Masters, McKibben, and droughting Thomases

Every once in awhile you see something in the “it’s worse than we thought” meme that deserves some clarification for those that want to look at all the data, rather than those who want to push gloom and doom. A recent tweet by Bill McKibben thoughtlessly retweeting a statement by the Master of Disaster, Weather Underground’s Dr. Jeff Masters, got me digging to see just how true it was. Here’s the tweet:

McKibben_drought_tweet
OK, we are used to weepy Bill regurgitating Tweeting without thinking on a daily basis, but the response from one his unthinking followers was a true Harold Camping moment.

McKibben_drone_tweet

Dear Ms. Andrea Angulo, the answer is: we’ve done nothing wrong, because this isn’t the worst USA drought by any measure nor did we cause it (it was a natural weather oscillation the NAO, and stop following weepy Bill and look for yourself rather than being a flock member).

Jeff Masters’ claim doesn’t hold up when you look at all the data, and it is a claim of his own invention that not even NOAA said anything about. Let’s look at Masters claim:

McMasters_drought

He cites this graphic and PR from the U.S. Drought Monitor, big mistake, because they have a documented tendency to exaggerate. Here’s the current map:

dec25_drought

But Masters didn’t really bother to visualize all the drought data he cited, preferring instead to simply make a pronouncement, which is then unthinkingly parroted by folks like McKibben.  I took the CONUS drought area data Masters linked to in the article from:

http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cmb/sotc/drought/2012/11/uspctarea-wetdry-mod.txt 

And plotted it, noting the years Masters referred to:

US_Drought_area_1885-2012

Not so scary now, is it?  But it becomes even less scary when you don’t cherry pick the data you want, but instead look at all the drought data available to you. Quite frankly, since Masters holds a PhD. in meteorology, you’d think he’d know to look at the most widely accepted metric, the Palmer Drought Severity index (PDSI) also available from NOAA.

PDSI_1885-2012_YTD_avg

Negative values are dry (in yellow) positive values are wet (in green) Source: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/temp-and-precip/time-series/index.php?parameter=pdsi&month=11&year=2012&filter=ytd&state=110&div=0

(Note: the 2012 value is a slim yellow line to -4 on the right axis)

Using the Year-to-Date average Palmer Drought Severity Index, 2012 is just another blip compared to others in  the last century, and hardly rates a mention. But that doesn’t fit Masters and McKibben’s ongoing gloom and doom meme, so they don’t want to look at it or show it to their followers. But wait, there’s more.

From Sheffield et al 2012, plotting the Palmer Drought Severity Index globally over the past 60 years they show little change in drought severity, and certainly no response to “global warming”.

a, PDSI_Th (blue line) and PDSI_PM (red line). b, Area in drought (PDSI <−3.0) for the PDSI_Th (blue line) and PDSI_PM (red line). The shading represents the range derived from uncertainties in precipitation.

From their abstract:

Here we show that the previously reported increase in global drought is overestimated because the PDSI uses a simplified model of potential evaporation that responds only to changes in temperature and thus responds incorrectly to global warming in recent decades. More realistic calculations, based on the underlying physical principles that take into account changes in available energy, humidity and wind speed, suggest that there has been little change in drought over the past 60 years.

So even the PDSI may have errors, making it overestimate drought severity, and it isn’t just one paper saying this. Martin Hoerling of NOAA says:

Hoerling et al. in Journal of Climate: Is a Transition to Semi-Permanent Drought Conditions Imminent in the U.S. Great Plains?

“We conclude that projections of acute and chronic PDSI decline in the 21st Century are likely an exaggerated indicator for future Great Plains drought severity.”

Climatologist Dr. Pat Michaels, in his previous WUWT opinion piece, noted that NASA GISS Dr. James Hansen is making a claim that global temperatures are driving U.S drought, and did a scatterplot to gauge correlation between Hansen’s own GISS temperature data (GISTEMP) and the U.S. Palmer Drought Severity Index with annual data through 2011:

Annual PDSI -vs- Annual Global GISTEMP – Source: Dr. Pat Michaels

There’s no correlation: zero, zip, nada. If there were, you’d see the dots align along a diagonal line, there’s not even a hint of that. Of course doom and gloom proponents like  Masters and McKibben might say “… but, but, but, 2012 was a terrible drought”. Yes, it was, it is, but we’ve seen worse in the past.

One final note, about the real worry of drought in the USA; effects on the food supply.

CornYieldDep_US[1]

Note how 2012 compares to drought years of 1934, 1936, and 1988. It is certainly no outlier.

And, the trend for yield continues upward, with 2012 not even coming close to some of the worst years for production.

CornYieldTrend_US[1]

Source: http://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/corn/news/timeless/YieldTrends.html

Agricultural science trumps a drought year. That’s a hockey stick we can all believe in.

Call me a “doubting Thomas” as to overwrought claims by Masters and McKibben, but the fact is that the 2012 drought isn’t as bad as they would have you believe and won’t show you these other data because they don’t fit their business model.

Regarding corn, recall what Bill McKibben once wrote wept:

Those damned shriveled ears of corn. I’ve done everything I can think of, and millions of people around the world have joined us at 350.org in the most international campaign there ever was.

Everything that is, but look at the data.

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96 thoughts on “Masters, McKibben, and droughting Thomases

  1. There you go putting things in historical context again!
    How are these people supposed to sell their doom and gloom agenda if you keep showing the facts in context. Please refrain from pointing out that the dealer is dealing from the bottom of the deck.

    /sarc

    Larry

  2. That’s exceptionally well done, Anthony. I wonder if Dr. Masters will show some courage and respond. I won’t hold my breath.

  3. Wow. Anthony – that is yet another example of your careful, thoughtful and well-documented work. Impressive – thanks so much!

  4. Some people have still not worked out this is not a scientific argument so does not play by those rules , its political/religions argument where the ‘facts’ can be used/changed/created in any way to suit the objective of those promoting the idea .

    So although the data does not support the claims , that does not matter has what matters is how the ‘message ‘ is received by those that will not or cannot check the data . And what impact that has on the politicians.

  5. It’s no good being reasonable, well-researched and right, Anthony. If it’s dry in the US it’s global warming. If it’s wet in the UK (the ‘wettest since records began’ – in 1910) it’s global warming.

    If it were wet in the US and dry in the UK, that would be global warming.

    The ultra-low temperatures in Russia and China this month are global warming. If the current stratospheric warming event means NYC is covered in ice next month, Mayor Bloomberg will blame…

    There are two sorts of people with whom all reason is doomed to failure: very smart people, who can reason you into the ground, and very stupid people, whose reasoning is beyond belief.

  6. Now we should really start undoing all the things we did wrong. Then we would be back in the 30ies and have BIGGER droughts and The New Deal again (and some mayhem in Europe). /facepalm

  7. Even without Anthony’s clear discussion, what immediately strikes me is the statement “…worst since 1930s…”

    And THAT is supposedly proof? ….. of … what, exactly?

