Irish Famines, Politics, and Climate History

Opinion by Dr. Tim Ball

History is the devil’s scripture. Lord Byron
The game of history is usually played by the best and the worst over the heads of the majority in the middle. Eric Hoffer
History is past politics; and politics present history. John Seeley
The historian looks backward. In the end he also believes backward.” Friedrich Nietzsche

Someone to Blame

The Great Irish Potato famine began in 1845 and had severe social impact for some six years. Historians tell the story in many ways, but most assign blame to a few humans, particularly for failure to deal with the great loss of life and hardships of mass migration. There was a proportionally worse famine in 1741, but that is virtually unknown. Did the 1845 event get more attention because it provided a point of attack for the social atmosphere of the time? Some attributed overall weather conditions and harvest failures for the social unrest that gave rise to Marxism: 1848 is known as the “Year of Revolutions”. 

The years 1848 and 2011 both followed poor harvests, a spike in food prices and an industrial recession. What we remember as the Irish Potato Famine was in fact a blight that struck the whole of Western Europe between 1845 and 1846. This was compounded by a devastatingly bad harvest in the latter year. It was impossible to meet the demand of a vastly increased population.

The same environment engendered the ideas of Malthus (Six Essays on population published between 1798 and 1826) and Darwin (Origin of Species published 1859). The quote indicates that parallels are already being made between then (1848) and now (2011). David Archibald posed a similar question in his article, “Two years to a 1740-type event? Will those using global warming for a political agenda switch to the threat of famine due to drought? Will the blame shift from, the rich and powerful causing the event, to their failure to deal with the crisis?

History shows that leadership reaction to crisis is always inadequate. Any chance of a better reaction is in a better understanding of the cause of the crisis – in this case, weather mechanisms. Government’ preparing for warming when cooling is the trend, has already reduced the chances of proper reaction. There is good news; technology has vastly improved our ability to recover after the events.

What caused the failure of the potato crop in 1845? What were the weather conditions for both events? What weather and climate lessons are in the two events? Archibald references Briffa and Jones (2006) conclusion that “climate might vary more than is commonly accepted.” An interesting conclusion, considering they were very involved at the time in the “hockey stick” claim of very low variability for some 600 years.

Food Supply

Hunger is one word that can summarize human history. People were almost always hungry or starving. It is still true for too much of the world, but completely unnecessary. Malthus misdirected the focus with his claim that population growth would exceed increases in food production. The Club of Rome and its offspring, Agenda 21, perpetuate and expand the misdirection by claiming overpopulation is overusing, abusing and causing shortage of all resources.

The world is not overpopulated. There is no shortage of food. It’s estimated we produce enough every year to feed 26 billion people. However, thanks to Malthus and neo-Malthusians, we ignore the real problems that are adequate storage and effective distribution.

Storage

Once we switched from hunter/gatherer to sedentary agriculture, the ability to store food over the non-growing season became a force for invention and innovation. Just one example was the entire spice industry, primarily used to preserve and make food palatable. It drove commerce for buyer and seller across the world. As one person wrote,

In its day, the spice trade was the world’s biggest industry: it established and destroyed empires, led to the discovery of new continents, and in many ways helped lay the foundation for the modern world.

Estimates vary, but about 60-70 percent of the food grown in developing nations never makes it to the table. The figure is 30-40 percent for the developed world. Most of the difference is due to refrigeration. Maybe a measure of how little knowledge or importance is applied to these facts, is that few know the name Clarence Birdseye II. Refrigeration also helped the distribution problems, especially when it combined with containerization.

Modern container shipping celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2006. Almost from the first voyage, use of this method of transport for goods grew steadily and in just five decades, containerships would carry about 60% of the value of goods shipped via sea.

Some crops were adopted and adapted for their relative ease of production and storage. These characteristics were well known about the potato in South America and gave its appearance in Europe such an impact. It is likely that the cool damp conditions of the Little Ice Age (LIA) pushed grain prices up, providing an opportunity for rapid adoption of the potato. Libby’s study of grain prices for four European countries illustrates the jump.

clip_image002

Figure 1.

Source: H.H Lamb, Climate, Past, Present and future, Vol.2. 1977.

The peasants could achieve a great yield in poor soil and store them for the entire winter. Ireland adopted and became more dependent on the potato than most other countries. It likely caused the surge in population as the census figures show.

1821:  6,801,827

1831:  7,767,401

1841:  8,175,124

The population declined to 6.6 million by 1851. The pattern of population for the Republic is shown in Figure 2.

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Figure 2

There were famines again in 1877-78, 1885 and 1889-90 that are reflected in the increased decline of population in Figure 2.

The famine of 1740-41 is described on the cover of the book Arctic Ireland as,

“…more intense, more bizarre and proportionately more deadly, yet most history books acknowledge it with no more than a line or two in passing.”

The book is subtitled, “The extraordinary story of the GREAT FROST and FORGOTTEN FAMINE of 1740-41”, which underscores the different weather conditions of the 1740 and 1845 famines. In 1845, the weather did not directly kill people; rather, the cool damp conditions were favorable for the potato blight. Overdependence on a single crop made the people vulnerable. Other countries, like Norway, also suffered the potato blight, but were not as dependent. The Irish Potato famine was coincident with poor crop conditions throughout Europe. The 1840s are called the “the Hungry Forties” as cool wet summers combined with moderate wet winters. The combination causes harvest failures and malnourished people who are vulnerable to diseases that survive and even flourish through the winter. These conditions are similar to those predominant in the 14th century that Barbara Tuchman documented so well in her book a Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century.

In 1740 the world was just emerging from the nadir of the Little Ice Age in the 1680s. As the author David Dickson notes,

On the eve of the crisis there had perhaps been some complacency as to the power of exceptional whether to upset normal life. Winters had been relatively benign over the previous thirty years. No one, not even those with distant memories of the terrible winters of the 1680s, was prepared for what became known as the Great Frost of 1740 or for “bliain an dir” the year of slaughter of 1741.

The 1740 weather illustrates what happens when events combine. We organized the conference on the impact of the Indonesian volcano Tambora[1] because John Eddy’s work on temperature sunspot relations and Hubert Lamb’s work on the Dust Veil Index were raising questions about cause and effect. Temperatures were already declining from the solar activity associated with the Dalton Minimum (1790-1830) when Tambora erupted.

It appears the cold trend of the Little Ice Age was turning. Volcanic activity, particular the eruption of Ichinsky in Kamchatka, triggered the Great Frost of 1741. Dickson claims,

Indeed, the time of the Great Frost remains to this day the longest period of extreme cold in modern European history.

 

This claim appears to depend on the definition of “modern European history”. The Central England Temperature (Figure 3) shows the cold of 1740 and a prolonged cold spell that exceeds anything after 1900. In the commentary to the Archibald article there is reference to blocking, the pattern that causes the normal west to east movement of the Rossby Waves to slow down and the Waves to deepen. This results in extreme, prolonged temperature or precipitation patterns that cause problems and is most likely the explanation as other similar events indicate.

Cynthia Wilson and I organized a workshop for the 1816 conference. We created very large global maps and asked people to indicate the temperature and precipitation patterns for their region. Using simple symbols for very high normal and very low, a distinctive map emerged that showed the extreme meridionality of the Circumpolar Vortex. (The maps are included in the published proceedings.) The pattern of wind was significantly different in direction and force. Similar changes in wind were noted in 1740. In Scotland the January wind was described as a piercing Nova Zembla (Novaya Zemlya) air” This means it was coming form the northeast, probably as part of the Polar Easterlies (Figure 4).

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Figure 3

The pattern of deaths was different in 1741 than 1845. Most early deaths were due to the extreme cold, followed by a growing number due to starvation. Records are scarce but Dickson says,

How does 1740-41 measure up again later, more famous, Great Irish Famine? In terms of relative casualties, the older crisis was undoubtedly the more severe, even taking the lower bound estimate of 310,000 fatalities in 1740-41.

 

More important, these deaths occurred in a relatively short year and a half, while 1845 lasted some six years.

Discussion

Both time 1741 and 1845 experienced meridional conditions as the Rossby Waves deepened and slowed in their easterly migration. Generally, with zonal flow or even low amplitude meridional flow, mid-latitude weather patterns persist

clip_image008

Figure 4

approximately 4 to 6 weeks. As meridionality intensifies, Rossby Waves deepen and blocking occurs, causing weather patterns to persist for 8, 10 or even 12 weeks. This can cover entire growing seasons and result in excessive, damaging, hot, cold, wet or dry conditions.

Various permutations can occur. For example, in the 14th century there were long periods with cool and wet summers, with warm and wet winters – it was difficult to separate the seasons. Similar conditions occurred during the 17th century and again plagues devastated populations. During the period following Tambora, extreme meridionality caused prolonged conditions. A drought in central Canada, documented in detail by Peter Fidler, stressed the people with profound social and historical impact detailed in my 1992 paper, “Climatic Change, Droughts and Their Social Impact: Central Canada, 1811-20, a classic example”. It was also the theme of a public presentation at the Museum titled, “The Year without a Summer: Its Impact on the Fur Trade and History of Western Canada.” at the National Museum of Natural Sciences, Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa. As usual, historians attributed the social impacts solely to colonial expansion.

