Climate Craziness of the Week – Mark Hertsgaard embarrasses himself with ‘The End of Pasta’

Global warming kills spaghetti crop

Sigh, “The End of Pasta?” reads more like “The end of journalism”

Short pastaSome days, there appears such blatant stupidity in the MSM, you wonder if there isn’t some sort of award than can be handed out for it. I think Mark Hertsgaard is deserving of such an award for this moronically mendacious missive where he manages to work the two poster children for ridiculous climate alarmism into one paragraph:

Hurricane Sandy’s recent devastation of New York and neighboring states reminded Americans of what Hurricane Katrina demonstrated in 2005: global warming makes weather more extreme, and extreme weather can be extremely dangerous. But flooding coastlines aren’t our only worry. Climate change is also imperiling the very foundation of human existence: our ability to feed ourselves.

This colossal disconnect (name a hurricane that hit the wheat belt) makes me want to call him up and scream at him. His premise is this: 

But if humans want to keep eating pasta, we will have to take much more aggressive action against global warming. Pasta is made from wheat, and a large, growing body of scientific studies and real-world observations suggest that wheat will be hit especially hard as temperatures rise and storms and drought intensify in the years ahead.

Now the important thing to note here is that his piece is being advertised as “science” yet I fail to find any science in it, only unsubstantiated opinion and talking points. Here’s some science; if only Hertsgaard had bothered to check some data like I did. The data plot shows US Department of Agriculture data for corn (in case his next story claims children of the future won’t know what Doritos are) and wheat yields in bushels per acre:

Historic_US_CropYeilds

You can get all the source data right here at USDA, available to most anyone with the ability to open a web browser and do a search.

So looking at the graph above, it seems there’s no obvious worry about wheat or corn disappearing any time soon. Sure, there is a downspike in 2011, due to a summer heatwave and drought in the USA. There were other downspikes of similar magnitude in the last 100 years also, so the 2011 downspike isn’t particularly unique. Despite those downspikes in yield, the trend remains upwards.

The basis of the claim for “end of pasta” by Hertsgaard is this statement:

Frank Manthey, a professor at North Dakota State University who advises the North Dakota Wheat Commission. Already, a mere 1 degree Fahrenheit of global temperature rise over the past 50 years has caused a 5.5 percent decline in wheat production.

Well, I plotted the data, both for USA temperature (using the alarmist’s favorite temperature data, Jim Hansen’s GISS data) and USA wheat production from USDA, and I call bullshit on the claim:

US_wheat-vs-temperature

Data sources:

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/Fig.D.txt

http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/wheat-data.aspx

Clearly, US wheat production is healthy, increasing, and shows no sign of the 5.5% decrease, and if anything it seems to indicate there is a positive effect from temperature on wheat yield. Improved farming practices and improved wheat seed stocks have helped too. If I really wanted to embarrass these two guys I could add the Keeling curve for CO2 also, and point out that crop yields increase with increases in CO2 as well.

How do people like this get a broad voice to such opinions that don’t stand up under the simplest of tests? I don’t know, but you can write them here to ask them:

http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/plantsciences/people/faculty/manthey 

Frank.Manthey@ndsu.edu

David Lobell

dlobell@stanford.edu

There is no contact info for Hertsgaard, so you have to complain to the editors for this dreck:

editorial@thedailybeast.com

The professor may answer, but Hertsgaard is probably a lost cause to mental mendacity, as he also believes (according to some obscure activist group)that Climate Change is killing 1000 children a day.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/09/27/climate-change-kills-400-000-a-year-new-report-reveals.html

If that were true, don’t you think the rest of the MSM would have daily headlines about it? So far, not a peep.  Apparently, fact checking is not a journalism skill Hertsgaard possesses.

UPDATE – Commenter Richard III writes:

A quick look at the this page will show how just how dangerous a little knowledge can be. There’s a lot more than a 1 degree temperature difference between south Texas and Northern Montana. It used to be that a college professor would know that. http://www.smallgrains.org/whfacts/growreg.htm

UPDATE2— I trust Anthony won’t mind me adding a little historical perspective to this. The best source for this kind of crop production and yield information is the FAO. Here is their history of wheat production and wheat yield.

globalwheatproductionandyield[1]

Note that to put it mildly, Mark Hertsgaard’s pasta claims are true only in some alternate reality. In the larger sense, yield and total production are still rising. – Willis Eschenbach.

UPDATE3 – here is the source of the 5.5% claim by David Lobell of Stanford.

http://foodsecurity.stanford.edu/publications/climate_trends_and_global_crop_production_since_1980

Image of Cover

Climate Trends and Global Crop Production Since 1980

Journal ArticleAuthors
David Lobell – Stanford University
Wolfram Schlenker – Assistant Professor in Economics at Columbia University
Justin Costa-Roberts – Stanford University

Published by
Science, May 2011

Efforts to anticipate how climate change will affect future food availability can benefit from understanding the impacts of changes to date. Here we show that in the cropping regions and growing seasons of most countries, with the important exception of the United States, temperature trends for 1980-2008 exceeded one standard deviation of historic year-to-year variability. Models that link yields of the four largest commodity crops to weather indicate that global maize and wheat production declined by 3.8% and 5.5%, respectively, compared to a counter-factual without climate trends. For soybeans and rice, winners and losers largely balanced out. Climate trends were large enough in some countries to offset a significant portion of the increases in average yields 16 that arose from technology, CO2 fertilization, and other factors.

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94 thoughts on “Climate Craziness of the Week – Mark Hertsgaard embarrasses himself with ‘The End of Pasta’

  1. A troll under its own intitiative. It does as much harm giving them the time of day except that you can’t just accept the troll declarations of fact. (Factitious is increasingly an important word for these times of junkscience and mental obsession.)