  8. The truth is so boring.
    People like to be scared. Horror movies, which to me are so absurd they bore me, continue to do quite well, at least in the US. Americans are so jaded they pay no attention unless the subject is the biggest and baddest if its kind, including weather. If you try to tell them everything is normal, they will reject it and find some way that it is the biggest and baddest, even if they have to narrow the comparisons down to do so.

  9. Now one coldurn minute.

    You say …

    “OK, we are used to weepy Bill … Tweeting without thinking on a daily basis, but the response from one his unthinking followers …”

    I was taught that a negative times a negative (one guy not thinking times another guy not thinking) was always a positive. Always!

    So … whats da problem? It’s all politically positive … it’s OK!

    Right?

    :)

  10. Droughts have been happening for hundreds of millions of years for various reasons, what makes current drought conditions any more likely to be caused by human activities than previous ones?

  11. We had the “drought” conditions in the UK, which was used as “proof” of global warming – because they keep telling us that global warming will lead to hotter, dryer weather. After culminating in April 2012, we had the wettest Summer, the wettest Autumn and then the wettest December on record, leading to floods in several parts of the country.

    These same warmists, then decided that warmer climates actually lead to more water vapour, and thus higher rainful. Therefore, the floods became “proof” of global warming. Do these people have any credibility left?

  12. Funny.

    CO2 levels go up, temperatures go up, and the corn production goes up too.

    Darn those inconvenient graphs! 8<)

  13. McKibben seems to feel “The Cause” is so important he can just ignore the lessons of history. Actually, if you are in the mood to be an Alarmist, you can skip CO2 and “The Cause,” and just look at history. Although the Dust Bowl was in part brought about by using farming practices suited to the wetter East in the drier west, there is ample evidence worse droughts than that happened, perhaps even as recently as the Civil War. Very old maps do not show that area as the “Great Plains,” but rather as the “Great American Desert.” Also grass-covered hills in that region, when viewed from the air, look a lot like sand dunes.

    If it happened before it can happen again. That is a major lesson of History. Therefore we should not be wasting our money on windmills and solar panels, and converting food to ethanol for vehicles. (Ethanol for humans is OK, in moderation.) If we want a “Cause,” our cause should be to fill grain elevators and create a back-up supply of food.

    Of course, just as Mayor Bloomberg made no preparations for a flood all knew would eventually hit NYC, the blind will lead the blind, and there will be no preparations made for the next Dust Bowl.

    Only people who have lived in lands that have actually seen famine seem to have the common sense to keep a decent back-up supply of food. They who have seen have eyes that see. Sadly, the typical, blind modern-American can’t even imagine walking into a market, and seeing all the shelves be empty.

  14. Isn’t it interesting to watch confirmation bias in action. Look at one set of data and when it gives you the answer you want just stop. Alarmists provide interesting psychology studies.

  15. “Historical Corn Yields”

    Mechanization is a huge part of that.

    The Combine
    No matter how great the seed, or the weather, if we were still picking corn by hand , there would not be a hockey stick graph .

  16. Verity Jones says:
    December 30, 2012 at 9:26 am
    “Good one Anthony. We’ve got the opposite problem with rain in the UK: ”

    Oh no – terrible news for the UK’s cacti.

  17. This is a glaring example of Skeptical Science Syndrome.

    It is so very disenheartening to observe talent going to waste.

  18. markx says:
    December 30, 2012 at 8:56 am
    Even without Anthony’s clear discussion, what immediately strikes me is the statement “…worst since 1930s…”

    And THAT is supposedly proof? ….. of … what, exactly?
    ____________________________________________

    I think he’s proved, using two data points, that there is no correlation between drought and atmospheric CO2 levels.

  19. Here’s an example of how dishonest these people are. In his blog post, Masters shows a picture of the USS Inaugural lying exposed on the banks of the MIssissippi. It’s an old WWII minesweeper that sank in 1993. He states: “The minesweeper, once moored along the Mississippi River as a museum at St. Louis before it was torn away by floodwaters in 1993, is normally completely under water. ”

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/article.html

    But according to this article from 2007, the boat is exposed whenever the water is low on the Mississippi:

    http://www.riverfronttimes.com/2007-03-07/news/the-strange-strange-tale-of-the-u-s-s-inaugural/

    The article says, “When the river is low, nearly three-fourths of the ship pokes above the water.”

    I suspect that this year more of the ship is exposed because the river’s water is low (although not at record lows) but the presentation on Masters’ site implies the thing has never been seen since 1993.

  20. One needs also to look at the success of drought tolerant corn. This year’s US tests (and it was a real test of drought for sure) of Syngenta’s Aquasure corn resulted in 48% INCREASE in yield over conventional hybrids under the worst stress.

  21. First, great analysis and presentation.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the ONLY way to get the conversation away from global warming is to start a panic campaign for global cooling. Global normal just won’t do it. It needs to be very well orchestrated and complete with outrageous claims that we are all going to die because of it.

    Start with the discovery that a CO2 value of 410 ppm is the tipping point where the ice melts enough to change the jet stream in the summer enough to force rapid, irreversible ice formation in the Arctic in the winter. Confirm that with a Russian ice core finding and away we go.

    WUWT can say it isn’t happening with real facts and that, of course, will only reinforce the iceman cometh thesis.

  22. R Babcock says:
    December 30, 2012 at 9:53 am
    “I’ve come to the conclusion that the ONLY way to get the conversation away from global warming is to start a panic campaign for global cooling. Global normal just won’t do it. It needs to be very well orchestrated and complete with outrageous claims that we are all going to die because of it.”

    Don’t worry. Milankovich cycles come to the rescue.

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2012/12/29/annoying-lead-time-graph/

  23. Matt:

    The only thingie the self propelled mechanized thresher or combine has accomplished is the increased productivity.

    We could still have 2oo bu/acre corn now with out a combine, we would just need a lot more people and horses.

  24. Just like it shows in the above Palmer Drought Index, NOAA’s NCDC also lists U.S. precipitation by year from 1895-2012.

    Precipitation amount is also an indicator of drought:

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/temp-and-precip/time-series/index.php?parameter=pcp&month=11&year=2012&filter=ytd&state=110&div=0

    It shows that 2012 precipitation is pretty darned low, but certainly not unprecedented. There are 10 other years with less precipitation than 2012 and most of them are more than 50 years ago.

  25. I don’t know this for a fact but it stands to reason that as government subsidies increase for ethanol more marginal land will be planted. A drought would reduce crop yields on this low quality rain fed land to a much greater extent than high quality irrigated land. This could partly account for the large decrease in yield per acre. The only way to tell would be to look at yield per acre over time for long established farms that produce corn for food.

