Carbon Fuels Conquered Famine – But Green Policies Are Inviting It Again

The Long War on Famine

by Viv Forbes

Famine has haunted humans for most of their history.

In the days of the Pharaohs, whenever the Nile River failed to flood, Egypt starved. Joseph was called in and he organised stockpiling of grain for famine relief.

Even mighty Rome suffered famines – in 436 BC thousands of starving people threw themselves into the Tiber.

The cold Middle Ages in Europe were haunted by famines. In the 11th and 12th century, famines averaged one in 14 years. Even in England there were 22 recorded famines in the 13th century. In 1235, 20,000 people died in London and people ate horse flesh, bark and grass. There were great famines in India, Bengal, France, China and Russia.

Victims of the Great Famine of 1876–78 in India (British Royal Photography Services)

In more recent times, man-made famines were more common in the Comrade Societies – some wit once remarked that “Soviet agriculture has just suffered its 23rd consecutive year of unseasonal weather”.

Some famines were deliberate policy such as Stalin’s liquidation of the Kulaks in 1918 and his starvation of Ukraine in the 1932-33, while other dictators like Mao in China and Pol Pot in Cambodia caused famine with destructive collectivist farm policies.

Famines eased in Europe and North America from about 1860, partly because crops improved with warmer weather and also because of the great increases in land opened up in the Americas for farming and grazing.

But the biggest expansion in food production started with the invention of the coal-powered steam engine – the iron and steel smelted with coal, and the engines, generators and machines powered by coal and then oil, created a food and population explosion.

First hunters armed with carbon-powered gunpowder decimated the wild herds of bison, antelope and deer grazing the prairies of the Americas, replacing them with barbed wire and beef cattle. (Most people today probably disapprove of such species slaughter; but it happened, and the food produced on that land now supports farmers, towns and millions of people.)

Then were the steam-powered traction engines which pumped water and pulled iron ploughs, planters, harvesters, freight wagons and forest logs. Millions of crop-eating draught horses and oxen went to the butchers and no longer consumed half of the farm crops produced.

The cumbersome steam tractors were replaced by internal combustion engines burning kerosene, petrol and diesel.

The model T utility and Fordson tractors created another farming revolution with more food produced with fewer food-consuming draft animals and farm labourers.

Fordson Tractor (via Wikimedia Commons)

Coal-powered trains and petrol-powered trucks and buses moved food, and motorised artillery, cavalry, baggage trains and ambulances moved armies. Millions of ever-hungry and ever-thirsty horses, mules and oxen were removed from the food and water queues.

Australian Light Horsemen, 1916. Source: Fred Horsley collection. Credit:


The vast crop-lands which had been used to produce food for draft animals now produced meat, eggs, milk, butter and grains for humans.

Galvanised iron, steel and concrete (all made using two carbon emitting raw materials, coal and limestone) became invaluable for hay sheds, dairies, cold rooms and silos allowing farmers to store farm produce for droughts and winters.

Engines were soon powering refrigerated trucks, road trains, trains and ships that moved food quickly from farms, factories, abattoirs and mills to refrigerated storage in distant cities, thus greatly reducing the amount of food wasted. (But some stupid/green French politician wants an end to the internal combustion engine by 2040, and some foolish Australians want to put a carbon emissions tax on vehicles.)

Australian Road Train Image acknowledgement:

The next revolution in food production was the discovery and manufacture of nitrate fertilisers and urea using the natural gases nitrogen, methane and carbon dioxide. These fertilisers, assisted by vast irrigation schemes, gave a huge boost to crop growth.

This stunning food revolution based on combustion engines, hydro-carbon fuels, natural gas fertilisers, irrigation and refrigeration has banished famine from the first world.

But every system has its limits. Famine is always just a season or two away. It bides its time, waiting for a failure in the complex carbon-fuelled agricultural, transport and storage network that supports every city.

