# Carbon dioxide won’t cause famines

In fact, more atmospheric CO2 will spur crop growth – if we let it

Guest essay by Dennis T. Avery

Historian Geoffrey Parker is the author of Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the 17th Century. In a recent opinion piece, he suggested that the desperate climate from 1600 to 1700 is a template for human collapse in our twenty-first century. There are two massive flaws in his theory.

Almost all past agricultural and cultural collapses occurred during “little ice ages,” not during our many global warm periods. In addition, today’s seeds, fertilizers and modern farming techniques and technologies are far superior to anything mankind possessed during previous crises.

The seventeenth century was part of the 550-year Little Ice Age, the most recent of at least seven “little ice ages” that have befallen the planet since the last Pleistocene Ice Age ended some 13,000 years ago. Studying sediment deposits in the North Atlantic, Gerard Bond of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory found such centuries-long “little ice ages” beginning at 1300 AD, 600 AD, 800 BC, 2200 BC, 3900 BC, 7400 BC, 8300 BC, and perhaps at 9100 BC. In fact, these worldwide Dansgaard-Oeschger disasters arrived on a semi-regular basis some 600 times over the past million years.

Each of these icy ages blasted humanity with short, cold, cloudy growing seasons, untimely frosts, and extended droughts interspersed with heavy and violent rains. Naturally, their crops failed. Humanity’s cities starved to death, repeatedly – with seven collapses in Mesopotamia, six each for Egypt and China, two for Angkor Wat and at several calamities in Europe.

The early cultures gave the illusion of continuity: the Nile and the Yangtze always had at least a little irrigation water. However, “little ice age” hunger and disease drove human and animal migrations across thousands of miles and over continents, led to major invasions like the Huns into Europe’s Dark Ages, and caused the collapse of kingships and ruling dynasties around the globe.

While acknowledging the existence of the cold, chaotic periods, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has barely factored them into its computer models. The IPCC seems to think it is just coincidence that our warm and relatively stable Modern Warming directly followed the latest awful Little Ice Age.

Moreover, our recent climate has been more stable than the chaotic “little ice ages.” Iraq has not had a three-century drought recently. The Volga River Valley has not been too flooded to farm for 700 years, as happened after 600 BC. British logbooks show the Little Ice Age featured more than twice as many major hurricanes making landfall in the Caribbean, compared to the twentieth century.

Parker mentions three possible driving forces for the seventeenth century collapse: volcanoes, El Niños, and the sun. There’s no cycle in the volcanoes, however, and the El Niños are too short – rarely lasting more than a year or two. That leaves the sun, and the powerful influences it has on Earth’s temperature and climate.

Indeed, Parker’s own book focuses on the Maunder Minimum (1645–1715 AD), the solar cold cycle that existed during and caused the depths of the Little Ice Age. During this time, the sun had virtually no sunspots for 70 years, significantly reducing the crop-growing warmth reaching our planet, while producing long periods of horrendous storms and floods that killed crops and ruined harvested grains.

We must compliment Parker for recognizing that the climate was the key to these global crises. He fails, however, to acknowledge that this has been a recurring pattern.

With this omission, Dr. Parker draws the wrong conclusion about the threat to future societies. There is no visible reason to expect famines today due to carbon dioxide, which improves plant growth for crops, forests, grasslands and algae, as atmospheric CO2 levels increase.

The danger is the cold, chaotic weather of the “little ice ages” themselves. That will shrink agricultural zones and shorten growing seasons. Another such icy period is inevitably coming, though not likely in the next two centuries, if past cycles are an accurate guide.

Regardless, for the next 20-25 years, humanity will likely be in another cooling period, caused by the sun’s reduced energy output and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. We are about 150 years into the modern warming. Since the shortest of these warm periods during the Halocene was 350 years, and they generally last 350 to 800 years, it is unlikely that we will enter another Little Ice Age for a couple more centuries.

But even a prolonged cooler period (akin to what Earth experienced 1860-1900 and 1940-1975) could create problems for some crops in some areas: such as grapes in Washington, Wisconsin and Great Britain. Mostly, though, modern crops and agricultural practices can handle colder weather and shorter growing seasons reasonably well – and certainly much better than was the case for previous generations of humans during previous colder spells

Dr. Parker nearly redeems himself by making the most valid point of all. We now have science and transportation to deal much more effectively with that coming “little ice age.” Our biggest advantage is our modern high-yield agriculture. Today we harvest perhaps six times as much food per acre as the desperate farmers of the seventeenth century, and our yields keep rising, thanks to scientific breakthroughs like nitrogen fertilizer, pesticides and hybrid seeds.

We must also thank unfairly maligned biotechnology, which lets us grow many crops that are disease, drought and insect resistant; rice that can survive prolonged periods under water; plants that are resistant to herbicides and thus facilitate no-till farming that improves soils and reduces erosion; and specialty crops like “golden rice” that incorporate formerly missing nutrients into vital foods.

