Claim: 59,300 Indian Suicides because Climate

India Wheat Tonnes per Hectare
India Wheat Yield Tonnes per Hectare. Data Source OECD

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

A new study claims every degree of temperature above 20C increase the likelihood an Indian farmer will commit suicide. Just one problem with this claim: Indian agricultural yields are rising (see graph above).

Crop-damaging temperatures increase suicide rates in India

More than three quarters of the world’s suicides occur in developing countries, yet little is known about the drivers of suicidal behavior in poor populations. I study India, where one fifth of global suicides occur and suicide rates have doubled since 1980. Using nationally comprehensive panel data over 47 y, I demonstrate that fluctuations in climate, particularly temperature, significantly influence suicide rates. For temperatures above 20 °C, a 1 °C increase in a single day’s temperature causes ∼70 suicides, on average. This effect occurs only during India’s agricultural growing season, when heat also lowers crop yields. I find no evidence that acclimatization, rising incomes, or other unobserved drivers of adaptation are occurring. I estimate that warming over the last 30 y is responsible for 59,300 suicides in India, accounting for 6.8% of the total upward trend. These results deliver large-scale quantitative evidence linking climate and agricultural income to self-harm in a developing country.

Read more:

Unfortunately the full study is paywalled, so we don’t get to see the magic by which the authors process a rising agricultural yield into a climate threat. But the base OECD data speaks for itself.

Even if temperature is a negative, other factors such as global greening, CO2 induced drought resilience, improved agricultural technology and Prime Minister Modi’s efforts to improve rural access to cheap energy are more than compensating for any negative factors.

India may have a serious rural suicide problem. We can speculate about the cause. But whatever is going so wrong for so many rural Indians, the suicide tragedy is clearly not related to climate impacts on farm output. Agricultural yields are rising.

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July 31, 2017 8:03 pm

Ludicrous. 😄

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
Reply to  John
July 31, 2017 9:13 pm

I agree with this
Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

Reply to  Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
July 31, 2017 11:54 pm

I find no evidence that acclimatization, rising incomes, or other unobserved drivers of adaptation are occurring.

Well how the hell could he hope to find “evidence” of unobserved drivers affecting anything ? Of course he can’t, Logical error.
This is certainly a case of false attribution and uncontrolled variables. Suicides have been rising and climate has warmed a little, therefore it must AGW that is killing people. Right. Try again.
How about Monsanto is forcing everyone to use their GM grain where the small holder is legally prevented from keeping seed-grain back for next year and instead is forced to buy more grain, not use his own. Expensive grain is putting whole families into debt to Monsanto for generations and starving them.
How about that for an unobserved driver .

Bryan A
Reply to  Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
August 1, 2017 6:20 am

So every time the temperature changes from 68f to 70f (20c to 21c) 70 Indians kill themselves?
Ludicrous doesn’t even come close.

Reply to  Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
August 1, 2017 6:53 am

“[F]luctuations in climate, particularly temperature, significantly influence suicide rates. For temperatures above 20 °C, a 1 °C increase in a single day’s temperature causes ∼70 suicides, on average. This effect occurs only during India’s agricultural growing season, when heat also lowers crop yields.”
Simply applying logic, wouldn’t a measurement of suicides related to agricultural output relate to a seasonal timescale rather than a daily timescale since agricultural yield cannot be measured as a daily trend? Or is the research paper author merely attempting to model daily temperature changes and seasonal suicide rates as a simple arithmetic function?

Reply to  Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
August 1, 2017 6:56 am

Fascinating. For some people everything bad in the world must be caused by CO2.
For others, everything bad in the world must be caused by a big company.
Both use bogus statistics and depend on weak correlations to prove their points.

Reply to  Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
August 1, 2017 4:02 pm

” I study India, where one fifth of global suicides occur and suicide rates have doubled since 1980.”
I cannot determine from the text what is the meaning of the term suicide rates. It could be actual numbers, or per capita values.
If actual numbers, considering the population of India has also increased since 1980 more suicides would not be untoward. Otherwise?
Very sloppy, and a stupid premise to begin with, to seek a link between rural peasant farmer suicides and temperature increase seems like a case of confirmation bias.
Keep in mind that urban temperatures are much higher than rural, what is the connection between urban dwellers suicide “rates” and temperature, would not this be a good control for comparison purposes?
What is true for the goose should also be true for the gander. Higher urban temperatures should invoke an even greater increase in suicide.
No curiosity there?
I call BS on the whole pointless escapade, just another free grant make work project.

Reply to  John
August 1, 2017 4:40 am

Wow! 59,300! Three significant digits. This must be a very precise and accurate measurement. Are they sure it wasn’t 59,200 or 59,400?

July 31, 2017 8:04 pm

Greens and the left are constantly looking for a bogeyman for which to attribute the Indian farmer suicides. The problem is that these suicides predate most of the causes speculated.
The GMO-Suicide Myth

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
Reply to  Charles Rotter
July 31, 2017 9:23 pm

The GMO-Suicides a reality.
Upper Volta in West Africa with the tacit PR of international research institutes in Hyderabad/India, adopted Bt-cotton. It showed steep raise in area under Bt-Cotton. Now the area under Bt-Cotton crashed sharply.
see my book “”Green” Green Revolution: Agriculture in the perspective of Climate Change, 2011. Agriculture versus climate, see my book “Agroclimatic/Agrometeorological Techniques: As applicable to dry-land agriculture in developing countries, 1993.
Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

Reply to  Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
July 31, 2017 9:59 pm

As I said on another thread, Vandana Shiva fantasies and lies.

Reply to  Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
August 1, 2017 12:06 am

He refers you to two books he wrote and you reply calling it lies and refer by Shiva. Not a convincing rebuttal but it says a lot about your objectivity and lack of respect.