  26. Not only is every meteorological phenomenon global warming, but it`s all caused by Co2 which comprises a whopping 0,035% of the atmosphere. It`s not the Sun or the ocean currents, which are the two things in this solar system that habitually influences weather. Nosiree, it`s Co2! I knows it! By strange coincidence this trace element can also be easily taxed if you want complete totalitarian control and world government, for the purposes of depopulation, What are the chances?
    I have long since started comparing the snake handling buffoons in the AGW cult to people in the Middle Ages who believed witches could float because they were made of wood, so the proof you weren`t a witch was if you sank and drowned. In a slightly more pompous way it`s exactly the same, but with more fake graphs. I am waiting for the eco fascist rendition of the dwarf toss next. Or is that “reality” TV?

  27. It is easier to be an alarmist and not so easy to work to debunk “the sky is falling” stories.
    And then looking more close to what they propose one has really to ask himself what is wrong with them.
    If we could remove with a magic wand some CO2 from the atmosphere to get it “under 350 ppm” as the 350.org people say, what would be the results of it?
    It will not be less storms, less drought – there has been no documented reduction of such during LIA – but some documented reduced biosphere, depending how much under 350 we would go.

    I wonder if many of those millions who are supposed to be part of the 350.org do really think what they are for in this org?
    I watch the dreamed up CO2 curve which goes much below 350 ppm CO2. In such case one needs to remind himself that a huge part – about 1/3 of the biosphere (the increase after LIA) – would be at play according to this paper:
    The uptake of carbon by vegetation and soil, that is the terrestrial productivity during the ice age, was only about 40 petagrams of carbon per year and thus much smaller: roughly one third of present-day terrestrial productivity and roughly half of pre-industrial productivity.
    wattsupwiththat.com/2011/11/21/carbon-on-the-uptake/
    Yes of course, there is also some warming that came, playing a role in this increase, which was not due to CO2. So we would lose only part of that 1/3 – even if this is contested by warmistas.
    And this with a growing population? How can they call themselves progressive and have this agenda?

    If the last 150-200 years warming is, as they said, due to CO2, then all the increase in biosphere since LIA is only due to the increase in CO2. Which bears consequences.
    I wonder how many experiments and scenarios do they do with a world with reduced CO2?
    Please run your models, and tell me how the Earth and humanity flourishes with 350, 300 and 280 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere with 7 billion + humans, going towards 8 billion for the mid century:
    “By decreasing use of other fossil fuels, and improving agricultural and forestry practices around the world, scientists believe we could get back below 350 by mid-century. ” – from 350.org
    Does anybody know of such scenario or study? Is this not important to know in the situation?
    Where are the modellers when one needs them?

  28. Vince Causey says “We had the “drought” conditions in the UK, which was used as “proof” of global warming – because they keep telling us that global warming will lead to hotter, dryer weather. After culminating in April 2012, we had the wettest Summer, the wettest Autumn and then the wettest December on record, leading to floods in several parts of the country.

    These same warmists, then decided that warmer climates actually lead to more water vapour, and thus higher rainful. Therefore, the floods became “proof” of global warming. Do these people have any credibility left?”

    I could not have put it any better myself!
    Check out Christopher Bookers column in todays Sunday Telegraph (available online)
    with regard to the incompetence of the Met Office.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/

    There was another article concerning wind turbines, apparently their life span is about 66% of the time that was initially quoted, and their efficiency drops to about 50% of their expected output Therefore all the costing that that various governments have calculated with regard to these monstrosities is wrong!

  29. Matthew W says:
    December 30, 2012 at 9:40 am

    “Historical Corn Yields”

    Mechanization is a huge part of that.

    The Combine
    No matter how great the seed, or the weather, if we were still picking corn by hand , there would not be a hockey stick graph .

    Yeppers – That’s because we could not afford the infrastructure to PAY for the universities, computers, and wasted conferences, UN field trips, lawyers, and university and government bureaucracies that comprise the hockey stick.

    See, at subsistence level agriculture, 7/8 of the people have work 14 hours a day 7 days a week just to live. And they “live” less than 35 years per lifetime. Thank food, good water, sewage treatment, better metals, better machines – that whole Industrial revolution thingy – for the luxury of life you (and the UN IPCC) enjoy.

  30. All this over a tweet? Besides the tweet does not say the current drought is worse than the 1930′s, it says the worst SINCE the 1930′s. This is true. Whether or not it is a harbinger of things to come is another question.

  31. Buzzed says:
    “the tweet does not say the current drought is worse than the 1930′s, it says the worst SINCE the 1930′s. This is true. Whether or not it is a harbinger of things to come is another question.”

    That depends upon which drought metric is used for comparison. If we’re going by the Palmer Drought Severity index (PDSI) it’s the worse since 2008. Oh the horror!

    It’s all in the post, all you have to do is read it.

  32. scienceistheonlyway says:
    December 30, 2012 at 12:10 pm
    Skeptical Science Syndrome is alive and well. The facts speak for themselves, but the near blind can not reason nor read.

    There…..fixed.

  33. Hmmmm.
    In the UK, parts of southern England were in (Official) drought untl 17 July – a majority of the year. Yet this is – for sure – England’s wettest year since the ‘Official’ records began in 1910, although I suspect that we have had wet years before that initialising year.
    Still not confirmed that this is the United Kingdom’s wettest year (since 1910) as I write. Fair chance. I think.
    Visited Devon this weekend – many fields – and many flood plains – were, ah, flooded.
    Name one Fact about flood plains: might it be that – in wet years – they flood?
    Uh-huh.
    Now, tell the politicians. Please!
    Returning to topic, interesting that the Great 2012 [2012-2013] drought is so horrendous it surpasses the Terrible drought of [If I read the figure right] 1975.
    And we all remember that terrible drought.
    Don’t we?
    [Ah........................ Sarc off.].

    Happy New Year to every one on our planet [and those down mines {so in our planet] in the air – and in orbit]!

    Smiles
    Auto

  34. Jim south London says:
    December 30, 2012 at 11:40 am
    Small question Is there a graph for the price of fresh water in the USA

    In the UK we have had the heaviest monthly rainfall since records began allegedly.
    ======================================================================
    I doubt the price of fresh water in the US would say much about drought conditions. The USEPA regulates water also and some of the regulations require upgrades to the water plants. The cost of those upgrades is passed on to the consumer. Some of those regulations are nonsense. (ie lead-free brass for water fixtures) Some of the nonsense is costly. In other words, the price of drinking water may not reflect the supply of the raw water to be treated.

  35. The 1950s drought reached a record low in September 1956.

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/drought/drght_history.html

    Some of us are old enough to remember. However, that summer USSR troops clashed with Polish workers and a few months later there was a bigger problem in Hungary. I can recall news reports of the Hungarian Revolution on our b/w TV. The drought no – but I lived in Pennsylvania — not then dry.