Our crop yields are also rising because of another surprising factor: more atmospheric carbon dioxide. This trace gas (400 ppm or 0.04% of Earth’s atmosphere) acts like fertilizer for plants, and thus for the animals and people who depend on them. Studies show that doubling CO2 in the air will boost the growth of herbaceous plants by about 30% to 35%; trees will benefit even more.

Indeed, satellites show that Earth’s total vegetation increased 6% just from 1982 to 1999, as CO2 levels increased. Famines in a CO2-warmed tomorrow are therefore less likely, not more.

If humans have food, they can do all the other things necessary for civilization. However, we must double food production per acre – again and rapidly – to feed the world’s oncoming peak population, and enable all people to enjoy the nutrition that Americans and Europeans already do.

Equally important, since 1960, higher yields have also saved wildlife habitat equal to a land area greater than South America from being plowed for more low-yield crops. The price of farming failure in coming decades will not be famine. Instead, it will be the loss of hundreds of millions of acres of wildlife habitats.

Misguided opposition to biotechnology, fossil fuels and increased atmospheric carbon dioxide could very well condemn millions of people to malnutrition and starvation, and numerous wildlife species to extinction.

__________

Dennis T. Avery is an agricultural and environmental economist and a senior fellow for the Heartland Institute in Chicago and the Center for Global Food Issues in Virginia. He was formerly a senior analyst for the U.S. Department of State and is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years. Readers may email him at CGFI@mgwnet.com and visit his website at www.CGFI.org

## 37 thoughts on “Carbon dioxide won’t cause famines”

1. Glen Michel says:

Indeed we live in propitious times; 7 Billion people sustained- with exceptions,in a 20th century full of the usual weather/climate related disasters that befell our antecedents.As for the future ;who knows? Adapt and endure we shall

2. Goldie says:

That sounds about right. But at the moment we have a group of people who are determined to blame everything on too much Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere. I suspect the North Atlantic will freeze over and this group will still be trying to assign it to Carbon Dioxide. The reality is of course that these people belong to an interesting cabal who are anti any form of carbon based energy and instead would prefer to have half the population of the planet freeze to death whilst trying to use so called renewables. Indeed their thinking is so odd that they would probably prefer it if half of the population froze to death.

3. sl149q says:

The greens are like King Canute trying to turn the tides of burgeoning human population growth.

Unfortunately by attempting to prevent it they will cause far more environmental destruction. Lower efficiency in growing food will simply mean we need to plow more forests down for crops. Bio-fuels mean the same.

Most attempts at limiting growth will have adverse affects that most perversely impact the 3rd world and poor in general.

4. Twobob says:

Take blue out of green.
Yellow left to colour rice to see.
Bloody heart for green peace.

5. Jimbo says:

In a recent opinion piece, he suggested that the desperate climate from 1600 to 1700 is a template for human collapse in our twenty-first century. There are two massive flaws in his theory.

Almost all past agricultural and cultural collapses occurred during “little ice ages,”…….

And here is a little evidence for the doubters.

