Climate craziness of the week: Yes, we have no bananas, thanks to climate change

A bunch of Bananas.
A bunch of Bananas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[At least there will be less radiation spread around. -Anthony]

Going Bananas: Another Climate Change Hustle

Guest essay by Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger and Patrick J. Michaels

We hear that there is looming banana crisis in Costa Rica—the world’s 2nd leading exporter of the fruit—as this year’s crop is being threatened by an infestation of mealybugs, scale insects, and fungal infection.

Petulance, plagues, disease? It must be climate change, of course!

The Director of the Costa Rican Agriculture and Livestock Ministry’s State Phytosanitary Services, Magda González, told the San José Tico Times, “Climate change, by affecting temperature, favors the conditions under which [the insects] reproduce.” González estimated that the rising temperature and concomitant changes in precipitation patterns could shorten the reproduction cycle of the insect pests by a third. “I can tell you with near certainty that climate change is behind these pests.”

This is bananas. 

But there’s a method to Gonzalez’ madness.  In it’s recent Warsaw confab on climate change, the UN has made it abundantly clear that one of its endgames is compelling “reparations” for climate damages cost by dreaded emissions of carbon dioxide.  The more that poorer nations make these claims—however fatuously—the more momentum builds to extract capital from me and thee.

May we humbly suggest that calling Ms. Gonzalez’ claim “fatuous” is really being too nice.  She should actually propose compensating the United States for all the excess bananas that are associated with warmer temperatures.

Figure 1 shows banana production in Costa Rica from 1961-2011. Figure 2 shows the temperatures there over the same period. We hate to burst anyone’s climate-change-is bad-bubble, but the correlation between these two variables is positive. That is, higher temperatures are associated with greater banana production (and yield).

Figure 1. Annual production (tonnes) and yield (Hg/Ha) of bananas in Costa Rica (data from FAOSTAT)

Figure 2. Annual temperature anomalies in Costa Rica, 1961-2011 (data from Berkeley Earth).

And as far as precipitation goes, the trends down there are all over the place—some stations show trends towards increasing rainfall amounts, while others nearby, towards decreasing amounts.  The geography of the country, along with all sorts of external influences including tropical cyclone activity, sea surface temperature patterns, and larger-scale circulation systems in both the Pacific and Atlantic makes for a very complex pattern precipitation variability, both temporally and spatially, across Costa Rica.  It is virtually impossible to assess the influence of recent human-caused climate change in such a complicated and highly variable natural system.

So you have a situation where annual precipitation variability is high and where warmer conditions seem to be associated with greater banana yields.

While it is probably not out completely out of the question that some sort of weather influence may, in part, play some role in the current affliction of the Costa Rica banana crop, to implicate human-caused global warming, you’d have to have gone completely…, well, you know.

But climate policy has always functioned best in a data-free environment, about the only way a cheap hustle like that of the Costa Rican National Phytosanitariest merits any attention at all.

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December 18, 2013 9:06 am

Way to go!
Some years ago, I had some problems on my banana plantation with banana stem borers and a storm.
I think at least tens of thousands of people might have died from this, so where do I get money to compensate for the losses.

December 18, 2013 9:07 am

Neat , add that to our insurance bill when the UN green fund gets set up.
Anyone can now claim “climate change” had affected their crop yields and we become legally responsible for their “losses”.

December 18, 2013 9:08 am

“I get money to compensate for the losses.”
You have not been paying attention to the Warsaw conference.

December 18, 2013 9:11 am

I think you meant “pestilence,” though “petulance” is funnier.

December 18, 2013 9:17 am

Is that a banana in Costa Rica’s pocket, or are they just excited about “Climate Change”???

Dave Walker
December 18, 2013 9:20 am

The pests Sra. Gonzales refers to affect the appearance of the fruit, impairing marketability. Taste and nutrition are fine. Monocropping bananas takes about 40 pounds of chemicals per acre per year and implies a continuous struggle with rapidly evolving pests and diseases. I doubt a few tenths of a degree difference in average temperature has a measurable effect on these critters. If so, move your crop uphill a bit.