It is the same pattern seen in reports of the 2011 uprising in Egypt that became “the Arab Spring”. The catalyst was dramatic increases in food prices. At best, these got secondary mention by a few reports.

Then, there is a secondary problem: a huge run-up in food costs in recent months. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the worldwide food price index is at an all-time high—surpassing its 2008 peak, when skyrocketing costs caused global rioting and pushed as many as 64 million people into poverty. The price of oils, sugar, and cereals have all recently hit new peaks—and those latter prices are especially troubling for Egypt, as the world’s biggest importer of wheat.

So the media, like historians, are telling stories, with bias, misinformation and the arrogant belief that humans are not environmentally or climatically determined. As Benjamin Bradlee said, ”News is the first rough draft of history.” Regardless, they are both driven by the need to blame someone, rather than something. Until we change that the chances of understanding and reacting properly to natural events is very unlikely.


[1] C.R.Harington (ed) The Year Without a Summer? World Climate in 1816. 1992, National Museum of Natural Sciences, Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa.

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93 thoughts on “Irish Famines, Politics, and Climate History

  1. As soon as there are victims (real or perceived), people look for someone to blame, someone to paint as criminals to direct their anger at or get control over by using guilt. Saying that those that are suffering are the cause of their suffering due to bad decisions, bad planning, etc, is never deemed “acceptable” because you cannot be a victim and a criminal.

    Guess what, work hard, plan well, learn from mistakes and you do a lot to avoid being a victim or mitigate the effects of events that you cannot control from turning you into a victim. Simples …

  2. Wonderful work by Dr Ball. He’s always struck me as an optimist at heart, and the necessity of playing role of Cassandra must be unpleasant – yet as we segue into the Solar Grand Minimum, what choice if one believes, optimistically, in the eventual victory of ‘common sense’, that most uncommon of virtues.

  3. I have been reading Merchants of Despair by Robert Zubrin. He points out that

    “… in 1846 alone, at the height of the famine, Ireland exported over 730,000 cattle and other livestock, and over 3 million quarts of corn and grain flour to Great Britain. The Irish diet was confined to potatoes because – having had their land expropriated, having been forced to endure merciless rack-rents and taxes, and having been denied any opportunity to acquire income through manufactures or other means – tubers were the only food the Irish could afford. So when the potato crop failed, there was nothing for the Irish themselves to eat, despite the fact that throughout the famine, their homeland continued to export massive amounts of grain, butter, cheese, and meat for foreign consumption.” (page 10)

    This was Malthusian theory in action. Malthus believed that there were too many Irish people in Ireland, and that “to give full effect to the natural resources of the country, a great part of the population should be swept from the soil.” The British cabinet (the government) was dominated by Malthusian ideologues who refused to give aid to the Irish (despite enormous international criticism), and so the Irish starved while the food they raised was taken away to feed the English and Scots.

  4. The French Revolution was also triggered by a series of very bad winters. From a History Of The French Revolution by Hippolyte Taine written in 1872:

    ““In 1788, a year of severe drought, the crops had been poor. In addition to this, on the eve of the harvest, a terrible hail-storm burst over the region around Paris, from Normandy to Champagne, devastating sixty leagues of the most fertile territory, and causing damage to the amount of one hundred millions of francs. Winter came on, the severest that had been seen since. At the close of December the Seine was frozen over from Paris to Havre”

    Excerpt From: Taine, Hippolyte. “The French Revolution – Volume 1.

  5. One aspect of the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s which is not often mentioned is the variety of potato involved. This was the Lumper, a variety suited to poor ground, and the major variety cultivated by the Irish poor. More wealthy landholders also planted the variety, but mainly as stock feed. So when the Blight struck, Lumper being so prone to attack, the entire crop was wiped out. Naturally enough, the climate paid a big part in the famine, as Dr Ball describes, not only in terms of optimum conditions for the spread of Potato Blight but in killing malnourished peasants. Lumper has recently been resurrected as an heirloom variety after virtually disappearing from the potato varieties list for well over a century.

  6. Source appears to be an excerpt from the author’s book “1493.”

    “P. infestans is an oomycete, one of 700 or so species sometimes known as water molds. It sends out tiny bags of 6 to 12 spores that are carried on the wind, usually for no more than 20 feet, occasionally for half a mile or more. When the bag lands on a susceptible plant, it breaks open, releasing what are technically known as zoospores. If the day is warm and wet enough, the zoospores germinate, sending threadlike filaments into the leaf. The first obvious symptoms—purple-black or purple-brown spots on the leaves—are visible in about five days. By then it is often too late for the plant to survive.

    P. infestans preys on species in the nightshade family, especially potatoes and tomatoes. Scientists believe that it originated in Peru. Large-scale traffic between Peru and northern Europe began with the guano rush. Proof will never be found, but it is widely believed that the guano ships carried P. infestans. Probably taken to Antwerp, P. infestans first broke out in early summer 1845, in the West Flanders town of Kortrijk, six miles from the French border.

    The blight hopscotched to Paris by that August. Weeks later, it was destroying potatoes in the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and England. Governments panicked. It was reported in Ireland on September 13, 1845. Cormac O Grada, an economist and blight historian at University College, Dublin, has estimated that Irish farmers planted about 2.1 million acres of potatoes that year. In two months P. infestans wiped out the equivalent of one-half to three-quarters of a million acres. The next year was worse, as was the year after that. The attack did not wind down until 1852.”

    So it was a fungus shipped over with the fertilizer boats that did it, most likely. In the book itself he goes into further detail on traditional vs centrally planned farming methods and how Ireland had recently converted to the centrally planned style of fields, which also served to accelerate the spread of it. No mention of climate in his book at all that I recall.

    This blogger summarizes that part of the book here

    What I found interesting, however, was the author’s exploration of the reasons for the Blight’s apocalyptic agricultual effect. While the sheer number of potatoes growing in Ireland made it an easy target, another, often overlooked contributor may have been a change in Irish growing methods. . . .

    In both Ireland and South America, farmers planted on wide raised beds, separated one from the next with deep furrows for walking. Raised beds create a particularly beneficial microclimate for crops in cold, wet environs. Water and cold air are both drawn away from the plants and into the furrows, thereby decreasing the likelihood of blight transmission by half.

    Unfortunately for the Irish, the 1830s witnessed a wave of agricultural innovation and a national campaign to move away from labor intensive hand cultivation toward standardized, mechanized row crops. Ireland shifted from raised beds to flat beds, setting the stage for the Blight’s fantastic rampage.

  7. I agree, a terrific review of little known/studied history, and importantly, a connection for a lesson to be learned and applied to our own modern times (and if all that wasn’t enough, he did it with a dismissal of malthusian pessimism and a nod to technology). PLUS a terrific review of the seemingly forgotten importance to modern history of refrigeration!

    I could wish to see that subject a little more developed in a separate article; a quick comparison of cities in North America which flourished primarily after the development of refrigerated train cars to those founded prior (comparing, e.g., Los Angeles to New York or Boston) is enough to demonstrate one huge impact of refrigeration. The impact of easy, widespread preservation of food, both during delivery and after, is worthy of several volumes—

    That aside: Brilliant! Many thanks to Dr Ball for another terrific essay!

  8. The late potato blight struck other countries as well, to include Highland Scotland from 1846-53.

    The first recorded instances of the disease, caused by the oomycete Phytophthora infestans, were in the US, in Philadelphia & New York City in early 1843. Winds then spread the spores. By 1845 it was found from Illinois to Nova Scotia, & from Virginia to Ontario. It supposedly crossed the Atlantic in a shipment of seed potatoes for Belgian farmers in 1845. All the potato-growing countries of Europe were afflicted, but the blight hit Ireland hardest. Ireland disproportionately dependency upon a single variety, the Irish Lumper. This lack of genetic diversity created a susceptible host population for the pathogenic organism.

    http://www.history.com/news/after-168-years-potato-famine-mystery-solved

    During World War I, German copper was used for ammo coatings & casings & electric wire, so little to none was available for making copper sulfate for potato spray. Thus a major late blight outbreak went untreated. The resulting dearth of potatoes allegedly caused 700,000 German civilians to starve to death. The Allied blockade didn’t help.

  9. My ancestors came to North America in 1751 after years of famine, war, and disease in Germany.

    Motivated by only despair in staying in Germany’s Rhineland, my family left Germany with ~30,000 others to land in the North East of British North America. Queen Anne helped settle many in Pennsylvania and Ohio etc. My direct Ancestors landed in Nova Scotia.

    My family’s historical records remark the cold weather and starvation of the early 1700s.

    I believe 1709 was “the year with no summer” in Germany. Records also detail the similarly miserable weather in Nova Scotia.

    Similar fate to the IRISH of 1840s.

  10. Indeed a great essay, but this statement is flat out wrong.

    “History shows that leadership reaction to crisis is always inadequate.”

    Not so. The Russian Empire responded to its greatest crisis in 1812 superbly, stopping dead in its tracks the mightiest war machine Europe had ever seen since the Mongols. And it did so because of tough-minded, ruthless leadership that took full advantage of Russia’s soldiers and its merciless climate. I can think of hundreds of other such examples in history where leadership has been fully up to the task. I can also think of hundreds where it wasn’t. You can’t just pronounce generalizations like this.