Abstract – October 1998
Kenneth J. Hsu
Sun, climate, hunger, and mass migration
…Northern Europe was wetter while the middle- and low-latitude lands were more arid during colder epochs. Both sets of cold climatical conditions were unfavorable for agricultural production. Historical records show that large demographic movements in history took place because of crop failures and mass starvation, rather than escaping from war zones. The “wandering” of the Germanic tribes during the first two or three centuries of the Christian Era is one example. Whereas the accelerated release of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels is ultimately to cause global warming, historical evidence indicates, however, that global warming has been on the whole a blessing to mankind. Global cooling, on the other hand, has curtailed agricultural production and has led to famines and mass migrations of people….
Doi: 10.1007/BF02877737
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Abstract – 1984
Hubert H. Lamb
Some Studies of the Little Ice Age of Recent Centuries and its Great Storms
…And so the series gives us our most reliable estimate of the magnitude of the temperature depression in England and neighbouring countries. In northern Scotland, southern Norway and Iceland there are indications of a significantly greater depression of the prevailing temperatures…..The enhanced thermal gradient between latitudes about 50° and 60–65°N in this part of the world is thought to have provided a basis for the development of some greater wind storms in these latitudes than have occurred in most of the last 100 years…
[Climatic Changes on a Yearly to Millennial Basis 1984, pp 309-329]
doi: 10.1007/978-94-015-7692-5_34
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Abstract – 1999
Wolfgang Behringer
Climatic Change and Witch-Hunting: The Impact of the Little Ice Age on Mentalities
…..During the late 14th and 15th centuries the traditional conception of witchcraft was transformed into the idea of a great conspiracy of witches, to explain “unnatural” climatic phenomena……extended witch-hunts took place at the various peaks of the Little Ice Age because a part of society held the witches directly responsibile for the high frequency of climatic anomalies and the impacts thereof. The enormous tensions created in society as a result of the persecution of witches demonstrate how dangerous it is to discuss climatic change under the aspects of morality.
Doi: 10.1007/978-94-015-9259-8_13
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Abstract – 2004
Oster, Emily
Witchcraft, Weather and Economic Growth in Renaissance Europe
….The most active period of the witchcraft trials coincides with a period of lower than average temperature known to climatologists as the “little ice age.” The colder temperatures increased the frequency of crop failure, and colder seas prevented cod and other fish from migrating as far north, eliminating this vital food source for some northern areas of Europe (Fagan, 2000).
DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1257/089533004773563502
————————
Abstract – 2000
Reiter P.
From Shakespeare to Defoe: Malaria in England in the Little Ice Age
…Until the second half of the 20th century, malaria was endemic and widespread in many temperate regions, with major epidemics as far north as the Arctic Circle. From 1564 to the 1730s—the coldest period of the Little Ice Age—malaria was an important cause of illness and death in several parts of England. Transmission began to decline only in the 19th century,…
*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Volume 6, Number 1—February 2000 – Perspective
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Abstract – 2002
Otto S. Knottnerus
Malaria Around the North Sea: A Survey
…Malaria may have been introduced into the North Sea Basin in late Antiquity. It has been endemic at least since the 7th century, but its high-days were the Little Ice Age. After 1750 the disease steadily declined until it disappeared in the 1950s. ….
doi: 10.1007/978-3-662-04965-5_21
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Abstract – 1980
AB Appleby
Epidemics and famine in the little ice age
…The frequent crises were caused by famine, epidemic disease, and war, sometimes working in combination, sometimes not….France was especially subject to famine in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, with terrible crises falling in 1630-1631, 1649-1652, 1661-1662, 1693-1694, and 1709-1710….
[transcribed by me]
http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/203063?uid=2&uid=4&sid=21103592744971
————————
Abstract – 2013
S. Engler et al
The Irish famine of 1740–1741: famine vulnerability and “climate migration
The “Great Frost” of 1740 was one of the coldest winters of the eighteenth century and impacted many countries all over Europe. The years 1740–1741 have long been known as a period of general crisis caused by harvest failures, high prices for staple foods, and excess mortality……We regard migration as a form of adaptation and argue that Irish migration in 1740–1741 should be considered as a case of climate-induced migration.
doi: 10.5194/cp-9-1161-2013, 2013
————————
Abstract – 1998
M.D. Flannigan et al
Future wildfire in circumboreal forests in relation to global warming
Despite increasing temperatures since the end of the Little Ice Age (ca. 1850), wildfire frequency has decreased as shown in many field studies from North America and Europe. We believe that global warming since 1850 may have triggered decreases in fire frequency in some regions and future warming may even lead to further decreases in fire frequency….
DOI: 10.2307/3237261
————————
Abstract – 1993
Yves Bergeron, Sylvain Archambault
Decreasing frequency of forest fires in the southern boreal zone of Québec and its relation to global warming since the end of the ‘Little Ice Age’
doi: 10.1177/095968369300300307
————————
Abstract – 2006
J.M. Russell, T.C. Johnson
Little Ice Age drought in equatorial Africa
…….A high ratio of Mg to Ca (%Mg) indicates strong droughts in central Africa during the Little Ice Age (A.D. 1400–1750), in contrast to records from Lake Naivasha, Kenya, which suggest a wet Little Ice Age. This spatial pattern in Africa likely arose due to coupled changes in the high latitudes, the position of the Intertropical Convergence Zone, and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) system. Our results further suggest that the patterns and variability of twentieth-century rainfall in central Africa have been unusually conducive to human welfare in the context of the past 1400 yr.