Dave Bowman
December 18, 2013 9:22 am

Flatulence is funny still.
(Stop looking at me like that, HAL, and no, I’m not going out to fix the AE35 unit again.)

December 18, 2013 9:24 am

$.39 a pound on sale nearby. It is December which is the high cost season, better deals can be had in the summer.
We had a similar climate change killing the lobster yield in Maine earlier this year. Of course it mentioned the 2012 catch was a record and the 2013 was tracking ahead of 2012. You can buy lobster if you shop for price under $4 a pound which is well below the 1975 price in nominal dollars. If you chained weighted it to inflation it would represent 85%+ DEFLATION of lobster that climate change is “driving to extinction” I think the term was used. There is a fantastic cyclical lobster explosion on the Maine cost due largely to a low Cod stock that is another whole meme in itself. Point is lobster and bananas are not in any shortage by any historic measures. It’s just making stuff up as a starting point.
Logic has no place in these climate meme stories. They often contradict the facts placed in evidence by the advocates as with the disappearing Maine lobster article that pointed out the record yields and fisherman complaining of low wholesale prices. The banana extinction story is cut from the same cloth.
What we are really talking about is basic editorial decline of even the most basic facts of a published article. As long as the article is supporting the political meme of AGW then any other matter, such as mere facts, are very secondary. Orwellian media is one thing but we have developed an Orwellian audience that thinks this is all very normal. None of these writers are going to lose work or position being just flat out wrong on statements of fact. This is the world we live in.

December 18, 2013 9:26 am

We’ve passed peak bananas.

December 18, 2013 9:28 am

What IQ level again do you have to be, to be a quackitist/alarmist ? Or one of the cult of warm’s members ? Between that of a banana and a fungus infection perhaps ? Trofim Lysenko had nothing on these clowns. Neither did Pravda.

December 18, 2013 9:28 am

I went for a swim with my daughter, and was diagnosed the next day with appendicitis. Must have been climate change.

December 18, 2013 9:29 am

Once you take that “Leap of faith and let AGW enter yo heart my brothers ‘n sisters”, any level of idiocy is possible…

December 18, 2013 9:39 am

Pestilence, penitance, petulance….nice crises words all. In comes the big bucks, or do they? The billions were promised in Cancun, in Doha, and Warsaw. The drowning poor nations walk out, and back in. Still the billions are not transferred Will this miracle happen in Lima next year, or perhaps the great showering of funds is being saved for the grand finale in Paris 2015?
At least, if disappointment is all they get, they will have the satisfaction of being snubbed by the magnificent spectacle of French State Pomposity. Who better to put these wannabes in place than a French President, the combined incarnation of Louis 14th and de Gaulle?
And we are all doomed anyway, as a comment in the Independent says:
“There is no adaptation to climate change, only mass starvation and mass death + a sense of thirst that with make one feel a sore throat as one croaks.”
That’s faith!

December 18, 2013 9:40 am

González is taking the pisang (Malay for banana)

michael hart
December 18, 2013 9:47 am

I can see “the pause” in the banana-curve from here…

jim hogg
December 18, 2013 9:51 am

This, lifted straight out of the above piece: “of recent human-caused climate change” isn’t a cherry picked phrase out of context . . . construed within the whole sentence it appears in, it clearly implies that the author accepts that some recent climate change (a permanently ongoing process I would have thought) is due to human action . . . As it’s quite possible that climate variation influences disease/insect populations/behaviour (potato blight?), he’s therefore giving his opponents a very sizeable stick to beat him with!. .

December 18, 2013 9:53 am

Now that is what I can term a peel to the lunatic fringe.

December 18, 2013 9:54 am

Just a big Blame Game and trying to get $$$ for free.

December 18, 2013 9:59 am

“Most bananas exported to Europe are grown on large-scale plantations in Latin America, and increasingly, in Africa. Banana plantations are monocultures – where only one type of crop is grown. 97% of internationally traded bananas come from one single variety, the Cavendish. This lack of genetic variety makes plants highly susceptible to pests, fungi and diseases and therefore large quantities of insecticides and other pesticides are applied to the crops.”
Looks like this is the perfect “fruit” for all environmentalists to hate. Huge inputs of chemicals, destruction of tropical forests and of course they are radioactive!