When hunter-gatherers experienced food shortages, they followed the rains, scavenged for food and largely survived. When farmers and fences replaced hunter-gathers they cultivated large areas of land to grow grasses and grains for poultry, cattle, goats, sheep and pigs. This created a huge increase in food production, but it also tied the farmers to the land – when drought struck, they could not follow the storms.

As farming grew, so too did the dependent cities of factory workers, merchants, tax collectors, rulers, bureaucrats, policemen and soldiers, none of whom produced food. More recently this hungry overhead has been joined by a growing army of welfare and aid recipients, political immigrants and refugees. However, when drought or severe cold threatens the food supply, the cities cannot move away.

Just one thing is now required to create a modern famine – widespread crop failure.

What causes crop failures? Unsuitable conditions in one or more of just three key atmospheric conditions: temperature (unseasonal frost, snow or heat); moisture (extreme floods or droughts); and carbon dioxide (too little to sustain healthy plant growth).

The Little Ice Age ended around the start of the 20th century. Today’s warm climate is very farm-friendly and tends to have most effect on the cold lands of the northern hemisphere, thus increasing the acreage and productivity of the vast crop lands there. Warmth also drives moisture and carbon dioxide plant food out of the oceans into the atmosphere, creating a much more crop-friendly environment. The extra moisture shows up as more precipitation and the extra carbon dioxide we see today makes plants grow faster and stronger. Extra warmth, moisture and carbon dioxide help greatly to increase crop yields and banish famine.

However, Earth’s climate is always changing, and there is significant evidence that we are past the warm peak of this climate cycle and are on the road to the next advance of the ice.

“Every source of climate information in the Northern Hemisphere shows that the Earth experienced the warmest climate of the last 100,000 years about 6,000  years ago and since then (especially over the past 4,000 years) the Northern Hemisphere has been experiencing a gradual cooling. That does not mean that each century is colder than the one before, but it means that each millennium is colder than the one before.”

John Kehr, “The Inconvenient Skeptic”

All we hear from the climate industry and the dark green media are the claimed dangers of global warming. However it is global cooling that poses a dire threat to world food supplies.

First the frosts and snow come earlier and stay later – the growing season gets shorter. Then winter snow persists into summer, ice sheets and glaciers advance and boreal forests and tundra invade grasslands – the great northern crop lands are forced to move south. The cold also reduces evaporation from oceans, lakes and streams, thus reducing rainfall. Growing ice sheets cause falling sea levels, dewatering coastal fish farms and breeding grounds. And, in the final blow, cold oceans and lakes absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, further reducing plant growth. Icy eras reinforce all three crop destroyers: cold, drought and carbon-dioxide starvation.

In addition to climate dangers, foolish green zealots in the comfortable western democracies are also nibbling away at the area of land and sea allowed for harvesting food. They also reduce the land devoted to growing food by subsidising crops for ethanol and biodiesel production.

They are also seeking global powers in an anti-life campaign to encourage global cooling by reducing the carbon dioxide content of Earth’s atmosphere. Luckily their costly anti-carbon goals will have no effect on the grand cycles of global climate, but they will harm the cost, capacity and reliability of our complex energy-dependent food production storage and distribution system.

The Green energy they idolise is intermittent and unreliable – it breeds network instability and power failures.

The fierce dog of famine is tethered outside the city gate. Our abundant supplies of reliable energy for the production, harvesting, transport, processing, storage and distribution of food have kept him at bay. But still he waits patiently for foolish politicians or dreadful weather to let him loose.

A natural disaster affecting key Asian oil refineries or a naval blockade of the fleet of tankers carrying petroleum products to Australia would stop road transport of food to Australian cities in a few days.

Just one decent regional blackout would empty supermarket shelves and create long queues at every service station; two frigid winters would see food prices soar; and a return of the Little Ice Age or worse will see starvation stalking the cities.