doi: 10.1130/G23125A.1
————————
Abstract – 2005
Climate change, social unrest and dynastic transition in ancient China
Dian Zhang et al
…this study adopted a scientific approach to compare the paleoclimatic records with the historical data of wars, social unrests, and dynastic transitions in China spanned from the late Tang to Qing Dynasties. Results showed that war frequency in cold phases was much higher than that in mild phases. Besides, 70%–80% of war peaks and most of the dynastic transitions and nationwide social unrests in China took place in cold phases. …
[Note: Qing dynasty 1644 to 1912]
doi: 10.1007/BF02897517
————————
Abstract
Glynn, Peter W. et al
A dead Central American coral reef tract: Possible link with the Little Ice Age
…These analyses showed that live coral reefs in the Gulf of Papagayo, Costa Rica, were severely depleted in number, size and variety of species, compared to reefs in the major upwelling zone of the Gulf of Panama. Coral growth in the Gulf of Papagayo consisted mainly of dead reefs that died from 150–300 years B.P….
doi: dx.doi.org/10.1357/002224083788519740
————————
Abstract – 1979
Great Historical Events That Were Significantly Affected by the Weather: 4, The Great Famines in Finland and Estonia, 1695–97
…It is estimated that in Finland about 25–33% of the population perished (Jutikkala, 1955; Muroma, 1972), and in Estonia-Livonia about 20% (Liiv, 1938)….Records indicate that in the absence of an appropriate diet, the population consumed unwholesome and partly or fully indigestible ‘foods’ which led to widespread diseases and epidemics (diarrhea of sorts, including lientery, dysentery, etc.). There were even some cases of cannibalism,…
doi: dx.doi.org/10.1175/1520-0477(1979)0602.0.CO;2
————————
Abstract – 2007
James M. Russell et al
Spatial complexity of ‘Little Ice Age’ climate in East Africa:
sedimentary records from two crater lake basins in western Uganda
…Variations in sedimentation and salt mineralogy of hypersaline Lake Kitagata, and a succession of fine-grained lake sediments and peat in the freshwater Lake Kibengo, suggest century-scale droughts centred on AD 0, ~1100, ~1550 and 1750. These results broadly support data from nearby Lake Edward on the timing of drought in western Uganda, but contrast with lake sediment records from eastern equatorial Africa….
doi: 10.1177/0959683607075832
————————
Letter To Nature – 1993
Large increases in flood magnitude in response to modest changes in climate
James C. Knox
…Here I present a 7,000-year geological record of overbank floods for upper Mississippi river tributaries in mid-continent North America,……..After ~3,300 years ago, when the climate became cooler and wetter, an abrupt shift in flood behaviour occurred, with frequent floods of a size that now recurs only once every 500 years or more. Still larger floods occurred between about AD 1250 and 1450, during the transition from the medieval warm interval to the cooler Little Ice Age….
doi: 10.1038/361430a0
————————
Abstract – 1983
Jean M. Grove et al
Tax records from western Norway, as an index of Little Ice Age environmental and economic deterioration
Data from general tax commissions held in Sunnfjord Fogderi, Norway, reveal a substantial decline in rural prosperity between 1667 and 1723. Late seventeenth and eighteenth century incidence of serious physical damage to farmlands is documented in tax relief proceedings. Environmental deterioration characterised the early years of the Little Ice Age in western Norway.
Doi: 10.1007/BF02423522
————————
Abstract – 2004
Richard H. Steckel
New Light on the “Dark Ages” The Remarkably Tall Stature of Northern European Men during the Medieval Era
…..It is plausible to link the decline in average height to climate deterioration; growing inequality; urbanization and the expansion of trade and commerce, which facilitated the spread of diseases; fluctuations in population size that impinged on nutritional status; the global spread of diseases associated with European expansion and colonization; and conflicts or wars…..
doi: 10.1215/01455532-28-2-211
————————
Abstract – 2005
David A. Hodella et al
Climate change on the Yucatan Peninsula during the Little Ice Age
…Climate change in the 15th century is also supported by historical accounts of cold and famine described in Maya and Aztec chronicles. We conclude that climate became drier on the Yucatan Peninsula in the 15th century A.D. near the onset of the Little Ice Age (LIA). Comparison of results from the Yucatan Peninsula with other circum-Caribbean paleoclimate records indicates a coherent climate response for this region at the beginning of the LIA. At that time, sea surface temperatures cooled and aridity in the circum-Caribbean region increased.
Doi: dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yqres.2004.11.004
————————
Abstract – 2011
David D. Zhang et al
The causality analysis of climate change and large-scale human crisis
…Results show that cooling from A.D. 1560–1660 caused successive agro-ecological, socioeconomic, and demographic catastrophes, leading to the General Crisis of the Seventeenth Century. We identified a set of causal linkages between climate change and human crisis….Our findings indicate that climate change was the ultimate cause, and climate-driven economic downturn was the direct cause, of large-scale human crises in preindustrial Europe and the Northern Hemisphere.
doi: 10.1073/pnas.1104268108
————————
Abstract – 1997
L.K. Barlow et al
Interdisciplinary investigations of the end of the Norse Western Settlement in Greenland
…Historical climate records, mainly from Iceland, contain evidence for lowered temperatures and severe weather in the north Atlantic region around the mid-fourteenth century. Archaeological, palaeoecological and historical data specifically concerning the Western Settlement suggest that Norse living conditions left little buffer for unseasonable climate, and provide evidence for a sudden and catastrophic end around the mid-fourteenth century….
doi: 10.1177/095968369700700411
————————
Paper – 2008
Phil Jones
Historical climatology-a state of the art review
River Thames freeze-overs (and sometimes frost fairs) only occurred 23 times between 1408 and 1814 (Lamb, 1977) when the old London Bridge constricted flow through its multiple piers and restricted the tide with a weir. Figure 1 shows the character of Old London Bridge with its many arches and obstructions to flow….
Special Issue: Historical Climatology Volume 63, Issue 7, pages 181–186, July 2008
DOI: 10.1002/wea.245

