Corn up 7% worldwide, Paul Ehrlich of course sees agricultural collapse

While the alarmists wail over 400PPM of CO2, and push doom and gloom crop failure scenarios, in the real world where people risk money and livelihood, the news is far, far, better.

Bloomberg_corn

Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-25/world-grain-harvest-seen-jumping-7-by-igc-on-corn-crop-surge.html

Of course Paul Ehrlich thinks the world will end (again). 

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

Contemplating Collapse

by Paul Ehrlich

It’s been three months since Anne and I summarized our views on this topic for the Royal Society, and we’ve been pleased that it has generated a fair amount of discussion and particularly, invitations to share our take on the future in various forum in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand.  So far the paper has not elicited any significant attacks, save one “rebuttal” based on climate denial that was rejected by a journal.  But it has also not yet generated some of the discussion we might have hoped for, especially on key issues such as how to buffer the global agricultural system against global change so as to retain a real possibility of at least maintaining today’s nutritional situation and steps that need to be taken to increase human security against vast epidemics (such as that which now may be threatened by the H7N9 “bird flu” virus).

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

Source: http://us4.campaign-archive2.com/?u=88e1f9157b8a1070712b4dd12&id=22001abf1d&e=f8b6a6b78b

I’d love to see him explain how the world agricultural system will collapse in the face of gains like this, it should be entertaining.

Every university has their own nutty professor. As long as people recognize that Paul Ehrlich is just that, and that none of his gloom and doom scenarios have come true, we’ll all be fine.

Ehrlich is the poster child for why tenure shouldn’t be a permanent thing, but one that you have to be reviewed at some interval to keep.

Advertisements

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
GlynnMhor

“… key issues such as how to buffer the global agricultural system against global change…”
How about how to protect the global agricultural system against panic-stricken carbon strangulation policies that would at least drive up all of the input costs (transport, fertilizer, etc) of farming, and in many areas cripple the industry entirely.

barryjo

OK. So they write a paper. Then they get to travel to cool places (Australia is cool, right?) and explain what they said. Sounds like a pretty neat idea. Wonder if I could get a similar gig writing about wine-making.

John Bills
Ian H

And how much of that corn will go to make biofuel. Perhaps food production is not up after all since we now burn a significant fraction of what we produce.

Good news for all those who live on a few dollars a day or less.
It’s worth pointing out that an important limitation on food production is the cost of energy for irrigation, fertilizers, food storage, etc.
Those wish to increase the cost of energy are making millions to go hungry.

It’s too soon to tally this year’s corn crop. The cooling in Minnessota and adjacent parts of the upper Midwest could make their growing season too short for corn. The seed companies may have been fooled by the global warmers into thinking that abnormally long growing seasons will continue. Farmers could find themselves with immature corn when the frosts hit this fall.

Jim B in Canada

Trivia Question for all you WUWTer’s what year did Professor Paul R. Ehrlich write:
“The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate…” ?
The answer of course is EVERY YEAR. 🙂

cui bono

Paul Ehrlich FRS, please.
See how much more authoritative his doom sounds now?
Oh good grief…

Eve Stevens

Sowing the most corn in the US was the plan but since spring has been non existant…it’s not happening anymore.

p@ Dolan

If Paul Ehrlich is soooooo worried about the ability of the people of the world to feed themselves in the face of such imminent disasters as ‘Global Warming’ (setting aside the fact that historically, mankind has benefited greatly from every warming period), the sky falling, or whatever other panic-attack he’s suffering from, he might do us all the favor of achieving voluntarily discorporation, which would save a seat at the table for someone more deserving (or at least more congenial—I mean, wow: what a buzz-killer he is…)…
I’m just sayin’….

Of course Ehrlich predicts collapse, it’s a psychological necessity for him: he’s predicated his existence on the prospect of mass starvation and eagerly awaits the Malthusian apocalypse for which he is the John the Baptist figure.

Bill Illis

Corn is a C4 grass and, therefore, increased CO2 won’t help it much except in very, very dry conditions.
Wheat, Barley, Rice and Potatoes are C3 plants and will benefit greatly from increased CO2, especially in dry conditions.
That’s the big 5.

BruceC

Past quotes from Dr Paul Ehrlich:
A massive campaign must be launched to de-develop the United States. De-Development means bringing our economic system into line with the realities of ecology and the world resource situation.
Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.
Air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.
Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years. (Earth Day 1970)
By…[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s. (Earth Day 1970)

William Sears

Removing tenure wouldn’t have the effect that you think that it would. It would make it harder for other professors to speak out against Ehrlich and would give the faculty unions more, not less power.

How ironic. Ehrlich could wind up being right because global cooling trends make it harder to plant on time and frost may damage yields. If he is right the AGW movement might take a huge hit. What exactly is the problem with that?