  2. And there was I thinking the story would be about the logical end result if more and more grain gets diverted into fermentation for biofuels…

  3. Enter modelling:

    a) without AGW, food yields would be higher. Proof? Scenario A through C say so.

    b) if it’s hotter, then wheat will “burn” more often in the field, therefore we’ll have less to harvest and all those who would have gotten that extra wheat will have none and will start. You don’t need a computer to understand this.

    With the right outlook and grade school math, it all makes sense.

    Today on the CBC radio, I heard some insurance spokesman say that with the increase in “extreme weather”, hailstorm damage was rising rapidly in Alberta. Nobody asked if the increase was related to inflation, the amount of insurance coverage in either value or area, or if, in fact, hailstorms were increasing in number or observation, including radar imaging.

    You can educate ‘em, but you can’t make ‘em think.

  4. Surely if/when the climate changes, the wheat belt will just move N or S to compensate, just as it always has in the past 8,000 years or so.
    Just typical sloppy journalism as is now the norm from MSM.

  5. Ah, but you didn’t factor in the number of bushels used to fuel Hertsgaard’s green ecnomy. You know, the one where you take all the food and convert it to fuel for the Prius and such. Just imagine how many millions of acres it takes to grow and refine the fuel to get all those folks to the next climate conference.

  6. If you heard it on cbc it must be true. Like their comrades at bbc, fair and balanced like a one sided see-saw.

  7. Oh Good. I can tell my brother-in-law in Saskatchewan that he can switch to wheat from barley since global warming will mean that it will be easier for him to grow wheat and his competition further south will be wiped out.

    I like how these extreme alarmists ignore that if global warming is threatening the crop production in certain areas it is opening up arable land in areas which were previously unusable. The same argument has been used by other environmental lobby groups with regards to coffee and chocolate, ignoring that if these crops can’t be grown in one region they will be moved to another area where they can.

  8. What happened to CO2 in their obvious CAGW claims? I thought all this problem was caused by CO2! Or have they completely forgotten the connection between CO2 and plants, of which wheat is a prime example?

    I’ve read estimates that trees are growing 30% faster than they did 50 years ago, and that wheat production is up 9-10% for the same reason (other factors contributing to the rest of the increase for wheat).

    It rather makes fools of the CAGW crowd–unless their ultimate goal is to reverse CO2 increases so it adversely affects foodstuff production in an attempt to reduce world population. I believe that’s what these selfish, egotistical elites want.

  9. Meanwhile in Canada:
    “The CWB, which recently lost its monopoly over selling wheat in Canada, says production of the six major grains and oilseeds could yield 51.6 million tonnes this year — better than the five-year average by about four million tonnes.

    “In the decade between 2001 and 2010 we had about 50 million tonnes only twice, so you can see … it’s a pretty substantial production,” Burnett said.”

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2012/08/22/crop-yield-wheat-canola.html

  10. WUWT says: “So looking at the graph above, it seems there’s no obvious worry about wheat or corn disappearing any time soon.”

    There is no “obvious worry” about wheat or corn yields declining dramatically soon from global warming, this is true. However, there is a less “obvious worry” about human caused destruction of our agricultural output, and that is the agreements that China has agressively been seeking from both the EU and the United States.

    http://www.seeddaily.com/reports/EU_China_agree_on_ag_sustainability_999.html

    http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2012/02/0057.xml

    What exactly is US Agricultural Sec Tom Vilsack doing signing sustainability agreements with China for our domestic policy? And, it is a FIVE YEAR PLAN, no less. (BTW I never use caps.)

    These “sustainable” farming practices are no less than eliminating pest control and chemical fertilizers, as well as high yield varieties of cereals, as near as I have been able to glean. So when climate scientists, Genetically Modified food critics, water alarmists, politicians, and world banks start threatening that agriculture will suffer in the next five years, you may want to reach for your wallet, because this will be a self-fulfilling prophecy if China and the Agricultural Sustainability movement is able to freeze and reverse our agricultural technology.

  11. Studies on projected climate change impact on agriculture I have seen say clearly that mild climate change can help production because of longer growing sessions and that CO2 it self stimulates plant growth. The concern is and always has been about the long term impact if human caused climate change continues. Pointing to recent crop data to refute this is like saying we don’t have to worry about the bridge ahead being out because the road here is free of pot holes.

  12. I think that alarmism has become intense because it was hoped that reduced CO2 could have taken credit for the cooler global temperatures that we will probably see in the near future and that opportunity is soon running out.

  13. Now you did it, I’m hungry now. A nice plate of Linguini with White Clam Sauce is dancing thru my mind right now… Accompanied by a nice white wine…

    But no! I get to look forward to my PB&J and Chicken noodle soup for lunch.

    It’s all your fault..

  14. “Climate change is also imperiling the very foundation of human existence: our ability to feed ourselves.” True, in the sense that, to “save the planet,” our politicians have mandated that we burn our food in our vehicles rather than eat it, by having mandated adding ethanol made from corn to gasoline – and, worse, subsidizing the higher costs, which we fund with (additional) taxes.

  15. Alas, as with any religion it is difficult to rationalize the fanatics. Global Warming Church is no difference. I had several blog conversations and see little difference in talking to them…

    This person seems to be no difference, if convinced or only repeating nonsense?
    He conveniently ignores the CO2 fertilisation factor in his drama – what is tested in hundreds and hundreds of studies, what we all know as common sense:

    http://www.co2science.org/data/plant_growth/dry/dry_subject_w.php

    http://www.co2science.org/data/plant_growth/dry/t/triticuma.php

    http://www.co2science.org/data/plant_growth/dry/z/zeam.php

    and pedals on potential possible temperatures from models which have no confirmation but are firm anchored in his religious beliefs.