  11. Paul Westhaver says:
    August 20, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    Don’t think Queen Anne settled many of your ancestors or relatives in Ohio. PA, yes, for sure, hence the Pennsylvania “Dutch”, including some of my ancestors. But during Anne’s reign (1702-07), Ohio was firmly under French & Indian control.

    As for 1709, it was the winter that was historic:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Frost_of_1709

    Other years were those “without a summer”, often following volcanic eruptions.

  12. more history in the making!

    20 Aug: UK Daily Mail: Jenny Awford: Did you say August or Autumn? Sun rises over misty Peak District as miles of rolling hills are shrouded in morning fog and the nation shivers as temperatures drop to 2C
    Temperatures dipped as low as 2C in Northern Ireland and 3C in Derbyshire Peak District early this morning
    Friday will see some coastal showers in the UK, but it will be feeling warmer across the country
    Sunny spells are predicted for Bank Holiday Saturday and Sunday, but Monday will be a washout
    And tomorrow Britain will be colder than Siberia, feeling chillier than an average October in the UK as the Arctic summer shiver peaks…

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2729849/Did-say-August-Autumn-Sun-rises-misty-Peak-District-miles-rolling-hills-shrouded-morning-fog-nation-shivers-temperatures-drop.html

  13. The population of countries in the Middle East and North Africa exceeds their lands ability to feed their populations. In fact, most are importing over half of their population’s caloric needs. We are reducing the hold that these countries have because of fracking so oil for food will not be quite the strangulation hold it currently is. In addition with global cooling in our future, food production and exports from the US and other northern countries will decrease. Now you can answer the line in the song that goes, “WAR, what is it good for?”
    You will find documentation at this URL.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/0f8acde8-3fe8-11e0-811f-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz3AzUWqXYi

  14. even more history-making, says Dr. Jon Bridle at Bristol:

    20 Aug: UK Independent: The butterfly effect: climate change ‘forced species to adapt’
    A British butterfly species has made climate-change history by becoming the first known animal of any kind to lose the ability to do something after global warming forced it to move to a new environment and adapt its behaviour.
    The brown argus butterfly has spread from long-established sites in the south of England further north to areas such as Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire as climate change has made them warmer and more habitable.
    But in the move the species has lost its ability to eat one of the two plants on which it has traditionally survived because it is not prevalent in its new home, according to new research.
    “To our knowledge, this is the first time that the loss of adaptive variation during evolutionary responses to recent climate change has been demonstrated in any animal,” said one of the report’s authors, Dr Jon Bridle, of the University of Bristol…

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/the-butterfly-effect-climate-change-forced-species-to-adapt-9679477.html

  15. Is your population chart for the entire island, or only the Irish Republic (which would be the Irish Free State from 1921-64)? Wouldn’t want to commit one of those splicing errors like Dr. Mann.

  16. cgh says:

    August 20, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    …..”You can’t just pronounce generalizations like this.”
    ==================
    well said.

  17. The population of countries in the Middle East and North Africa exceeds their lands ability to feed their populations. In fact, most are importing over half of their population’s caloric needs. We are reducing the hold that these countries have because of fracking so oil for food will not be quite the strangulation hold it currently is. In addition with global cooling in our future, food production and exports from the US and other northern countries will decrease.
    You will find documentation at this URL.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/0f8acde8-3fe8-11e0-811f-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz3AzUWqXYi

  18. The population of countries in the Middle East and North Africa exceeds their lands ability to feed their populations. In fact, most are importing over half of their population’s caloric needs. We are reducing the hold that these countries have because of fracking so oil for food will not be quite the strangulation hold it currently is. In addition with global cooling in our future, food production and exports from the US and other northern countries will decrease.

  19. The story I have heard about the potato famine – the cause was a common strategy of colonialism. The British had increasingly been exercising power over the Irish in the Brit control and administration of Ireland. Some economic circumstances – taxes and control of rules of land ownership – moved many of the farming Irish from being generally independent farmers and farmers with strong local inter-dependencies to something more similar to sharecroppers.

    So, they tilted toward two things: crops or animals that wold bring profit from sale to the increasing Brit bureaucracy/population – a middle class with money but no farming roots – and otherwise to more subsistence farming. This shift in the economic life of communities is common in colonialism/imperialism situations. Also, the introduction of labor-saving equipment and technology shifts the economy to be less diversified regarding need for human skill – occasional labor help becomes more commoditized, and so marginalized economically.

    The Irish shifted to depend more on the potato, rather than a varied diet, for sustenance. So, the problem of monoculture came upon them.

    Ecclesiastes chapter 11 sez:
    Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight;
    you do not know what disaster may come upon the land….
    Sow your seed in the morning,
    and at evening let your hands not be idle,
    for you do not know which will succeed,
    whether this or that,
    or whether both will do equally well.

    In this map, you see population rise in the port cities – Belfast, Dublin, and Cork, and decline everywhere else – the urban areas are doing well as the countryside suffers…

  20. @CC Squid

    Love the spam. Thanks.

    However, Morocco, for instance, exports food. And with a better irrigation system it would do as well or better as the south of Spain, once a barren desert yet now considered by some Europe’s produce garden.

  21. …about 60-70 percent of the food grown in developing nations never makes it to the table. The figure is 30-40 percent for the developed world. Most of the difference is due to refrigeration.
    ————
    Aha! That’s why the Malthusians want CFCs banned.

  22. “Brute says:

    August 20, 2014 at 9:59 pm”

    Spain has the largest area covered in clear plastic sheeting, a sort of greenhouse. Acres and acres covered in plastic.

  23. “The world is not overpopulated. There is no shortage of food.”

    I have been to some very poor countries in Africa and I have seen some appalling food waste, while people, literally, go hungry while sleeping on the road side.

  24. @Patrick

    Yep. That form of agriculture (plasticulture?) has turned an utterly poor region of the country into a incredibly wealthy one. I remember visiting the place three decades ago and then again a few years back. An amazing change. Of course, some people complain… today. Until the “plastic revolution”, no one wanted to even live there (and by far most didn’t).

  25. Dr Ball mentions the great famine of 1741 so it is worth putting this into greater context.

    Here is my comment quoting Phil jones that the 1730′s was the warmest decade until the 1990′s and that natural variability might be underestimated.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/01/17/phil-jones-2012-video-talks-about-adjusting-sst-data-up-3-5c-after-wwii/#comment-1539164

    This from a 2006 paper by Jones and Briffa about the very warm period noted in old records and especially CET;

    ” The year 1740 is all the more remarkable given the anomalous warmth of the 1730s. This decade was the warmest in three of the long temperature series (CET, De Bilt and Uppsala) until the 1990s occurred. The mildness of the decade is confirmed by the early ice break-up dates for Lake Malaren and Tallinn Harbour. The rapid warming in the CET record from the 1690s to the 1730s and then the extreme cold year of 1740 are examples of the magnitude of natural changes which can potentially be recorded in long series. Consideration of variability in these records from the early 19th century, therefore, may underestimate the range that is possible.”

    Taken from; UNUSUAL CLIMATE IN NORTHWEST EUROPE DURING THE PERIOD 1730 TO 1745 BASED ON INSTRUMENTAL AND DOCUMENTARY DATA’. Jones and Biffa. Revised version published in 2006.

    http://rd.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-006-9078-6

    Phil Jones has written several good books on historic climate and is somewhat more sceptical than some might think. In recent years the Met Office has also moved away from their notion of a steady climate until mans influence from 1900, to one in which natural variability is somewhat more centre stage. The biggest Hockey Stick in the CET series from 1659 (and there are several) is the period noted in the Jones article and not the modern period.

    That climate varies much more than the Hockey stick suggests should be well known by now, yet it still holds great sway in the corridors of power.

    Incidentally I would like to amend Friedrich Nietzsche absurd quote given above

    . ‘The historian looks backward. In the end he also believes backward.”

    It should surely read;

    ‘The historian looks backward. In the end he also sees the likely future.’

    We ignore history-especially climate history- at our peril, as from it we can see the much greater incidence of extreme events in the past that our benign age has forgotten, but surely must return at some point in the future.

    tonyb

  26. Dr Ball mentions the great famine of 1741 so it is worth putting this into greater context.

    Here is my comment quoting Phil jones that the 1730′s was the warmest decade until the 1990′s and that natural variability might be underestimated.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/01/17/phil-jones-2012-video-talks-about-adjusting-sst-data-up-3-5c-after-wwii/#comment-1539164

    This from a 2006 paper by Jones and Briffa about the very warm period noted in old records and especially CET;

    ” The year 1740 is all the more remarkable given the anomalous warmth of the 1730s. This decade was the warmest in three of the long temperature series (CET, De Bilt and Uppsala) until the 1990s occurred. The mildness of the decade is confirmed by the early ice break-up dates for Lake Malaren and Tallinn Harbour. The rapid warming in the CET record from the 1690s to the 1730s and then the extreme cold year of 1740 are examples of the magnitude of natural changes which can potentially be recorded in long series. Consideration of variability in these records from the early 19th century, therefore, may underestimate the range that is possible.”

    Taken from; UNUSUAL CLIMATE IN NORTHWEST EUROPE DURING THE PERIOD 1730 TO 1745 BASED ON INSTRUMENTAL AND DOCUMENTARY DATA’. Jones and Biffa. Revised version published 2006.

    http://rd.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-006-9078-6

    Phil Jones has written several good books on historic climate and is somewhat more sceptical than some might think. In recent years the Met Office has also moved away from their notion of a steady climate until mans influence from 1900, to one in which natural variability is somewhat more centre stage. The biggest Hockey Stick in the CET series from 1659 (and there are several) is the period noted in the Jones article and not the modern period.