  36. Auto says:
    December 30, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Hmmmm.
    In the UK, parts of southern England were in (Official) drought untl 17 July – a majority of the year. Yet this is – for sure – England’s wettest year since the ‘Official’ records began in 1910, although I suspect that we have had wet years before that initialising year.
    Still not confirmed that this is the United Kingdom’s wettest year (since 1910) as I write. Fair chance. I think.
    Visited Devon this weekend – many fields – and many flood plains – were, ah, flooded.
    Name one Fact about flood plains: might it be that – in wet years – they flood?
    Uh-huh.
    Now, tell the politicians. Please!

    Interesting that heavy unremitting rains were one of the trigger events that brought on famines and the plague in Europe in the early 1300′s

    http://www.historyteacher.net/APEuroCourse/Readings-Open/reading-TheBigChill.pdf

    Larry

  37. John F. Hultquist says:
    December 30, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    The 1950s drought reached a record low in September 1956.

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/drought/drght_history.html

    Some of us are old enough to remember. However, that summer USSR troops clashed with Polish workers and a few months later there was a bigger problem in Hungary. I can recall news reports of the Hungarian Revolution on our b/w TV. The drought no – but I lived in Pennsylvania — not then dry.

    I remember a very hot dry summer in 1956-57 (I was in grade school) here in Colorado we had hordes of grasshoppers as well. All the plants had a ragged look because the hoppers were eating everything in sight. In fact I spent much of that summer with my BB gun shooting grass hoppers off the weeds as target practice. It is etched into my mind because when walking through the fields to get to school that fall, a steady tidal wave of jumping grasshoppers would proceed you as you walked, like a bow wave on a boat. Then one morning as I walked through that weed field that I used as a short cut to school, there were no grasshoppers (alive) but the ground was carpeted with hundreds and hundreds of them stone dead. Apparently they had sprayed the field the day before.

    It was a hot dry summer but not all that unusual, we have had similar droughts since where annual rainfall here in Denver fell to single digit inches for the entire year, and time passed between rain storms were measured in weeks and sometimes months.

    You can see those dry years in this image:

    (source : http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/drought/ )

    Many web sources mention (with great alarm) that 2012 is the worst drought in 800 years — well Duh then it is not unprecedented is it? Similar droughts occurred long before global warming was an issue for discussion.

    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v5/n8/fig_tab/ngeo1529_F4.html

    Larry

  38. America seems to have more climate deniers than grasshoppers. Sad.

    REPLY: no, sadly, insects such as yourself outnumber the human race. – Anthony

  39. Hate to nit-pick, but I would swear I see yellow, right on the right hand border, running down to the -4. Is that an unfortuate bleed, or is that the bar for 2012? (this is on the Continguous US, PDSI, Jan-Nov chart).
    Can someone let me know either way, please? I just wish to make certain of what I am seeing, before I do a piece on Deviantart, and link back here. Either way, it is still very much smaller than the 30s, 50s, 80s and 2000 markers.

  40. Anthony, I wonder if you should borrow the comment from RACookPE1978 and start a new section called “An Inconvenient Graph”

  41. Over the last couple of years I have begun to have an increasing contempt for climate science generally and the catastrophic warming meme promoting scientists in particular, none of which have produced anything of any consequence or any perceivable benefit to mankind except a self flagellating legacy of fear, severe societal conflict and wealth destruction on a massive sale and the corruption of good government and honest political ideals with their uncompromising promotion of corrupted and massaged data designed to reinforce and flaunt their personal ideologically biased beliefs in a manmade catastrophic future for the world.
    Yet these same CAGW believing climate scientists are still held in high regard despite the sorrow and grief they have created and continue to attempt to create amongst the citizens of Earth.
    I contrast the behavior and the outcomes of the so called climate science with that of those real scientific heroes of our world, the agricultural researchers and agricultural scientists and the plant breeders of this world.
    _________
    To quote from a recent WSJ article “Our Fading Footprint for Farming Food” by Matt Ridley;

    It’s a brave scientist who dares to announce the turning point of a trend, the top of a graph. A paper published this week does just that, persuasively arguing that a centurieslong trend is about to reverse: the use of land for farming. The authors write: “We are confident that we stand on the peak of cropland use, gazing at a wide expanse of land that will be spared for Nature.”
    Jesse Ausubel and Iddo Wernick of Rockefeller University, and Paul Waggoner of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, have reached this conclusion by documenting the gradual “dematerialization” of agriculture. Globally, the production of a given quantity of crop requires 65% less land than it did in 1961, thanks to fertilizers, tractors, pesticides, better varieties and other factors. Even corrected for different kinds of crops, the acreage required is falling at 2% a year.
    In the U.S., the total corn yield and the total corn acreage tracked each other in lock step between 1870 and 1940—there was no change in average yield per acre. But between 1940 and 2010, corn production almost quintupled, while the acreage devoted to growing corn fell slightly. Similar divergences appeared later in other countries. Indian wheat production increased fivefold after 1970, while wheat acreage crept up by less than 1.5 times. Chinese corn production rose sevenfold over the same period while corn acreage merely doubled.
    &
    the researchers find that over the next 50 years people are likely to release from farming a land area “1½ times the size of Egypt, 2½ times the size of France, or 10 Iowas, and possibly multiples of this amount.”

    Indeed, the authors find that this retreat from the land would have already begun but for one factor so lunatic that they cannot imagine it will not be reversed soon: biofuels. If the world had not decided to subsidize the growing of energy crops on 3.4% of arable land, then absolute declines in the acreage of arable land “would have begun during the last decade.” The prospect of “the restoration of vast acreages of Nature” is enticing for nature lovers. [/]
    _____________

    The above is the true measure of the relative importance of and standing between climate science scientists and those unheralded, almost entirely unrecognised agricultural scientists and researchers and the world’s farmers and food producers.
    With one, climate science, great societal discord, fear and conflict has been created, often and apparently deliberately so.
    With agricultural science and it’s researchers, the world’s farmers and food producers have been able to continue to adequately feed mankind’s ever growing numbers.
    Mankind’s numbers at more than 7 billions are now twice the population of the 1950′s but they have been for the most part, adequately fed over those past 60 years with only a relatively small increase in global food crop acreage from those 1950′s times to the present,
    . There are no longer the great famines of the past centuries nor would there be any significant hunger anymore in this world if the racial, tribal and terrorist inspired,sometimes nation wide conflicts and killings could be eliminated.
    The lack of mankind’s scourge of past ages, major famines are due almost entirely to those unrecognised, often in relative terms, poorly rewarded plant breeders, agricultural scientists and researchers and the world’s farmers and food producers adopting ever better and ever more efficient food production technologies plus a highly sophisticated global transport system that enables massive quantities of essential basic food supplies to be rapidly transported from places of plenty to needy areas in the far corners of the Earth in only a matter of a few weeks.

    The whole system of society’s recognition of scientists of all types is totally screwed up and totally corrupted with those who have made a real and vital contribution to ALL of mankind, the agricultural scientists, the plant breeders and researchers, going unrecognised and unrewarded whilst those whose scientific legacy is societal conflict and dissension and fear and wealth destruction, the so called climate warming scientists whose contribution to mankind’s welfare and society is almost entirely negative, collect all the awards, the money and kudos.