    He conveniently ignores the 16 years of no warming that invalidate the models. Is this science?

    I would happily let all warmista live on their dream planet in their collective society that has their ideal world values: with 280 ppm CO2 with 1.5 to 2°C colder average temperature, with electricity generated through wind and solar and some small water where allowed. No fossil fuel, no fission, only bio-fuels.
    Unfortunately it is not possible, we cannot split our universe. We have to live with all kind of bigots, so all we can try is tell the other view of science, tell there is another voice and show where the faulty science lies.
    It is not that they do not know or do not see that we are right in our arguments, but they believe they are doing the right thing, they believe they are right and we are only looking for the cheap and easy way.

  16. Pasta is usually made from Durum wheat. In North America, that means most is grown in Canada.

    But, there has been no temperature increase in the prairies since about 1988, so pasta appears safe for now.

    http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/16-002-x/2011001/ct017-eng.htm

    But, oddly, with about a 1.5 deg temperature rise from 1948 to 1988, durum wheat production has increased an order of magnitude.

    http://www.grainscanada.gc.ca/research-recherche/dexter/hdwb-habd/hdwb-habd-2-eng.htm#fig2

  17. Buzzed:

    At December 12, 2012 at 10:14 am you make the ‘polar bear assertion’; i.e. ‘everything is getting better but it will go wrong’.

    You say

    Studies on projected climate change impact on agriculture I have seen say clearly that mild climate change can help production because of longer growing sessions and that CO2 it self stimulates plant growth. The concern is and always has been about the long term impact if human caused climate change continues. Pointing to recent crop data to refute this is like saying we don’t have to worry about the bridge ahead being out because the road here is free of pot holes.

    NO!
    Climate changes everywhere and all the time. It always has and it always will.

    When a local climate changes then farmers change their crops in that locality.
    Simply, farmers lack the stupidity of warmunists.

    Richard

  18. Durum Wheat, the cool northern crop used for pasta and mostly grown in Montana and North Dakota, as well as Arizona, is being contiuously improved for better yields and quality.

    http://www.northern-crops.com/technical/introdurum.pdf (2 pages)

    Therefore, laws and legislation outlawing certain varieties and restricting water, or causing there to be less planted acres, are the most immediate threat to pasta. This is a far greater and immediate danger to pasta than co2, a trace gas in the atmosphere which we now know is used by plants in photosynthesis to create the oils, carbohydrates, and sugars sustaining all life on the planet. – Except a few smokestack dwellers in the sea. (:

    Many families in the world rely on pasta to feed a family inexpensively. WUWT’s strong language (BS) is absolutely appropriate for people who are using science and politics to destroy our cereal yields in the name of a sustainable planet.

  19. Wheat was originally domesticated in hot dry South-east Turkey.

    Corn was domesticated in hot (and sometimes) dry southern Mexico.

    In real terms, prices for Corn and Wheat have been declining but they are up in the last several years.

  20. Also Wheat and Durum are C3 plants which means they will grow much better with higher CO2 content in the atmosphere, particularly when it is dryer.

    Corn is a C4 grass so CO2 increases don’t impact its growth rate as much but it will still do a little better with higher CO2 (assuming C3 weeds don’t disrupt growth).

  21. It doesn´t happen often, but sometimes these morons are actually close to being right about something.
    There are a number of studies suggesting that that the protein content in wheat grown under higher carbon dioxide levels might decrease.

    The only practical problem with this is that it may affect the quality of pasta, since real men get their protein from meat.

  22. I have gotten into the habit of checking WUWT several times a day to look for interesting articles. Another website on my list is Iceagenow.info. Has anyone else been following the real winter weather, road closures, and snow crisis’s occurring in Europe and Asia? Certainly nothing in the US news about it.

  23. They are perfectly right!
    In the latest issue of Nature Climat Change, page 827, the ultimate disater is here!
    The Perigord black truffle harvest is declining – guess why!
    And without truffle, the pasta does not taste as it should.

  24. First off, even if the temperature did manage to increase enough to make one crop unprofitable, there are other crops. Or you can buy a heat adapted strain and continue harvesting the same crop.
    Secondly, in the northern hemisphere as you go north, the amount of land increases. Look at a globe and see how much land their is in northern Canada and Russia. Any warming makes all of this land available for harvesting, so even if warming was enough to make the southern most reaches to hot for farming, the land being opened up would vastly exceed the land being lost.
    In the southern hemisphere, the amount of land decreases as you get closer to the pole, but first off there is much less land to begin with, and the rate of shrinkage in the south is much less than the amount of growth in the north. So world wide, if the belt at which crops could be grown did shift poleward, it wouild result in a dramatic increase in land available for cultivation.

  25. Well that’s ok by me; they don’t call it “pasta” for nothing. The recipe (flour, water, egg white) is exactly what my grandfather used for his wallpaper paste. I think I licked the back of a pasted strip while helping him hang wallpaper, circa five years old. That’s why I don’t eat pasta today. Any shape, any color, any sauce, any vowel ending; my wife has tried them all. Still tastes like wallpaper paste to me.

  26. I thought treemometers proved that plants grow faster when it is warmer. If this isn’t the case, doesn’t this prove we have to through out all of Mann’s work?

  27. Doug Proctor says, “Today on the CBC radio, I heard some insurance spokesman say that with the increase in “extreme weather”, hailstorm damage was rising rapidly in Alberta. Nobody asked if the increase was related to inflation, the amount of insurance coverage in either value or area, or if, in fact, hailstorms were increasing in number or observation, including radar imaging.”