    That climate varies much more than the Hockey stick suggests should be well known by now, yet it still holds great sway in the corridors of power.

    Incidentally I would like to amend Friedrich Nietzsche absurd quote given above

    . ‘The historian looks backward. In the end he also believes backward.”

    It should surely read;

    ‘The historian looks backward. In the end he also sees the likely future.’

    We ignore history-especially climate history- at our peril, as from it we can see the much greater incidence of extreme events in the past that our benign age has forgotten, but surely must return at some point in the future.

    tonyb

  27. early 1700s=cool 1846/53=cool 1830s =early in cool 1788=cool 1885/90=cool 1709=early in cool
    The above dates are drawn from the above post and comments. The use of the word cool is denoting how I see where the year/s fits into a time frame of approximately 30+ year warm/cool patterns. As you can see all of the dates which have been mentioned and referenced as problem times fit into the cool cycle. Whether or not this has any additional relevance to any of the factors that led to the troubles, it can be seen that it does correlate with the troubled times. In the scenario of 30+ year trends, we started into a cool pattern around 2006/07.

  28. The CET temps run different from most other regions, or that is how it appears to me. I would think that this is due to the influence of the Atlantic waters. So when I use the term cool that would not necessarily apply to Ireland/England.

  29. Dr. Ball, where does the number for this line come from? “It’s estimated we produce enough every year to feed 26 billion people”

  30. Potato blight in Ireland shows most calamities are caused by poverty and corruption, not from climate. Ireland’s was being grossly exploited from a foreign power, which made it much worse. Norway wasn’t.

    My ancestor came out as a convict to Australia during the potato famine ~1848-1850 from west Ireland, as a forger of documents. Probably got hungry and thought forgery was either a way to eat, or to get out of Ireland. So did many other convicts in Australia, they weren’t all hardened criminals, many were just hungry and poor. He served his time, and rose to be made head of the State Library of NSW within ~15 years and was given a huge plot of land in prime dairy country (right where the film Babe was made). Not bad for a starving convict. But the descendants bred racehorses and over time lost it all on gambling and drinking, which is so typically Irish. By the time I arrived the huge plot of land owned for many generations had been given over to an adopted line of children, the true one remaining heir (my father) too drunk as well as drug ridden to do anything about it.

    Probably many similar to many tales in the USA, although the Kennedy’s managed to achieve something without losing it all on gambling and drinking. I don’t think we had the Irish gangs as in New York like in the film, not sure why but possibly because Sydney had a very different social administration and still being an English colony they kept a tight rein on things and wouldn’t tolerate that gangland sort of culture, which wasn’t at all a bad thing.

    The Great Shame by Thomas Kenneally also talks about the Irish in Australia and the potato famine I think. I havent read it but might have to.

  31. tonyb
    ‘The historian looks backward. In the end he also believes backward.”
    It should surely read;
    ‘The historian looks backward. In the end he also sees the likely future.’
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.

    The quote as worded by Ball is correct. Nietzche also said:

    Insanity in individuals is rare – but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule

    Consider the single minded madness of the climate doomsayers, the havoc they would visit on humanity to slay a monster of their own making. Constructed to large extent by peering into the past through tree rings and other proxies, which in turn informed the computer models with which they were able to, with 97% unanimity, discern clearly in their own minds, the monster in our future which they are determined to slay, regardless of how many must be doomed to poverty disease and early death to do it.

  32. The late Nigel Calder quotes John Butler of Armagh Observatory in his book The Manic Sun, page 105. Butler suggested the sunspot cycle warming between 1840 and 1960 led to the potato blight which resulted in the Great Famine in Ireland in 1846. The book was published seventeen years ago.

  33. davidmhoffer

    I agree that Tim Ball phrased the quote by Nietzche correctly, I was just saying that I thought my amended version was more apt. Your second Nietzche quote hits the bullseye.

    Someone above suggested that history should be a module of any climate science course. I never cease to be amazed at all the various congressional and senate hearings on climate that never seem to put modern records into historic context.

    Try as I might I can never understand why tree rings and other proxies receive the acclaim they do.
    Hardly surprisingly, these inadequate proxies don’t seem to record any noticeable climate effect thereby giving the impression that the climate was constant…. until an inconstant instrumental record is spliced on.

    Before around 1998 tree rings were used for dating objects and had some merit for this purpose.. Quite why they (and other novel proxies) have acquired cult scientific status is baffling.

    tonyb

  34. cgh says:

    August 20, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Indeed a great essay, but this statement is flat out wrong.

    Now is not one of those eras. Name one leader capable of turning our current very tenuous position on energy.

  35. Before around 1998 tree rings were used for dating objects and had some merit for this purpose.. Quite why they (and other novel proxies) have acquired cult scientific status is baffling.

    tonyb

    Even for this purpose they are somewhat suspect. The minimum requirement of 50 years / 50 rings gives you a fair understanding of how suspect.

  36. An advantage of roots such as potatoes over grains such as wheat is that the edible part is not flattened by awful little ice age summer weather. The move to roots in northern Europe would have prevented famine on balance in this area. One hypothesis is that this did not happen in France, which made them more susceptible to famine and revolution when bad weather hit at the end of the 18th.Century. Cake was not a major crop either.

  37. There is a lot of simplistic comment concerning the causes and effects of the Irish Potato Famine.
    “The Great Hunger” by Cecil Woodham-Smith describes the complexities involved and is well worth reading.
    It was a disaster waiting to happen and when it did happen was exacerbated by laissez-faire politics.

  38. How much would it cost to repeat the sampling of the trees on the Yamal peninsular, or has someone arranged for all the trees involved to be cut down?
    I seem to remember that a tree growing on the shore-line on an Indian Ocean island was uprooted by some Australian activists because it showed there had been little or no sea-level rise.

  39. Excellent essay. However more needs to be said about part of the Irish calamity that didn’t involve the meteorology.

    The disgusting part of the potato famine was the English leaders exporting food from Ireland even as people starved. The death of little children was appalling. I honestly think the Irish psyche was scarred (or perhaps made wiser) by the awareness lords in in England were burping and licking their chops, while going over papers at the dinner table which showed the fine profits from Irish investments, even as little Irish children died by the droves. That is not a thing it is easy to ever forgive and forget.

    The only good to come of the nightmare was America got so many Irish. Of course, my grandfather could tell me tales about how the Irish were not entirely welcome, at first. However their distrust of the government allowed them to fit into a land whose constitution is framed, to some degree, on distrust of those in power.

  40. The 1845 famine, due to potato blight, was a cause celeb for the anti English population. There were landlords who had little care for those living on their land and who could not pay the rent resulting in them being thrown off the land. But these heartless people were hardly ever in Ireland so would not have known what was happening. Much of England was in the same state with failed harvests. Lack of modern infrastructure meant that imports were scant and the logistics of moving any surplus to areas on need impossible.

  41. The writer, Anthony Trollope, lived in and travelled throughout Ireland both before and during the famine explained that the “scourge of Ireland” was the Irish system of tenant farming.

    “The fault had been the lowness of education and consequent want of principle among the middle classes; and this fault had been found as strongly marked among the Protestants as it had been among the Roman Catholics. Young men were brought up to do nothing. Property was regarded as having no duties attached to it. Men became rapacious, and determined to extract the uttermost farthing out of the land within their power, let the consequences to the people on that land be what they might.”

    “Men there held tracts of ground, very often at their full value, paying for them such proportion of rent as a farmer could afford to pay in England and live. But the Irish tenant would by no means consent to be a farmer. It was needful to him that he should be a gentleman, and that his sons should be taught to live and amuse themselves as the sons of gentlemen—barring any such small trifle as education. They did live in this way; and to enable them to do so, they underlet their land in small patches, and at an amount of rent to collect which took the whole labour of their tenants, and the whole produce of the small patch, over and above the quantity of potatoes absolutely necessary to keep that tenant’s body and soul together.
    And thus a state of things was engendered in Ireland which discouraged labour, which discouraged improvements in farming, which discouraged any produce from the land except the potato crop; which maintained one class of men in what they considered to be the gentility of idleness, and another class, the people of the country, in the abjectness of poverty.”

    • Solomon, yours is an important counterpoint to the usual Brit-bashing accounts of the heartless colonists. That a local population can be more exploitative of ‘their own’ than the supposed or actual ‘rulers’ is too often dismissed. Having seen first hand the behaviour of many local populations there are many examples I can cite of the ‘ruling class’ being imitated by an opportunistic local minority who employ with heartless abandon the extortionate policies of their accidental exemplars.

      The polarising and simplistic Marxist technique of defining social action in terms of dialectical materialism disguises behind a thin veil of tragically defective logic a vicious intent to unite class enemies against an artificial, abstract enemy, ultimately to be sacrificed in the volcano of ‘revolution’.

      The real enemies of progress are ignorance, nationalism, racism and materialism. The Irish potato famine employed all of these with the English viewing the ‘Irish race’ as not worth saving. The Irish meanwhile were content, could they afford it, to see their neighbours perish for there were always more tenants willing to sign over their labour for a chance to survive another year. The wickedness is evident at every level. It had global historical impact.