The Little Ice Age was a wonderful time indeed.

6. Keith Willshaw says:

sl149q said:

> The greens are like King Canute trying to turn the tides of burgeoning
> human population growth.

Actually Canute was a wily old bird who staged his stunt by the ocean to demonstrate
the limits of human power over the natural world. In AGW terms he was a ‘denier’

7. Jimbo says:

The 1960s saw the Green Revolution – a huge boost in agricultural productivity. See Norman Borlaug. India was on the brink of starvation (cool period).

Yields of major crops have been on the rise since then, closely matching co2 rise. ;-)

Global warming since the late 1970s went hand in hand with continued rises.

The biosphere has been greening in recent decades, with arid areas becoming wetter and wet areas becoming drier.

Nature Perspectives – October 2001
Green revolution: the way forward
The origin of agriculture led to the domestication of many plant species and to the exploitation of natural resources. It took almost 10,000 years for food grain production to reach 1 billion tons, in 1960, and only 40 years to reach 2 billion tons, in 2000. This unprecedented increase, which has been named the ‘green revolution’,……..
http://www.nature.com/nrg/journal/v2/n10/abs/nrg1001-815a.html
================

Abstract – 1999
Green revolution: preparing for the 21st century
Abstract

In the 1960s there were large-scale concerns about the world’s ability to feed itself. However, widespread adoption of “green revolution” technology led to major increases in food-grain production. Between 1966 and 1990, the population of the densely populated low-income countries grew by 80%, but food production more than doubled. The technological advance that led to the dramatic achievements in world food production over the last 30 years was the development of high-yielding varieties of wheat and rice. These varieties are responsive to fertilizer inputs, are lodging resistant, and their yield potential is 2-3 times that of varieties available prior to the green revolution. In addition, these varieties have multiple resistance to diseases and insects and thus have yield stability……
http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/g99-044#.U4w815zmcmE

It’s not a warmer climate with more co2 that’s our problem, it’s part of the solution.

8. Jimbo says:

Look at this video. It shows Cowpea plant growth at 450 ppm! We are not their yet. It shows you another Cowpea at 1,270ppm – growth is greater! Yet they are trying to sell us co2 vegetation catastrophes now and in the near future. It is doubtful we will reach 800ppm this century. Innovation, invention, discoveries, possible declining population by 2100 etc.

9. Misguided opposition to biotechnology, fossil fuels and increased atmospheric carbon dioxide could very well condemn millions of people to malnutrition and starvation, and numerous wildlife species to extinction.

========================

But at least we’d be *doing something*!

10. Chris Wright says:

An excellent piece. History repeatedly shows that when the world gets warmer, mankind prospers. When the world gets colder, there has been widespread starvation and the destruction of whole civilisations.

This shows how useful the phrase ‘climate change’ has been to hide the truth. Consider these two statements:
1. Throughout history, starvation and the destruction of civilisations has been caused by climate change.

2. Throughout history, starvation and the destruction of civilisations has been caused by global cooling.

Most people will take the first statement to mean that global warming is very bad for mankind. That’s because ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ have come to mean the same thing.
The second statement is much more specific, and far more honest.

In any discussion of climate, perhaps the weasel words ‘climate change’ should be banned!
Chris

11. ‘Carbon dioxide won’t cause famines…’, and

‘‘…so lets go on to some good news, more co2 is definitely good for plant growth because plants depend on co2…experiment show that plants grow much better in high concentrations of co2…and in higher latitudes plants grow faster in warmer temperatures, according to the Daily Mail global warming would boost Britain farm crops by 10%, what is the Mail’s source, well they are quoting a study by the Met Office, which found out that seasonal frost will start later and finish earlier and that is good for plant growth. Trouble is other predictions in the same met report look a bit grimmer, like water shortages, flooding and heat stress. And it turns out crop losses due to these other factors more than out weigh the Mail headline…yes some things like increased co2 and fewer frosts will boost crop production, other things like more frequent drought, stronger hurricanes, rising sea level, salinisation and increased flooding will decrease it…’

Now watch for yourself.

Edited from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNgqv4yVyDw. also see for sources.

12. hunter says:

The near total embrace of the failed, disproven ideas of Ehrlich/Holdren by academics is a manifestation of seem deep problem in our current educational system.
And now one of the most failed, disproven disreputable fear mongers of all time is the head of science policy for our President.

13. Richard111 says:

Good stuff. No problems with CO2, but cold? I gather planting has been much delayed in Canada and some northern states of the USA due to late spring thaw of the soil. What price mutterings of starvation from some African countries in the near future?

14. michael hart says:

You can guess what the reply might be: “Carbon dioxide will make forests grow too much and fall over in the great wind. Trees will be extinct in five years.”

15. Garfy says:

“l’innocence du CO2″ by François Gervais – if you understand french language

16. michael hart says:
June 2, 2014 at 4:40 am
You can guess what the reply might be: “Carbon dioxide will make forests grow too much and fall over in the great wind. Trees will be extinct in five years.”

=============================

Too many trees might make Guam capsize. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7XXVLKWd3Q

17. The seventeenth century was part of the 550-year Little Ice Age, the most recent of at least seven “little ice ages” that have befallen the planet since the last Pleistocene Ice Age ended some 13,000 years ago. Studying sediment deposits in the North Atlantic, Gerard Bond of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory found such centuries-long “little ice ages” beginning at 1300 AD, 600 AD, 800 BC, 2200 BC, 3900 BC, 7400 BC, 8300 BC, and perhaps at 9100 BC. In fact, these worldwide Dansgaard-Oeschger disasters arrived on a semi-regular basis some 600 times over the past million years.