Reply to  Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
August 1, 2017 4:43 am

+++Dr S!
the green rev enabling 3 crops, no soil rest, in rice crops also made one hell of a serious pest problem with leafhoppers as well
funny how that can be ignored
about the same as resistance to Bt in the cornborers and rapid turnabout corn to soy to corn enabled the bugs to increase by living in stubbles and adapt to survive to next season

Reply to  Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
August 1, 2017 6:57 am

Anyone can write a book. Writing a book is not sufficient to prove that your point has merit.
Books tend to provide only the evidence that supports the author’s position and exclude everything that doesn’t.

G. Karst
Reply to  Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
August 1, 2017 9:07 am

I said Doctor! Is there nothing I can take
I said Doctor! To relieve this bellyache
I said Doctor! Is there nothing I can take

Reply to  Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
August 1, 2017 4:04 pm

Reddy or not here you come.
I say BS.

Reply to  Charles Rotter
July 31, 2017 10:32 pm

Genetic Fallacy: How Monsanto Silences Scientific Dissent

Gary Null’s and Richard Gale’s work:
The Doomsday Seed Vault
(In case of “accidental” contamination of the globe’s plant genome that humanity has consumed since the beginning?)

Reply to  Wrusssr
August 1, 2017 3:19 am

Thanks, very informative. ( and nothing to do Shiva ! )
It’s not just climatology which has major issues with publishing bias and fake science.

empire sentry
Reply to  Charles Rotter
August 1, 2017 6:26 am

Suicide rates are higher among the young in middle class urban areas….not in farming communities and its attributed to pressures from globalization and family demands to succeed, not crop loss. Additionally, the government has recently decriminalized suicide. From WHO reports:
India is enjoying vast leaps forward in its economy and free market…as a result of access to energy. Energy .lifts the poorest of the poor out of the most Hellish conditions.
Instead of one meal a day, high childhood mortality, and suicide from losing the family’s single crop, families are now enjoying two or more meals a day.
Western ethnocentric Greens think this is about some Oil conglomerate versus the trees. It is not.
Energy is needed to provide clean drinking water and sewer systems, food supplies and housing.
11.9 million people died last year due to lack of energy to run clean drinking water systems and from indoor air pollution. (WHO)
Greens become desperate to assign Boogeyman categories to what suits them. India and very favorable Paris deals means Greens will attack from whatever angle….just like US Greens supported natural gas until everyone was using natural gas.

Reply to  empire sentry
August 1, 2017 6:59 am

Rapid changes are always stressful, even when on the whole, the changes are for the better.

Clyde Spencer
July 31, 2017 8:07 pm

Last I checked, some of the highest per capita suicide rates occurred in Scandinavian countries. Japan has high rates also. If they are using high numbers for the ‘study,’ then it probably reflects the high populations. I suspect that we are looking at a spurious correlation, not cause and effect.

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
July 31, 2017 8:40 pm


Reply to  Clyde Spencer
July 31, 2017 10:21 pm

“Last I checked, some of the highest per capita suicide rates occurred in Scandinavian countries.”
Suicide rates in the US are higher than 3 out of the 5 Scandinavian countries. And the two higher ones – Iceland and Finland – have very small populations relative to their land mass.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Chris
August 5, 2017 10:49 am

You said, “…have very small populations relative to their land mass.” What has that got to do with anything?
The Wikipedia article on suicide rates also lists Sweden as having a suicide rate slightly higher than the US. So, that makes it 4 out of 5. You didn’t comment about Japan.
However, no country can touch Greenland, and Russian has a ‘respectable’ suicide rate. Both of these countries are noted for their cold weather. The point is that there isn’t a good correlation with temperatures and gender and economic conditions are a better predictor of suicide. Although, in the US, it is frequently older White males who are faced with a terminal disease and don’t want to endure the pain and impose the emotional and financial burden on their family that decide to prematurely terminate their temporary stay on “this mortal coil.”

R. Snijders
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 2, 2017 9:28 am

There is also the problem of correct reporting, in catholic countrys like Italy or Spain where suicide is considered a sin, the cause of death will likely be attributed to accident or another cause.

July 31, 2017 8:11 pm

Psychological studies are not known for their rigor. Neither are climate science reports. Combine the two. . .

David A
Reply to  Tom Halla
July 31, 2017 9:02 pm

…combine the two and the ignorance of experts is only exceeded by their arrogance.

Leonard Lane
Reply to  Tom Halla
July 31, 2017 11:03 pm

Apparently the combined errors in non-rigorous psychological studies and usually fake climate change studies are closer to multiplicative than additive.

July 31, 2017 8:15 pm

But no evidence that cutting emissions will help these poor farmers

Reply to  chaamjamal
July 31, 2017 8:17 pm

Wrong link above
Here is the correct link for that comment

adrian smits
July 31, 2017 8:18 pm

Combine the two to create a stinky pile of……!

July 31, 2017 8:26 pm

The world is a complex system and over simplification often results to wrong conclusion. I once gave a short talk of senior persons. I asked them how they would consider pollution as far as they could recall. It was a 100 per cent consensus, not just 97 per cent that pollution from air, water, noise, and solid wastes have increased. Then I asked them to search the life expectancy of their country from any of the database such as world bank. The life expectancy went up roughly in proportion to the increase in pollution. I told them could we then conclude that pollution is good for human health. Then everybody has their favorite factor on the apparent increase in life expectancy from better nutrition, health facilities, medicine, better knowledge of health factors etc. In fact there was no consensus on what is the most important factor for the increase in life expectancy of general population. This is the same problem with climate. It is a very complex system and to allude carbon dioxide as the most important factor practically neglecting the other factors, could result to erroneous conclusion.