    What the spokesman did not tell the audience is that the insurance industry seeds the clouds with silver iodide to reduce the size of the hailstones. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/story/2010/07/14/calgary-hail-storm-cloud-seeding-planes.html
    HMMMMM! I wonder what science is behind this strategy ? Every severe hail storm we see articles claiming it would have been worse if not for the heroic efforts of the insurance companies!
    Just wondering.

  28. Buzzed says:
    December 12, 2012 at 10:14 am
    —-
    If someone has driven the last 500 miles with nary a pothole in sight, and suddenly your passenger pipes up that we’d better start walking because there are potholes ahead, despite the fact that neither of you have ever driven on the road ahead.
    Would you get out and walk, or would you demand that your passenger provide some proof of his assertion?

  29. Buzzed says:

    Studies on projected climate change impact on agriculture I have seen say clearly that mild climate change can help production because of longer growing sessions and that CO2 it self stimulates plant growth. The concern is and always has been about the long term impact if human caused climate change continues.

    Yes, that is what the concern is, and always has been … and always will be.

    That’s the basis of the scam. The catastrophy is always juuuuuuuussssssttttt on the horizon: Close enough that you have to worry about it, but far enough away that it can’t be refuted. We’ve already passed about a dozen alleged ‘tipping points’ and the only result has been that the terrible danger that is going to kill us all has receded a little bit farther into the future. Thus runs the politics of scary stories. “The sky is falling!” is not nearly as useful as “The sky is going to fall, trust me!”

    Pointing to recent crop data to refute this is like saying we don’t have to worry about the bridge ahead being out because the road here is free of pot holes.

    The bridge isn’t out. There isn’t even a bridge in sight. There probably isn’t a bridge, and if there is we will cross it if and when we get to it.

  30. Playing Devil’s Advocate, I have to point out that the graphs are showing bushells per acre, not total crop yield.

    Each acre may produce more wheat (and corn), but what is the trend on how much land is dedicated to the crops? That figure is needed to determine whether the actual total yield is going up or down.

    Having said that, the main reason for any reduction in total yield will probably be because the land is being put to a different use, rather than climat change, so the basic point stands. I’m just pointing out that an increasing yield per acre doesn’t necessarly equate to a increasing total yield.

  31. Obviously wheat can’t handle any temperature. The LIA was too cold. Today it’s too warm for wheat, even though the wheat flourished during the warmer MWP. I guess the Goldilocks temperature for wheat must have occurred sometime between 1975 and 1980, since Newsweek reported that we were on the verge of a new ice age in 1975 and anthropogenic global warming began with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 (intentional sarcasm).

    Whenever I run into an Alarmists Gone Wild non sequitur, I always check the math.

    Global wheat production data for the period 1961-2010 are available from FAOSTAT and temperature data can easily be downloaded from Wood For Trees.
    Wheat yield and production have more than doubled over the last 50 years. Data sources: FAOSTAT and Hadley Center & UEA CRU (via Wood for Trees). Yield is in hectograms per hectare (Hg/Ha), area harvested is in hectares (Ha) and production is in tonnes.

    This explains why wheat liked the Medieval Warm Period and disliked the Little Ice Age.

  32. C3 (wheat) plants need high CO2 vs C4 (corn) which can get by with far lower CO2 concentrations. C4 is very efficient with respect to Carbon sequestration. Both Wheat and Corn will have higher yields with higher CO2.

    C4 plants evolved due to decreasing CO2 and increasing aridity and feature most prominently in the rise of grasses. C4 did not really take off until about 6 million years ago and that is most probably due to C3 grasses not being as efficient as C4 in the same niches given the long-term drop in CO2 PPM.

    Hertsgaard knows little about plants.

  33. Haven’t seen anyone mention biofool. Once they convert the wasted land used for growing these useless crops to create the useless biofool back to regular food crops, there will be a huge rise in available food supply.

  34. Climate change is also imperiling the very foundation of human existence: our ability to feed ourselves.

    Let me help you out.

    Food to fuel is also imperiling the very foundation of human existence: our ability to feed ourselves.

    There, fixed it for ya.

    In the meantime some food growers put their crops in greenhouses and pump in 1,000ppm in order to imperil their ability to feed themselves. The biosphere has been greening. The Sahel is in retreat. Stop putting food into fuel tanks.

    References:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19206199

    http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/00-077.htm

    http://www.novabiomatique.com/hydroponics-systems/plant-555-gardening-with-co2-explained.cfm

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/24/the-earths-biosphere-is-booming-data-suggests-that-co2-is-the-cause-part-2/

    http://www.eoearth.org/article/Greening_of_the_Sahel

  35. “Some days, there appears such blatant stupidity in the MSM, you wonder if there isn’t some sort of award than can be handed out for it.”

    I think this is a capital idea. I’m sure there must be a reader here that could do this justice. Check out the Darwin Awards – awarded to stupid people who accidentally remove themselves from the genetic pool thereby improving the human race.

    http://www.darwinawards.com/darwin/

  36. The author is mistaken in his concerned about the durum crop in North Dakota. Eastern North Dakota provides a great example of how people misapprehend what an average can be like when speaking of climate. The depth of Devils lake varies by more than 50 feet and has been doing so since the glaciers. The act of calculating a mathematical average does not make something stable at a particular level.

    http://www.swc.state.nd.us/4dlink9/4dcgi/GetContentPhoto/PB-218/640/480

  37. Graeme W says:
    December 12, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Playing Devil’s Advocate, I have to point out that the graphs are showing bushells per acre, not total crop yield.

    Playing devils advocate, the graphs are correct. “Yield” means the amount of production divided by the area of land used to produce it. It is measured in units of production per unit of land. So it can be expressed in bushels per acre, or tons per acre, or more commonly outside the US, in metric tonnes per hectare.

