the times when the sprinter stumbles coming off the blocks. All that does is include erroneous noise.

    If a perverse diet causes a sprinter to stumble off the blocks, that should count against the diet as much as slow times without stumbles.

    For the nth time, yes, that is possible. But if that is the case, the authors of the study need to state it and justify it. That is to say, they need to show why they are using an unusual measure, and they need to show that it is the diet that is causing the sprinter to stumble. They have done neither.

    So while perhaps the article’s definition of “yield” doesn’t correspond to that generally used in this literature, and perhaps a different term, such as “planting yield,” should have been used, I don’t see that this in itself renders the article meaningless.

    There are literally hundreds of studies relating yield and climate. I know of none that relate production/area planted and climate. So if they are striking new ground with this study, they have an obligation to note that and justify it. But they didn’t. Which is why I say that it was an error, rather than being deliberate.

    Does that “render the article meaningless”? Well, depends. If it is an error, and they thought they were using yield, then they need to re-do their calculations start to finish. This makes the article meaningless.

    On the other hand, if it was deliberate, then it does not make the article meaningless. It just renders it wildly and hideously incomplete, as they have not laid the foundation for using some off-the-wall measurement in their analysis.

    Overall, I am astounded by people defending the use of production/area planted when it seems pretty clear, from the lack of the normal explanations that are used to introduce a novel metric, that the authors had no idea that they were not using the standard definition of “yield”.

  114. Hu McCulloch says

    “If an acre was really planted, it was withheld from other crops, grazing, industry, or other land uses. Also, the farmer went to the expense of ploughing or drilling plus the cost of the seed. If it’s not worth harvesting this is an even bigger failure, perhaps, than merely obtaining a low product per acre harvested.”

    This would be correct if the object of the excercise was to budget for the cost of production. In these circumstances, the fixed costs would have been absorbed into the whole acreage planted, and the losses would have been written off to the profit and loss account as lost revenue.

    However, this is not what is being done in this research. As a scientist, you are looking at the effect of climate change on yield. This would likely lead to lower yields but not to catastrophic loss. If catastrophic loss is observed to occur through climate effects, then you need to show this. You need to document that the acreage was not harvested because the corn didn’t ripen or such. You have to separate these things from non weather events, such as disease, fire, strikes. If you can’t do that then you should stick to the areas harvested to reduce the noise.

    “If a perverse diet causes a sprinter to stumble off the blocks, that should count against the diet as much as slow times without stumbles.”

    Your response to the sprinter analogy is competely absurd. If it is the researchers belief that the diet is causing the sprinter to fall around and stumble (highly unlikely), he would be taken to a medical specialist for tests in order to eliminate that possibility. If this is in fact the case, then the result is not that the diet makes the sprinter run slower, which would be the outcome of including such a test run, but that the diet makes a human ill. In other words, the hypothesis has been invalidated and replaced with a new one. This mirrors the harvesting problem. If the researcher believes that climate change is causing thousands of acres to not be harvested, then he needs to zoom in and study these effects on their own. In no way can he just include them carte blanche in the results.

    If an undergrad turned in a third year project like that he would be failed for the reasons I have given. But even before that point, the tutor would have put the same questions to the undergrad as Willis is asking. It’s just basic science.

  115. Bill Tuttle says:
    July 29, 2010 at 1:57 am

    Jim D: July 28, 2010 at 10:07 pm
    Have you ruled out that pests/fungi can relate to climate in any way? Hint: how about pine bark beetle?

    I was gonna say something snarky about pine bark beetles and corn, but I’ll just observe that beetle infestations only explode in the absence of wildfires, which normally limit the population.

    ———-

    Ah yes, the infamous pine beetle story. One of my favourites. You are right about the role of fire but it is slightly more complicated. The key point is that the pine beetles need mature trees to attack, with a suitably think cambium layer – which is their actual habitat. So the role of fire is to kill off pine trees before they get large enough for the beetles to attack.

    This is most evident in the lodgepole pine – the one that made most of the AGW alarmist headlines in British Columbia – which is a fire-adapted species that maintains its dominant role in large areas via periodic wildfires which burn them (and their competition) while simultaneously releasing their seeds. This creates even-aged but usually short-lived stands. The recent problems have been created by the Smokey the Bear mentality which suppressed these fires, allowing vast areas of mature even-aged lodgepole pines to survive, thus creating vast expanses of potential beetle habitat. Add a few warmer than usual winters and this set the stage for the massive beetle epidemic that made the headlines. The botom line is that this never could have happened no matter how warm the winters were if this totally unnatural forest situation had not been created by human fire suppression.