I Came I Saw I Left
Reply to  eo
August 1, 2017 5:21 am

I asked them how they would consider pollution as far as they could recall. It was a 100 per cent consensus, not just 97 per cent that pollution from air, water, noise, and solid wastes have increased.

A meaningless metric that simply reflects their perception and bias. In the US the environment is much cleaner than it was 40-50 years ago, yet you will hear progressives claim that we are on the verge of environmental catastrophy. They are simply out of touch with reality and never satisfied.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  eo
August 1, 2017 10:17 am

Actually, I read somewhere that the biggest increase in life expectancy over the last couple of hundred years or so comes from a reduction in infant mortality rates.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Joe Crawford
August 5, 2017 10:25 am

Quite true! Soap and antibiotics, especially for childhood diseases, are probably the two most important factors in the increase in life expectancy. Look up historical actuary tables.

July 31, 2017 8:30 pm

India has problems, and India has problems with its weather and Climate, but none of them are caused by CO2, which is aiding India to increase its agricultural output and feed its people.

July 31, 2017 8:47 pm

I wonder, did the author of this study take the huge level of intergenerational debt & slavery which afflicts the poorest people, mostly peasant farmers, in many 3rd world countries – especially India?

David the voter
July 31, 2017 9:00 pm

fluctuations in climate, particularly temperature, significantly influence suicide rates.
Are temperature fluctuations not called “weather”?
A feeble minded attempt to pin something on “climate change”. Does the author of this twaddle solidly have a degree of some kind?

July 31, 2017 9:04 pm

Just when you think claims attributed to ‘Climate Change’ can’t get more ridiculous…..

July 31, 2017 9:15 pm

That’s as dumb as a bag of ball bearings. He says that if from one day to the next the temperature goes from 68°F to 70°F, then seventy Indian farmers will commit suicide … he doesn’t think much of the resilience of his own people if he believes that.
How can anyone with a nose to smell BS believe this nonsense?

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
July 31, 2017 11:37 pm

Do you have any evidence that it is false? This seems like a trivial use of statistics. Count how many
people commit sucide each day and then plot that against temperature. Finding a causal link is a lot
harder and since I haven’t read the paper I am not going to comment on how likely that is.

Reply to  Germonio
August 1, 2017 4:47 am

I suggest doing a controlled study. Put a bunch of Indian farmers in one room and a second bunch in another. Supply each room with vials of (fake) cyanide. Turn the temperature up in room A and keep it constant in room B. Measure the number of attempted suicides in each room. Is there a significant difference? If so, publish. If not, don’t even try because negative results aren’t sexy and they don’t get published.

Reply to  Germonio
August 1, 2017 8:42 am

Of course you can comment, using common sense and a bit of knowledge. The data on suicides in India is extremely poor, and the idea that you can compare the figures for recent years with figures going back 47 years is simply absurd. Over that period, suicide was illegal and remains frowned upon by many of the religions in India. A simple explanation for the “rising” trend is that more suicides are reported as such, as legal and social attitudes change.
And how could it be temperature-inked? Does every suicide occur at or past maximum temperature of the day? No. Are rural Indian farmers able to tell whether its one degree hotter or one degree cooler day by day? No.So you have to hypothesise some innate ability to tell temperatures accurately that triggers a suicidal impulse.
You can’t comment? Then you can’t use simple sense and knowledge.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
August 1, 2017 6:40 am

I always thought that of ball bearings as a pretty brilliant invention.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
August 1, 2017 7:01 am

Where I grew up, the phrase was “dumb as a box of hammers”.
Regional differences can be fascinating.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  MarkW
August 1, 2017 10:18 am

In my neck of the woods it was “sack of hammers”.

July 31, 2017 9:24 pm

What about population growth, meaning each acre of farmland has its need to feed and employ people increasing faster than its productivity despite advances of farming technology and increasing CO2?

Reply to  Donald L. Klipstein
August 1, 2017 2:11 am

Exactly right Donald. Indian average farm size has come down from about 3 hectares in 1960 to about 1 hectare today. Even with improved yields, relying on such a small piece of land with unreliable rains to sustain a family without a capital cushion to fall back on must be extremely challenging and psychologically stressful.

July 31, 2017 9:27 pm

I thought climate hysteria had peaked but along comes this garbage and tops the lot.

July 31, 2017 9:50 pm

Dr J Reddy is correct of course. It’s well-known in anti GMO circles that Indian farmers were deluded or “tricked” into buying GMO seeds with promises of vastly increased production but were unaware apparently that they would not be able to save each year’s seeds (in contrast to their traditional practice) but have to purchase afresh every year, with the result many went bankrupt. Hence the suicides. Scandalous! And so little written about it in the USA – one wonders why.

Reply to  alexei
July 31, 2017 9:58 pm

Because your story is a bald-faced lie. See my link above.