  42. Agricultural science trumps a drought year. That’s a hockey stick we can all believe in.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Doesn’t that follow the CO2 curve? graph

  43. Ironically these morons actively promote more human misery than is necessary through support for things like bio-diesel or bio-ethanol.

    I can see why Australia’s sugar industry supported bio-ethanol – it was an established industry running out of export markets.

    But to advocate devastating the Amazon wilderness to support a loony hypotheisi that promotes starving humans to produce fuel that is in oversupply already – there are literally thousands of capped gas well in Australia waiting for the economics to start producing – well such advocacy could only be supported by deranged evangelists.

    Kinda scary really that people are prepared to condemn the unfortunates among the Earth’s population to endless misery on thr righteousness of an unproven, and extremely unlikely hypothesis.

    Academia has a lot to answer for for shutting down the scientific debate and adopting advocacy !!!

  44. DirkH says:
    December 30, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Now we should really start undoing all the things we did wrong. Then we would be back in the 30ies and have BIGGER droughts and The New Deal again (and some mayhem in Europe). /facepalm
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Now I have to clean my screen again.

    That is a very good summing up of the matter.

  45. markx says:
    December 30, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Even without Anthony’s clear discussion, what immediately strikes me is the statement “…worst since 1930s…”

    And THAT is supposedly proof? ….. of … what, exactly?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    The ~ 80 year Gleissberg cycle but don’t tell Jeff Masters that.

    August 2002 paper by the Russians:

    LONG-PERIOD CYCLES OF THE SUN’S ACTIVITY RECORDED IN DIRECT SOLAR DATA AND PROXIES
    M. G. OGURTSOV1 , YU. A. NAGOVITSYN2 , G. E. KOCHAROV1 and H. JUNGNER3
    1 A.F. Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute, 194021, Polytechnicheskaya 26, St.-Petersburg, Russia

    Abstract.
    Different records of solar activity (Wolf and group sunspot number, data on cosmogenic isotopes, historic data) were analyzed by means of modern statistical methods, including one especially developed for this purpose. It was confirmed that two long-term variations in solar activity – the cycles of Gleissberg and Suess – can be distinguished at least during the last millennium. The results also show that the century-type cycle of Gleissberg has a wide frequency band with a double structure consisting of 50 – 80 years and 90 – 140 year periodicities. The structure of the Suess cycle is less complex showing a variation with a period of 170 – 260 years. Strong variability in Gleissberg and Suess frequency bands was found in northern hemisphere temperature multiproxy that confirms the existence of a long-term relationship between solar activity and terrestial climate.

    Dr S. of course thinks they are wrong even though he never bothered to read the paper.

  46. Matthew W says:
    December 30, 2012 at 9:40 am

    “Historical Corn Yields”

    Mechanization is a huge part of that.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    So is commercial fertilizer and pesticides, not to mention hybridization. The yield per acre is not so much mechanization as the rest of the advances. Whether I work the land with a mule or with a tractor is not as important as the seed variety, correct lime and fertilizer (soil tests) and irrigation.

    Corn is a C4 plant BTW and not as sensitive to CO2 as wheat and rice which are C3. Most food stock is C3 most ‘weeds’ are C4.
    seedling response to CO2

    C3 vs C4 plant response to CO2

  47. ” arthur4563 says:
    December 30, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Never assume that a PhD indicates intelligence. Burke’s Law.”

    I don’t know who you are referring to but McKibben doesn’t have a PHD, he isn’t even a scientist, in fact he never talks about the science, because he doesn’t know any of it.

  48. ROM says:
    December 30, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Over the last couple of years….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Thank you for that.

    Americans are too well fed and so are most of those in the EU, therefore the farmer and agricultural scientists are treated with contempt.
    My one and only bumper sticker says:
    Never curse a farmer with your mouth full

  49. Otter says:
    December 30, 2012 at 2:49 pm
    Hate to nit-pick, but I would swear I see yellow, right on the right hand border, running down to the -4. Is that an unfortuate bleed, or is that the bar for 2012? (this is on the Continguous US, PDSI, Jan-Nov chart).
    Can someone let me know either way, please? I just wish to make certain of what I am seeing, before I do a piece on Deviantart, and link back here. Either way, it is still very much smaller than the 30s, 50s, 80s and 2000 markers.

    I see the same Otter, very thin yellow line down to -4. That does actually make sense.
    If you go to the link and take the values under the plot, there it is: -4.09

    Here are all values from the plot:
    1895 1896 1897 1898 1899 1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908 1909 1910 1911 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
    2012
    -0.17 0.11 -0.47 -0.22 0.22 -0.01 -1.04 -1.16 1.95
    0.04 1.43 3.52 4.16 3.54 2.05 -2.20 -2.59 2.75 0.54 -0.32 1.96 2.76 -0.41 -3.36 1.74 3.53 -0.41 -0.31 0.96 -0.08 -2.31 0.24 2.77 2.72 1.24 -1.84 -4.25 0.00 -0.66 -6.63 -3.18 -3.17 -2.35 0.19 -2.48 -4.56 1.50 3.17 0.96 0.27 1.98 2.52 1.26 0.38 1.54 1.38 1.68 -0.61 -2.81 -4.39 -4.50 -3.53 0.06 3.05 -0.56 0.18 0.90 0.14 -2.76 -1.25 0.73 -1.56 0.17 1.57 2.39 0.63 0.41 1.61 4.76 3.42 3.70 -0.31 -1.18 0.85 2.23 -0.20 -1.11 3.11 4.82 3.67 0.74 1.96 -0.13 -3.34 -0.80 -0.01 1.12 1.05 4.37 2.32 2.81 2.37 4.23 1.63 -0.02 -4.38 -2.66 -2.11 0.84 1.08 0.29 -1.34 -0.80 0.53 1.03 2.88 -0.62
    -4.09

  50. Gail Combs says:
    December 30, 2012 at 3:37 pm
    Matthew W says:
    December 30, 2012 at 9:40 am

    “Historical Corn Yields”

    Mechanization is a huge part of that.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    So is commercial fertilizer and pesticides, not to mention hybridization. The yield per acre is not so much mechanization as the rest of the advances. Whether I work the land with a mule or with a tractor is not as important as the seed variety, correct lime and fertilizer (soil tests) and irrigation.
    ==============================================================
    No.
    If you have 100 bushels per acre without fertilizer and hybrid seed corn and then triple that with scientific advances, great.
    But if you still had to pick the corn by hand which was still being done in the early 20th century, you physically just can’t gather the crop without mechanization.
    And at that time, the price of corn did not justify the land owner to hire more man hours.

