Guest essay by David Archibald
A correspondent in Oslo writes:
“The official view in Norway is in contrast to what the people experience because of cooling weather: Late spring gives flooding and avalanches when late snow-melting in the mountains. Water pipes freeze because of early and deep frost in the winter. Insect populations down 40% in 5 years because of cool and wet summers. This of cause is bad for pollination of fruit and berries. The grain harvest in Norway this summer is down 18% from average the last 5 years, despite increase in area and better seeds. But officially it is getting warmer.”
Some of those observations are anecdotal but some facts can be checked – Norwegian wheat production for example. The following figure shows Norwegian wheat production from 1960. Wheat production is off 48% from its peak:
Figure 1: Norwegian Wheat Production 1960 – 2013
The problem is sprouting of grain on the stalk prior to harvest due to excessive humidity. That in turn means that Norwegian wheat is no longer good enough to make Norwegian bread as shown by Figure 2:
Figure 2: Percentage of domestic wheat in Norwegian wheat flour (Statistics Norway 2011)
Just a few years ago, Norwegian wheat comprised up to about 75% of Norwegian bread, seemingly hitting a blend wall. Now it is down to 10% due to climate change.
The Norwegian Government used to have a policy of storing two years’ worth of grain consumption. This was a lesson from WW2. It took two generations to forget that lesson and the policy was abandoned in the 1990s. Like a number of other countries, Norway will have to pay for higher food imports while its main source of revenue is falling rapidly. Norwegian oil production peaked in 2001 at 3.4 million barrels per day is now under half that number:
Figure 3: Norwegian Oil Production 1965 – 2013
Norwegian oil production has produced a classic Hubbert-style peak. Norway will cease to be an oil exporter by 2030. The country had attempted to placate the gods of climate with an expensive carbon capture project at the Mongstad refinery on the west coast. That foolish and self-indulgent project was abandoned on 20th September, 2013. With the funds that have been saved by that abandonment perhaps the Norwegian Government should go back to storing two years’s worth of grain.