December 18, 2013 9:59 am

This is nothing new, The Cavendish variety; named after the Duke of Devonshire, family name Cavendish, who had some growing at Chatsworth his country home in Derbyshire (don’t ask why the Duke of Devonshire has estates in Derbyshire). When the previous single variety crop Gros Michel was struck by Panama Disease the Cavendish which was immune took over.
Isn’t pest infestation what you’d expect by almost exclusively growing Cavendish, and like almost all bananas lacking genetic diversity, which makes it vulnerable to diseases.

Dan Hawkins
December 18, 2013 10:02 am

Costa Rica could benefit from a Department of Psychosanitation

michael hart
December 18, 2013 10:03 am

“…97% of internationally traded bananas come from one single variety, the Cavendish.

So that’ll be a “consensus” of bananas then?

Physics Major
December 18, 2013 10:08 am

If the commissars of the old USSR had Climate Change to blame for all of their crop failures, they might still be in power.

D.J. Hawkins
December 18, 2013 10:17 am

Production has tracked temperature, but yield seems to have peaked in about 1989. My guess would be that in order to drive up output in the absence of dramatic increase in yield that more land was brought into production. I further speculate that this additional land would be less suitable for growing bananas otherwise it would already be in use, thus driving down the global per acre (or hectare) yield. Nothing jumps out as being in anyway supportive of the theory that “climate change”, whatever that means in this context, is the root of their agricultural woes.

December 18, 2013 10:20 am

Don’t worry about bugs, the Panama blight is coming back. It was around half a century ago (well before any AGW) and nearly did in all the plantations. One variety, the Cavendish, was not affected so that is the one all the plantations switched over to. Now it is susceptible so we won’t have to worry about bananas much longer.
Of course they might just blame that on us as well and demand payment. Sigh.

December 18, 2013 10:22 am

Banana photosynthesis is by the C3 pathway, which is relatively sensitive to the CO2 fertilization effect. Another graph, with positive correlation, would plot banana productivity per acre against CO2 concentration.

December 18, 2013 10:25 am

If they want it 0.4 degC cooler and back to the 70s temperature, they’ll soon have it.

Jim Clarke
December 18, 2013 10:33 am

cwon14 says:
December 18, 2013 at 9:24 am
“Orwellian media is one thing but we have developed an Orwellian audience that thinks this is all very normal. None of these writers are going to lose work or position being just flat out wrong on statements of fact. This is the world we live in.”
Benjamin Franklin says:
Eighteenth Century at 9:25 am
“Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see”
Abraham Lincoln says:
Nineteenth Century at 9:23 am
“You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”
Firesign Theater says:
June 18th, 1974 at 9:25 am
“Everything you know is wrong!”
If all of these people are expressing the same basic thought over 250 years (almost to the minute), than it is likely it has always been this way. The quest for truth is a constant battle. You can believe me on that!

December 18, 2013 10:40 am

Interesting that lobster has only relatively become a “high class” food. Previously, it was eaten by the lower classes, to the extent that servants would demand that it only be served a certain number of times.
As for bananas, as the UN is the EU on steroids, no doubt there will soon be a full and fearsome bureaucracy related to how straight one’s banana should officially be…

Janice Moore
December 18, 2013 10:41 am

Yes, We Have No Banana’s — Pied Pipers

Didn’t have ’em in 1948, either, apparently…

Janice Moore
December 18, 2013 10:43 am

I have NO IDEA why I put a after the a in bananas — didn’t eat enough bananas, I guess.

December 18, 2013 11:01 am

Not only bananas but we will have nothing to eat if things of environment sector keeps going in same fashion. We must wake up from deep sombre otherwise our coming generations will be cursing us on our lethargy to control pollution and save this world from climate change.

December 18, 2013 11:04 am

The increasing self restriction on the usage of agricultural chemicals has and is leading to uncontrollable damage. Maybe this is yet another example.

Stephen Richards
December 18, 2013 11:14 am

Can I have some money. I’ve had an infestation of scaly bugs this year on my lemon tree which sits on my terrasse all summer. I’ve tried evrything to get rid of them and they are still there. It must be climate change. I want some money from the rich countries, like china, for france in anything but rich.