Pat Frank

It’s not that Paul Ehrlich’s tenure should be reviewed. It’s that no one should take him seriously.
The problem is that he has the ear of policy-makers. It’s secular religion. The guys yelling repent the end is near were respected figures in the prior societies hag-ridden by superstition. The common mentality gave them credibility. Now they’re relegated to street corners and soap-boxes. That’s where Paul Ehrlich should be. But policy-makers are seduced by a brand of religious thinking that takes on the disguise of modern reasoning. The fault is theirs, not Paul Ehrlich’s.
Paul Ehrlich’s assumptions are nonsense, but the external form of his reasoning has an analytical facade. He’s a soap-boxer yelling repent. But his high language flummoxes policy-makers, who typically have little analytical skill. Their lack of understanding means they can’t see through foolishness and can’t stand up to academic doomsayers.
So policy-makers take the easy route and let themselves be spooked by modernist scare stories. Better to give in to stories about bad times, because if the bad times do come you’ve covered your backside, and if they don’t come no one cares if their leader was stupid. So, policy-makers and governors go off into alarmist never-never land, just as their predecessors did, getting spooked by soap-boxer warnings that the crops failed because they had made god (climate) angry.
This combination of weaknesses has made policy-makers incompetent. We all know that the frantic fear of global warming would be over the day after a full-fledged engineering report came out about the reliability of climate models and about the measurement error of historical surface temperature sensors. Policy-makers should have demanded those studies 20 years ago. But they didn’t because they are functionally incompetent. They lack the mentality to think to the standards of a techno-scientific age. So, honestly, does Paul Ehrlich.
So there’s the problem, folks: mediocre hag-ridden medievalesque mentalities running things in a scientific age. They can’t keep up.

Adam

We have lots of food on this planet but some people still starve to death every year. We have lots of energy on this planet but some people still freeze to death in the winter. The system of distribution is broken, not the means of production.
Why is that? What is it about the way that resources are distributed that lead to starvation when there is an abundance of food?

Lokki

Did anyone else notice the subtle amplification of the slur “climate change deniers” to “climate deniers?
“So far the paper has not elicited any significant attacks, save one “rebuttal” based on climate denial that was rejected by a journal….

otsar

You should always keep a few lunatics in your circle of friends. When the lunatics begin to make sense, you will know that there is deep trouble and that should seriously start looking at a change of venue.

jorgekafkazar

Who gives a blurry frock what Paul Error-like says? He’s like a roulette player using a martingale strategy. “Croupier, another five hundred on Doom, please…Oh, dang, lost again.” And again. And again. Anyone who believes him is delusional.

OldWeirdHarold

Pat Frank says:
May 13, 2013 at 6:07 pm
—–
Thread winning comment.

cbrtxus

After his “Population Bomb” bomb, a lot of people consider him to be irrelevant. Not worth even a comment on his work.
I noticed that he claimed that 90% of the people favored the Obama gun control effort. That’s obviously false. Politicians are always testing which way public opinion is trending. Very few politicians would vote contrary to 90% of his constituents. Remaining a part of the ruling class trumps principle in most cases. No legitimate poll could come up with 90%. Maybe it was 90% of a very carefully selected sample.

starzmom

I am still trying to figure out what global epidemics such as H7N9 or any other version of the bird flu have to do with nutrition and global food supply. Talk about changing the subject!!!

Richard of NZ

Bill Illis says:
May 13, 2013 at 5:51 pm
Corn is a C4 grass and, therefore, increased CO2 won’t help it much except in very, very dry conditions.
Wheat, Barley, Rice and Potatoes are C3 plants and will benefit greatly from increased CO2, especially in dry conditions.
——————————————————————————————————————
Historically all food grains were referred to as “corn”. What USians call “corn” is a contraction of “indian corn” or what the rest of the world calls “maize”. The article quoted in the beginning of this post specifically notes that wheat and coarse grains, such as maize, are predicted to have a bumper harvest.

Suddenly I feel a modicum of respect for Harold Camping, who at finally (granted, after 4-5 missed Apocalypses/Apocalypsii/whatever) noticed the world wasn’t ending, and even apologized.

Kevin Kilty

No variable correlates more closely to the size of corn harvest than acres planted.

Beware of the Malthusians!

Cut to about 3:40 on the video above.

Master_Of_Puppets

Paul R. Ehrlich.
Born Paul Ralph Ehrlich
May 29, 1932 (age 80)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Noted for his controversial 1968 book The Population Bomb.
“In the years since, some of Ehrlich’s predictions have proven incorrect” as noted by Wikipedia.
I will hazard a guess that P.R.E. will die between age 82 and 87.
Want to make a bet ? in Vegas [:)], at the hotel Casino of MY choice ! [no sarcasm just the facts]

2011 was a bin busting record yield even though the US farmers were still planting in the first weeks of June. Soil moisture is turning out to be the main link to success.