Greens are inviting famine, humanity’s ancient enemy, into our cities via the green door.


newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Carl Friis-Hansen

What a brilliant article, thanks a lot.
How can we have it distributed to grass-root political leaders in the US and Europe?

Moderately Cross of East Anglia

Precisely the case against precipitate and irrational screwing around with geo-engineering to remove CO2 or limit the small rise in “carbon” in the atmosphere. There is zero robustness to the case that we are altering the climate in any unnatural way as natural climate variation drowns the so-called AGW signal which in any case is highly disputable in terms of error bars and clear evidence of falsifications and serial tampering by rent and reputation seekers.

If this AGW insanity isn’t stopped not only will we damage the poor worldwide even further, the greens and enviro-goons may yet kill billions.

Great article


Moderately Cross of East Anglia

It’s already happening. According to the WHO* 120,000,000 (200,000,000 according to other estimates) people in developing countries will die prematurely by 2050 (32 years away) from conditions contracted from smoke inhalation, by being forced to burn bio fuels (wood and animal dung) to cook and heat with.

Nor are these remote village people, these are people in towns and cities who burn the stuff just to survive. The ‘illegal’ loggers who provide their only source of energy are only ‘illegal’ in the eyes of western greens. To their customers, they provide an essential need. They slash and burn rainforest to earn a living, then farmers move in and exhaust the soil nutrients within three years before moving on. They move on because there is no cheap source of fertiliser to replenish the soils nutrients because it demands electricity to produce. The land lies barren and turns to dust, encouraging floods, soil erosion and consequent river and estuary build up of silt.

The green solution? Give them (‘give’ mind you) solar ovens they can cook outside with, assuming they only eat during the daytime. They are not allowed to refrigerate food like those lucky charity workers who can go home to their supermarkets brimming with frozen food transported from all over the world, because they have no electricity. They can’t heat a house with a solar oven, nor light the streets at night, making them dangerous places to be.

2,000,000 people a year are going blind, then dying prematurely from the lack of vitamin A in their diet, most of them children. The answer is golden rice, a technology provided free by it’s inventor and not profiteered from by the commercial chain selling it. In other words, a handful of golden rice seeds costs no more than conventional seeds.

But Greenpeace, the self proclaimed guardians of our planet, and model ‘humanitarians’ have blocked the use of ‘genetically modified’ golden rice, which is basically a combination of white rice with a corn gene providing the vitamin A. (My description is crude and probably not technically correct, but you get my drift).

2,000,000 dead kids every year.

How is that saving the planet? And who for? We wealthy westerners?

(*WHO – World Health Organisation.)

Kristi Silber

Hmmm. I thought the green solution to lack of electrical access was more along the lines of facilitating access to renewable energy, at a variety of scales. There are also a variety of high-efficiency stoves developed for preferred fuel use.

What’s the skeptics’ answer? Last I heard, it was, Do nothing.

Neither Greenpeace nor any other activist group is blocking use of Golden Rice. It is took ages to produce rice strains that will supply vitamin A without losing yield.

Now the permitting is being done.


“Carbon Fuels Conquered Famine…” from a coal industry shill.

Dozens of famines occurred during the warm, 20th century, CO2 soaked, fossil fuel era, the vast majority caused by drought or war. As they always have been.

To invoke the deaths of tens of millions innocent victims to further your petty ideological ends is beneath contempt.

Sadly, famine caused by drought is now almost certainly going to felt by millions more due to shifting monsoons and failing rains. Not from of a lack of fossil fuel but because of it.



How can you be so intelligent, knowledgeable, visionary, and yet so blind.

As Reagan said, it is not what you don’t know. It’s what you know that ain’t so.


While the troll may believe that it is intelligent, etc. I have never seen any evidence to support such a conclusion.

Phil R

Also attributed to Mark Twain:

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”


modified for the 21st century:

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so (that wrecks havoc on others, and in turn on you, you stupid green POS).”


Don’t overlook that Will Rogers had his version on the same theme…..