Stephen Richards
December 18, 2013 11:16 am

The EU commies have announced the fight against air pollution. It kills millions of europeans every year so we have to stop driving in cities, bikes only from now on. A tax will be introduced on beans, cabbage and all methane generating plants.

December 18, 2013 11:17 am

“higher temperatures are associated with greater banana production (and yield).”
That explains the poor annual production rate of the Wyoming banana industry.

Alan Bates
December 18, 2013 11:18 am

NEW Costa Rican national song:
Or, from the same page, the climate scientist with no clothes?

December 18, 2013 12:09 pm

‘“I can tell you with near certainty that climate change is behind these pests.” – Magda Gonzales
…………from the mouths of babes………………..

Svend Ferdinandsen
December 18, 2013 12:22 pm

Just ask NOAA/GISS to readjust the temperature back to where it was once, then there will be no liability. Can not be so hard to invent a new procedure that makes that, even if it takes some time to find the arguments for the changes.

December 18, 2013 12:44 pm

So, what does this do to radiation exposure from incidental banana contact?

Bruce Cobb
December 18, 2013 1:11 pm

talldave2 says:
December 18, 2013 at 9:11 am
I think you meant “pestilence,” though “petulance” is funnier.
No, no, I’m pretty sure he meant pustulence, which is a combination of pestilence and pustulation.

December 18, 2013 1:18 pm

So where is the evidence of all this claimed petulance and scale? And why should we think that two tenths of a degree spells disaster? Oh yeah, we’re stupid, that’s right!

Berényi Péter
December 18, 2013 1:27 pm

It is a well known fact banana favors cool climate. This is why Canada, Norway &. Russia are the largest producers. Oh, wait…

Bruce Cobb
December 18, 2013 1:35 pm

Everything is “threatened by climate change”, even the lowly haggis.

Just an engineer
December 18, 2013 1:39 pm

mubami says:
December 18, 2013 at 11:01 am
I think you forgot to include /sarc after your message.

December 18, 2013 1:50 pm

I wonder if, perhaps, there are different dangers at work here and it may be the EU and not climate change that’s threatening the Costa Rican banana crop. I read recently that according to the EU a cucumber is not a cucumber unless, per its measured length in millimeters, it has no greater deviancy (sorry, but I couldn’t resist using that description for cucumbers – and, ultimately, bananas) than just a few paltry millimeters in curvature from being ruler straight. A shorter cucumber, however, is granted greater leniency, in relationship to its permitted curve. (Perhaps this is because, the shorter the length, the less size matters.) Now, since I don’t grow cucumbers I’m not privy to the actual dimensions, but I’m really not making any of this up; it’s right there in the EU regulations. And the same kind of tremendously important style of standards are actually ordained by the EU regulators in Brussels to apply to bananas: the general attractiveness of the appearance of a banana. Seriously, I wonder if that’s the reason for any loss in the Costa Rican crop. They just simply aren’t good enough looking to have an affair with.

December 18, 2013 2:05 pm

Tom J,
Maybe if the cucumbers have too great a curvature, they are classified as bananas ?

December 18, 2013 2:10 pm

Come Mr. Climate Man Talley Banana —- I kept looking for the obvious retort and it never materialized — must be Gorbal Warming

December 18, 2013 2:20 pm

Tom J says:
December 18, 2013 at 1:50 pm
“And the same kind of tremendously important style of standards are actually ordained by the EU regulators in Brussels to apply to bananas: the general attractiveness of the appearance of a banana.”
These are only criteria that need to be fulfilled so that you can call your banana a “class A” banana. You can sell all the crooked fruits you want; you just might not achieve the class A price.
When I criticize the EU for something my socialist German colleagues usually come up with calling me a nutter because those fruit regulations are not that bad aren’t they. It takes me endless patience to make it clear to them that fruit classification systems are the least of my concerns.
The synchronized EU media does a great job bringing up these strawmen as if they meant anything; a well coordinated maneuvre to make criticism of the EU seem petty. Interestingly they never talk about the real issues.