Wow, hard to know where to start with this. Technically, we are still in the Pleistocene ice age, unless the warmists are correct and the CO_2 we’ve added has ended it. Which would be, in general, a very, very, very good thing as an 85,000 year glaciation like the Wisconsin, which ended roughly 11,000 years ago. Second, while it is “undeniable” that the climate has oscillated in temperature through the Holocene, claiming a period of “$1470 \pm 500$” years violates one of the principles of significant figures — giving three of them when at most two are valid. It always makes me suspicious when somebody does this. Let’s just say $1500 \pm 500$ years.

That then makes me doubly suspicious, because this isn’t “periodic”, any more than ENSO is periodic. It is episodic, a word that means “appearing or occurring at irregular intervals”, intervals that can range from 1000 years to 2000 years. Indeed, the list above has intervals of 700 years and 3500 years. Episodic indeed. Finally, the evidence for “disaster” is itself irregular. The episodes don’t even have a uniform climate signature. They can be correlated with weak Asian monsoon and substantial drought in the Middle East, but once again there is a substantial problem of separating signal from noise here, since weak monsoons and droughts happen “all the time” from a geological perspective. The one good thing that can be said about them is that the evidence for the events themselves is pretty solid — ice rafting seems like the sort of thing that would be very difficult to confound short of Atlanteans building massive numbers of ships to cart arctic rocks south and having them wreck along the way.

In any event, there are numerous possible explanations for this sort of episodic, quasi-periodic behavior, including the obvious one. It is chaos. Chaotic systems — specifically, overdriven nonlinear oscillators such as e.g. a , produce precisely this sort of not-exactly-periodic episodic behavior, where the bounces vary in duration and magnitude, see e.g. http://www.physics.emory.edu/faculty/weeks//research/time/tseries1/v026.gif as a generic example, or visit here:

http://www.thphys.uni-heidelberg.de/~gasenzer/index.php?n1=teaching&n2=chaos

for an example of how even an enormously simple system that is nicely periodic for weak harmonic driving forces becomes chaotic when it is overdriven. This doesn’t even address the additional degree of trajectory mixing that can occur of the driving forces are themselves at best quasiperiodic — the sun is probably itself chaotic, the thermohaline circulation is very likely quasiperiodic and multiperiodic, and one can have constructive or destructive interference from the many long term epicycles in play.

Just because one can name a thing does not mean that one understands it, or even that there is a “thing” there to be named. How useful is the knowledge that there are Bond episodes in the past (or DO events in the more remote past) in predicting future climate change? It isn’t. Even with the LIA as a recent exemplar in the cycle, we cannot predict whether the cycle is peaking (after 400 years of an 800 year short cycle) or if the interval this time is going to be 3500 years. We do not know what might affect the cycle time because we cannot explain it. The addition of CO_2 might trigger another Bond event as easily as prevent it — that’s just how chaotic systems work.

The rest of the article I don’t really disagree with. We have far more to fear from the cold than we do from heat. Cold episodes are strongly correlated with drought. But the thing that is really correlated with flood and drought, in a very nearly reliable pattern, is that chaotic quasi-episodic solar charge-discharge cycle we have named ENSO. Bond events could indeed be little more than several consecutive centuries of La Nina dominant ENSO events, and the warm intervals in between could be El Nino dominant ENSO events. If so, adding CO_2 to the atmosphere could indeed alter the pattern in completely unpredictable ways, because we cannot predict ENSO now, with or without monkeying with its drivers. It could be expressing feedback patterns of previous ENSO events in the thermohaline circulation, lagged by its full period of around 1000 years! The climate is non-Markovian to a fault, and a lot of what happens now was determined not by last year’s weather but by the weather integrated over long ago.

rgb

18. Ulric Lyons says:

“Since the shortest of these warm periods during the Halocene was 350 years, and they generally last 350 to 800 years, it is unlikely that we will enter another Little Ice Age for a couple more centuries.”

Recently I have identified a very well defined Jovian planetary progression that breaks down at points for periods of 150-250 years, during the more dominant stadial like periods through the Holocene. Dates for the onset of these colder episodes are from around; 4340 BC, 3540 BC, 2980 BC, 2610 BC, 2090 BC, 1350 BC, 500 BC, 350 AD, 1650 AD, and 2056 AD.
They are far from regular, the interval between the onset of the Dark Ages period and the Maunder-Dalton-Gliessberg triplet is some 1300yrs. While from 2980 BC to 2610 BC is much shorter, and leaves a mere century or so of warmer times between the two colder periods.
From what I am now looking at, we are rolling straight back into a LIA type sequence through the next 200yrs, with deep protracted solar grand minimums in around one and two hundred years time.

19. tabnumlock says:

He probably wouldn’t have been published if he had said what you said. Keep in mind who runs publishing.