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
Reply to  Charles Rotter
July 31, 2017 11:02 pm

Where is the link?
The steady rise in yield of cotton was due to efforts made by private seed companies — Andhra Pradesh government seed agency was the major seed producer in India but not now due to government apathy –. These seed varieties were converted in to Bt seed to get overnight profits for the same seed otherwise was available at low price and can be used successive year without paying. Also, with the Bt-cotton, cost of inputs rocketed. With the weather the success depends. Also, the market fluctuations on the cost of cotton after the harvest are high. That is the returns and input costs [mostly cropped on borrowed money at high interest rates from money lenders] led to suicides by cotton farmers in the five Bt-cotton states in India. It is not Vandana Siva, I my self along with few others filed a public interest litigation [PIL] in My state High Court in 2003. What ever we presented in that affidavit are slowly coming out. Now Bt-cotton is affected by pink bollwarm and the seed potency was changed three times now.
Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
Reply to  Charles Rotter
July 31, 2017 11:21 pm

After returning to India from UNO assignments, I started practising agriculture. I used to produce paddy seed for AP State seed Corporation. Also, started producing Sunflower seed to ITC Agro-tech a private seed company. Unfortunately, this company got seed from agricultural university even before completing the process of finalising the release, the seed gran come down drastically leaving farmers in debt.I questioned them on this issue, they openly told me the real story and later this company was closed. One of my colleague in ICRISAT gave me a groundnut seed. I raised this seed and a private seed company started by my former ICRISAT colleague purchased and developed on this. Now, with GMOs this system practically dead.
Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

Reply to  alexei
August 1, 2017 8:44 am

None of that is true, and farmers still had access to non-GMO seeds.And if they grow more, they get paid more and so can afford the seeds. It’s not like the seeds are more expensive the grown crop value.

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
Reply to  Phoenix44
August 1, 2017 5:25 pm

It is not so in the five states where Bt-cotton [the only GM crop grown in India] is grown. The seed companies made it a point not to allow non-Bt-seed sold and thus duplicate Bt-cotton seed was sold. All high yielding cotton varieties were converted in to Bt to get jump in profits as the price of Bt-cotton is several times higher than non-Bt seed. Unfortunately, people don’t read media reports in India on the fate of farmers with Bt seed. The TS government is taking action on spurious seed market, however, already farmers planted spurious seed as sudden raise in area under cotton [as Bt seed was available for a fixed area].
Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

July 31, 2017 9:50 pm

Some thoughts.
Presumably the 30 year decline in the usually monsoon could be a cause of crop failure causing stress.
This is beginning to reverse.
“But Wang and others have observed that in recent years, India has experienced a reduction in low clouds, perhaps in response to an increase in anthropogenic aerosols such as black carbon or soot, which can simultaneously absorb and heat the surrounding air, and prevent clouds from forming.”
Cleaning up ,their coal fired emissions and fireplace smog will certainly help.
Recently the poor of India have been more affected by the withdrawal of large notes in circulation.
The poor do not have bank accounts and store wealth for dowry in notes.
Those that did not know the notes were being withdrawn and made non tenderable found their savings wiped out.
The very poor do not necessarily speak English or write and read.

July 31, 2017 9:51 pm

“These results deliver large-scale quantitative evidence linking post hoc reasoning and academic drivel.”

July 31, 2017 9:51 pm

Don’t most greenies want to decrease the world’s population?

July 31, 2017 11:01 pm

I would expect yields to only be a second order issue. The first is probably debt. Yields might well have
increased but if debt levels are rising faster then small changes in temperature might well be the straw that
breaks the camels back. Farmers have to pay more for seeds, especically now that companies like Monsanto claim that farmers cannot plant some of their harvest due to copyright. similar all other costs are
going up.

Reply to  Germonio
August 1, 2017 4:50 am

I hate to be crude, but aren’t these suicides a form of negative feedback with respect to the temperature effects of CO2?

Reply to  Trebla
August 1, 2017 7:04 am

Sometimes you have to be crude in order to break through the crud.

Reply to  Germonio
August 1, 2017 8:47 am

But yields bring money and money is what defines debt. Debt is not “first order” and revenue to service that debt secondary. That’s just nonsense.
And simply saying debts are rising faster than incomes is meaningless. That happens everywhere for some people. Unless you can show that suicides are caused by debt levels and debt levels are rising, you are just plucking ideas out of the air despite saying you couldn’t comment.

July 31, 2017 11:05 pm

We are entering fund raising season for the climate Armageddon industry . Like Super Bowl commercials what will this season of climate alarmism bring .
Drowning polar bears … Done
Ice free Arctic … Done
Disappearing islands … Done
Bleached coral … Done
Flooded continents … Done
Hurricanes multiply like rabbits … Done .
Ocean Acidification … Done
This is get unfun .
This years nominations go to :
Beached whales swimming from boiling waters
Sharks jumping into boats having mental breakdowns
Owls searching out wind mills on suicide packs
The NYT and LA Times actually returning to journalism . OK no chance .
Like the oh so hyped Russia cooked the election , climate Armageddon is a great big fat nothing burger
but did you know climate changes ?

Reply to  Amber
July 31, 2017 11:48 pm


July 31, 2017 11:13 pm

It may be that rising yields are the problem, bringing down prices and making it harder for marginal farmers to make a living.

July 31, 2017 11:43 pm

This paper is garbage. As any epidemiologist knows one has to look at the rates per 100,000. The WHO data can be found here:
Clearly India in 24th spot has no problem with it’s suicide rate. Interestingly for men the rate is 65 but for women it the the 7th highest in the world. This numbskulls should have looked at the question as to why the large difference between males and females in India. Or does climate change selectively cause women to do themselves in?

David A
Reply to  Geza
August 1, 2017 4:02 am

Thank you for the informative post.

Matt G
Reply to  Geza
August 1, 2017 7:32 pm

Large difference between men and woman are related to forced marriages and rapes, especially involving outside toilets for latter.
Lets blame global warming on it because everything else is.

July 31, 2017 11:56 pm

For temperatures above 20 °C, a 1 °C increase in a single day’s temperature causes ∼70 suicides, on average. This effect occurs only during India’s agricultural growing season, when heat also lowers crop yields.
During the growing season? You’d think if the effect were real it would be at HARVEST. During the growing season it is IMPOSSIBLE to calculate the effect on yields from a single day of +1 degrees. This is a level of BS that wouldn’t even register on the average BS detector, they don’t go that high.