    There is no such thing as “total crop yield”. That is what is actually called something like “production” and is measured in tonnes or bushels. It is not “yield”, which is always measured in something like tonnes or bushels per area of land.

    w.

  38. A few years back I complained in a Letter to the Editor of The Washington Times related to climate change,

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/dec/03/a-profession-dominated-by-amateurs/

    that journalists seemed to have chosen their profession because they lacked any aptitude for math and science. Surprisingly, I received reply from an editor agreeing with me on that observation – the only time I have ever gotten a comment from an editor about a letter of mine that they published.

    The story here, The End of Pasta, in my opinion cannot be explained by a particular journalist’s somewhat less than average ability to understand fairly complex subjects, but instead, seems to indicate profound stupidity.

  39. Keep the reassurances coming, everyone. Here in Italy, someone read the scare piece and now, as I write, mobs frantic with panic are running from one end of Via della Repubblica to the other.

    Or, maybe it is because their football team are losing…

  40. In light of the pasta issue, and with reference to these journalists killing themselves with this stuff, I think we should call it the Darwini award (pronounced dar-WEENIE). (It is farfalle from the truth. HA!)

  41. This is typical of the Alarmist actibity now in all fields. They are now alarmed because it is worse than they thought. They refer to the level of CO2 which is up and not to the temperature which has been flat for 16 years. They never refer to the proof of connection to a rise in CO2 and temperature as it is demonstrably non-existent. They now rely on people’s ignorance of the facts to drive their chariot on a bed of lies.

  42. Not only would the wheat belt move north with global warming but warmer temperature crops would take over the former wheat growing areas. As for the tropics they are doomed………………or maybe not.

    Abstract
    2010 Nov 12;330(6006):957-61. doi: 10.1126/science.1193833.
    Temperatures in tropical regions are estimated to have increased by 3° to 5°C, compared with Late Paleocene values, during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM, 56.3 million years ago) event. We investigated the tropical forest response to this rapid warming by evaluating the palynological record of three stratigraphic sections in eastern Colombia and western Venezuela. We observed a rapid and distinct increase in plant diversity and origination rates, with a set of new taxa, mostly angiosperms, added to the existing stock of low-diversity Paleocene flora. There is no evidence for enhanced aridity in the northern Neotropics. The tropical rainforest was able to persist under elevated temperatures and high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, in contrast to speculations that tropical ecosystems were severely compromised by heat stress.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21071667

    But then Warmists accuse me of denying the science or climate or whatever. Heh, heh.

  43. Well i am wheat intolerant – wheat products give me uncontrollable flatulance, a vomit reaction and an insane and wanton lust to laugh. A real “billy both ends” reaction with added hysteria.

    A bit like my reaction to Hertsgaard’s article

  44. ‘The End of Pasta’
    =============================================
    I’m confused. Is he claiming that CO2 was the cause of the fall of the Roman Empire? 8-)

  45. The wonderful thing about Climate Alarmism is that you can make up anything at all that sounds scary. Possibilities are boundless.

  46. Perfekt says:
    There are a number of studies suggesting that that the protein content in wheat grown under higher carbon dioxide levels might decrease.

    Yes but this is a sad and desperate effort to manufacture a problem in paradise. The lower protein content arises from dilution. Essentially in a high CO2 environment the seeds are plump and healthy and contain more energy stored in the form of carbohydrates and sugars. In a low CO2 environment the seeds are thin containing less carbohydrates and sugars. Remember that the job of a seed is to store carbohydrates and sugars to power the early growth of a germinating plant. The small amount of protein in the seed is mostly in the germ itself. Wheat isn’t a crop grown for protein. If protein is what you are after feed it to cows.

    I feel this complaint is rather analogous to complaining that well fed people have a lower overall bone density and speculating about the possible dangers of osteoporosis which might arise from giving people food. Starving people do indeed have a much higher percentage of bone.

  47. For Buzzed:

    Keep in mind that the ASSUMPTION is that more CO2 means more heat. This is not necessarily so. Even the IPCC concedes that the response of the atmosphere to more CO2 is exponential, and not linear. CO2 is a fertilizer for plants; it is not a pollutant.

    Others have already said, but it cannot be said too much: climate always has, and always will change. There is nothing unusual or extreme about the current state of climate change. Should you doubt this, then look up the Veizer paleotemperature record. It has been cited so often in the published literature that it is now considered the standard of paleoclimatology.

    Best regards,

    Mark H.

  48. No pasta? At least there will still be chocolate. Oh fudge, no there won’t. Damn, pancakes are out due to no maple syrup. I suppose there will be plenty of broccoli, though. I like broccoli, but I do like it with a habanero cheese sauce (which teams up with the broccoli’s cancer-fighting properties it seems, which is great). But cheese is out because cows produce lots of planet-killing methane. ^#%^&?)(!!!)#.

  49. Perfekt says:
    December 12, 2012 at 10:49 am
    “It doesn´t happen often, but sometimes these morons are actually close to being right about something.
    There are a number of studies suggesting that that the protein content in wheat grown under higher carbon dioxide levels might decrease.”

    Given that there has been a very questionable study that intended to demonstrate a loss of yield in cassava under increased CO2, I would first like to have a look at the “studies” you mention without providing a link before I would believe any of it.

    There is a very strong vested interest in all branches of science to get as much funding as they can from the CO2AGW scare. Accordingly the proportion of rubbish science explodes all over the place. (And the taxpayer is fleeced for nothing)

  50. Bruce Cobb says:
    December 12, 2012 at 2:17 pm
    No pasta? At least there will still be chocolate. Oh fudge, no there won’t. Damn, pancakes are out due to no maple syrup. I suppose there will be plenty of broccoli, though. I like broccoli, but I do like it with a habanero cheese sauce (which teams up with the broccoli’s cancer-fighting properties it seems, which is great). But cheese is out because cows produce lots of planet-killing methane. ^#%^&?)(!!!)#.