    Other pine species have slightly different dynamics but this beetle problem, and other problems, all go back to Smokey the Bear’s interference in natural processes.

    The beetle is always there, picking off weakened mature trees, but unless stressed by drought or disease, or overwhelmed by the kinds of numbers produced by these recent epidemics, most trees can resist their attacks.

    This story became entirely ridiculous when the epidemics were at their peak in British Columbia and spreading into Alberta. There were hysterical stories about how it was going to spread across Canada and kill off every tree – but since this beetle is specifically adapted to lodgepole pines at that latitude, it could never have gone any further than the range of that species. This was fueled by reports of the beetles attacking the odd spruce in BC, but that was simply due to the incredible number of beetles attacking anything… and they cannot survive in spruce trees.

    That Canadian epidemic is over by the way. The beetle ran out of mature lodgepole pines (and ponderosa pines further south) and that’s the end of the story… unless they allow the same situation to develop in 80 years (for the lodgepole pine). And, since many areas are now just standing firewood sprinkled with pine cones ready to pop open with the next fire, the ingredients for that are all there.

    Fire suppression is the root cause of some other supposed AGW tales. The intense fires in California are the result of unnatural fuel buildups due to the suppression of fire. The Native Californians were not so stupid. But now its much more complicated as there are so many houses built in areas that will, inevitably, burn.

    It doesn’t matter how warm or dry it is if there is no beetle habitat to support epidemic populations, or fuel to burn. But don’t tell that to the AGW gang.

  116. If one is going to do a study of the *yield* as defined in the paper, they would have to describe exactly why the various acreages were not harvested. I mean EXACTLY. Anything less is not science. I suspect they did not have access to that kind of data which means, as we all know, the paper should have been abandoned.

    As nice as Willis tries to be, I can’t see anyway that this was a mistake. They did exactly what they set out to do.

  117. What this report does not mention is that global warming may render Canada inhabitable in which case some of those immigrants may keep on going, all the way to Saskatchewan.

    When the Ice Age hits the migration will be in the opposite direction.

  118. I read the article and it is worthless.They assume that CO2 levels of 555 ppm by 2080 will raise global temperature by 1 to 3 degrees and then calculate that without CO2 fertilization this will reduce Mexican crop yields at least 39 percent. Or, with fertilization, only 10 to 15 percent. And this is supposed to send millions of immigrants to us! First of all, inclusion of the no-fertilization figure is just scaremongering for addition of carbon dioxide to air clearly promotes plant growth – that is what the fertilization is all about. Secondly, I have shown that anthropogenic global warming has never been observed and Ferenc Miskolczi has shown that this is because it is physically impossible. Hence, there will be zero warming by 2080, higher atmospheric carbon dioxide, and improved crop yields in Mexico. It could just possibly lure back some of the Mexicans who are here now.

  119. I noticed both Tim Clark and others are assuming the seed was purchased and Modern farming techniques are used.

    1. It could have been farmer “saved seed” This means the seed selected will be optimize for the cultivar that best grows in that micro-climate. Unless the climate changes rapidly there should be adaption. (That is why Monsanto set up seed banks to grab the genetics)

    2. Modern farming techniques are used.
    The Mexico I visited for three weeks was still using burros. Remember too that the government cut subsidies to farmers. That could mean the planting of “store bought” hybrid cultivars that needed fertilizer and pesticides to grow well but not having the money to fertilize and spray if the subsidies were cut. Also thanks to NAFTA the market was flooded with cheap American corn. The farmers could very well have walked away from the crops and the land due to bankruptcy. Remember Mexico lost 75% of the farming population in about ten years. Or it could have been just politics. (read the yellow column on the right) http://newfarm.rodaleinstitute.org/international/pan-am_don/july04/index.shtml

    The experience in India with the Monsanto GMO cotton shows this can happen.

    “Worse, Monsanto seed has been genetically engineered so as to require the use of Monsanto herbicides and fertilizers….

    The history of GMO crops in India is like elsewhere. The first few years are great then they need more herbicide and more fertilizer [and more water] to get yields and that drives the farmer into bankruptcy. India has had a rash of farmer suicides due to crop failures. They didn’t have this with indigenous seeds. The costs were much less and they could muddle through.” http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2010/02/india-defies-monsanto-says-no-to-gmo-crops.html

    GMO corn was banned in Mexico but tests showed that the genes had jumped the border and were showing up in Mexico. Perhaps the case can be made that the decline in yield per planted acre is because of the Monsanto genetics, especially if the corn has the terminator gene and failed to germinate. Or if it germinated but as was the case in South Africa failed to produce ears of corn.