Reply to  davidmhoffer
August 1, 2017 12:12 am

This all about hope and despair. If you are deeply in debt and need a good harvest to pay off the loan
or risk losing everything then a single bad day could be enough to tip you into depression. Similarly the
paper states that increased rainfall decreases the sucide rate for two years. So it is all about hope and how people’s emotions change depending on the temperature.

Reply to  Germonio
August 1, 2017 12:26 am

then a single bad day could be enough to tip you into depression
Seriously? A human being cannot even sense the difference between +20 and +21 from one day to the next, let alone get a mental impression of how that is going to affect crop yields weeks later. But let’s put aside those little facts and let me ask you the bigger question.
How did someone that easily tipped into depression/suicide get to adulthood in the first place? See the problem here Germonio?

Reply to  Germonio
August 1, 2017 3:21 am

Sounds to me like the usual grasping at straws for links to cause and effect without any proof.
It is that sort of illogicality that brings us to believe (and there is no observed scientific proof) that a very, very, very rare gas (CO2) changes level by a few parts per million and that changes global temperatures.
I am sure that Indians suicides, like climate variations, are far more complex than these kind of light-weight studies suggest.

David A
Reply to  Germonio
August 1, 2017 4:07 am

I could see a real CO2 caused depression; if CO2 suddenly dropped to 280 ppm and crop yield all dropped some 20 percent.

Reply to  Germonio
August 1, 2017 8:51 am

Right, suicide happens based on one day when it’s a bit warmer than you thought it might be.
Not even too warm just warmer. Because warmth is bad for growing things. Just one day of warmth, And they think that despite being farmers…
Just more unadulterated nonsense.

Chris Hanley
August 1, 2017 12:00 am

If HADCRUT 4 can be believed the global average temperature has risen ~0.8C since 1960, the atmospheric CO2 concentration has risen ~ 90 ppm and the average life expectancy at birth for the population of India has risen from ~40 years to ~70 years (not least due to the fall in infant mortality rate).

August 1, 2017 12:10 am

Another myth about suicide masquerading as science to further the alarmist narrative about global warming. Unfortunately it distracts from the real causes of suicide. About 90% of people who attempt suicide have a mental illness. There are several risk factors that can contribute including abuse, trauma, drug use, unemployment and financial problems. It has been recently postulated in a fascinating U.S. study that altitude may also be a significant factor as the Rocky Mountain states have a noticeably higher rate of suicides. Most suicides can be prevented if the friends of the victim know what signs to pay attention to. Please take time to read up on it so someone you care about doesn’t become a victim.

August 1, 2017 12:37 am

This seems like a well researched article on Indian farm suicides: debt and especially debt from healthcare costs are main reason given
rising productivity – 1.1 % according to 1 figure I found – may not translate to prosperity across all farmers…
Seems like Indian agriculture has some complicated pressures…

Reply to  Griff
August 1, 2017 7:06 am

As always, Griff defines science as whatever he agrees with.

Reply to  Griff
August 1, 2017 9:14 am

“…debt and especially debt from healthcare costs are main reason given.”
Well, that makes a lot of sense. But it doesn’t make any sense to blame a 1 degree temperature rise, something that is almost impossible to detect physiologically, to 70 more people killing themselves than would have otherwise.
The paper may be well researched. The conclusion about temperature, however, is nonsense. We have seen it over and over again. Global warming verbiage is put into the conclusions of papers that have nothing to do with climate change. I guess in this case it is actually about weather, but the implication is that if it gets warmer, more people will kill themselves, and that is nothing but grant bait, NPR news fodder and paradigm propaganda.
In the US, a million people move to Florida every winter to avoid thoughts of suicide!

Reply to  Griff
August 1, 2017 10:14 am

When you say “a well researched article on Indian farm suicides” are you referring to the PNAS Carleton study or the two you’ve linked? BTW neither one of those links you posted supports PNAS study and if anything contradicts it.

August 1, 2017 1:16 am

I can understand why this shit had to be hidden behind a paywall. An actual look at the data shows that the suicide rates rises steeply between 10 and 20 degrees C (must be during winter/early spring, never that cool in summer in lowland India) and then levels off or even goes down when temperatures rise above 30 degrees.
On the other hand suicide rates decrease monotonically with increasing precipitation during the growing season, which seems reasonable since agriculture in India is extremely dependent on the summer monsoon.
Now everyone with any experience with Indian climates knows that it is extremely hot and dry during the late spring and early summer until the monsoon comes as a relief for both people and vegetation. If the monsoon fails or is late and weak it stays very hot and it is very bad both for the crops and the farmers.
There is no information why the author decided that the weak correlation with summer temperatures was more significant than the much stronger correlation with monsoon precipitation.
By the way 20 degrees celsius isn’t a “crop damaging” temperature in India, and probably not anywhere else either (well, it could be too cold for cotton which requires a long period >30 C to ripen). Drought on the other hand is crop-damaging at any temperature.

Reply to  tty
August 1, 2017 4:55 am

The very first example of a spurious correlation from a little book I once read called “Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics” was this: There is an almost perfect negative correlation between the sales of chewing tobacco and the number of car thefts per year in the United States.

Reply to  tty
August 1, 2017 9:25 am

“There is no information why the author decided that the weak correlation with summer temperatures was more significant than the much stronger correlation with monsoon precipitation.”
It is obvious. Correlating any scientific research with global warming increases your chance of being rewarded more grants, becoming famous, having more citations and so on. It is okay to do real science, if that is your thing, but you better figure out a way to tie it to man-made climate change in some way, if you want to continue working.