  42. I must compliment Dr. Ball on his narrative style. The essay was not only very informative, but enjoyable to read! More often than not, essays are dry and difficult to navigate. This one was not.

  43. The great thing about being a skeptic about one thing is that you can be skeptical about everything. They didn’t all die, you know. Many of them moved to England, Scotland and Wales where there were jobs, and Australia, New Zealand and other places.Quite a lot moved to North America – those who went to the US, of course, moved to a country where slavery was still legal, and would be for 20 plus years, leaving behind a country where it was illegal, and had been for thirty. But then the Irish were white.

    The business about food exports is stupid. The British government (and that included the MPs elected by Ireland) didn’t want to upset the price of the exports which would have left the Irish even more poverty stricken. Instead, they bought subsidised maize – which the native Irish wouldn’t eat, because there weren’t able to get the food programmes on their TVs that extolled the virtues of polenta, nor could they make Mexican food! I think about that every time I open a can of Jolly Green Giant Sweetcorn …

    As for poverty, what the hell about the famines that swept Europe? Ever read or seen Les Miserables? It wasn’t a bundle of laughs being poor in England, with thousands of women in prostitution (see Walter’s ‘My Secret Life’) and thousands of men in coal mines and other horrible occupations, with life being brutal and short..

    The main problem is that the Paddies in the US are of the ‘green beer on St Patrick’s Day’ and ‘give money to the IRA’ kind, so naturally they bleat about their history and how hard done by they were by the English. However, in 1922 they got carte blanche to run their affairs on their own, get their kids sodomised or impregnated by perverted priests and run their own grand civil war.

  44. TheLastDemocrat

    The usual myths and stories are being expressed here about the Irish potato famine. Look there was great indifference shown by the British to the famine as they showed toward the English during their Corn Laws fueled starvation. Furthermore the Western Highlands of Scotland suffered similarly from potato blight and had almost identical economy and dependency on the potato as Ireland; but only a very small number starved – why? Because the rich Scottish in the cities gave money to feed, cloth the starving and help with rent. The same was tried in Ireland but the well-off in Ireland (Protestant anx Catholic alike) turned their backs on their poor and fellow countrymen.

  45. Stephen Richards says: “Now is not one of those eras. Name one leader capable of turning our current very tenuous position on energy.”

    Too easy. I’ll name two: Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper and Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbott. Want a third? Vlad Putin. What do you think his energy strategy is? Simple: build nuclear reactors for domestic electricity production and export as much oil and gas as possible for cold, hard cash. And it should be no surprise that these are three countries which currently have no truck with UNFCCC global dominance fantasies.

    Uncle Vlad may be a bit (or a lot) of a political monster, but no one can seriously doubt the soundness of his energy policies.

    But for you lot in Britain and the US, indeed, you’ve got a “potato blight” of leadership right now. Trying to get coherent energy policy out of the current White House is like trying to push string or nail Jello to a wall. But just because these countries are badly governed, it’s not correct to assume that everyone else is.

    Winston Churchill said it best, “You can always trust the Americans to do the right thing, after trying all the wrong things.”

    As for your other remark about the scientific status of tree rings being baffling, that’s easy too. Tree rings offered data which could be tortured into producing the answers that Phil Jones et.al. wanted. Never underestimate the power of confirmation bias.

  46. Skeptical_about_spuds says:
    August 21, 2014 at 5:49 am
    However, in 1922 they got carte blanche to run their affairs on their own, get their kids sodomised or impregnated by perverted priests and run their own grand civil war.
    ==========

    Glass half empty kinda person aren’t ya.

  47. Brute,
    Here is a chart of population density verses arable acre of land in the countries of the world. You are correct, Morocco is 158 however, Egypt is 38, UAE is16, Oman is 8 and Qutar is 21. Without electricity what’s the most fun poor people can have at night? Your right again, and that will exacerbate their food problem.

  48. It’s all our fault, and we must act now.

    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 – 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 – 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 – 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

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02877737

    ————————
    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

  49. Skeptical_about_spuds says:
    August 21, 2014 at 5:49 am

    No, they didn’t all die. David Ross estimates that about a million Irish died, while another million emigrated. Christine Kinealy shows that the island’s population fell by 20 to 25% during the famine.

  50. Also, see Henry George’s careful writing on Malthus, population, and future food supply “Progress and Poverty” (1879).

  51. The elephant in the room here is not climate, but the Catholic Church.

    It was Catholic doctrine that allowed the Irish population to climb to 8 million, twice the current level. And the social structure of Catholicism favoured the expansion of peasantry, rather than large productive landowners, to provide more foot-soldiers for the creed, and more shekels in the collecting plates (just like modern South America, where Catholicism, poverty and overpopulation again go hand in hand).

    The combination of high population and inefficient peasantry farming was a recipe for disaster. And unlike the desperate claims of richard courtney et al, Malthus does rule, especially in 19 century Ireland. Yes, populations can and do sometimes outstrip their raw materials and productivity, causing populations to crash – it has happened to many civilisations and cultures.

    But just like Palestinians, the Irish have always sought to blame others for their woes – normally the English. Their overpopulation of a small unproductive land, had nothing to do with it, apparently.

    It is like the irish version of the Battle of the Boyne – which is portrayed as an English invasion of Ireland. But the battle was actually between an English king and his French army, and a Dutch king and his Anglo-Dutch army. The battle had f all to do with Ireland, bar it being fought on Irish soil. The Battle of the Boyne was actually a battle between the Catholic Louis XIV of France and his English vassal prince-king, and the Protestant confederation of the League of Augsburg, led by a Dutch king.

    Ralph

  52. The population of Britain grew about as rapidly as did Ireland’s after weather-related famine of 1740–41 caused the death of a third of the population in some areas. Despite this calamity, Irish population doubled from about 2.5 million in 1700 to 5 million in 1800, then around 8 million by 1848.

    One important difference was the British Agricultural Revolution, which didn’t take hold to the same extent in Ireland. Among the reasons for this failure to modernize was the Irish tradition of subdividing family farms in each generation until the only crop which could sustain a family on such a small plot was the potato.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Agricultural_Revolution

    In Britain, the ag revolution was followed by the Industrial Revolution, making work for the growing landless rural population.

  53. ralfellis:

    Thankyou for the laugh you gave me in your post at August 21, 2014 at 12:01 pm where you write.

    The combination of high population and inefficient peasantry farming was a recipe for disaster. And unlike the desperate claims of richard courtney et al, Malthus does rule, especially in 19 century Ireland. Yes, populations can and do sometimes outstrip their raw materials and productivity, causing populations to crash – it has happened to many civilisations and cultures.

    I make no “desperate claims” but I do point out that Malthus was plain wrong.

    The potato famine was a result of a disease which destroyed the staple food combined with political incompetence in 19 century Ireland. It provided a local and temporary shortage of food: i.e. a famine.

    Famines have often happened and they always will. The Irish were not obliterated by the potato famine but they did form a diaspora. The Irish population has recovered in Ireland to now be far more than Ireland’s population in the 19 century, and nobody is now starving in Ireland. The idea that Irish civilisation and culture crashed is ridiculous (as can be witnessed by any who have attended River Dance).

    Simply, the Irish potato famine is an example of Malthus being plain wrong.

    In case there are any reading this who are not aware of how and why Malthus was plain wrong, I again explain it as a postscript to this post.

    Richard

    POSTSCRIPT: HOW AND WHY MALTHUS WAS AND IS WRONG

    The fallacy of overpopulation derives from the disproved Malthusian idea which wrongly assumes that humans are constrained like bacteria in a Petri dish: i.e. population expands until available resources are consumed when population collapses. The assumption is wrong because humans do not suffer such constraint: humans find and/or create new and alternative resources when existing resources become scarce.

    The obvious example is food.
    In the 1970s the Club of Rome predicted that human population would have collapsed from starvation by now. But human population has continued to rise and there are fewer starving people now than in the 1970s; n.b. there are less starving people in total and not merely fewer in in percentage.

    Now, the most common Malthusian assertion is ‘peak oil’. But humans need energy supply and oil is only one source of energy supply. Adoption of natural gas displaces some requirement for oil, fracking increases available oil supply at acceptable cost; etc..

    In the real world, for all practical purposes there are no “physical” limits to natural resources so every natural resource can be considered to be infinite; i.e. the human ‘Petri dish’ can be considered as being unbounded. This a matter of basic economics which I explain as follows.

    Humans do not run out of anything although they can suffer local and/or temporary shortages of anything. The usage of a resource may “peak” then decline, but the usage does not peak because of exhaustion of the resource (e.g. flint, antler bone and bronze each “peaked” long ago but still exist in large amounts).

    A resource is cheap (in time, money and effort) to obtain when it is in abundant supply. But “low-hanging fruit are picked first”, so the cost of obtaining the resource increases with time. Nobody bothers to seek an alternative to a resource when it is cheap.

    But the cost of obtaining an adequate supply of a resource increases with time and, eventually, it becomes worthwhile to look for
    (a) alternative sources of the resource
    and
    (b) alternatives to the resource.

    And alternatives to the resource often prove to have advantages.

    For example, both (a) and (b) apply in the case of crude oil.