    “South African farmers suffered millions of dollars in lost income when 82,000 hectares of genetically-manipulated corn (maize) failed to produce hardly any seeds.The plants look lush and healthy from the outside. Monsanto has offered compensation.

    Monsanto blames the failure of the three varieties of corn planted on these farms, in three South African provinces,on alleged ‘underfertilisation processes in the laboratory”.” http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/270101

    Looking at acres planted vs amount harvested and declaring it was caused by global warming is just plain sloppy, lazy and incompetent. Don’t these people have any sense of curiosity, don’t the want to find out WHY the fields were never harvested?

    ” For Baja in 2004, their site says

    BAJA CALIFORNIA, 592 hectares planted, 10 hectares harvested, 25 tonnes produced, yield 2.5 tonnes/ha”

    This glaring statistic should have someone asking WHY!!!

    It could be as simple as a change (thanks to US salesmanship) from growing white corn to growing yellow corn, a corn that is harder to produce.

    Determining the Feasibility of Yellow Corn Production in Mexico

    http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/46741/2/Microsoft%20Word%20-%20SAEApaper1.pdf

  120. Sorry, but I don’t see any relation to temperature. The issue is water as in rain and irrigation. Temperature is not an issue and the correlation is false, as it always has been, unless there is an unexpected frost, and I don’t think that is happening in Mexico any time soon.

  121. My other point on the statistics was that the authors found a correlation using their definition of yield. If this indeed had a random component due to crop non-harvesting for non-climate reasons, the way Willis defines yield should give even stronger statistics. Which definition has the highest correlation to climate? Doesn’t Willis’s suggested definition just make the situation worse by removing what he says is a random component? Anyway, I suspect the authors have a definition that correlates better to climate, because surely planted acres are more constant year to year than harvested acres (I’m guessing), making yield normalized by that more meaningful in absolute terms.

  122. Thanks for the scientific review effort, Willis, but given the fact that a form of the prime CAGW/PNAS “tenet” was sufficiently implied by its title, the authors and PNAS reviewers already knew that the remainder of the paper was irrelevant./sarc.

    But just for the record, the statement, Climate change is expected to cause mass human migration, including immigration across international borders….Depending on the warming scenarios used and adaptation levels assumed, with other factors held constant…., seems to say once again that, according to Climate Science, “climate change” is only possible as a result of Anthropogenic causation.

    Such that any “other factor” which we might otherwise say involves a natural move to a different climate situation now simply can’t be called “climate change” anymore, obviously including even any truely natural warming.

    So, ftr, this is an example of the same old Armchair creation of “reality” via word-games which characterizes Climate Science – but certainly having nothing to do with the use of the Scientific Method to try to describe and deal with reality, or with any genuine attempt to retain the usual meaning of words so as to communicate effectively to and with people and especially where these things involve truely helping out Humanity.

  123. Jim D says:
    July 29, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    My other point on the statistics was that the authors found a correlation using their definition of yield. If this indeed had a random component due to crop non-harvesting for non-climate reasons, the way Willis defines yield should give even stronger statistics. Which definition has the highest correlation to climate? Doesn’t Willis’s suggested definition just make the situation worse by removing what he says is a random component? Anyway, I suspect the authors have a definition that correlates better to climate, because surely planted acres are more constant year to year than harvested acres (I’m guessing), making yield normalized by that more meaningful in absolute terms.

    I’ve only looked at the annual temperatures. The correlation of annual temps with true yield is only 0.03, and with the bogus yield it is only 0.07. Neither of these are statistically different from zero (or from each other, for that matter).

  124. Willis Eschenbach says:
    July 29, 2010 at 12:15 pm
    Tim, as you indicate, you “consider yield/acres planted as a good parameter to distinguish crop loss resulting from insufficient water as opposed to crop loss resulting from incompetent production practices”. First, I think you mean “production/acres planted”, not “yield/acres planted”.

    Willis, the government interprets things in strange ways. Since deficiency payments or disaster payments are allocated (under the FB2008) on a multicounty (called management units) area, entitlements are based on that regions average yield/planted acreage. Farmers must submit (for DCP payments) to the Farm Service Agency (FSA) the acres planted of each crop planted. Then submit their yields. The database then kicks out average yield/acres planted. If the region falls below a certain threshold, any farmer who suffers a loss below the threshold receives a payment. Never in my experience has there been payments for crop loss resulting from any condition other than drought (~75%), hail(~15%) or early freeze (~10%). In perusing the database accessible to me, there has never been any deficiency or disaster payments made resulting from attribution to temperature. So in essence I guess I didn’t make my point clear. Regardless of how anybody mathematically determines crop loss, it ain’t due to temperature, to which we can both concur. This paper is bunkum.