Mark - Helsinki
August 1, 2017 1:19 am

This issue has long been established to be related to GM products. If a farmer has a failed crop he cannot pay for the next plant of crops, so they drown themselves in chemicals or drink them

August 1, 2017 1:28 am

In a study in the 1950s it was found that baby deaths increased in New York City neighbourhoods with soft pavement.
In the 1950s it was probably true that, if the street in front of your tenement was soft, your baby was more likely to die. It was a spurious correlation though. The real correlation was with temperature. Temperatures hot enough to make the pavement soft were also harmful to babies living in tenements.
We see spurious correlations all the time from the likes of Al Gore. Yes, the temperatures went up, and yes these things did happen but correlation does not imply causality.
p.s. As far as I know the babies/pavement study was invented by my buddy’s statistics prof to illustrate the problem of spurious correlation.

Reply to  commieBob
August 1, 2017 3:26 am

I suspect a better correlation, both with India suicides and beliefs in snake oils salesmen tally with the rise in mobile phone sales, and use.

August 1, 2017 1:59 am

The incredible thing is wheat yields in the US- over the decades acres planted to wheat has decreased by 30 million acres-
“The number of acres on which US farmers grow wheat has hit its lowest … the amount of wheat produced per acre has increased nearly 267%”

Robin Hewitt
August 1, 2017 2:01 am

Nothing is new, Shakespeare explains this in Macbeth…
Here’s a farmer who hanged himself on expectation of plenty.

August 1, 2017 2:15 am

Generational passing on of farmland to children by dividing the land leads to small plots unable to sustain successive generations as the farmers have large families. This causes a lot of the stress.

Reply to  Donald Kasper
August 1, 2017 6:54 am

Other societies have responded differently to handling inheritances. In the US most farms have either been kept whole generation to generation and run by the descendants as a corporation or cooperative,, or at some point the descendants decide to sell off the property
I can’t see any economic reason why, in India, the people involved wouldn’t combine forces, work together, take care of each other, and prosper with a few less children on the same land they grew up on

Peta from Cumbria, now Newark
August 1, 2017 2:18 am

So many possible things and with suicide, they are all scattered and present in different ‘quantities’
THAT is why a suicide thus happens.
(Like a stroke), everyone is different and why they are not seen coming.
So, what have we got….
There’s no smoke without fire but just what are the figures for suicides. In UK, farmers are in the top 3 risk group, along with doctors and veterinarians. What gives with the vets?? Possibly access to method/materials.
As a proportion of the total Indian population, is it actually as big a problem as it’s cracked up to be?
Let’s have some context before we all kick off about how awful this is.
Let us not be like alarmists, where the simple fact that CO2 ‘absorbs’ infra-red radiation (the settled science bit) has blown right up to World Armageddon. Incredible innit?
Indian inheritance rules/laws. Namely everyone gets an equal share of a dead person’s estate. Unlike England/Scotland historically where the eldest son got ‘most everything. But when it comes to land and subsistence farming, this rule, instead of promoting familial happiness as its supposed to, will cause family disputes over who farms any particular (tiny) patch of dirt, what they grow, who gets the food/money/profit etc.
Family disputes can get very nasty and prolonged indeed and if you’ve no other escape route, then what?
Are Monsanto there because they are full of Good Intentions? They will tell you this of course.
Doesn’t experience back home in the USA (legally chasing folks who grow/clean/plant their own seed) tell a story of a very hard-nosed company that is ‘in it for the money’
Where’s the BS detector when you need it?
Monsanto again.
The farmers, and Indian folks are renowned for how deferential they are. They really do try ‘to be helpful, to be of service (a lot like the Chinese) and hence are absolute suckers for smart suited business folks. Folks who will assure them that ‘blah blah’ will improve your life, make you money, get the relatives off your back etc etc
Monsanto will assure them that borrowing money (to buy Monsanto seeds/pesticides/fert) is The Modern Way, while pointing to how lovely the Western World is. Because of technology, they get a glimpse of Western World and buy the dream. Using a loan, taken on the (salesman’s) assurance that the resulting crop will clear it and leave enough for everything to be rosy.
Monsanto’s chosen vehicle for these trusting if not gullible people is cotton.
For a very ancient place like India, with highly weathered (nutrient poor) soils, you Could Not Make A Worse Choice Of Plant To Grow. (yes you could, tobacco)
Cotton is a very hungry plant – hence why India never grew very much, leading to potential large profits for folks who can grow it locally. A perfect storm.
And because Indian soil is not used to growing cotton (rotational practice of a sort), for the first few years it will grow extremely well.
Then it hits its Liebig Limit and the cotton gravy train falls right off the rails.
And what do Monsanto do? Possibly blame the farmer for fooking it up, but even they cannot *that* hard-hearted so they pass the buck – to Mother Nature via ‘climate change’
We really should not mess with that girl.
We should employ/learn a bit of humility & empathy.
Well, shag me senseless, here we are come full circle.
Would not a bit of empathy, understanding those farmer’s problems, have saved them?

August 1, 2017 2:38 am

I’ve lost count of the number of greenies who have forcefully told me that “CLIMATE IS NOT THE WEATHER!” but all climate scares are about the weather.
I would not be in the least surprised to find that the weather influences the suicide rate. But to blame climate, you have to prove the climate has changed adversely. And again, greenies tell me that the climate changes over decades.
Finally, even if you prove climate change and even if that curve fits the suicide curve, you haven’t proved a correlation.

George Lawson
August 1, 2017 3:40 am

“Widely cited theories of economic suicide in India”
“I estimate that warming temperature trends over the last three decades have already been responsible for over 59,000 suicides throughout India”
Why does the author automatically assume that the increase in suicides are all in the agricultural industry. How do agricultural suicides compare to suicides in the rest of Indian industry?