Unfortunately, Ehrlich isn’t the only ignorant, delusional, mean-spirited fanatic inhabiting the universities. He’s got lots of company there.
It’s odd that so many people will listen to this wacko – or maybe it isn’t so odd, after all

RockyRoad

Between US politics and the destruction of the CAGW meme, there’s one entertaining turn of event after another. I’d call it entertaining, but one has to like sick entertainment for it to qualify.

Torgeir Hansson

This is not so difficult. Most people have experience with getting up in the morning and going through their day. A university professor who claims that this humdrum routine will soon come to an end has novelty value, especially if said professor has the presence of mind to let himself be forgotten now and then.
He’s a huckster. If Mel Brooks dressed him in a crimson tailcoat, and put a little brown bottle in his hand that he could wave in front of the rustic crowd, he’d get and Academy Award.

Chris4692

Adam says:
May 13, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Why is that? What is it about the way that resources are distributed that lead to starvation when there is an abundance of food?

Dictatorships.

TimTheToolMan

Adam asks “Why is that? What is it about the way that resources are distributed that lead to starvation when there is an abundance of food?”
I suspect you could spend a lifetime answering that.

RiHo08

Paul Ehrlich was coming to Adelaide as I was passing through to Kangaroo Island. In the central bus station, I picked up a pre-read copy of the Australian which ran a piece on Ehrlich who was to address an environment group the next day. He was quoted as saying that Australia’s 21 million population was not sustainable. To become sustainable, the population had to be reduced to 10 million population. Government’s job was to promote emigration.
On Kangaroo Island, Genetically Modified wheat grows on scant rainfall. Double bottom grain trailers have a central place on each ferry leaving the island, bound for the mills around Adelaide.
Maybe Paul Ehrlich had tea and toast after his lecture to the Green Club.

You know, we really should be eating *less* corn and planting more diverse crops that are not heavily subsidised by government and lead to corn syrup induced obesity. But whatevs. That’s Bloomberg’s area of social engineering I suppose.

William McClenney

“Goode ’nuff says:
May 13, 2013 at 8:02 pm
2011 was a bin busting record yield even though the US farmers were still planting in the first weeks of June. Soil moisture is turning out to be the main link to success.”
One of the things we have apparently forgotten, or only recently re-learned, is just how soil moisture comes to be. If you take the time to look into it, you will find out just how important it is to plow cellulosic feedstock (e.g. cornstalks et al) back into the soil.
Organic soil matter is key. Ignore that for a few cellulosic ethanol seasons and then check soil moisture.
Do the research. I did for an entirely different (contractual) reason……just sayin’

Matt

An ‘inconvenient truth’ (TM) 😛

MattS

Pat Frank,
“The guys yelling repent the end is near were respected figures in the prior societies hag-ridden by superstition.”
On of my favorite “Far Side” comics was a one panel deal that had a old man in a white robe wearing a sandwich board sign that read “Repent, the world is never coming to an end.”

JJ

OldWeirdHarold says:
May 13, 2013 at 6:35 pm
Pat Frank says:
May 13, 2013 at 6:07 pm
—–
Thread winning comment.
———–
Seconded.

Kaboom

Ehrlich is an alarm clock stuck on wrong ever since he started publishing.