    Is it your claim that this was due to “insufficient water”? Because I doubt that very, very much. None of these hectares were irrigated, so why would 10 hectares do fine in your supposed drought, and all the rest of them die?

    Yes, that’s my claim. Based on statistical probability. Willis, 500+ hectares in the entire region. Out of how many. Thats about 1500 acres. My county has 150,000 + acres under cultivation.One timely rain event, localized over a very small portion of the region would make or break the crop. Here in Kansas, in the county I work, wheat yields ranged from 60+ bu/acre in the eastern hardland area to 30+/- in the western sandy loams. And yes, the higher yield area received about three .3/4″ to 1.1″ rain events. It makes that much difference over a spread of 30 miles. Of course the soil types influence yield, which is also in play in the Baja.
    But let me digress, if you could find out what was actually done in the non-harvested acres, I think you might be suprised. I’ve been to that area and many of the farmers ensile corn. So it may not have been harvested for grain, but was harvested. Again, I think this study is bunkum.

    Finally, you say that you use the production/acres planted to determine catastrophic loss. But the L2010 analysis is not looking to determine catastrophic losses, it is looking for a relationship between corn production and temperature/precip.

    Well, I do get your point here. But I reiterate my main thesis that without access to precipitation data, this study is bunkum.

  125. Willis, the authors say this.

    We suspect that weather has always been an important factor in the agriculture-emigration relationship, as
    many of the migrant-sending regions of Mexico have extremely variable rainfall
    (S34).

    Extremely variable rainfall and the average rainfall in that region is only 14″/yr. They grow white corn. This is probably a dead thread. I’m not really disagreeing with you Willis, I appreciate your hard work here. I just think it’s the water, whose amount is not influenced by [CO2].

    In some of our analyses, we
    combine corn and wheat to form a measure of combined crop yields. When doing so,
    we convert wheat production into equivalent corn production units using their price
    ratios calculated from the national weighted average prices for a given year.

    Just more bunkum

  126. Willis Eschenbach says:
    July 29, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Hu, the problem is that they are trying to relate climate to crop yield. They are related, there’s no doubt of that. But including occasional catastrophic failures from unknown causes will not improve the accuracy of the results. You seem to assume that all crop failures are climate related. I can assure you that is not true.

    I see no reason to think that a low harvest rate is necessarily due to catastrophic events — an entire growing season that is too hot or too cold or too dry or too wet or too sunny or too cloudy might render the crop not worth harvesting, so that the harvest rate is at least as worth correlating to temperature as the harvest yield. The planting yield simply combines the two into one statistic. It might have been useful to disaggregate it into its two components, and it might have been confusing, in this literature, to call the planting yield “the yield” rather than the harvest yield, but I still don’t see this statistic as wrong per se.

    Of course, this is not to say that the study is any good — If, as you say above, the correlation with temperature is insignificant no matter which way “yield” is computed, then there isn’t much there. The authors should have been clearer that they were not using the conventional measure of “yield”, but I don’t see their measure as instrinsically “bogus,” as you put it.

    An unexpected fall in price would affect the harvest rate adversely, but would also increase the average harvest yield, since only the fields that did best would be harvested, so neither measure is exempt from such noise factors.

  127. From

    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/07/silly-science.html

    “One of the paper’s authors, Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton professor and lead author of the forthcoming IPCC report on extremes explains his motivation with the paper:

    Our primary objectives were, No. 1, to give policymakers something to think about and, No. 2, to give researchers a spur to start answering some of the more complicated questions

  128. Hu McCulloch says:
    July 30, 2010 at 7:27 am

    Of course, this is not to say that the study is any good — If, as you say above, the correlation with temperature is insignificant no matter which way “yield” is computed, then there isn’t much there. The authors should have been clearer that they were not using the conventional measure of “yield”, but I don’t see their measure as instrinsically “bogus,” as you put it.

    Hu, I’ve been studying the effect of climate (and other factors) on crop yields for some years now. I have never seen anyone use production/area planted as a measure of yield. I suspect that this is for the reasons and difficulties I enumerated above.

    While it is possible that they are using that measure deliberately, it seems very doubtful because they call what they are using “yield”, and they have made no attempt to explain or justify the use of a new measure.

