Global agricultural production demonstrates Ramankutty et al. is just more global warming hot air

Recently, there was the usual wailing and gnashing of teeth in the media over the threat of “climate change” as outlined in Ramankutty et al. published on January 6th, in Nature and touted by press release. An excerpt from that press release reads:

At a time when global warming is projected to produce more extreme weather, the study provides the most comprehensive look yet at the influence of such events on crop area, yields and production around the world.

“We have always known that extreme weather causes crop production losses,” said senior author Navin Ramankutty of UBC’s Liu Institute for Global Issues and the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability. “But until now we did not know exactly how much global production was lost to such extreme weather events, and how they varied by different regions of the world.”

The researchers analyzed national production data from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization for 16 cereals in 177 countries. They also examined 2,800 international weather disasters from 1964 to 2007.

Findings indicated that cereal harvests decreased by nine per cent to 10 per cent on average due to droughts and extreme heat. The impact from droughts also grew larger in more recent years.

However, the reality of global agricultural production just isn’t cooperating with Ramankutty’s views. Via the GWPF:

Biggest Ever Stockpiles Of U.S. Corn And Soya Confound Climate Alarm

Global Food Prices Down By 19 Percent Due To Abundant Supplies

corn-wheat-soy-production-2015
source: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Money managers are holding their most-bearish bets on grain prices since the government started tracking the data in 2006. It’s easy to see why. Stockpiles of corn and soybeans in the U.S., the world’s largest grower, probably were the biggest ever on Dec. 1, and wheat inventories were the highest in five years, according to a Bloomberg survey of analysts. Domestic stockpiles have been swelling as U.S. exports falter, fueled by a strong dollar and rising production by other suppliers. –Megan Durisin, Bloomberg, 10 January 2016

International food prices dipped by 19 per cent in the last year, the fourth consecutive annual fall, due to substantial decline in dairy, sugar and veg oil prices according to the United Nations food agency. Abundant supplies in the face of a timid world demand and an appreciating US dollar are the main reasons for the general weakness that has dominated food prices in 2015, the Food and Agriculture Organisation said in its monthly food price index. —Press Trust of India, 11 January 2016

Bumper crops elsewhere are the main reason for low prices. Globally, the cereal harvest this year will be very close to last year’s huge record. This was not supposed to happen. The eco-gloomsters who had talked for decades about a coming food crisis, even while famines faded, thought their day had come at last. The world cereal harvest grew by 20 per cent in the past ten years (cereals provide 65 per cent of our calories). It needs to grow by another 70 per cent in the next 35 years to feed 2050’s nine billion people, probably with more affluent tastes. It is on track to do so and to release a huge area from growing food at the same time. –Matt Ridley, The Times, 21 September 2015
India’s horticulture output has outpaced the production of foodgrains third year in a row in 2014-15 despite deficit monsoon, unseasonal rains and hailstorms. Horticultural crops comprise of fruits, vegetables, plantation crops, flowers, spices and aromatics, while the foodgrains basket contains wheat, rice, coarse cereals, oil seeds and pulses. India has witnessed voluminous increase in horticulture production over the last few years. Data show that fruits and vegetables account for nearly 90% of the total horticulture production in India which is, at present, the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world. –Vishwa Mohan, The Times of India, 1 January 2016

And then, there’s this reminder of the usual doom and gloom from the Guardian’s female version of Paul Ehrlich; Suzanne Goldenberg:

Climate change has already cut into the global food supply and is fuelling wars and natural disasters, but governments are unprepared to protect those most at risk, according to a report from the UN’s climate science panel. The scientists said there was enough evidence to say for certain that climate change is affecting food production on land and sea. Changes in temperature and rainfall patterns could lead to food price rises of between 3% and 84% by 2050. The report also connected climate change to rising food prices and political instability, for instance the riots in Asia and Africa after food price shocks in 2008. –Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian 31 March 2014

 

72 thoughts on “Global agricultural production demonstrates Ramankutty et al. is just more global warming hot air

    • The increased yields are mostly due to “evil” corporations such as Monsanto. They are evilly providing more food at cheaper prices than ever before because of their evil science, according to liberals.