    Don’t worry. Even if all of the cows have to be euthanized in the fight against global warming, Velveeta is indestructible. We will always have Velveeta … ;)

  51. Zeke says:
    December 12, 2012 at 10:08 am

    WUWT says: “So looking at the graph above, it seems there’s no obvious worry about wheat or corn disappearing any time soon.”

    There is no “obvious worry” about wheat or corn yields declining dramatically soon from global warming, this is true. However, there is a less “obvious worry” about human caused destruction of our agricultural output, and that is the agreements that China has agressively been seeking from both the EU and the United States….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    What idiocy!

    I thought the World Trade Organization and the UN “Good Agricultural Practices” were bad enough!

    …..The conflict between ever-increasing food production and sustainability was spotlighted in a U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization released last month, which stresses that better governance of agriculture and food systems is the key to making sustainability possible for a projected world population of 9 billion by 2050.

    The FAO said agriculture and food systems consume 30 percent of the world’s energy, while crop and livestock sectors are responsible for 70 percent of all water withdrawals. In the future, however, farmers will have fewer water and energy resources, meaning they will have to produce more with less.

    In response, the United Nations is advocating agricultural techniques that draw on “nature’s contribution to agricultural growth,” for example, soil organic matter, water flow regulation, pollination and natural predation of pests.

    The FAO report calls for a reduction in the massive amounts of waste in traditional agriculture….

    So now we have COMMUNIST China dictating our farming. GRRRRrrrrr

  52. This is not science it is not even remotely related to the scientific method. It is dogma and not well thought through dogma at that. I doubt that MH would even know science if it bit him in the ass. I think what burns my butt the most is he gets paid for this misrepresentation. If however, I ever chance to meet the man I will gladly do the biting.

  53. Bill Illis says:
    December 12, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Also Wheat and Durum are C3 plants which means they will grow much better with higher CO2 content in the atmosphere, particularly when it is dryer.
    _______________________________
    Actually corn is C4 and Wheat is C3 but both do better with higher CO2

  54. TomE says:
    December 12, 2012 at 10:57 am
    ….Another website on my list is Iceagenow.info. Has anyone else been following the real winter weather, road closures, and snow crisis’s occurring in Europe and Asia? Certainly nothing in the US news about it.
    ___________________________________-
    Yes it is amazing that these major snow storms all across the Norther Hemisphere have not made it into the news.

    Listing HERE
    “Heavy snow blocks Iraq-Iran path”
    “up to 70 cm (27½ inches) of snow has fallen”

    This is not normal.

    Iran snow was recorded at Ahwaz in January 1964. Rare snow also might occur at Zabol. Snow is unheard in the southern coast.

    Iraq snow has covered the northern Iraq in rare occasions.

    In Baghdad some flurries occur sometimes: historical snowfalls were recorded in ancient times like on 23 December 908 with 9cm, in 1064 (with the Tigris frozen) ,in 1268 (3cm) ,in early April 1779 (when a foot of snow is said to have covered the city), january 1834 and december 1860. Snow covered the city last time in 1909 and on January 11th 2008 first snowflakes (without accumulation) were reported in 99 years. In the event of 1779 snow also fell in Basra, the only time in at least 1000 years.
    WIKI: Countries without snowfalls

  55. Since wheat and corn products are probably among the worst in terms of healthiness a person can eat I wouldn’t be sad to see this misguided alarmist be correct. Unfortunately these crops are here to stay… no matter what climate change occurs.

  56. JJ says:
    December 12, 2012 at 11:24 am

    The bridge isn’t out. There isn’t even a bridge in sight. There probably isn’t a bridge, and if there is we will cross it if and when we get to it.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    And if the bridge is out then IF we are not hamstrung by idiots we just go ahead and build the bridge.

  57. Here in Kansas, a significant determining factor on what is planted in any given year appears to be price and water availability. The high price of corn for biofuel has resulted in more (irrigated) land planted for corn, and less (unirrigated) land planted for wheat. Good land planted in wheat can be double cropped with soybeans, but corn and wheat are not very compatible for double cropping. Water is becoming more and more of an issue with the continuing drought in the plains. One has only to drive cross country to see that both wheat and corn thrive at a variety of temperatures, but corn likes more water.

  58. Graeme W says:
    December 12, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Playing Devil’s Advocate, I have to point out that the graphs are showing bushells per acre, not total crop yield….

    Having said that, the main reason for any reduction in total yield will probably be because the land is being put to a different use…
    ____________________________
    The main threat to out food supply is the USDA, WTO and UN (FAO & OIE) link

    Oh, and the bankers

  59. What does the scatter plot of temp v wheat production look like?

    yes, I know, I’m lazy. I really don’t want to go out and get the data myself. I figure you’ve already got it in a spread sheet ….. :-)

  60. Les, have you ever heard of desert durum. It is grown in California. American Italian Past Co. bought it by the train load.

    As for KS and corn, KS could lead the country in corn production except for the hot dry winds that blow in June and July. They have a name but I can’t recall it.

    As for wheat, the wheat in KS is Hard Red Winter imported from Turkey, Iraq and the central asia.

    It is great for making bread and needs cools nights and warm days for the starch and proteins to be placed into the growing kernel at the right proportion for making – bread flour. The protein to starch ratio is important. Berry’s too plump with starch leads to lower protein levels since there is ‘more’ starch and the starch to protein ratio goes down.

    Hard spring wheat grown in northern Nebraska and the Dakota’s is a higher protein and makes a hard roll and is better for pizza dough and other hard crusted breads.