    Many alternative sources have been found. These include opening of new oil fields by use of new technologies (e.g. to obtain oil from beneath sea bed) and synthesising crude oil from other substances (e.g. tar sands, natural gas and coal). Indeed, since 1994 it has been possible to provide synthetic crude oil from coal at competitive cost with natural crude oil and this constrains the maximum true cost of crude.

    Alternatives to oil as a transport fuel are possible. Oil was the transport fuel of military submarines for decades but uranium is now their fuel of choice.

    There is sufficient coal to provide synthetic crude oil for at least the next 300 years. Hay to feed horses was the major transport fuel 300 years ago and ‘peak hay’ was feared in the nineteenth century, but availability of hay is not a significant consideration for transportation today. Nobody can know what – if any – demand for crude oil will exist 300 years in the future.

    Indeed, coal also demonstrates an ‘expanding Petri dish’.
    Spoil heaps from old coal mines contain much coal that could not be usefully extracted from the spoil when the mines were operational. Now, modern technology enables the extraction from the spoil at a cost which is economic now and would have been economic if it had been available when the spoil was dumped.

    These principles not only enable growing human population: they also increase human well-being.
    The ingenuity which increases availability of resources also provides additional usefulness to the resources. For example, abundant energy supply and technologies to use it have freed people from the constraints of ‘renewable’ energy and the need for the power of muscles provided by slaves and animals. Malthusians are blind to the obvious truth that human ingenuity has freed humans from the need for slaves to operate treadmills, the oars of galleys, etc..

    And these benefits also act to prevent overpopulation because population growth declines with affluence.
    There are several reasons for this. Of most importance is that poor people need large families as ‘insurance’ to care for them at times of illness and old age. Affluent people can pay for that ‘insurance’ so do not need the costs of large families.

    The result is that the indigenous populations of rich countries decline. But rich countries need to sustain population growth for economic growth so they need to import – and are importing – people from poor countries. Increased affluence in poor countries can be expected to reduce their population growth with resulting lack of people for import by rich countries.

    Hence, the real foreseeable problem is population decrease; n.b. not population increase.
    All projections and predictions indicate that human population will peak around the middle of this century and decline after that. So, we are confronted by the probability of ‘peak population’ resulting from growth of affluence around the world.

    The Malthusian idea is wrong because it ignores basic economics and applies a wrong model; human population is NOT constrained by resources like the population of bacteria in a Petri dish. There is no existing or probable problem of overpopulation of the world by humans.

  54. @CC Squid

    Your “chart” did not appear. However, put that “chart” together with one with data from a few decades back. It might give you an idea of what development looks like.

    And, if you actually care to really look into it, the quality of live in any of those places has done nothing but improve (as has in the rest of the world) except in those regions where your endearing desire for war has met with success (fewer and fewer to your dismay).

    Take a look at the data below on how the world is actually changing and please don’t hesitate to comment again:

    http://www.ourworldindata.org/

  55. richardscourtney says:
    August 21, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    The Irish population has recovered in Ireland to now be far more than Ireland’s population in the 19 century, and nobody is now starving in Ireland.

    ———————–

    Nope.

    Population of Ireland in 1841: over eight million.
    Population of Ireland in 2014: ~6.4 million (~4.6 M in RoI + ~1.8 M in NI).

  56. sturgishooper:

    re your post at August 21, 2014 at 1:47 pm.

    Yes. I stand corrected. Thankyou.

    However, my salient point remains true. Nobody is starving in Ireland and the Irish diaspora happened; indeed, there are ~7 times as many American Irish than there are people in Ireland. Hence, Malthus was wrong.

    Richard

  57. ralfellis
    August 21, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Your post is one of conjecture built on good solid conspiracy.

    As has been pointed out to you by others the Irish famine as with most other famines are caused by a combination of misfortune and the inadequate distribution of resources.

  58. sturgishooper says:
    August 21, 2014 at 3:41 pm inre: rsc says: August 21, 2014 at 1:58 pm
    “True. Malthus didn’t appreciate the productive power of capitalism to create wealth.”

    The problem with communal property and centrally planned farming is that it makes innovation impossible.

    Innovation and a wide variety of practices, animals, and crops requires private property and the ability to benefit privately from commercial activity. Change of any kind is prevented by the systems of collectivism, starting with Plato and Sparta.

  59. Brute,
    Check out this document you referenced with specific attention to the 2014 to 2100 data.

    http://www.ourworldindata.org/data/population-growth-vital-statistics/future-world-population-growth/

    Then checkpoint this page out,

    http://www.prb.org/Publications/Reports/2002/FindingtheBalancePopulationandWaterScarcityintheMiddleEastandNorthAfrica.aspx

    Balancing Water Scarcity and Human Demand
    MENA countries have increasingly been adopting new strategies for balancing their scarce water resources and growing demand for fresh water, although their options may be dictated by a number of different factors. For example, low-income countries, such as Yemen, would not be able to purchase the high-tech equipment available to high-income countries, such as Saudi Arabia. Even for high-income countries, purely technological solutions relieve only some of the demand for water. In the long term, slowing population growth in the region and creating effective policies and programs for improved water management are key to the region’s sustainable development.

    I recommend that you read AND think about the two references. Water is scarce in the mid-east and the further a country is from the sea the more vulnerable that country is.

    Your reference to my desire for “war” is obviously a projection of your own “feelings”. Robert Heinlein describes my feelings best about an ongoing discussion with you, “Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.”
    Best Regards

  60. Zeke says:
    August 21, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    A big part of the 18th century British Agricultural Revolution was increased innovation from more capital intensive farming.

  61. @CC Squid

    It is you who brought war into the conversation. From the very start.

    It is also you who prefers future projections over yesterday’s and today’s data.

    This preference for hypothesis over reality seems to lead you to your first and only conclusion, namely, a desire for war. Consider, after all, that if your beliefs regarding possible scarcities in a hypothetical future were to be psychologically healthy, you would not be talking of war, you would be talking of work.

    The truth is that your predilection for certain beliefs about potential scarcities in a hypothetical future manifests a desire for certain possible outcomes and, by your own words, you have no room for anything other than war.

    I suggest you stop fantasizing about inexistent conflicts over yet to occur (if ever) scarcities and rather contribute productively to the betterment of our fellow humans. So far, scarcities have become fewer and fewer, thanks to hard working people and despite the warmongering ones. Based on the available evidence, the more likely probability is that we will defeat your lot every time even if you yourself continue to choose conflict over labor. But I want to encourage you to make the sane choice.

  62. sturgishooper and Zeke:

    I am replying to both of you in this one post because my answer is a single response to each of you. I intend no insult by providing the one response.

    sturgishooper at August 21, 2014 at 3:41 pm you say to me

    Malthus didn’t appreciate the productive power of capitalism to create wealth.

    and Zeke adds to that at August 21, 2014 at 6:03 pm saying

    The problem with communal property and centrally planned farming is that it makes innovation impossible.

    Actually, as I explained in the postscript of my post at August 21, 2014 at 12:54 pm which is here

    The Malthusian idea is wrong because it ignores basic economics and applies a wrong model; human population is NOT constrained by resources like the population of bacteria in a Petri dish. There is no existing or probable problem of overpopulation of the world by humans.

    Innovation does release the constraints which Malthusians assume constrain resources, and I explained that.

    Also, the removal of resource constraints permits the obtaining otherwise unobtainable wealth, and I explained that. But, and importantly, innovation – not the political system – provides the potential for acquiring the wealth of additional useful resources.

    Therefore, it is reasonable to discuss methods which most enable and least inhibit the finding and adoption of innovation. One of those methods will always be the political system. But it is very arguable as to whether the adopted political philosophy is a significant promoter or inhibitor of innovation. Anecdotal evidence can be presented to support the idea that any political philosophy supports or inhibits creation and adoption of innovation.

    For example, Hero of Alexandria invented a steam engine nearly 2000 years ago (and many other ‘modern’ devices) and it is described here, but it was only used as a toy. The societal reasons for this were related to the basic (slave owning) structure of that society. Those reasons had nothing to do with “capitalism” and/or “communal property and centrally planned farming” which did not exist.

    Richard

  63. What caused the failure of the potato crop in 1845? What were the weather conditions for both events? What weather and climate lessons are in the two events? Archibald references Briffa and Jones (2006) conclusion that “climate might vary more than is commonly accepted.” An interesting conclusion, considering they were very involved at the time in the “hockey stick” claim of very low variability for some 600 years.

    There is little doubt that cooling and the spread of blight has a profound effect on the failure of the Irish crop. But it is important to note that there were other important factors that made Ireland particularly vulnerable that most people keep ignoring. The Irish suffered from a number of famines under English rule. The harmful effect was cumulative and the final knockout punch was finally delivered in 1845 as the weakened Irish tenant farmer had no way to protect his family from ruin.

    The land in Ireland was owned by absentee Englishmen who used tenant farmers that were given no right to ownership over improvements that they made. Since the English Corn Laws protected the English absentee landlords from competition they got rich but the Irish did not. The typical farmer grew potatoes that they fed their families and animals. (A diet that consisted of oatmeal, potatoes, and buttermilk provides all of the essential nutrients necessary for a human being.) Since potatoes did not deplete the soil of nutrients the landlords benefited. That allowed a bigger portion of the estate to be planted with grain that would be destined for export to English markets. The higher prices encouraged the cultivation of additional farmland and that increased the demand for Irish labour. When prices for grains crashed after the Corn Laws were repealed the Irish began to starve because the population could not be maintained due to the collapse of output and demand for labour.