Reply to  George Lawson
August 1, 2017 6:24 pm

I agree. This is all based on one person’s “estimate.”

Tom in Florida
August 1, 2017 4:49 am

Perhaps there is just an overabundance of dentists in India.

August 1, 2017 4:50 am

It’s funny that people are blaming either GMOs per se (which have nothing to do with poverty, etc) or temperatures, which has to be the most simple-minded explanation for suicides I can think of.
Monsanto, is a COMPANY. They do not have an military division to enforce their will. If a company is doing severe economic harm to a country, it is the responsibility of the country to prevent this and they certainly have the power to do so. THAT is what govts are SUPPOSED to do – protect their citizens against foreign threats. You know, what our Democratic administrations have not done when they encouraged illegal Hispanics to enter our country, for the sole purpose of importing new Democratic voters, mostly illegal.
How about drug companies, who practice mopolistic behavior under the protection of 20 year patents?
I have been personally involved in in this for over 10 years, buying all my prescription drugs from Canada..
A company that is notable for screwing their American customers is Merck. They have several pills that sell for $10 apiece at your local CVS or Walgreens. Those same pills, manufactured by their same (foreign) drug plants sell for 20 cents apiece in foreign countries, who have generic versions that force Merck to lower their prices to compete with local generics, sometimes even to undercut their prices. Our “protective” FDA prohibits these foreign generics from entry to our market, due to patent law and unwillingness to certify these pills. The solution to all this is very simple ; prohibit drug companies from charging their American customers
(private individuals or insurance companies) more than they charge in any other country. Some countries
protect their citizens by the fact that a govt purchasing agency does all pill buying – they are esentially monopolistic buyers and can match the power of a monopolistic drug company and force prices way down. English customers, for example, can buy one of the pills I take from Merck at one third the cost we pay over here.
The problem with some conservatives is that they think a “free market” means “anything goes.”
A free market which contains a monopoly is not, in reality, a free market, because there is no competition.
Without competition, nothing works. And I don’t just mean in the economic arena, either, but in all aspects of human endeavor. Why do you think unions are the enemy of consumers and have destroyed virtually all ability of American companies to compete ? We see the ridiculous state of climate science , due entirely to a
lack of competitive debate, which is the basic strength of any science. Liberals used to hate non-competitive markets when the lack of competition involved companies. But their solution enabled a lack of competition
amongst the working force, primarily because there are a lot more workers than there are companies and companies can’t vote – workers not only vote but also provide election day assistance to get out the vote.
Most elections in northern unionized states have been fraudulent/illegal for the past 60 years. Unions , not the governor, ran Michigan, Ilinois, etc Now our cities , with unionized teachers and firemen and policemen
have created unsustainable pension funds, compliments of generations of mayors who only got elected by bribing the city unions with these more or less invisible side benefits. I might add that the media, newspapers and others (all unionized) have failed completely to bring this looming financial disaster to the attention of the public for decades. Only the internet news sites have offered a means of getting around our MSM folk, who have colluded for their entire professional lives with one another. Once again – a lack of competition leads
to disaster.

August 1, 2017 5:03 am

Rural Indian farmers are on a permanent, 24/7, self-imposed suicide watch. The moment they receive a report that the average rural temperature has risen by 2 degrees Celsius they off themselves. Urban farmers themselves have, apparently, self-exempted themselves. This requires study.

Reply to  BallBounces
August 1, 2017 7:08 am

Urban farmers?

Reply to  MarkW
August 1, 2017 12:30 pm

A riff on “rural farmers” 😉

August 1, 2017 5:08 am

Until they can interview the deceased farmers, this study is complete fiction.

August 1, 2017 5:24 am

..O.T., but way cool !!
“NASA brings the new Mars rover to ‘Fox & Friends'”

Alan McIntire
August 1, 2017 5:40 am

Jamal Munshi addressed spurious correlations here
and there are strong ocrrelations between
US spending on science, space, and tecnhology, and suicides by hanging, strangulation, and suffocation,
number who drowned by falling in swimming pools, and number of films Nicholas Cage appeared in.
per capita cheese consumption, and number of people who died by becoming tangled in bedsheets
divorce rate in Maine and per capita consumption of margarine

August 1, 2017 5:50 am

Hmmm, ENSO meter is nosediving….

August 1, 2017 5:51 am

59,300 suicides – OK so what’s the downside?
How does that supposed number of suicides compare to the numbers of those Indians involved fatal automobile collisions?

Reply to  juandos
August 1, 2017 7:31 am

The first is a smaller number but they could also be related .

August 1, 2017 6:14 am

At least they’re not burning “used” women on their husbands funeral pyres any more…mostly.
This is a country that gets less than 5% of its tax returns each year, pretty sure the 59,300 is mostly murders that nobody bothered to investigate.

August 1, 2017 6:21 am

More bogus science from the lewandowssky school of fiction writing.
The inhumanity of the climate committed is well documented and this sorry study does nothing but underscore that inhumanity.

August 1, 2017 6:54 am

As Leif is so found of pointing out, correlation is not causation.

August 1, 2017 7:20 am

Oh noes!!! It’s FARMAGEDDON!!!!

August 1, 2017 7:29 am

Biggest issue , the land keeps getting split up with increasing family size and the need to provide drowies, often means getting heavenly into debt. Often their situation has always been marginal, hence why for many years people has they have done through history, have rushed from the country to the city . Being a poor farmer in India is not has bad as it can get because in India that really is bloody awful .

August 1, 2017 7:50 am

We know that can’t be true because the real reason for Indian famer suicides is … wait for it … GMO cotton.