    The real question is what will happen to barley production since good malting barley needs high starch levels and low proteins.

  61. Excuse me! You what Watts?
    “Despite those downspikes in yield, the trend remains upwards.”
    Temperature record anyone?

  62. Don’t worry about the beer. If it gets too cold for wheat, barley grows well in cold as well as heat.
    Actually in wheat growing country this Mark Hertsgaard guy would be said to be “Dumber then a wooden fence Post” pg

  63. “The professor may answer, but Hertsgaard is probably a lost cause to mental mendacity, as he also believes (according to some obscure activist group)that Climate Change is killing 1000 children a day.”

    Maybe it is. After all, aren’t ethanol subsidies making the price for world food increase? Oh, maybe not Global Warming, but the governments reaction the perceived global warming.

  64. I see a grant in the future to develop warming resistant lobster vines for well connected “scientists”.

  65. Sorry to rehash what has already been stated, but durum is more tolerant to drought than corn so the total supply of durum available for pasta production is predominately determined by the total acres seeded to the crop. When farmers sense that more money can be earned growing other crops and especially crops that feed the bio fuel market those are the crops they will seed and durum production will fall. If you want more durum and pasta production tell the US government to ease back on the bio fuel subsidies.

  66. Global wheat production:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_wheat_production_statistics

    1996 585 (in Million Metric Tons)
    2005 628
    2010 651

    2009 685 So I suppose you could make a 1 YEAR downtrend line… oh, wait, it was cold in 2010

    I’m having trouble buying his thesis and I’m wondering if his editor ever heard the words “Fact Check”…

    @gcapologist:

    There isn’t one.

    First off, there’s several kinds of wheat, broadly divided into “spring” and “winter”. (That right there gives you a clue about range…) I’ve seen it growing in Canada and in a part of California (as ‘spring’ wheat IIRC) where it gets to “110 in the shade and there ain’t no shade” (thats in F for you Metric Afflicted folks…)

    I’ve never seen a hot limit on wheat, but when it gets too cold, you have to swap to barley or rye or triticale ( a wheat rye hybrid).

    If you look in your Sunset Garden Book you will find one place listed where the summers are marked as “too hot to grow everything”. Phoenix Arizona is in that zone. In exchange, you can grow crops 10 OTHER months of the year (and swap to tomatoes in the hot summer ;-)

    http://www.arizonagrain.com/index.cfm?show=10&mid=9

    There is a reason why we have a category all by itself on our website; the Durum Wheat quality is in a category all of its own. Arizona Grain has been a long standing player in the world wheat markets for years. Why is that? Simple, our grain is as good as the producers that grow it. Superb milling qualities, test weight, and color along with low moisture and high semolina yield provide wheat millers a quality product. High gluten strength and excellent protein levels needed to produce quality flour and keep wheat millers at home and abroad coming back for more.

    Arizona’s warm, arid, climate provide a perfect environment for quality durum wheat production . The hot days
    and cool nights in the last 60 days of our growing period provide a wheat that is very dry, with a dark golden, vitreous color. Rain is highly unusual during our harvest period, therefore our durum has very high falling numbers due to lack of sprout damage in the wheat.

    Somehow I don’t think Canada is going to get warmer than Arizona any time soon…

    @P.G.:

    Please don’t insult wood fence posts like that!

    “Dumber than a sack of rocks”… please…

  67. Thank you, simple science: you know, propose a hypothesis, make predictions, test them against reality by experiment or observation. If the tests go against your hypothesis, it’s wrong! (Sorry, my version of Feynman’s talk in ‘The Character of Physical Law’).

  68. The number 5.5% came from this article:
    Lobell, David B., Wolfram Schlenker, and Justin Costa-Roberts. “Climate trends and global crop production since 1980.” Science 333.6042 (2011): 616-620.
    English is not my mother tongue but as far as I understand they used MODEL(!!!) to compare TRENDS(!!!) and found that production is growing 5.5% slower than it should, based on historical data.Also, I’m not an expert in agriculture, but I don’t see where they taking in account socio-economic factors like collapsing of collective farming in former Soviet Union, which lead to temporarily yields reduction in Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan etc.

  69. Buzzed says:
    December 12, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Studies on projected climate change impact on agriculture I have seen say clearly that mild climate change can help production because of longer growing sessions and that CO2 it self stimulates plant growth. The concern is and always has been about the long term impact if human caused climate change continues. Pointing to recent crop data to refute this is like saying we don’t have to worry about the bridge ahead being out because the road here is free of pot holes.

    I draw your attention to an assertion by Professor Frank Manthey, quoted in the original article:


    Frank Manthey, a professor at North Dakota State University who advises the North Dakota Wheat Commission. Already, a mere 1 degree Fahrenheit of global temperature rise over the past 50 years has caused a 5.5 percent decline in wheat production.

    Also from the original Hertsgaard article:

    But if humans want to keep eating pasta, we will have to take much more aggressive action against global warming. Pasta is made from wheat, and a large, growing body of scientific studies and real-world observations suggest that wheat will be hit especially hard as temperatures rise and storms and drought intensify in the years ahead.

    Without wandering into tortured metaphors about bridges and potholes, I submit that “scientific studies and real-world observations” suggesting that a “mere 1 degree Fahrenheit of global temperature rise of the past 50 years has caused a 5.5 percent decline in wheat production” are absolutely falsified by data which shows global wheat production and yield have both risen just shy of threefold in that period. Please examine the graphs Anthony has so thoughtfully provided. One assumes the North Dakota Wheat Commission would do as much before accepting any advice from Prof. Manthey.

    My higher math is quite rusty, but I am unaware of any way to take a nearly threefold increase and honestly call it a 5.5 percent decline. Please enlighten me if you can.