Where did those 20th Century famines take place? Exclusively in Third-World countries without fossil fuel technology.


Your definition of a third world country is lacking. Famines were caused by multiple of reasons, like extreme poverty, war, communism and genocide. None of them happened with abundant energy in a democracy. But you can genocide with and without oil/coal.

What makes comparison difficult is that there is now much more population than in the early 20th century. Should we leave it into the ground, the death toll would be horrible.

Zazove does not realise how much our big population as of today really is dependent on fossil fuel, which is odd, since it is so obvious. And it is not a convenience. It increases agricultural production, reduces its labour needs, and in case of weather problem, allows ice-breaker assisted import of food. None of this was here 100 years ago, when we had another big famine. Lots of commies died, because they were locked into camps and nobody had food, and then disease epidemics hit. And yes, there was no food import in large scale.


I did not mean to imply that famines were caused only by the absence of fossil fuel energy. War and corrupt, incompetent government a play their part.


Indeed they do. But when we have the technology that needs fuel, and democracy, then famine becomes much less probable than before. Fuel is the stuff needed to make food, and fuel is the way to move it around. Without fuel, we’re pretty much on the mercy of weather.


Many of those famines occurred in the early part of the 20th century, prior to the big increase in CO2 levels.

zazove–“Not from of a lack of fossil fuel but because of it.”
Why don’t you ever show actual evidence that man’s CO2 is causing serious global warming?
If you know of any such evidence, please post it here.

Scientia Praecepta

I concur with your sentiments. I’m not surprised this lazy, climate fiction meme laden, propaganda piece is by anonymous “Guest Blogger” – it is a passable HS C+ grade up to “What causes crop failures?.” From that point forward it fails basic science and is an F riddled with sweeping statements based on false climate fiction and junk science talking points and memes! I have seen no evidence for “there is significant evidence that we are past the warm peak of this climate cycle and are on the road to the next advance of the ice“. That is what should be happening if natural climate forcings were driving Earth’s climate. We are now now 200x above that trend thanks to human use of fossil fuels, cement manufacture, land disturbance, and flaring that is a minimum of 32.5x that of the mean of the last four natural warming periods exiting the preceding glacial periods where δT⋅δt⁻¹ ≈ 0.004°C⋅decade⁻¹. Current δT⋅δt⁻¹ ≈ 0.13-0.19°C⋅decade⁻¹. All extant life evolved or adapted under Cₐ = 160-300ppmV over the past 3.5Mya. We now have elevated Cₐ = 410ppmV conditions or nearly 50% above natural. The Anthropocene Review (2017). DOI: 10.1177/2053019616688022

Growth requires many nutrients, as well as plenty of water. It’s no different for plants. More CO₂ will make them grow more only if water and other nutrients are increased in proportion. Projections for conditions under increased atmospheric CO₂ (drought) make this problematic for crops. In addition, research is showing that rice will not germinate at 35°C or above, and that many important crops become less nutritious when grown in elevated CO₂ levels. Consider the effect on agricultural productivity of the 2003 European or 2010 Ukraine/Russian heat wave. Then there is the problem of pest migration due to warmer temperatures. It all adds up to a very murky picture for agriculture in the later part of this century. That should make the “Guest Blogger” less sanguine.


Anonymous ? …
“The Long War on Famine
by Viv Forbes”

Blinded by your own delusions..?


” More CO₂ will make them grow more only if water and other nutrients are increased in proportion.” Why do commercial growers inject supplementary CO2 in their greenhouses? Is their produce less nutritious than crops grown in the open?

that’s a fiction – Stomata on plant leaves are far less frequent when CO2 levels are high, when CO2 is low plants have more, increasing unnecessary transpiration and causing needless water loss. As to nutrients, all living things are accumulators (we’re calcium accumulators) – plants can and do extract nutrients against the gradient .

To illustrate the above, water requirements can drop by as much as 90% in field tests. Molluscs in water with pH’s as low as 4 can calcify shells.