Monsanto’s seed monopolies, the destruction of alternatives, the collection of superprofits in the form of royalties, and the increasing vulnerability of monocultures has created a context for debt, suicides and agrarian distress which is driving the farmers’ suicide epidemic in India. This systemic control has been intensified with Bt cotton. That is why most suicides are in the cotton belt.
An internal advisory by the agricultural ministry of India in January 2012 had this to say to the cotton-growing states in India — “Cotton farmers are in a deep crisis since shifting to Bt cotton. The spate of farmer suicides in 2011-12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers.”
The highest acreage of Bt cotton is in Maharashtra and this is also where the highest farmer suicides are. Suicides increased after Bt cotton was introduced — Monsanto’s royalty extraction, and the high costs of seed and chemicals have created a debt trap. According to Government of India data, nearly 75 per cent rural debt is due to purchase inputs. As Monsanto’s profits grow, farmers’ debt grows. It is in this systemic sense that Monsanto’s seeds are seeds of suicide.

Man, you can’t make this stuff up. People will believe anything these days …

August 1, 2017 8:09 am

It took 5 minutes to find a graph showing India’s agricultural production of its 3 main crops has doubled since 1980.,+Wheat,+and+Corn+Production+(three+biggest+crops)-742694.PNG

Chuck Dolci
August 1, 2017 9:15 am

This looks like a grea candidate for the entertaining website “Spurious Correlations”. Check it out at

August 1, 2017 10:15 am

From Wikipedia: “About 800000 people commit suicide worldwide every year, of these 135,000 (17%) are residents of India, a nation with 17.5% of world population.”
What an absolutely bizarre and astounding correlation and coincidence. Imagine that, a country with 17% of the world’s population has 17% of the world’s suicides!

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Beijing
Reply to  Taphonomic
August 1, 2017 1:40 pm

Thank you Taphonic, for proving that ‘climate change is real’ and punishing everyone in the world in a fair and balanced manner. I expect nothing less from Gaia. The Great Gaia is also fair in the distribution of loan sharks and enslavers of the children of those who don’t pay.
The balance continues.

Reply to  Taphonomic
August 1, 2017 2:22 pm

The blame game, especially of foreigners, was a major pastime long before global warming advocacy showed up.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Beijing
August 1, 2017 1:35 pm

The suicides are caused by debt. The solution is to have the losses of farmers absorbed by the whole community. Modern agriculture should not be denied to poor farmers just because they might have a total loss one year.
We all need food, and we all need to share in the risk of producing it. When things are good, they should pay a portion into the fund, and when things go bad they can draw from it for their necessary expenses until they can get the next crop in. It would operate much like a community bank. It is not capitalism, it is not socialism, it is not communism. It is simple and effective. Some social groups have done it for centuries.

Tom Billings
August 1, 2017 2:56 pm

Greg postulated:
“Expensive grain is putting whole families into debt to Monsanto for generations and starving them.”
Without knowing how farm credit has worked in India for centuries. It is village moneylenders who loan money to poor farmers. Today those are usually Brahmin supporters of the BJ Party of PM Modi. He will not want to squeeze them to treat their debtors better as a result. He may not be allowing easy competition with them from services reached by cellphones, either.
When loans cannot be repaid, even the whole value of the farm may not pay back what is owed. So, farmers may try to get their family out of debt by suicide once the farm is seized. The answer to this is not hating on Monsanto, but ensuring competition in both the sale of seed and the sale of loans to farmers by stimulating wider markets in these loans through cell services.
Once again, it is government, and those government favors at the root of a social evil, not the freedoms of action of innovators.

Gary Pearse
August 1, 2017 4:36 pm

One fifth of world suicides in one fifth the world’s population. Who’d a thunk? Poverty and grief can do that. India is already stoking the coal to that problem.

Derek Colman
August 1, 2017 5:21 pm

Correlation does not prove causation. Good examples:- The number of people who drowned by falling into a pool correlates with the number of films Nicolas Cage starred in. The number of people who drowned by falling out of a fishing boat correlates with the marriage rate in Kentucky. The number of Japanese cars sold in the USA correlates with the number of suicides by crashing a car. Are Japanese cars really that bad that their owners commit suicide?

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
August 1, 2017 8:53 pm

Farmers suicides in India relates to two basic issues, namely poor governance, low income from the agriculture. I presented a report to government on this few years back titled “Farmers Suicides: A brief Analysis”. The main reasons for farmers suicides related to high input cost technology, genetically modified seed, facilities, minimum support price, employment. I don’t want put the entire report here. Some of the salient features of these headlines are (1) High inputs [input costs] under highly variable weather both in terms of space and time lead to farmers suicides; (2) This is clear from the farmers’ suicides in these four states after 2005, where Bt-cotton was grown with steep increase in area [heavy private barrowings lead debt trap]; (3) government luke warm attitude in procurement [middlemen benefitted], stepmotherly treatment to storage-transport facilities, rapid decline of groundwater and poor quality power supply; (4) farmers are not getting minimum support price with politicians-bureaucrats joining hands with middlemen; (5) food processing and animal husbandry was neglected. All these are clearly discussed with facts and figures in my two books referred earlier [available on net free].
Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

August 5, 2017 10:09 am

Suicide is much more prevalent in first-world countries. The richer a population is, the more they commit suicide. Dr. Reddy’s analysis may correlate with this. More loans and more input costs to chase higher expected earnings, cause more risk and more stress. Also, government involvement, leading to a lack of control over outcome, possibly suddenly deleterious changes in outcome by changing regulations, leading to feeling the deck is stacked against the farmer and a feeling of hopelessness.
Poverty does not cause suicide. An increase in living standards with expectations of further increase and then seeing those hopes dashed can cause suicide.

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