      • I doubt that Monsanto has had much to do with it. NPK and fossil fuel based fertilizer along with mechanization of harvesting (the hardest most labour intensive part of agriculture) get the lions share of the credit (IMHO). Of the Nobel prizes given I’d say Norman Borlaug deserved his more than most yet couldn’t be named by the vast majority of people.

      • RW Turner is correct.
        The companies that work to develop specialized seeds can take much of the credit for increasing crop yields.
        TRM, it is baffling to me how any knowledgeable person can doubt this for a second.
        The benefits of more fertile soil and mechanization have been greatly enhanced by the innovations that Monsanto and other crop scientists have wrought.
        Fertile soil is useless if a disease, or a freeze, or hot weather, or a drought ruins the crop, or weeds suck up the nutrients and water.
        And mechanization can only take you so far if the seeds all ripen at different times, or the plants are of widely differing heights, etc.

        I suppose I should not be surprised that such things are not well known or understood by many informed persons…but I am.

    • Yes, it is called development and – thankfully – it is what countries have been doing for the last 20 years years instead of bankrupting themselves on the scaremongering claims of misanthropists.

    • More tractors?

      Like the lack of abundance of green tractors built in the UK?

      For those who use densium or vacuums for intelligence; the title alludes to renewable energy being unable to support industry.

      Except for hydroelectric dams which were designed and utilized well be eco-terrorists overran environmental and green discussions. Did you ever notice that the eco-crazies keep fishery problems caused by dams to local publications, with nary a whisper nationally?

    • Globally food supply out is linearly proportional to energy in. That holds for the USA food machine, and also for the ‘ eskimo ‘ village.

      Give them gas for a snowmobile or gunpowder (equivalent) for a rifle, and they produce more food.

      Only two places on earth significantly off that food / energy line.

      One is France, and the other is NZ. Both more efficient than the global norm.

      most likely due to friendly climate.

      g

      Unfortunately together they aren’t a hill of beans in global food supply.

  1. It’s a colder world that will lower crop output, shorter growing season. The recent glut of oil may be preventing the economic collapse BHO is trying to instigate.

  2. Drought, floods, famine, pestilence, dead polar bears etc. We’ve been hearing about this for decades now. When is any of this stuff going to begin to happen?

  3. The Suzanne Goldenberg article was on the release of WG2, which claimed and popularized the meme that global warming had damaged food supply, based on highly questionable statistical work.

  4. The only food crisis and food protests or food rioting that I’ve heard of in the last 50 years involved the redirecting of massive amounts of the corn crop for ethanol production. All thanks to Al Gore et al.

    • Meanwhile the US uses an incredible 40% of the corn crop for ethanol. Obviously there is no grain shortage of any kind. The Republicans failed to shut off this nonsense but have a better chance next year after theelection.

      • Yup, and that ” 40% of the corn crop for ethanol” is the direct reason for the greatest increase in food prices in the past 30 years.

    • yeah, you reckon the stockpiled corn n soy is the gmo people dont want to eat?
      OR feed to stock
      I do
      and chem fertilizers might get growth..at a high cost to the farmer AND to the soil/biota,
      but eventually its a no win scenario.
      whereas poop n rockdust benefits continue to boost soils and profits.
      re Borlaug
      oh yeah smart move, put shortstemmed african genes into everything, shortlived boost…now?
      we have a global problem with ug99 african rust susceptibility in all the crops so tampered with

  5. FAO still doesn’t get the economics right:

    “Abundant supplies in the face of a timid world demand and an appreciating US dollar are the main reasons for the general weakness that has dominated food prices in 2015, the Food and Agriculture Organisation said”

    How can there be timid demand with a 19% drop in food prices. This is just trying to keep the disaster meme alive. The appreciating US dollar is not the reason for “timid world demand”. There is no timid world demand! “Abundant supplies” says it all! American producers don’t have an ability to hold the price up no matter what the US dollar is doing. I’m only a geologist, so what are we going to have to do to educate real economists once the hysteria is over.

    • The quote refers to US supply/demand, as the post makes clear, and is consistent. Increasing non-US supply results in lower world prices, and a strong dollar makes US exports less attractive; therefore a “timid demand” for US ag products, and a buildup of US inventories.