Tim Clark
December 18, 2013 2:25 pm

Sell your shares in this company before the world cools!!!!
2 Pack Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer 571b
• Faster, safer than using a knife
• Great for cereal
• Plastic, dishwasher safe
• Slice your banana with one quick motion
• Kids love slicing their own bananas

Dave N
December 18, 2013 2:27 pm

Is the yield figure absolute, or per hectare? Absolute yield can still go up if plantation areas are increasing, despite per hectare yield being affected adversely.

Paul Marchand
December 18, 2013 2:34 pm

A good book on the subject:
The Fish That Ate the Whale… a full-fledged biography of the remarkable Samuel Zemurray, who guided the United Fruit Company through perilous times

Sam Pyeatte
December 18, 2013 2:36 pm

It is hot in Costa Rica…it is Always hot in Costa Rica.

December 18, 2013 3:45 pm

“Yes we have no bananas” brought up the Animal Crackers Captain Spaulding…
Hooray for Captain Spalding!
The African Explorer!
Did someone call me shnoror?
Hooray, hooray, hooray!
Hooray, hooray, hooray!
He put all his reliance in courage and defiance,
and risked his life for science…

EU sometimes is a (bad) comedy…at least the Marx Brothers were funny AND brilliant…

@Dirk H. It’s maddening how much produce (esp. cucumbers and bananas) are thrown
out simply because they don’t meet some arbitrary specs. One spec I wish
they did meet was ripeness- I’ve never seen a properly ripe banana since I’ve
been over here (originally from California, now in Germany).

December 18, 2013 4:30 pm

December 18, 2013 at 2:20 pm
Are they like magicians, diverting our attention with trivialities while they’re pulling a really nasty fang laden bunny rabbit out of the hat?

December 18, 2013 4:34 pm

Janice Moore
December 18, 2013 at 10:41 am
You have an extraordinary collection of movie clips. How do you come across all of those?

December 18, 2013 4:49 pm

Don’t know what the situation is for windmills down there, but if you kill lots of bats, you’re going to end up with more insects.
The last estimation I read was that there are 880,000 bats “taken” per year by windmills. Expect to hear about insect plagues over the next few years, but, of course, it will be blamed on CAGW.

December 18, 2013 5:26 pm

The true threat to bananas has nothing to do with warmer weather – they had to put up with that during the many previous warm periods. It has everything to do with the growers’ foolish policy of monoculture, which means a new disease can wipe out the world’s crop. It happened to the previous monoculture in the 1950s, whereupon the present variety (Cavendish, the family name of the Dukes of Devonshire) was adopted as its replacement. Now it too is threatened, and for exactly the same reason. But don’t expect any of the mainstream media actually to research any of this. It doesn’t fit the Party Line.

December 18, 2013 5:32 pm

By focusing on climate change, the producers will be blind to the real cause and therefore blind to a workable solution, making bananas a victim of climate change.

Mac the Knife
December 18, 2013 5:49 pm

GADS! Who would Foster the notion that an entire crop of Bananas were being flambe’d?
Brennans, perhaps.

December 18, 2013 6:02 pm

I’m suspicious, apparently much like D.J. Hawkins. At about 1966 and again at ’98 there was something like a “step function” increase in production, but little apparent change in yield. (The scale on yield might be masking things a bit.) The long-term trend in yield was a gradual increase until about 1998, then it appears to drop off. There could be any number of things that could be a factor: nutrient depletion in the soil, age or damage/disease to the trees, all with or without the potential changes in rainfall that could be natural. The concerns about monoculture and other things need to be shown — with proper evidence — to be not the cause first!

Pamela Gray
December 18, 2013 6:42 pm

Because of climate change kids won’t not know what banana fanna fo fanna is.