Spot on.


So you dispute the observation that plants grow faster with higher atmospheric CO2?

Scientia Praecepta

water requirements can drop by as much as 90% in field tests.
BS! Photosynthesis requires 2 moles of H₂O from the soil for every mole of CO₂, one mole for energy that is released to the atmosphere as O₂ with the H ions and the other mole to make glucose.


You are right as far as your statement takes you. The extra CO2 does not change the chemistry of photosynthesis. But, the extra CO2 reduces the loss of water through transpiration. So the plant needs less water from the soil, because less is lost through transpiration. You sound like a smart guy, but you are wasting some of those smarts.

Mike M

According to NASA, a study by 32 scientists from 8 countries says earth has greened 70% because of more CO2.

Per Graemethecat, greenhouse grown plants enriched with CO2 do indeed grow bigger and faster. Are you dodging that fact?


Hi Ken, – Perennials/trees & annual crops vary somewhat. Extra CO2 photosynthesis boosts sugar that needs to go somewhere (sink). Partitioning can result in thicker stems in the bottom & top thirds, less leaf area in the middle third + more fine roots. Those roots access moisture for turgor & the top third plant will use more water than the lower third plant. Stomatal conductance under high CO2 is not uniform in a plant.


Once again the troll demonstrates that it has no knowledge of the things it claims expertise in.
Plants lose water through their stomata when they have to open them in order to collect CO2. With higher CO2 levels in the atmosphere plants need fewer stomata and they don’t have to open them for as long. This means they lose less water through the stomata.

This is basic plant biology, though I’m not in the least bit surprised that you don’t know it.


Scientia Praecepta

quote, read carefully since you bullshat

Stomata on plant leaves are far less frequent when CO2 levels are high, when CO2 is low plants have more, increasing unnecessary transpiration and causing needless water loss. As to nutrients, all living things are accumulators (we’re calcium accumulators) – plants can and do extract nutrients against the gradient .

To illustrate the above, water requirements can drop by as much as 90% in field tests.


So plants use water for photosynthesis, but their overall water use efficiency grows with increasing CO2. CO2 in large quantities is useful for plants.


yet another proof Scientia Praecepta know nothing about biology of plants. And don’t use his brain, either, since it only takes some “back of the envelope” calculation to understand most of the water a plant pumps is just wasted into air, not used in photosynthesis. I leave it to him, so he can train his brain.



have you noticed we have every day a resident troll/alarmist, but different days a different one? I suspect they work in shifts for the common good of trolling here. Some of them are not totally evil persons, like Kristi Silber, some of them are ideologically blinded, like zazove above, and some just totally inmate journalist as ScPr.

I love this, actually

We are now now 200x above that trend thanks to human use of fossil fuels, cement manufacture, land disturbance, and flaring that is a minimum of 32.5x that of the mean of the last four natural warming periods exiting the preceding glacial periods where δT⋅δt⁻¹ ≈ 0.004°C⋅decade⁻¹. Current δT⋅δt⁻¹ ≈ 0.13-0.19°C⋅decade⁻¹.


It correctly uses the Greek alphabet (and I almost agree on the trend!), yet it uses a multiplicatory number in comparison of insignificantly small, possibly negative number, and a positive number, both of which have an uncertainty that makes such a factorial comparison pretty senseless.

And this!

We now have elevated Cₐ = 410ppmV conditions or nearly 50% above natural

So where’s the doom? The thing is, ScPr believes the doom is already here. He/She genuinely believes the GBR is goners, Carteret succumbed (and not inhabiting more people than ever before), people dying in hot, plants suffering from heat and world food production collapsing.

ScPr believes those, because in the bubble you may not bump into the reality. No story tells you if you were wrong, but only and always worse and worser futures emerge from models tuned to reveal the doom.