    My point, and assure you that there is one, is that if people have property rights they will adjust to all kinds of changes that affect their daily lives. But if they have no such rights and have to do what government bureaucrats want the damage will be much greater and the recovery would take much longer. If we are serious about climate issues we have to argue that all governments need to lose their power to meddle in the economy and regulate voluntary economic and social transactions.

  64. cd says: August 21, 2014 at 2:00 pm
    As has been pointed out to you by others the Irish famine as with most other famines are caused by a combination of misfortune and the inadequate distribution of resources.
    _______________________________

    The misfortune was self-inflicted. The population rose to unsustainable proportions, due to a Dark Age creed, and the wealth distribution through the generations favoured dividing fields into hopelessly uneconomic plots. that is not misfortune, that is stupidity.

    In England, we had Primogeniture, to ensure the property was not divided. Bleating liberals will say this system promoted a poor working class or even serfdom. But do you want a working class, or starvation? History demonstrates that the English social system worked, while the Irish system was an abject failure.

    Ralph

  65. richardscourtney says: August 22, 2014 at 1:02
    The Malthusian idea is wrong because it ignores basic economics and applies a wrong model; Human population is NOT constrained by resources like the population of bacteria in a Petri dish. There is no existing or probable problem of overpopulation of the world by humans.
    ___________________________________

    As usual, Richard, you are so wrong it is almost funny. How can you not see the illogicality of your pontification?

    The irish population WAS constricted by (food) resources, just like bacteria in a petri dish. The food supply ran low, and the population halved – just as bacteria in a petri dish would. The population only recovered when new techniques increased the food supply in later centuries.

    And your assertion that many irish exiled themselves to America, and so Malthus was wrong, is simply an absurd distraction. The fact remains that the Irish petri-dish was decimated – the population halved. The observation that some people found another petri-dish in another location is completely irrelevant, because bacteria can and do do exactly the same thing when a food supply runs low – they find another food source elsewhere.

    And you fail to recognise and admit that human populations have stripped their resources and experienced population crashes throughout history. The fact that we have now developed new techniques to bolster our resources is simply 20:20 hindsight. There was no guarantee that would develop these new techniques, and mankind could easily have slipped back to the Stone Age.

    And if you look at the world from space, you will clearly see that Malthus was right, and we are merely bacteria on the face of the Earth. The lights of cities and civilisations spread and blossom, and then they fade and die, as the centuries and millennia pass. Bacteria, crawling over the face of the Earth, no more, no less.

    Ralph

  66. rsc, I would rather turn our attention to how western civilization got out of the circumstances which led to events like the Potato Famine, rather than how Europe got into it. The discussion will be enormously helpful because there is a very present danger of repeating the conditions which will lead to famine. Today, potato production in the US and Europe is in the billions of pounds because of Fungicides. And as long as the European Union, a centrally planned economy, is not permitted to ban the use of Fungicides, then there is not likely to be a problem with late blight.

    The only scientist I like any more: Leonard Gianessi on the use of fungicides:

    Repeat of Irish Potato Famine Unlikely Thanks to Fungicides
    Posted on November 23, 2012

    The pathogen Phytophtera infestans causes a disease of potatoes called “late blight”. The pathogen grows in potato plants, breaking down cell walls so that it can use the nutrients found within them. Severely infected plants have an acrid odor which is the result of dying plant tissue. In the 1800s, Irish peasants subsisted almost entirely on potatoes. The late blight fungus arrived in 1845 and destroyed 40% of the Irish crop. In 1846, 100% of the crop was destroyed. Over 1.5 million Irish died of famine and a comparable number emigrated to America and other countries. Today, the fungus is still present in Ireland and would destroy the crop again if not for fungicides.

    “Without the routine use of fungicides, large-scale commercial potato production in Ireland would be impossible. The cool, damp climate, which favours the cultivation of the potato and limits problems with virus diseases, is also ideal for the spread of blight. … In warm, wet weather when the humidity is high, P. infestans will lay waste an unprotected crop. … To prevent such devastating losses, the potato industry in Ireland has long been reliant on a substantial annual usage of fungicides.”

  67. Zeke:

    I agree all you say in your post at August 22, 2014 at 11:34 am which is addressed to me.

    Also, I point out that it is a complete rebuttal to the ridiculous nonsense from ralfellis at August 22, 2014 at 10:54 am.

    I think it interesting that – from opposite ends of the sane political spectrum – you and I agree the importance of human ingenuity and the methods to ensure ability to obtain its benefits, but ralfellis thinks these matters are insoluble.

    Richard

  68. I see we have trolling behaviour from Skeptical_about_spuds.

    As my ancestors include Irish from the Famine (great grand dad and mom) and English (mom) I think I can speak to this fairly.

    Do not forget that there were many Irish “indentured Servants”. Nearly slaves. Do not forget New York with signs “No Irish Need Apply” for jobs. I am a product of that run from famine. It was caused in large part by English laws and greed. Those same Irish made a great deal of wealth and success in America, despite arriving in abject poverty and often as near slaves.

  69. Vangel Vesovski says:
    August 22, 2014 at 9:38 am
    =============================================
    I would agree with that sentiment.

    @ richard…I believe that the current government structure along with the mega corporations has become a factor in reducing the average person,s ability to release that little niche of creativity which may dwell in any person, and thus lead to the innovation necessary for the improvement of mankind as a whole. A nation needs strong corporations to maintain an even keel against the ebb and flow of shifts in business dynamics. That benefits all, but when government regulations and privilege marry in with these institutions, then this is a disadvantage for the individual and for the nation as a result. A good example is the current position of too big to fail. That is not a healthy policy.

  70. I remember reading where some of the English masters disagreed with the policy of not aiding the Irish people at that time , but they were in the minority.

  71. goldminor:

    I am replying to your posts at August 22, 2014 at 4:14 pm and August 22, 2014 at 4:17 pm.

    Taking the latter first, please be skeptical of historical accounts because they tend to be written by vested interests. The background reality to the Irish potato famine was that the UK was then governed according to laissez faire economic theory (what Americans would call ‘free market’ or ‘capitalist’ philosophy). Thus, ‘absentee landlords’ could do – and did do – whatever they wanted to do to maximise their personal profits. Hence, despite the growing movement for what today is ‘community care’ there was then no method for helping the famine sufferers except charity from Churches.

    And that brings us to your former post which is addressed to me. All political systems have pros and cons.

    We agree that as you say

    A nation needs strong corporations to maintain an even keel against the ebb and flow of shifts in business dynamics. That benefits all, but when government regulations and privilege marry in with these institutions, then this is a disadvantage for the individual and for the nation as a result. A good example is the current position of too big to fail. That is not a healthy policy.

    That problem of concentrated power needs to be resolved. I suspect my British culture induces me to favour an evolutionary change while your American culture may induce you to prefer some kind of legal (written Constitution?) amendment.

    But a variety of political systems provides the benefits and problems of all. Imposition of any one political system limits the available advantages while limiting the possible problems. Some problems – e.g. totalitarianism – need to be prevented in any system. I think it is good to maximise beneficial possibilities while preventing unacceptable possibilities.

    And that opens an entire new subject for debate which is not the topic of this thread and would contravene the WUWT Rules. But I hope I have implied points of agreement and disagreement of you and I.

    Richard

  72. richardscourtney says: August 22, 2014 at 1:55 pm
    Also, I point out that it is a complete rebuttal to the ridiculous nonsense from ralfellis at August 22, 2014 at 10:54 am.
    ______________________________

    Do you deny that the Irish petri-dish population halved? Do you deny the facts?

    Contrary to your ‘fingers-in-the-ear’ approach to history, I know a great deal about the famine. Indeed, my gr-gr-etc-grandmother was forced to leave Ireland because of that very Famine, and settled in Whitehaven of all places. She was forced to find another petri-dish, with more nutrients.

    Malthus rules all organisms, be they plant, bacteria or humans. And I presume your rejection of this truism is based upon an illogical belief is some Flying Teapot or Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    Ralph

  73. ralfellis:

    At August 23, 2014 at 9:12 am you ask me

    Do you deny that the Irish petri-dish population halved? Do you deny the facts?

    Of course I “deny that the Irish petri-dish population halved” because I accept the facts.

    Human ingenuity enabled the Irish to move to other ‘petri-dishes’. The Irish diaspora resulted in much larger Irish population: there are seven times as many people who claim to be Irish Americans than live in Ireland.

    Ralph, abandon your irrational faith in disproved Malthusianism and try to think for your self.

    Richard

  74. How did the English gain the property in Ireland?

    “The English conquered Ireland, several times, and took ownership of vast agricultural territory. Large chunks of land were given to Englishmen.”

    Is forbidding land-ownership, price fixing, Corn Laws, and “make-work” public works projects supported by high taxation representative of “free market” policy?

    “John Lahey alleges that the Irish potato famine was caused by “British laissez-faire policies” (Letters, April 8). Not so. This calamity was caused by British prohibitions on land-ownership by the Catholic Irish, burdensome taxation, and public-works projects that built roads that were useless for carrying goods and foodstuffs from places where they were abundant to places where they were in short supply.