Janice Moore
December 18, 2013 6:48 pm

@ Alan Bates — thanks for posting those fun videos, especially the birds. I LOVE that little vignette.
lol, when they started to squeak furiously at each other my German Shepherd, asleep on the floor at my feet, jumped up on full alert, hurried over to my computer, fixing his eyes (and ears) on it. Fortunately, he is just a little more obedient than he is determined, so he did not begin trying to pry open the keyboard to get at the squeaker (the first thing he ALWAYS does when given a new squeaky toy) as he was VERY eager to do. It’s his job! Oh, boy, I can just talk all day about my dog….
Hope I didn’t drive you……… BANANAS. Heh, heh.
Hi, Tom J,
I’m so glad that you “spoke” to me. In the hopes that you check back here, I want to apologize for my careless reading of your post about your art career that is now NOT happening. I’m so sorry. I hope you can enjoy drawing/painting for pleasure, at least. I hope you are doing okay (Iknowyoudon’tdothisbutI’mpraying).
Re: my video “collection,” I have a few vids tucked away to share, but, mostly I just go to youtube and search for something appropriate. I LOVE doing that. Well, for awhile…. you would not BELIEVE the junk people post on there! They even put their REAL name with it! I get so mad. “Here’s me, playing (you name it)” — AND IT IS LOUSY (I mean, really bad). “Why in the WORLD did you post that?!!” It wastes my time and….. uh, oh. My average post is seen that way by the average scientist! It drives them bananas!! Gotta go!
I’m glad you have enjoyed the videos I’ve posted. Thank you, so much, for saying so.
Take care,

December 18, 2013 7:56 pm

D’Oh.. That’ll teach me to pay attention to the legend on the graph. Hg/Ha = hectograms (100g) per hectare.

December 18, 2013 8:04 pm

With apologies in advance but it appears Magda González wants to ensure Costa Rica is known as a Banana Republic (all forms of pun and innuendo intended).

Dryden Ayrd
December 18, 2013 9:13 pm

Time flies like an arrow…….fruit flies like a banana.

Tobias Smit
December 18, 2013 9:19 pm

González estimated that the rising temperature and concomitant changes in precipitation patterns could shorten the reproduction cycle of the insect pests by a third. “I can tell you with near certainty that climate change is behind these pests.”
Does she actually mean that then (if their reproduction cycle is shortened by 30%) there would be 30% LESS pests?? Thanks Global Warming (Oh btw I always love the words “near, maybe, perhaps and could be. and I have not seen all the Data”)

December 18, 2013 9:34 pm

When the world is over supplied with hot bananas, there is no place for natural bananas.

Janice Moore
December 18, 2013 11:09 pm

@ Dryden Ayrd — good one!

December 19, 2013 2:56 am

Tom J says:
December 18, 2013 at 4:30 pm
December 18, 2013 at 2:20 pm
Are they like magicians, diverting our attention with trivialities while they’re pulling a really nasty fang laden bunny rabbit out of the hat?”

December 19, 2013 4:37 am

In Iceland we grow bananas, – not thanks to climate change… 🙂
“Iceland: Europe’s biggest producer of bananas” !
Regards, Agust

December 19, 2013 7:02 am

I can tell you with near certainty that she is an ignorant moron, and with 97% certainty a fraud as well.

Pat Michaels
December 19, 2013 8:18 am

Dryden’s quote comes from “An Introduction to General Systems Thinking” by Gerald Weinberg.

D.J. Hawkins
December 19, 2013 9:59 am

Lewis P Buckingham says:
December 18, 2013 at 5:47 pm
I hung a green hand of lady finger bananas in my shed three weeks ago to protect them from the bats, birds and fruit fly caused by climate change.
The climate then changed in my shed and they all suddenly ripened two days ago and now I have no time to eat them all before they go rotten.
Where do I apply for my justified compensation,for if the climate had not changed I would not have lost my bananas.

When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. When it hands you soon-to-be-overripe bananas, you make banana bread. Delicious with or without chopped nuts in it. And the bananas need to be overripe, not “just ripe”.

High Treason
December 19, 2013 7:51 pm

The emperor has no clothes, or at least has a banana stuck up his backside.Wake up world, the claims coming out about climate change causing everything are just too ludicrous for belief. The whole thing is propped up by trust and an endless stream of lies and excuses to explain away the sea of BS. Perhaps that is why the warmists have to stick bananas up their rear ends to prevent the world from seeing they are full of s*%t and hot, malodorous air .

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