What’s worse, though, is that ScPr believes, that it is possible, without causing famine, to reduce world CO2 emissions to zero in a fracking jiffy. It is not! With huge investments in nuclear during the next 30 years, we could stop the emissions growth, but halving them to stop atmospheric fraction growth is just unimaginable with any near future technology.

ScPr is a doctor who’d not only unplug the patient, but thrust a knife through the chest to save the patient. I must admire the chutzpah.


Hugs, you need another classification for trolls.
Chris below limits himself to cheer leading since he’s learned that he’s not up to actually participating in any debates.


Another brilliant insight from Mark “30,000 posts without a supporting link posted” W.


The psychology of trolls is a fascinating subject.
Chris for example, continues to spout this lie, despite it being disproven.
Then again, it’s hardly the only lie he repeats over and over again.


Chris is just annoying. But nice to have more blood on the canvas.


Yeah, hugs, you’re just cleaning up here with your insightful comments.


Hi Gramethecat, – Elevated CO2 experiments do show there are some nutritional changes verses non-elevated CO2. These are not uniform in all kinds of plants.


In some plants, there is a small drop off in proteins per unit mass. The problem is that the increase in total mass is much larger than the percent drop off, as a result more proteins are being created.


Hi MarkW, – The math is one thing, yet the situation applied is more nuanced. In a semi-arid pasture 600ppm CO2 boosts biomass an average of 38%, while average grasses show a reduction of 13% Nitrogen. A 1 yr. old cow grazing on the same amount of pasture will gain an average of 0.82 kg/d on 600ppm CO2 grown grass & 0.96 kg/d on ambient CO2 grown grass. The dry matter digestibility also goes down (grass partitions more “acid detergent fibre”) & the ideal weight gain ratio of feed nitrogen to digestible dry matter is skewed at 600ppm CO2.


Continuation for example: Cattle rumen microbes create best weight gain when get 26.13 (+/-1.3) gr. nitrogen for every 1,000 gr. matter. A 272 Kg. steer on Oklahoma tall grass under 1995 level of CO2 attempted to fatten up by 0.68 Kg/day only had it’s rumen getting 14.5 gram nitrogen per 1,000 gr. organic matter. Thus supplemental protein was indicated to maximize slaughter weight. See “Estimating ruminal nitrogen-to-energy balance with in situ disappearance data”; free full text on-line.


@gringojay So what happens if the pasture is given nitrogen fertilizer? In an amount to balance the elevated CO2. Such ratio may be calculated, or may need some empirical support.

Thomas Englert

Not all pastures are grasses. Some have large percentages of legumes, iirc.


Scientia Praecepta

Your ignorance is profound, disguised only by your self proclaimed knowledge of science.

Global warming, if it’s happening at all, will be largely confined to northern and southern hemispheres, and affect night time temperatures most. I believe even the IPCC state this.

This means billions of acres of frozen wasteland in Russia and Canada could be released from permafrost to fertile agricultural land. Meanwhile, equatorial regions will be left largely unaffected.

But without reliable fossil fuels, irrigation would not be possible. Wind turbines, and solar energy can’t possibly fulfil that need it’s too intermittent, amply demonstrated by it’s failure in the UK over the last week or so.

So whilst rice germination remains largely unaffected, the lack of irrigation of it will certainly kill it.

Mankind has overcome many challenges, including climate change which has brought both warmer and colder periods.

Your problem is, you are a pessimist with no faith in your fellow man’s ability to progress, so you cling on to any disaster scenario you can find to persuade others to maintain your personal status quo.

Tough titties mate, whether the world warms or cools, it’s going to change whether you like it or not. And I’m damn sure I would rather it got warmer than cooler.

Scientia Praecepta

Global warming, if it’s happening at all, will be largely confined to northern and southern hemispheres,
How many more hemispheres are there in climate fiction?

tom s

It must suck to live with a mind like yours.


Looks like an Asperger answer. Very common among people who are very good with numbers and facts, and not so good with people and putting things together. Every nerd like me is a little bit Asperger, but then, there’s a limit which you should not pass.