  6. Government interventions at just the wrong time is always the cause of famine. As long as farmers are allowed, they will produce more then enough food for them and their neighbors as well as plenty to sell. Bad weather events are just part of the job, and generally local. Bad weather in one place results in better weather in another. Increased CO2 has resulted in increased production everywhere. Improved transportation and distribution has resulted in less waste, so more net production.
    The only cause of global food production reduction due to AGW is from Government Bureaucrats interference in production and distribution of food stocks…pg

  7. Yet more confirmation that the most visible effect of CO2 emissions is an increase in agricultural productivity to help feed the world. You would think that the UN/IPCC would be on board with this, but they are so obsessed with their doctrinal approach of redistributive economics through climate reparations, they can’t handle the truth.

    • The UN/IPCC doesn’t care about harmless, beneficial CO2 because their agenda is entirely different. They are pusing that phony narrative in order to attain power. That’s all.

      For all they care a billion poor people can die of malnutrition and starvation, if the result is putting the UN in charge of the world.

      The clueless alarmist contingent can’t see that. Why not? Because they’re clueless…

  8. The US has just ramped up production due to a price spike in corn due to the ethanol mandate. Now every farmers is producing as much as possible, the next drop in production will be because corn has returned to its historic price level of $2-3/bushel. Hard to pay for $10,000 and acre land and $300,000 equipment on $3/bu corn. Combine that with Argentina changing governments and looking at reducing its export taxes on ag products and they will flood the market to make up for lost time. Only rice is in a situation that could be called tight, with world use outpacing world production. Even then the super el Nino hasn’t impacted Indo/Asia production that significantly as of yet.

  9. ” food price rises of between 3% and 84% .”
    Pretty big dartboard – almost bound to be correct somewhere within that spread.

    • If we tack the observed -19% onto the modelled 84% we get a range of -19% to +84%. That should pretty well cover it for the coming 34 years. They didn’t mention if that was going to be in constant dollars or the dinero of the time. That provides further wiggle room in case the coming collapse and contraction boosts the buying power of an actual cash dollar by a factor of two or three.

      People forget what deflation looks like. I wonder if they remember ‘script’?

  10. The world’s population is increasing a 100,000 a day,

    SInce 1997 agricultural land has been taken out of production , add on the huge use of corn for bio fuels and you can see that something is going very, very right.

    • And, at the same time, a record number of people have been taken out of poverty, mainly in China. Pity that a world recession is now due, along with a probably colder climate. So long as govts. can stay out of the way, all should be well again within a year or two. Govts. and the UN are the problem, and need downsizing, a lot. Keep pumping CO2 to keep crop yields high. Having low oil prices encourages more oil burning, which is great for the world. Life is good.

    • Something, but not everything. The exhaustion of the land goes on, driven by follies like the biofuel-mandate.
      There is now breathing-space for a thorough change of agricultural practice (rebuilding of humus, much less use of artificial fertilizer and poisons). The sooner subsidies are stopped, the better for good practice to become standard.
      Soil-scientist say that the „surplus CO2“ could all be used to build up the depleted soil.

    • @John F. Holtquist: I hear you brother. Just letting you know there’s a whole host of purple/gold-wearing skeptics who are happy to cheer for WSU… bwahahaha, I’m sorry, I couldn’t even finish typing that with a straight face!!! GO DAWGS! ^_^

      (I get your point, but you throw up a softball like THAT one…. =D )

  11. The alarmists don’t like the truth, it is poison to them and to their way of life. I’m sure it makes their brains frizzle. Right now it’s coming at them from all directions, causing much distress. So… MORE PLEASE!

    • The alarmists avert both their eyes and their minds to anything and everything other than what their parents, mentors, teachers and/or peers have nurtured their brain/mind into believing is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Their refusal to consider or recognize common sense, socio-economic or scientific fact is far worse than that of an adamant Bible believing Creationist.

  12. Obesity is still one of the leading causes of death in the West….

    And is the US still continuing the program, that started in the 1930’s, to pay farmers not to grow food to keep prices up?

    • Exactly.
      Any talk of food shortages in shear nonsense.
      By any metric, whether it is worldwide tonnage produced, or production per capita, or production per unit of land in production…yields continue to be rise and are far above levels of even recent decades.
      Such alarmism is transparently inappropriate, and yet it is still spoken with a straight face by some, and believed by many more.
      It is amazing that ink can be wasted in such obvious lies.