    Clearly either the temperature rise has had no negative effect on wheat yield or any effect has been overwhelmed by other factors. Either way, more people are eating more wheat produced from the same or fewer acres as 50 years ago.

    And WUWT has already posted dozens of articles refuting assertions that extreme storms and draught are increasing, so agricultural production has not suffered in any sustained way for that reason.

    So your claim that while “mild” climate change can be beneficial, we still need to be concerned about the long term impact of “continued” climate change is a different argument than offered by Hertsgaard, who clearly claims the future will be an extension of the recent past.

    Hartsgaard supported his argument with demonstrably false data. If you are going to advance a different argument, you need to support it with some different data. So just where is any credible evidence we won’t have enough wheat to make pasta?

  70. JFC says:
    December 12, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Excuse me! You what Watts?
    “Despite those downspikes in yield, the trend remains upwards.”
    Temperature record anyone?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    SInce we are discussing plants in the midwest here is a much better graph
    movement of Koppen Climate borders based on movement of native plant species.

  71. P.G. Sharrow says:
    December 12, 2012 at 6:06 pm
    … Actually in wheat growing country this Mark Hertsgaard guy would be said to be “Dumber then a wooden fence Post” pg
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Or dumber than a post turtle? (Bush’s nickname) =>>> link =>>> link

  72. Gunga Din says:
    December 12, 2012 at 7:28 pm
    What came first? CAGW or the dumb ideas?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Dumb Ideas. The Indiana Pi Bill, 1897

    If you have got politicians then you have got dumb ideas.

    Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself. ~ Mark Twain (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910)

  73. Gunga Din says:
    December 12, 2012 at 7:28 pm
    What came first? CAGW or the dumb ideas?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    On politicians and dumb ideas.

    “The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.” ~ attributed it to Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee (1747-1813)

    It probably the cumulative effect of all those dumb ideas over 200 years that kill a civilization either that or the great weight of the ever increasing bureaucracy or both.

  74. borssyk says:
    December 13, 2012 at 5:29 am

    The number 5.5% came from this article:
    Lobell, David B., Wolfram Schlenker, and Justin Costa-Roberts. “Climate trends and global crop production since 1980.” Science 333.6042 (2011): 616-620.
    English is not my mother tongue but as far as I understand they used MODEL(!!!) to compare TRENDS(!!!) and found that production is growing 5.5% slower than it should, based on historical data….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Nice find.

    They do not bother to look at three glaring points.
    #1. Mechanization of Ag.
    #2. Plant breeding and hybridization
    #4. Commercial Fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides

    The gains from these advances were seen during the 20th century BEFORE 1980. With the exception of GMOs we have not had any other ‘Break Through’ technology to continue the gains and GMOs have not really given much in gains despite the media propaganda. So you are looking at the leveling off of a ‘mature’ industry.

    January 3 2008 ~ …a contributor to the FAO’s Forum, Professor El-Tayeb, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus of Industrial Biotechnology at Cairo University commented that: “..currently available (GMO’s) mostly contribute negatively to poverty alleviation and food security – and positively to the stock market.”

    http://www.warmwell.com/gm.html

    This is key point effecting farming today in both the USA and the EU. From the paper below:

    Growing interest in environmentally friendly production practices has expanded markets for organic and other specialized products and has influenced the direction of environmental policy for agriculture. Programs have moved from a focus on soil conservation and fertility, largely aimed at boosting farm productivity, to include measures addressing water and air quality, wildlife and landscape protection, food purity, and animal welfare, phenomena whose effects are felt and manifested away from the farm.….

    This means a RETREAT from the practices giving maximum production.

    More on the history of Ag in the USA. ( The USA raises a large portion of the world food supply )

    http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/59390/2/eib3.pdf“>USDA: The 20th Century Transformation of U.S. Agriculture and Farm Policy

    …Early 20th century agriculture was labor intensive, and it took place on a large number of small, diversified farms in rural areas where more than half of the U.S. population lived. These farms employed close to half of the U.S. workforce, along with 22 million work animals, and produced an average of five different commodities. The agricultural sector of the 21st century, on the other hand, is concentrated on a small number of large, specialized farms in rural areas where less than a fourth of the U.S. population lives. These highly productive and mechanized farms employ a tiny share of U.S. workers and use 5 million tractors in place of the horses
    and mules of earlier days.

    Since 1900, the number of farms has fallen by 63 percent, while the average farm size has risen 67 percent…

    Technological developments in agriculture have been particularly influential in driving change in the farm sector. Following World War II, technological developments occurred at an extraordinarily rapid pace. Advances in mechanization and increasing availability of chemical inputs led to ever-increasing economies of scale that spurred rapid growth in average farm size, accompanied by an equally rapid decline in the number of farms and in the farm and rural populations. From complete reliance on animal power in 1900, farmers rapidly embraced mechanical power (see box, “Mechanization”). Tractors had essentially replaced animal power by 1970, and mechanical harvesting of crops (sugar beets, cotton, and tomatoes, for example) became routine by the late 1960s. Advances in plant and animal breeding throughout the century facilitated mechanization and increased yields and quality, enhanced by the rapid development of inexpensive chemical fertilizers and pesticides since 1945 (fig. 5). As a result of these advances, growth in agricultural productivity averaged 1.9 percent annually between 1948 and 1999.

    Mechanization

    1900
    Number of work animals
    21.6 million
    1930
    Number of horses, mules
    18.7 million
    Number of tractors
    920,000

    1945
    Number of tractors
    2.4 million
    Number of mules and
    horses used for work
    power on farm
    11.6 million

    1960
    Number of tractors
    4.7 million
    Number of horses and
    mules used for work power
    on farm
    3 million

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