Barry Elledge

Adam asks why resources are distributed in a way that leads to starvation when there is an abundance of food.
The fact is that prosperous societies have essentially no starvation and very little malnutrition; and that is true regardless whether they have extensive government welfare programs.
Prosperous societies in turn have respect for private property rights, the rule of law, and something like free enterprise. The more the government attempts to either outright own or attempt to manage the economy, the worse it becomes. At its worst, an intrusive government becomes what Chris4692 answered: a dictatorship.
When that happens, disaster follows. An edifying exemplar is Zimbabwe. Back when it was Rhodesia, it was known accurately as the breadbasket of Africa; food was produced in great surplus and exported throughout southern Africa. Independence brought the rule of Robert Mugabe, and year after year his government expanded its power, expropriated the land of white farmers and gave it to Mugabe’s cronies. The Zimbabwean economy now is a shambles, hyperinflation is so massive that the national currency is worthless, and Zimbabwe cannot feed itself. Hunger has driven many poor black Zimbabweans to migrate illegally into neighboring countries to survive. I suspect the average now-impoverished black citizen would jump at the chance to return to the relative prosperity of the old Rhodesia despite its inequities.
The wonderful thing about free markets is that they work everywhere they are tried, regardless of ancestry or culture. Moreover, even a little free market medicine works within a socialist sickbed. China allowed limited and imperfect free market reforms to its stifling communist system, and the results have been staggering: almost 10% yearly growth for more than three decades. The economy has doubled 4 times since free market reforms began; average income per worker has risen 20-fold. India loosened its socialist regime 20 years ago, and it too has begun to prosper. The same with Brazil.
Indeed, I suspect capitalism might even succeed among the British, could they be persuaded to give it a go.
My answer has focused exclusively on the means of producing wealth, because wealthy societies demonstrably solve the distribution problem adequately to prevent hunger. In the US, poor people tend to be fatter than the wealthy; in impoverished countries, the poor are gaunt.
Conversely, in societies which focus on imposing some version of equitable distribution, poverty inevitably ensues. Communist countries are the prime exemplars: today North Korean children and young adults are about half a foot shorter than their South Korean cousins as a consequence of long-term malnutrition. When Mao Tse Tung seized power in China and imposed collectivist agriculture, tens of millions of Chinese starved to death. Similar famine and mass starvation followed Stalin’s collectivization of agriculture in the 1930s. Even Cuba cannot feed itself, despite occupying a well watered tropical island with fertile volcanic soils and highlands which permit growing temperate crops as well as tropical ones.
To bring this argument full circle, if the shining-eyed Paul Ehrlichs of the world were to gain power to impose their vision of de-industrialization and anti-capitalism upon the world, they could quickly achieve the vision of mass starvation which Ehrlich erroneously predicted half a century ago.

You’re absolutely correct, William McClenney.
Q: What’s the difference between a tenured professor and a terrorist?
A: The terrorist, you can negotiate with.

Yeah I’ve been into that organic soil and soil moisture retention. I was into being a vegetarian for a while. That is until a side effect developed, wherever I was sitting or standing for very long I would begin to lean towards the sunlight. I ate so much green stuff I had to tie kerosene rags around my ankles to keep the cut worms from chewing my drawers off.

“But it has also not yet generated some of the discussion we might have hoped for, especially on key issues such as how to buffer the global agricultural system against global change…”
He thinks there is a “global agricultural system” and a threat of climate change. Actually, every grower in each region knows best what to grow and how to grow it. The liberty, judgment, and intelligence of the individual farmer with only a few legitimate speculators (not billionaire commodities manipulators such as GSachs speculating in FOOD) and real market integrity and feedback are the better choice in this case, I think.

Lucky you US!
The wet Summers and cold Winters in the UK and Europe have caused crop failures and low harvests for five years now, food prices have jumped hugely because of it.
Here in the agricultural East Yorkshire UK we are at least 4 weeks behind schedule this Spring. We had a week of Spring like weather but it has now departed and it is back to being wet, cold, almost frosty at night. We have the heating back on after just one week of doing without! We have daffodils just coming out whereas usually they are over and done with by the end of April. The crops in the fields around us are stunted, patchy and some fields just never got planted at all. If the Summer continues as last year we really will be in the brown stuff!
Another huge sign of the cold and economic problems we are having due to the enormous hike in energy prices in the UK (green taxes), is that farmers and households are cutting down their trees to burn! Everywhere you walk there are trunks, even thick hedges are being raided; I’ve never known anything like it in my 53 years! Where, just a few years ago there were trees, now there are stumps, very, very sad!
Errr, how much of your corn crop is used for fuel? Biofuel is a scandalous product causing misery and starvation worldwide; if the Professor was really interested in feeding the hungry then he would be fighting against it, but then he’s not is he, as he’s desperate to be proven right…eventually! Narcissism in its purest form!

phlogiston

Is that mother of all environmental morons Paul Ehrlich still alive? Perhaps the human body lives for longer in a vegetative state without needing to maintain a brain.

Ian W

Adam says:
May 13, 2013 at 6:07 pm
We have lots of food on this planet but some people still starve to death every year. We have lots of energy on this planet but some people still freeze to death in the winter. The system of distribution is broken, not the means of production.
Why is that? What is it about the way that resources are distributed that lead to starvation when there is an abundance of food?

To add to what
Barry Elledge says:
May 13, 2013 at 11:00 pm

The other distortion in the market is that foods like grains are now seen as an ‘investment commodity’ by hedge funds/bankers. This was initiated in the US by Goldman Sachs who persuaded the government that maintenance of large grain reserves was not necessary. Now the market cost of corn and other foods is driven by hedge funds. {Google hedge funds corn}. As we have seen recently with such things as the manipulation of LIBOR – banks and traders are not above colluding to rig and skew the market values to make profits with zero concern about the impact in the wider world of the soaring commodity prices.
So – applaud that we have such grain surpluses – but then wonder if like gold, they are only on paper and not rigged as someone prepares to short the bull market in a triggered crash. Because it is still the case that a child dies every 5 seconds from hunger even as someone in Wall St makes a killing on corn futures.