“How many more hemispheres are there in climate fiction?”
In climate fiction, that is, in IPCC work, Earth is flat, homogeneous a single region), not rotating:
comment image
So “hemisphere” isn’t a proper concept. Somehow still used, we just wonder why.


You forgot to mention that in climate buffoonery, that is, in denier’s drivel, GHE anyway violates the second principle of thermodynamics. Would make you sound even more sciency.


Scientia Praecepta

That’s the best criticism of my comment you can find?

Your school report this year will read “Must try harder”.


HotScot gets schooled and that’s your retort? Talk about “must try harder”, you should take some of your own medicine. Here’s a restatement of what you said: “Global warming, if it happens, will be limited to the entire planet. However, on the bright side, it will not affect the moon or other planets in the solar system.” Hahahahahaha


You call that schooling. Your standards are, as usual, abysmally low.
Pointing out a syntax mistake. If that’s the best you got, then as usual, you got nothing.


Syntax? Sure, it was his arrangement of the words, rather than the words themselves. You provide good entertainment value, I’ll give you that.


As usual, Chris has nothing to add to the conversation, but he does serve as a distraction.


Ummm…Hot Scot actually made sense, you and Science guy are clueless clowns.


There are also the western and eastern hemispheres…
Maybe they won’t warm or cool.

That said I do think HotScot and article is right in that fossil fuels played a major role in food production, famine and slavery eradication, allowing more humans to have a decent life etc… as well as an unprecedented world population rise by the way.

It is ridiculous from a scientific point of view to contend the idea that renewables sources of energy might any soon replace fossil fuels in particular in agriculture and transportation.

Yet it is at least as laughable to claim on the other side of the fence that since they cannot yet be replaced technically, AGW must be wrong. That’s even hilarious from a logical perspective.

Alan Tomalty

That is not what any skeptic is claiming We are all saying that there is no evidence that CO2 causes warming.


You’re all wrong and this article is certainly not evidence against CO2 causing warming. Nor is the article about “annoying” wind turbines.

Jim Masterson

How many more hemispheres are there in climate fiction?

I don't usually reply to trolls, because it's a waste of time and effort. But this statement is so nonsensical, that it needs to be responded to.

Any plane that passes through the center of a sphere creates a great circle where it intersects with that sphere. A great circle divides a sphere into two hemispheres. Since there are an infinite number of ways to pass an arbitrary plane through the center of a sphere, there are an infinite number of great circles. Therefore there are an infinite number of ways to divide a sphere into hemispheres. The equator is only one such example.



Therefore there are an infinite number of ways to divide a sphere into hemispheres.

Brilliant !
Yet if ” GW is largely confined to northern and southern hemispheres” according to HotScot” could you tell us which out of your”infinite number” of hemispheres it would not be largely confined to ?

Jim Masterson

. . . could you tell us which out of your”infinite number” of hemispheres it would not be largely confined to ?

None. But trolls don’t usually deal in more than 2 dimensions, so I know the concept would be hard for you.



So instead of just admitting the guy made a mistake, you jump off into esoteric wordsmithing. Here’s the definition of the Northern hemisphere: “The Northern Hemisphere is the half of Earth that is north of the Equator.” Similarly for the Southern. The two combined = the entire planet. No prattling on about infinite number of hemispheres can obscure that fact.

Jim Masterson

Chris June 8, 2018 12:29 pm
. . . esoteric wordsmithing.

But I got a “brilliant” comment from the other troll. I take my compliments when and where I can get them.



We have admitted the guy made a mistake. Where we differ from you is your apparent belief that this mistakes amounts to anything.
That and the fun we are having seeing how agitated we can get you over it.


“Global warming, if it’s happening at all, will be largely confined to northern and southern (most portion or the) hemispheres, and affect night time temperatures most.”

Read it again.

(what would you do without MarkW? Seriously, you should be thanking him for the small dopamine boosts you get when you hit the return key.)