20. Latitude says:

In addition, today’s seeds, fertilizers and modern farming techniques and technologies are far superior to anything mankind possessed during previous crises.
=====
People seem to not be aware of the obvious…
…for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, we have been selectively breeding and hybridizing plants to perform better at lower CO2 levels

21. Non Nomen says:

“If humans have food, they can do all the other things necessary for civilization. However, we must double food production per acre – again and rapidly – to feed the world’s oncoming peak population, and enable all people to enjoy the nutrition that Americans and Europeans already do.”
____________________________
It is estimated that about 30% of our food ends in the dustbin without ever contributing to human feeding at all.
Hey, mankind, stop squandering foodstuff
and there will be much smaller need for a substantial increase in food production! That, in return, saves fertilizer, water and manpower and, of course, some natural wildlife habitat remains intact..

22. mpainter says:

no question, a warmer earth is beneficial for all forms of life, especially humankind. A colder planet is the scythe of death. The Ice Age has been a period of extinctions. It is not over and a plunge into renewed continental glaciation would be disastrous for us. Pray for warmth.

Formerly it was thought that our salvation was in CO2, which was touted as a preventitive against a cooler planet. This wonderful stuff has proven a disappointment in that regard.

23. Ulric Lyons says:

“Dr. Parker nearly redeems himself by making the most valid point of all. We now have science and transportation to deal much more effectively with that coming “little ice age.” Our biggest advantage is our modern high-yield agriculture. Today we harvest perhaps six times as much food per acre as the desperate farmers of the seventeenth century, and our yields keep rising, thanks to scientific breakthroughs like nitrogen fertilizer, pesticides and hybrid seeds.”

Too little rain or too much rain can cause large reductions in crops, even failures. I would reckon that three cool wet summers like 2012 (or worse) in a row could put a large number of UK farmers out of business given their current financial position.

24. Rational Db8 says:

re: Latitude says: June 2, 2014 at 7:33 am

In addition, today’s seeds, fertilizers and modern farming techniques and technologies are far superior to anything mankind possessed during previous crises.
=====
People seem to not be aware of the obvious…
…for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, we have been selectively breeding and hybridizing plants to perform better at lower CO2 levels

Not really. We’ve been selectively breeding and hybridizing plants to grow better, period. Well, or at least with more pest resistance, drought resistance, and other various traits anyhow. We were NOT, however, selecting for anything specifically related to CO2 levels. In fact, in greenhouses they pump in CO2 to about 1,200 ppm.

The point is that all the selective breeding and hybridizing we’ve done may or may not have anything to do with growth v. CO2 levels at all. And, in fact, a number of studies seem to show that most modern day plants tested do in fact still grown notably better in far higher CO2 levels than we currently have on Earth. What’s more, satellites and other measures also show that in fact over the past few decades the Earth has “greened” and become more biodiverse – forests are growing faster, etc. Perhaps that’s due to the slight added warmth, but just as or more likely, because of the added CO2.

25. Alex says:

Physiologically (for plants), there is no denying that they all can AND DO grow far better at higher CO2 levels. Why? Because they mostly evolved during times of higher CO2. Carbon fixation works more efficiently at higher CO2 levels because a) there is more available for fixation into carbohydrates and the higher concentration helps push the chemistry in the direction of fixation, AND B) because the plants don’t have to open their stomata (leaf pores) as much to get X amount of CO2 inside the leaf tissue in order to be incorporated into carbohydrates, which means less water loss and greater drought/heat tolerance.

So, as a plant physiologist, all plants on earth readily taken advantage of higher CO2 levels because they aren’t unnatural and all plants evolved during times when CO2 levels were higher.

Cheers,
Alex Avery (Dennis’ son)
;^)

26. Chris R. says:

To underline Non Nomen’s point, the science &
science fiction writer Jerry Pournelle asserted that even now, rice
production in South India has not yet equaled what the Japanese
recorded in the 12th century. Pournelle also went on to describe
low-cost methods for stopping rats devouring stored grain, etc.,
that could easily be implemented.

I do not have an on-line reference for this; I will search for the book
I read this in and post at a later time.

27. Dr. Strangelove says:

Farmers put vegetables in greenhouses to grow faster. Warm climate is good for agriculture. Are we running out of food? We throw away 30% of global food production and cows eat more corn and grains than humans. World hunger is caused by poverty not lack of food supply.

28. Dr. Strangelove says, “We throw away 30% of global food production and cows eat more corn and grains than humans.”

The grains and corn that cows eat is converted into either beef or dairy. Both are superior sources of protein. Beef provides Zinc, Protein, and vitamin B and an 8oz glass of milk gives 8g protein.

Cows also eat a lot of crops which were bound to go to waste, such as apples and potatoes which did not make the grade. Cows graze and keep tall grasses from becoming fire hazards in the hotter months.

29. Dr. Strangelove says, “We throw away 30% of global food production…”

Can any one provide the reference for this statement?

Unless Dr. Strangelove is speaking of using arable land to fill American’s car tanks with Congressional designer green gas, when there is plenty of oil located on continental shelves and in ANWR.

Or perhaps the commenter is referring to the waste and loss of crops not taking measures to control weeds, insects, fungi, and blight, thus losing 100-50% of productivity per acre on a regular basis, as a matter of practice.