  51. Never assume that a PhD indicates intelligence. Burke’s Law. But,but,but….doesn’t it mean piling it higher and deeper?? (sorry if over the top,mods)

  52. It appears to me that the “Contiguous U.S. PDSI, January-Novermber” graphic
    is not showing 2012 well. According to the data, 2012 ranks 7th worst since
    1895 for Jan-Nov PDSI.
    However, I would agree that 2012 is not exceptional or 2nd-worst or anything
    along such lines. I consider 2012 to merely have a level of drought that
    occurs on-average 5 or maybe 6 times a century, even after considering for
    temporary anthropogenic factors contributing to the dryness of the 1930′s.

    Something that happens 5 times a century is part of the fabric of “normal
    American weather”. A large variety of extremes of weather each individually
    pummel “the 48 states”, or some or another part of the Contiguous USA, with
    each type of extreme weather pummeling each location it affects very
    infrequently. But the sum of weather extremes has always been mostly high
    in America.

  53. CO2TUS INTERRUPTUS?

    The City of Sydney plans to make its New Year’s Eve extravaganza a carbon-neutral event by using biodegradable firecracker cases, recycled water, renewable energy and buying carbon credits to offset the emissions created by the evening’s dazzling $6.5 million fireworks display.

    ‘Hurricane Sandy and a string of extreme weather events this year are an important reminder that climate change remains the biggest challenge of our time,” the lord mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, said.

    ”Making New Year’s Eve carbon neutral shows you can stage a world-renowned event attended by over 1 million people and still be sustainable.”

    http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/about-town/revellers-set-to-get-climatefriendly-bang-for-their-buck-20121228-2bz98.html

    Do these people honestly believe this sort of garbage? And do they need some tokens to take away their guilt in order to justify a firework display on New Year’s Eve? Or is it purely about stemming calls of hypocrisy? Whichever, the mind boggles.

    And does this herald a new era of CO2TUS INTERRUPTUS events in the alarmists’ ever increasing psychosis that we cause cyclones and that we can control the earth’s climate by using recycled water and investing in windmills?

  54. One good sign is that the mass media have been sticking closer to the truth than they previously did. Most have described this drought as “worst since the ’50s”, which is accurate.

  55. Otter,
    At the NCDC site there is a table at bottom of the graph that gives the PDSI for 2012 as about -4. Not plotted because the December data is missing no doubt. Quite dry, but several other years in the 30s and 50s were similarly dry with 1934 being much dryer. While it is sadly necessary to continue to debunk these silly claims by alarmists, why does anyone believe simply breaking the 1934 record would be an indication of CAGW? When the climate stops changing we can reasonably expect no more records set.

  56. Concerning Ag Production during the 2012 drought.
    1. The C4 plants, wheat and soybeans, both had yields outside of the normally used yield models. There was not enough stored soil moisture, plus precipitation, to produce the yields recorded.
    a. The result of this is that mainstream Ag Universities are now re-evaluating their yield models.
    b. It is very apparent that the higher CO2 levels resulted in fewer open stoma, which resulted in less evaportransportation by the plants. Instead, they were able to put available water sources into yield.

    2. Corn, a c3 plant, did not show the response as plainly as he C3 plants, but there was most deff a yield response, verses the yield models used for decades.

    The above are facts. Another reason that CO2 is a good thing in the atmosphere.

  57. grasshopper says: December 30, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    “….America seems to have more climate deniers than grasshoppers. ….”

    Ah, grasshopper … you have much to learn …..

    You will find no-one is denying climate, or its existence.
    And very few are denying that the climate changes, or that it may in fact be changing now.

    Most simply object to the concept that a few scant years of intense record gathering, some elaborately calculated satellite measures, and a raft of historical adjustment all fed through computer models constitute sufficient evidence to restructure the world’s energy, financial and political systems at a cost to the average man, while providing a stream of revenue for the financial traders, the World Bank and the UN.

    And, at the same time, most have little time for token gesture knee-jerk reactions of the “piss* in a wet-suit” variety either.

    The number of intelligent people out there (probably including yourself) who seemingly take the approach of; “Thats what we are told, so it must be true”, is astounding.

    * (… a warm feeling, but nobody notices.)

  58. Camburn says: December 30, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    b. It is very apparent that the higher CO2 levels resulted in fewer open stoma, which resulted in less evaportransportation by the plants. Instead, they were able to put available water sources into yield.
    ===================================
    Most interesting- is this really true? Does this refer to atm CO2 increases of the last few decades?
    Please explain. Thank you

  59. Brilliant, Anthony!!!

    Let me echo the observation of:
    Ray says:
    December 30, 2012 at 8:38 am
    That is such a well presented article that it should be added to the WUWT Reference page…

    Simply title it “Drought Reference Page” and occasionally pepper it with updates, but you’ve already hit this one out of the park. You’ve provided a huge public service, and the accolade applies to the rest of your site as well!!!

  60. Corn prices keep dropping like a rock. So much for the super drought going to wipe out our food supplies story.

  61. SAID HANRAHAN by John O’Brien

    “We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    In accents most forlorn,
    Outside the church, ere Mass began,
    One frosty Sunday morn.

    The congregation stood about,
    Coat-collars to the ears,
    And talked of stock, and crops, and drought,
    As it had done for years.

    “It’s looking crook,” said Daniel Croke;
    “Bedad, it’s crook, me lad,
    For never since the banks went broke
    Has seasons been so bad.”

    “It’s dry, all right,” said young O’Neil,
    With which astute remark
    He squatted down upon his heel
    And chewed a piece of bark.

    And so around the chorus ran
    “It’s keepin’ dry, no doubt.”
    “We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    “Before the year is out.”

    “The crops are done; ye’ll have your work
    To save one bag of grain;
    From here way out to Back-o’-Bourke
    They’re singin’ out for rain.

    “They’re singin’ out for rain,” he said,
    “And all the tanks are dry.”
    The congregation scratched its head,
    And gazed around the sky.

    “There won’t be grass, in any case,
    Enough to feed an ass;
    There’s not a blade on Casey’s place
    As I came down to Mass.”

    “If rain don’t come this month,” said Dan,
    And cleared his throat to speak -
    “We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    “If rain don’t come this week.”

    A heavy silence seemed to steal
    On all at this remark;
    And each man squatted on his heel,
    And chewed a piece of bark.

    “We want an inch of rain, we do,”
    O’Neil observed at last;
    But Croke “maintained” we wanted two
    To put the danger past.

    “If we don’t get three inches, man,
    Or four to break this drought,
    We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    “Before the year is out.”

    In God’s good time down came the rain;
    And all the afternoon
    On iron roof and window-pane
    It drummed a homely tune.

    And through the night it pattered still,
    And lightsome, gladsome elves
    On dripping spout and window-sill
    Kept talking to themselves.

    It pelted, pelted all day long,
    A-singing at its work,
    Till every heart took up the song
    Way out to Back-o’-Bourke.

    And every creek a banker ran,
    And dams filled overtop;
    “We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    “If this rain doesn’t stop.”