  129. Tim Clark says:
    July 30, 2010 at 6:00 am (Edit)

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    July 29, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Tim, as you indicate, you “consider yield/acres planted as a good parameter to distinguish crop loss resulting from insufficient water as opposed to crop loss resulting from incompetent production practices”. First, I think you mean “production/acres planted”, not “yield/acres planted”.

    Willis, the government interprets things in strange ways. Since deficiency payments or disaster payments are allocated (under the FB2008) on a multicounty (called management units) area, entitlements are based on that regions average yield/planted acreage. Farmers must submit (for DCP payments) to the Farm Service Agency (FSA) the acres planted of each crop planted. Then submit their yields. The database then kicks out average yield/acres planted. If the region falls below a certain threshold, any farmer who suffers a loss below the threshold receives a payment. Never in my experience has there been payments for crop loss resulting from any condition other than drought (~75%), hail(~15%) or early freeze (~10%). In perusing the database accessible to me, there has never been any deficiency or disaster payments made resulting from attribution to temperature. So in essence I guess I didn’t make my point clear. Regardless of how anybody mathematically determines crop loss, it ain’t due to temperature, to which we can both concur. This paper is bunkum.

    Tim, you make my point (I think). The use of production/area planted is an indicator of catastrophic loss. But that is not what the authors of L2010 were looking at. They were looking at long term changes in yield due to climate, not catastrophic loss for whatever reason.

    However, I still doubt that the metric used is yield/hectares (or acres) planted as you repeatedly claim. Suppose two farmers have planted corn, and both have a yield of say two tonnes per hectare. One farmer planted 100 hectares, and the other planted 10,000 hectares.

    One farmer would have a yield/hectares planted of 0.02, and the other would have a yield/hectares planted of 0.0002 … how is that meaningful on any planet?

    But let me digress, if you could find out what was actually done in the non-harvested acres, I think you might be suprised. I’ve been to that area and many of the farmers ensile corn. So it may not have been harvested for grain, but was harvested. Again, I think this study is bunkum.

    I might indeed be surprised. But given that we don’t know, it is very difficult to find out, and we might all be surprised by the reasons for the catastrophic losses, I agree with you that the study is meaningless.

  130. An easy way to overcome all of this silliness, and illegal immigration, and lawsuits would be for the Mexican government to actually make all their citizens feel that living in Mexico with friends, families, customs was better than running away to join the gringos .

    Like any country the primary responsibility of the Mexican government is to make the place work well enough to be attractive to it’s citizens. Africans run away to the west and endure all kinds of privations, racism being one, rather than live under their own governments.

    Why can’t Mr Calderon make Mexico sufficiently attractive to his own people? Don’t tell me it is because of an unfair planet because Mr Calderon got his job by saying he could do just that. Same as Mr Obama or Mr Mugabe.

    That’s the problem I suppose, the American way of doing things at home is just so much better than so many other places. The third world loves to denigrate America yet it’s citizens “lie awake in bed at night dreamin’ ” of moving to the USA. When they get there most fit in and up their game but some try and drag it down to the standards they left behind.

    America’s success is it’s own weakness.

  131. @willis

    In my opinion illegal Mexican immigrants are for the most part scapegoats of convenience for problems actually caused by poor social and fiscal policy. Ultimately the responsible party for these poor policy choices are the voters. Illegal immigrants don’t vote.

    Texas has traditionally had a rather open border with Mexico. Except for a recent rise in drug related confined to very near the border it has never been a problem. And even in that case the traffic is driven by demand for illegal drugs from legal US residents so it’s still us who are ultimately at blame.

    Illegals in Texas used to cross the border almost like commuters. Men would cross the border to work, stay a month or three, living as cheaply as they can sharing low-rent apartments and car pooling, and send their earnings back home to their wives and children. Women crossing the border tended to be live-in domestic care takers which allows both parents to work at high paying jobs. Texas residents in turn get their homes built at lower cost, lower cost produce, landscape maintenance, inexpensive live-in domestic help, and things of that nature. The savings produced by the low cost labor are then available for the purchase of a huge range of goods and services that illegal immigrants don’t provide.

    Problems are caused largely by poor choices in social policies. Anyone born on US soil automatically becoming a citizen is a huge mistake. Citizenship should come either through naturalization or inheritance from citizen parents and no other avenue. Forcing emergency rooms to provide care to anyone at all who walks through the door is another mistake. Public schools admitting all children regardless of parental citizenship is another mistake. If it weren’t for these boneheaded policies we wouldn’t have a problem. The blame for these boneheaded policies lies squarely on the voters who must be citizens in order to vote.

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