30. Chris R. says:

To Zeke:

I think Dr. Strangelove appropriated the 30% figure from
Non Nomen‘s post above. I suspect that the figure for
loss is roughly correct. Much of the world loses quite a bit of the harvest
to vermin.

This was the point that I seconded by quoting Jerry Pournelle, above.
The book which I referenced turns out to be After Armageddon
(There Will Be War, Vol. 9)
, edited by Pournelle. This was a book
of science fiction short stories premised by the idea that the world
civilization had collapsed–and what then? Pournelle also provided some
editor’s comments prefatory to each story. The revelation I quoted in my
post above came from a very extensive editor’s comment prefacing a John
Brunner story. The portion referencing food production was on pp. 204-205.

31. Pournelle may be correct about rats but no discussion about Indian rice is complete without repeating to every generation that Norman Borlaug is responsible for the increased production of wheat and rice in India, so that India became a net exporter of grain, just as Mexico had. The use of Borlaug’s methods have always been opposed by heartless environmental activists in the Western world, who yanked Borlaug’s funding before he could reach Africa. The arguments were that the pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers would harm the African environment, and that the purity of local species would be compromised.

But organic practices require brown girls to get down and hand pick the weeds from the cotton and rice themselves. That is what will happen in India and even Europe if these Boomers ignore all objective reality and science and force agriculture into organic only farming through UN treaties, and diktats from the EU. Arguably, that is even worse than rats.

32. Non Nomen says:

Zeke says:
June 3, 2014 at 11:22 am

Dr. Strangelove says, “We throw away 30% of global food production…”

Can any one provide the reference for this statement?
_______________________

There is the so-called cofresco survey that examined losses within the sphere of consumers/households. It is available as .pdf in german language here
http://www.cofresco.de/pdf/Results_Save_Food_Study_Germany.pdf
It says -in short- that (translation by google):
>>In Germany about 21 % of the food purchased by households to be thrown away .
This corresponds to a total of about 6.6 million tonnes, or
a total value of over 25 billion euros per year.
Each German raises annually thereafter , on average, about 80 kg of food away .
For comparison in France, the proportion of discarded food is also
about 21% as high as in Germany ; in Spain it is somewhat lower at about 18%.<>59 %, significantly more than half of discarded food are the
result of improper procurement planning or not optimal storage .<<

The tons and tons of food that is discarded in the retails stores and the tons and tons of food that didn't make it to the stores has to be added.

So a 30% loss is not a figure from the rooms of fantasies….

33. Dr. Strangelove says:

Zeke

Ask cattle raisers for more info. Cows eat many times their body weight so you get little beef vs. the grains they eat, which humans eat too. Soy beans are a good source of protein. Most commercial farms feed their cattle with animal feeds made of corn, also edible to humans. Grazing land can be planted with rice, wheat and other crops to feed humans.

30% is food spoilage in storing, transporting and leftovers.

34. For a forecast of the timing and extent of the coming cooling see
http://climatesense-norpag.blogspot.com/2013/10/commonsense-climate-science-and.html
Here are the conclusions.
“I have combined the PDO, ,Millennial cycle and neutron trends to estimate the timing and extent of the coming cooling in both the Northern Hemisphere and Globally.
Here are the conclusions of those posts.
1/22/13 (NH)
1) The millennial peak is sharp – perhaps 18 years +/-. We have now had 16 years since 1997 with no net warming – and so might expect a sharp drop in a year or two – 2014/16 -with a net cooling by 2035 of about 0.35.Within that time frame however there could well be some exceptional years with NH temperatures +/- 0.25 degrees colder than that.
2) The cooling gradient might be fairly steep down to the Oort minimum equivalent which would occur about 2100. (about 1100 on Fig 5) ( Fig 3 here) with a total cooling in 2100 from the present estimated at about 1.2 +/-
3) From 2100 on through the Wolf and Sporer minima equivalents with intervening highs to the Maunder Minimum equivalent which could occur from about 2600 – 2700 a further net cooling of about 0.7 degrees could occur for a total drop of 1.9 +/- degrees
4)The time frame for the significant cooling in 2014 – 16 is strengthened by recent developments already seen in solar activity. With a time lag of about 12 years between the solar driver proxy and climate we should see the effects of the sharp drop in the Ap Index which took place in 2004/5 in 2016-17.
4/02/13 ( Global)
1 Significant temperature drop at about 2016-17
2 Possible unusual cold snap 2021-22
3 Built in cooling trend until at least 2024
4 Temperature Hadsst3 moving average anomaly 2035 – 0.15
5 Temperature Hadsst3 moving average anomaly 2100 – 0.5
6 General Conclusion – by 2100 all the 20th century temperature rise will have been reversed,
7 By 2650 earth could possibly be back to the depths of the little ice age.
8 The effect of increasing CO2 emissions will be minor but beneficial – they may slightly ameliorate the forecast cooling and help maintain crop yields .
9 Warning !! There are some signs in the Livingston and Penn Solar data that a sudden drop to the Maunder Minimum Little Ice Age temperatures could be imminent – with a much more rapid and economically disruptive cooling than that forecast above which may turn out to be a best case scenario “