    And stop it did, in God’s good time;
    And spring came in to fold
    A mantle o’er the hills sublime
    Of green and pink and gold.

    And days went by on dancing feet,
    With harvest-hopes immense,
    And laughing eyes beheld the wheat
    Nid-nodding o’er the fence.

    And, oh, the smiles on every face,
    As happy lad and lass
    Through grass knee-deep on Casey’s place
    Went riding down to Mass.

    While round the church in clothes genteel
    Discoursed the men of mark,
    And each man squatted on his heel,
    And chewed his piece of bark.

    “There’ll be bush-fires for sure, me man,
    There will, without a doubt;
    We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
    “Before the year is out.”

    Around the Boree Log and Other Verses, 1921

  62. mpainter says:
    December 30, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    Yes, this is really true.

    During times of moisture stress, which 2012 provided, the benifit of the higher levels of CO2 started to stand out.
    The yields confirmed testing that was done via controlled labs and small open field research.

    The variable present today, that was not present when the yield models were created, is the higher level of CO2. This is establshed science, as far as the yield reaction to available water sources.

    C4 plants: soybeans, potatoe, pinto beans etc showed a very strong yield response in 2012.

  63. Lars P. says:
    December 30, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Otter says:
    December 30, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Hate to nit-pick, but I would swear I see yellow, right on the right hand border, running down to the -4. Is that an unfortuate bleed, or is that the bar for 2012? (this is on the Continguous US, PDSI, Jan-Nov chart).
    Can someone let me know either way, please? I just wish to make certain of what I am seeing, before I do a piece on Deviantart, and link back here. Either way, it is still very much smaller than the 30s, 50s, 80s and 2000 markers.

    I see the same Otter, very thin yellow line down to -4. That does actually make sense.

    I noticed that immediately, but I suspect most people didn’t. A NOTE pointing out 2012′s skinny down-column should be added to the head post.

  64. Five bucks says that Anthony’s mate McGibbon won’t be publishing a “global warming caused drought” scare article at the end of 2013. The odds appear to be about 20 to 1 in favour of a ‘normal’ year for rainfall in 2013.

    The problem is that almost everywhere in the world is subject to periods of higher and lower rainfall. And you might not believe this, but this also used to happen with equal frequency before the age of “global warming.”

    Hot, cold, wet, dry windy, normal, whatever – there is always some idiot who says that “global warming” is the cause.

  65. Hmm. Wondering where all the extra precip is in N Alaska from the autumn open Arctic Ocean? Not supposed to be a drought there…

  66. andrewmharding says:
    December 30, 2012 at 11:50 am
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////
    You can bet your bottom dollar that the position with off-shore wind will be significantly worse than on shore wind because of the harsh environment which will play havoc with machinery and the difficulties with maintenance.
    I envisage that the position with off-shore wind will probably be at least 3 times as bad as that with onshore wind. That means that if on shore wind is poroving to have only half the estimated financial viability, off-shore wind is likely to have only one sixth of the estimated financial viability.
    Will the politicians take note? Not much chance!

  67. Greater drought? The 30 yr (1980-2010) avg annual precip here in somewhat rain-shadowed western MD has risen from 36-37 inches to over 40 inches. That’s significant. What’s interesting is that it’s a return to the precip levels of ~1900 after drying out during the ’20s to the ’70s. The late ’50s to 1970 drought was worse here than the ’30s. I have childhood memories of chronically burnt lawns & sweltering summer temps from the mid-60s.

  68. Mechanization has outstripped seed variety, fertilization, etc progress by leaps and bounds and still does. The cost of fuel has been the primary driver. Want to be a small acreage farmer carving out fingers of wheat fields on rocky out-crop ground, or bring an old abandoned field back to production? Forget it. Combines used to be able to navigate such torcherous fields (I know of this personally, we had some). Not any more. Combine cutting heads have grown so wide they can’t navigate tight spots anymore.

    Want to plow, disk, and seed? Can’t do it anymore with more than one fuel-expensive pass and expect to earn a profit. So large tractors pull the entire process with one pass and wider swaths, once again preventing smaller fields from being productive. Can’t navigate the tight space.

    Need to fertilize your field? Forget it unless you own, rent, or hire equipment and/or operators to come in with wide-boomed sprayer arms to take care of your growing needs with as few passes as possible around your field. You want to spend money fertilizing a smaller field? You can but it will cost you so much money there will not be any profit in it.

    But these large giants didn’t even like dealing with the square corners of square and rectangular fields. So where did you find large flat stretches of land that could be shaped into fields these behemoths like to be in? On dry flat plains. How do you get water there? From large rivers piped into circle irrigation systems. A few decades ago, productive fields bloomed into being almost overnight in places no one thought would ever grow water-thirsty corn plants. Large, wide equipment systems like to run in circles. The high desert plains were just waiting to be carved into those crop circles. The perfect marriage happened all over the country-side. Overall production went through the roof. And it all happened in a heart beat.

    Fuel is the driving factor. If you want agriculture jobs back while keeping food prices low and production high, bring the price of fuel down. Won’t happen while governmental helicopter parents are in charge of country after country after country.

  69. And yet the panic-striken like McKibben continue to believe the “unprecedented _______” narrative. One wonders what they believe the mechanism to be. Clearly it isn’t global warming, as it isn’t actually occurring at present.

    Don’t they realize their arguments are now actually weakening the relationship between AGW and catastrophe?

  70. Matthew W says:
    December 30, 2012 at 4:45 pm
    Mechanization is a huge part of that….

    If you have 100 bushels per acre without fertilizer and hybrid seed corn and then triple that with scientific advances, great.
    But if you still had to pick the corn by hand which was still being done in the early 20th century, you physically just can’t gather the crop without mechanization.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I think you are under estimating human ingenuity. Commercial fertilizer and machinery came in at about the same time. It was during the 1800′s that the USA went from hand labor to horse draw machinery and really made the major advances that freed people from the drudgery of farm labor.
    You can see in the 19th century the labor in farming was cut by ten fold. (I have friends who work the land with horses and mules to this day)

    18th century – Oxen and horses for power, crude wooden plows, all sowing by hand, cultivating by hoe, hay and grain cutting with sickle, and threshing with flail… [horses were used for plowing only]
    …….
    1819 – Jethro Wood patented iron plow with interchangeable parts
    1830 – About 250-300 labor-hours required to produce 100 bushels (5 acres) of wheat with walking plow, brush harrow, hand broadcast of seed, sickle, and flail
    1834 – McCormick reaper patented
    1834 – John Lane began to manufacture plows faced with steel saw blades
    1837 – John Deere and Leonard Andrus began manufacturing steel plows
    1837 – Practical threshing machine patented
    1841 – Practical grain drill patented
    1844 – Practical mowing machine patented
    1847 – Irrigation begun in Utah
    1849 – Mixed chemical fertilizers sold commercially