    The great 19th-century French economist, Jean-Baptiste Say, writing in the early 1800s, harshly criticized these British interventions: “What is lacking in Ireland is not subsistence but the ability to pay for it. With landowners far away [in Britain], without capitalists who might introduce productive businesses, and with numerous government employees, ecclesiastics, and military personal to feed, heavy taxes to pay, and the ignorance resulting from so many evils, the Irish simply lack the means of improving their condition.”*

    Doesn’t sound like laissez faire to me.

    Sincerely,
    Donald J. Boudreaux

  75. Zeke:

    re your post at August 23, 2014 at 9:49 am.

    “What is lacking in Ireland is not subsistence but the ability to pay for it. With landowners far away [in Britain], without capitalists who might introduce productive businesses, and with numerous government employees, ecclesiastics, and military personal to feed, heavy taxes to pay, and the ignorance resulting from so many evils, the Irish simply lack the means of improving their condition.”*

    Sounds exactly like laissez faire to me.
    Please tell me why and in what way you don’t think it is.

    My request is genuine and sincere

    Richard

    • Here rsc,

      How did the English gain the property in Ireland?

      “The English conquered Ireland, several times, and took ownership of vast agricultural territory. Large chunks of land were given to Englishmen.”

      Is forbidding land-ownership, price fixing, Corn Laws, and “make-work” public works projects supported by high taxation representative of “free market” policy?

      “John Lahey alleges that the Irish potato famine was caused by “British laissez-faire policies” (Letters, April 8). Not so. This calamity was caused by British prohibitions on land-ownership by the Catholic Irish, burdensome taxation, and public-works projects that built roads that were useless for carrying goods…”

      ~~~~~~~~~

      Folks, you can see that once the mandates, subsidies, and banning of effective inexpensive products has taken place, then the destructive results will be blamed on the free market, just as you see here in this Irish example. But it is never capitalism when a purchase is not voluntary. And it is not free market when people are forbidden to own property, or the use of their property is made void by environmental legislation, and it is certainly not free market when governments and NGOs tell businesses what to sell behind closed doors. There is another name for that. We hear this term, “environmental capitalism” and it simply refers to forced purchases, etc..

      • @Zeke – you are right on the money (August 23, 2014 at 10:42 am ).

        It is not laissez faire, as that means NO Government intervention. Not perceived good, nor perceived bad intervention. if it is laissez faire, the government does not act. Yet the facts say they did. They can call it anything they want, and blame it on anything they want, but not laissez faire.

      • philjourdan
        August 26, 2014 at 5:39 am “It is not laissez faire, as that means NO Government intervention.”

        Without having an extensive understanding of the historical, contextual meanings of “laissez faire” English economic policies, and the many ways this term could be used, I can at least say that British policy at the time came under the criticism of Jean-Baptiste Say, who was an adherent of Adam Smith’s writings.

        Protectionism, subsidies, and all other types of government intervention was also sharply criticized by Frederic Bastiat, the brilliant French writer and economist who brought the ideas of Adam Smith out of theory, and spoke of them in concrete terms in pamphlets which every one could understand. These would have been contemporaries of these policies, and they pointed out the dangers of them.

        And so with Say and Bastiat as my authorities, I am confident that the term “laissez faire” as is being used here is not free market, and that these top-down market distortions by English and French governments were recognized by Bastiat and Say for the destructive actions they were.

        ref: The Law, by Frederic Bastiat

        http://zekeunlimited.wordpress.com/the-law-by-f-bestiat-1848/

        Warning: “Cannot unsee” (:

  76. Zeke:

    True thanks for your reply to me at August 23, 2014 at 10:42 am.

    Sorry, but all you have said strengthens my understanding that it was “British laissez-faire policies” at the time of the potato famine.

    How the British had obtained the land of Ireland is not relevant to the fact that they did own it when the famine happened. Similarly, that native Americans once owned California and New York is not relevant to the system of economics now operated in those places.

    Also, “British prohibitions on land-ownership by the Catholic Irish, burdensome taxation, and public-works projects that built roads that were useless for carrying goods” are strange assertions which do not refute the operation of laissez-faire policies at the time.

    The “prohibitions” on land ownership were of no consequence because the existing land owners had no willingness to sell their land and the Irish had insufficient funds to buy it.

    Taxation is always “burdensome” but fell almost entirely on the land owners because other people were too poor for them to be able to pay much.

    The public works were minimal and the assertions about roads are very odd. If the roads were not adequate then intervention to provide an adequate road system would have helped – not hindered – the situation. But the the existing roads clearly were adequate for carrying goods because the land owners would have built additional roads if the existing roads were not adequate for conveying their goods including the agricultural production from their lands.

    The assertions that the British official economic policy of laissez-faire was not being operated in Ireland do not concur with reality.

    Richard

  77. Re: The Great Irish Potato famine 1845 to 1850 — it is very important to highlight certain critical truths of this horrific event, both for the sake of a truthful understanding of history, and also for the implications for the present and future. I would like to point to the work of Professor Francis Boyle (Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois) on the Great Irish Potato famine as a case of “genocide” by the legal definition of that term defined by the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, an official treaty to which the United States is a signer. Professor Boyle has very serious credentials, and practiced law internationally on high levels (his C.V. is accessible here). He has shown that the British government committed willful actions which fit the strict definition of genocide outlined in the 1948 Genocide Treaty. He presents the evidence for this in a 2012 book “United Ireland, Human Rights and International Law,” and a short 2010 article, “Francis A. Boyle: The Irish Famine was Genocide” (and an interview on the subject here).

    I think this is very important to the subject of the post, because this is an expression of a longer standing policy of the British Empire, including the British and Dutch royal families, up to this very moment. Most importantly, this has been their motivation in their creation of the environmentalist movement and the more recent AGW / “climate change” fraud.

    In the past the British empire conducted a similar famine genocide policy in India, to unimaginable horrors (see, “Then and Now: British Imperial Policy Means Famine“). Their policies in Africa have been the same. These intentions and consequences continued after World War II, only under different names, and different policies. Sir Julian Huxley (in the 1946 founding document of UNESCO) wrote, regarding “the important science of Eugenics”, they must make the “unthinkable once again become thinkable” (referring to the public recognition of the horrors of Hitler’s eugenics program).

    The point is this is the policy and intention behind the creation of the environmentalist movement, and the climate change fraud within that. It was the same Julian Huxley, along with Britain’s Prince Philip, the Netherlands’ Prince Bernhard, and their associates who created the “conservation” (aka “environmentalism”) movement from the top-down, starting in the 1950s and 1960s. The facts are all on the record.

    The great invention of refrigeration was highlighted. When the hole in the ozone hoax was launched, one of the major points of attack was on refrigerants, ensuring exactly what was cited in the post, “about 60-70 percent of the food grown in developing nations never makes it to the table.” The consequences of this was know and covered in the early 1990’s,
    CFC ban will kill millions by starvation“.

  78. rsc, we will let the many incredible people here decide on the merits characterizing the actions of the British Empire as free market. They are all big boys and girls.

    As I said, I prefer to look at how Western Civilization has overcome the conditions which lead to the destruction of potato crops by late blight. This pathogen is extremely fast spreading and one infected plant can spread disease up to hundreds of miles away. The farmers who use pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides are now under siege by European Empire top-down economic dictats. I am just trying to point out something that may be useful to Europeans to know. Fungicides keep food from being wasted both while it is being grown and after it is harvested, shipped, and stored. Fungicides increase yield and reduce land needed for growing. And fungicides are what allow European countries to be exporters of crops which are profitable for them to grow. Take away fungicide and say hello to dearth.

  79. Zeke:

    I again owe you thanks, this time for the info. about fungicides in your post at August 23, 2014 at 1:40 pm. As I suspect you know, I have absolutely no knowledge of such matters.

    I am not aware of EU plans to constrain use of fungicides but such plans would not surprise me: the recent vacuum cleaner decision shows how the unelected commissioners are out of control, and their tightening of the LCPD so as to close UK power stations demonstrates lunacy.

    I stand by my view that the operative political system at the time of the Irish potato famine was not contributory to the famine but certainly was contributory to failure to alleviate the suffering caused by the famine. Of course, I completely reject the idiotic idea (introduced by Benjamin.Deniston) that the famine was a genocidal plot.

    Richard

  80. richardscourtney says:
    August 23, 2014 at 12:16 am
    But I hope I have implied points of agreement and disagreement of you and I.
    ===============================================================
    Yes you have, and thank you. I certainly appreciate your well thought explanations on all matters.

  81. I know rsc We should try to be a little more circumspect on the subject British history and the language we use, does every one hear that? (; . I think GB went to the dark side in its Empire days in many ways, but there is also good in the Commonwealth countries which share the English language, law, and traditions.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=commonwealth+countries&client=firefox-a&hs=LcK&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=sb&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=2gb5U8zTCeq5iwKJu4G4Dw&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAQ&biw=911&bih=438

    If the UK were to leave the EU, it seems one of the benefits would be open trade deals with these countries and the entire world, rather than just trading with Europe. Those countries would like to sell their food the the UK as well. Good for all. Fungicides and herbicides can help farmers in these countries clear the land without using women with hoes, and can make it possible for a farmer to even expand to more than one hectare.

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