      Good graphs are not so easy to find quickly, but most of them look about like these:

      • Menicholas
        Interesting graphs, could you give more details on the graphs to explain the difference etc?
        Thanks

      • If you hover your mouse over the images, you will see that the top is corn yields, and the bottom is wheat yields, both from Missouri.

  13. Paul Ehrlich? Where have I heard that name before? Oh yeah …..;

    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.

    • Oops, forgot to mention he said that in 1970 at the first Earth Day gathering.

      Speaking of that first Earth Day;

      It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.

      Denis Hayes, chief organizer for Earth Day

    • Another gem from that first Earth Day, Peter Gunter, professor, North Texas State University;

      Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.

    • I might just add, those comments made above were made because of the impending ‘cooling’ caused by ….. you guessed it …. us.

      The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.

      Kenneth Watt, Ecologist …. the same day.

      • But Bruce, the cause of the disaster, or the particulars, or the date it all begins, are not what is important.
        What is important is that disaster is coming, it is all our fault, it will be unimaginably awful…and they told us so!
        Quit trying to unscare people!

  14. “At a time when global warming is projected to produce more extreme weather…”

    When that is the opening sentence, you really do not need to read further.

    There may be such projections, but there has never been any evidence of more extreme weather actually happening, so the problem they’re trying to whip up panic about just doesn’t exist. End of.

  15. According to World Bank’s data, cereal (corn, wheat, soybeans, etc) US crop yields have increased an astounding 60% just since 1981:

    http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.YLD.CREL.KG

    The empirical evidence is the complete antithesis of the doom and gloom babbling of catastrophic increases of severe weather iand rapid warming trends that CAGW grant hounds and feckless Leftisy political hacks are lying about.

    To add irony to insult, a substantial portion of these huge crop-yield increases can be directly attributed to the increased CO2 levels, and the corresponding CO2 fertilization effect, and from cheap and abundant fossil fuel-derived chemical fertilizers and advances in GMO crops (which Leftists are also opposed to)….

    Why is Glooooobal Waaaaaaarming still a thing?

  16. THE largest tonnage production globally is sugercane. Secod is corn. Then wheat.

    Most of the corn is fed to cars, pigs, and chickens.

    We have so much food production that making stuff sweet matters more… and we would rather have one pound of pork chops than 3 pounds of corn tortillas.

    Ag production is market limited on the demand side. Ag production is not input limited.

    There are known methods in hand for about a 10 x increase in production, if demand develops. (See rice intensification as just one example)

    Supply only looks limited to about the same as current demand due to it being suicidally stupid to overproduce in price volatile commodities. Farmers ain’t that dumb.

    (Yes, I attended one of those land grant Ag universities and grew up in a small farm town)

    • I’ve been pointing out for years that if food supplies ever did start to become scarce, the first thing we would do is put back into production, the millions of acres that have been taken out of production because they just weren’t profitable.
      The second thing we would do is eat less meat.
      Beyond that, most of the world is not up to western standards in terms of crop yield. Relatively small increases in technology could have large returns for them.

  17. “could lead to food price rises of between 3% and 84% by 2050.”

    Already happened. It’s called organic production. Resounding waste of money.

    • That’s another means by which global food production could be increased if the situation got dire enough.
      Most “organic” farms produce 20 to 30 percent less food per acre than do standard farms.

    • If food prices only rise 3% over the next 35 years, I would count that as an amazingly favorable trend.
      How much of the wages of a person earning median wage goes to food?
      Very little by historical standards.
      Nowadays, in the developed world at least, slightly bruised or not quite fresh produce is thrown away, and huge amounts of food are simply wasted.
      But the population of the world is growing fat in spite of this.
      Even in poor countries, people are overweight.

  18. Imagine if all of our shade tress and other ornamentals were replaced with fruit and nut trees, and bushes and hedgerows with berry plants and vines.
    Imagine if everyone with a back or front yard had a few chickens and a vegetable garden?
    If every roof was planted with food crops?
    We are not even trying to produce food in most circumstances.

  19. How could they show that drought lowers crop yield while crop yields go up? Simple: In any given area, a drought will cause a reduction in yield. (duh). There is, however, both an underlying trend in rising agricultural productivity (tractors, fertilizer, seed, management) and no increase in drought, so total harvests keep going up.

Comments are closed.