    1850 – About 75-90 labor-hours required to produce 100 bushels of corn (2-1/2 acres) with walking plow, harrow, and hand planting
    1854 – Self-governing windmill perfected
    1856 – 2-horse straddle-row cultivator patented

    1862-75 – Change from hand power to horses characterized the first American agricultural revolution
    1865-75 – Gang plows and sulky plows came into use
    1868 – Steam tractors were tried out
    1869 – Spring-tooth harrow or seedbed preparation appeared
    1884-90 – Horse-drawn combine used in Pacific coast wheat areas

    1890-99 – Average annual consumption of commercial fertilizer: 1,845,900 tons
    1890′s – Agriculture became increasingly mechanized and commercialized
    1890 – 35-40 labor-hours required to produce 100 bushels (2-1/2 acres) of corn with 2-bottom gang plow, disk and peg-tooth harrow, and 2-row planter
    1890 – 40-50 labor-hours required to produce 100 bushels (5 acres) of wheat with gang plow, seeder, harrow, binder, thresher, wagons, and horses
    1890 – Most basic potentialities of agricultural machinery that was dependent on horsepower had been discovered

    http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blfarm1.htm

  71. Doubting Thomases? How can you doubt global warming when you see mass protests against it like the one pictured here:

    :?
    MJM

  72. Peak Warming Man says: December 30, 2012 at 11:22 pm
    SAID HANRAHAN by John O’Brien
    ================================
    Thanks for that. It made me chuckle.

    JamesD says: December 30, 2012 at 9:42 pm
    Corn prices keep dropping like a rock
    =========================
    We’ll all be rooned!

    Pamela Gray says: December 31, 2012 at 8:23 am
    ==============================
    Interesting insights into the current aspects of mechanization, fuel, and irrigation in agriculture.
    Big farming means big change in agronomy.

  73. Camburn says:
    December 30, 2012 at 8:01 pm
    I am going to correct this for you.

    Concerning Ag Production during the 2012 drought.
    1. The C4 C3 plants, wheat and soybeans, both had yields outside of the normally used yield models. There was not enough stored soil moisture, plus precipitation, to produce the yields recorded.
    a. The result of this is that mainstream Ag Universities are now re-evaluating their yield models.
    b. It is very apparent that the higher CO2 levels resulted in fewer open stoma, which resulted in less evaportransportation by the plants. Instead, they were able to put available water sources into yield.

    2. Corn, a c3 C4 plant, did not show the response as plainly as the C3 plants, but there was most deff a yield response, verses the yield models used for decades.

    The above are facts. Another reason that CO2 is a good thing in the atmosphere.

    Corn is a C4 plant. C4 is a recent plant modification due to CO2 starvation (and drought) CAM is the other photosynthesis pathway.

    C3 plants have the advantage if CO2 is high and there is decent water. When CO2 is low and the climate dries as happened during the last glaciation, grasslands (C4) take over forested (C3) areas. This is a very active field of investigation.

  74. michaeljmcfadden says: December 31, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Doubting Thomases? How can you doubt global warming when you see mass protests against it like the one pictured here:
    ===============================
    ha ha ha- very good!

  75. Pamela Gray says: December 31, 2012 at 8:23 am

    “…Want to be a small acreage farmer carving out fingers of wheat fields on rocky out-crop ground, or bring an old abandoned field back to production? Forget it. Combines used to be able to navigate such torcherous fields (I know of this personally, we had some). Not any more. Combine cutting heads have grown so wide they can’t navigate tight spots anymore….”

    Ha ha, just buy Chinese equipment: here is a rough/wet field one:

    http://cjnongji.en.made-in-china.com/product/DbIJGZHgHlWi/China-Combine-Harvester-4LYZ-2-0-.html

    and another:

    http://qdangelina.en.made-in-china.com/product/BMcnVesrfXUW/China-4YZ-3-Corn-Combine-Harvester.html

    I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of little harvesters moving with the harvest on the highways in the harvest season there – tiny, one car width, simply (and roughly!) built … (very common to see them stopped and under repair by the roadside)… but they do the job in those little fields.

    Mind you, the fields are very rapidly getting bigger. I was at first a bit surprised to see in western China near Urumqi (Xinjiang Province) the occasional John Deere in the paddock. (not the very big ones, though!). Make no mistake these guys love American equipment and if they can afford it thats what they buy, (especially visible in the intensive animal industries).

  76. “during December of 1939, 62.1% of the U.S. was in drought, the only year with more of the U.S. in drought was 1934.”

    seriously, anyone looking at significant digits there? i find it hard to believe that anyone in 1939 could calculate accurately whether 62.1% or 62.2% or 62.3% of the land of the U.S. was in drought. its laughable.

  77. OK, our local climate science questioner (I won’t say denier) referenced you so I looked. When I see pages and pages of science criticism, a lot rude and crude, I get skeptical. Where is the balance? Is it just Buzzed, grasshopper and a couple of others?
    Oh, I see one way to unbalance, in your comment:
    [Labeling other commenters "deniers" gets your entire comment deleted. — mod.]
    Of course on all those PhDs: “Can we finally for once call these “DR’s” what they are? Quacks comes to mind.” And “these morons”, Is perfectly all right. And “Never assume that a PhD indicates intelligence. Burke’s Law.” Fits in, but ;” Never assume that lack of a PhD indicates intelligence. Burke’s Law.” wouldn’t.
    I did get somethings out of an impressive amount of commentary and links, but it was a lot of work.

  78. RA Brown says: January 1, 2013 at 1:12 pm
    various incomprehensible things
    ================================
    are you a grad student?

  79. RA Brown says:
    January 1, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    OK, our local climate science questioner (I won’t say denier) referenced you so I looked. When I see pages and pages of science criticism, a lot rude and crude, I get skeptical. Where is the balance?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    After several years of illogic and bafflegab passing as peer-reviewed science you start getting a bit numb and snarky.

    Scott Armstrong, “Bafflegab Pays” (professor at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania)

  80. RA Brown says: January 1, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    “…..I get skeptical. Where is the balance?…”

    Just as an exercise (and please report back) please go to Skeptical Science and take a questioning viewpoint. Be very polite, and be sure to include scientific references.

    ….and see how long you last there. (Hint, your post above would have been deleted immediately, without any explanation)

  81. I believe people should only be referred to by their honorific degree type title IF the title is directly relevant to their expertise in the discussion that they’re engaging in. A prime example of the abuse of its use takes place in the “war on smoking” where “Dr. Stanton Glantz” weighs in and is cited as such quite often with medical area opinions without ever a mention that his only real claim to the doctorate is in mechanical engineering.

    In the area of climate change discussions the issue might not be as big a problem: you don’t often have people with doctorates in meteorology or history or such being cited as “Dr.” while making pronouncements about the health effects of climate change. Still, if a “Dr. Storm” wrote an article about fracking causing climate change and his/her doctorate was in something like Fine Art Appreciation … well, I’d say that might be some cause for real complaint!

    - MJM

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