One thing I’ve noticed about this troll.
He uses big words, and lots of insults, but never actually gets down to data or even a rational argument.



Not much of a troll if he can’t make mincemeat of anything I post.


Similar to you, MarkW. Except that you use small words.


I see my personal troll figured out how to turn on his computer again, or perhaps his mommy helped him.

You see what you want to see, not what’s there. No change there either.


Another original insult from MarkW. Given the age of that insult, that makes you around 75.


58 actually. Regardless novelty would be lost on you anyway.


58 and living on WUWT. Sad.


A few dozen posts a day is hardly living here.
The larger number is from the fact that I have been posting here from just about day one.
On the other hand, I see you are spending as much time here as I am.


A few dozen a day is pretty close to living there. I comment on roughly one article out of 5, and often don’t comment for weeks. This article is a particularly attractive one because anything Viv Forbes writes is full of ludicrous claims. So no, you can proudly call yourself the #1 commenter on WUWT – wear it with pride!


this is boring Trolls exist to bore people to death,perhaps.

John Dilks

And you, about 7.


There are no rational arguments for CAGW believers, I mean for crying out loud they have to manipulate and make up data just to make their point.

Ben of Houston

As multiple studies have shown, higher CO2 increases water efficiency of plants. It’s not a direct increase, especially if they are limited in some other way, but it will increase growth rate. Any small child with a basic knowledge of equilibria will know this.

Rice won’t germinate at 35C? First off, I question how the crop has survived in equatorial countries for millennia if this is the case (Texas routinely gets and stays over 95F for weeks at a time, and we are nowhere near the hottest region).

Secondly, you fail to note that the vast majority of warming will be concentrated in cold sections of the planet. The equator is expected to warm essentially none due to the actions of water vapor. Russia and Antarctica will bear the increase, especially in minimum temperatures.

Finally, to say that the world has never changed temperature more than 0.004C/decade is either willfully ignorant of basic history (as leaving an ice age would take longer than some whole ice ages) or a flat-out lie.

Quit denying very basic science to support your agenda.


Ben of Houston

“to say that the world has never changed temperature more than 0.004C/decade”

It went from around 14°C last night to 21°C today. By Scientia Praecepta judgement, I shouldn’t be posting this.


Mary Brown

Scientia Praecepta says

“All extant life evolved or adapted under Cₐ = 160-300ppmV over the past 3.5Mya. We now have elevated Cₐ = 410ppmV conditions or nearly 50% above natural.”

Good point and I’m concerned a bit by this but seems to me the natural world is far more adaptable than environmental activists assume. They have this impression that everything is so fragile but evolution has ensured the opposite. The adaptable survive and thrive. Those pesky humans are thriving.

“:Projections for conditions under increased atmospheric CO₂ (drought) make this problematic for crops. In addition, research is showing that rice will not germinate at 35°C”

Depends on who is making the “projections”. Current funded “science” usually starts with a doomsday conclusion and the research is designed to prove that. Also, I see very little evidence that hot high temperatures are increasing in tropical areas. Most of the warming has been in winter, at night, and in the north. I would argue those places wouldn’t mind a little warming.

Sam C Cogar

Scientia Praecepta – June 8, 2018 3:42 am

All extant life evolved or adapted under Cₐ = 160-300ppmV over the past 3.5Mya.

Scientia Praecepta, your “perception” of what is “scientific” fact pretty much defines your utter ignorance and miseducation in/of the natural sciences.

Thus, you probably have no interest whatsoever ….. in knowing that the last time atmospheric CO2 ppm quantities were as low as they have been during this Interglacial was during the Carboniferous and Permian Period of 350 Mya ….. which is 100 times farther removed than your puny claim of 3.5 Mya.

And the dramatic increase in CO2 to 1,600 ppm (@ 250 Mya) and then to 2,500 ppm (@ 175 Mya) is what permitted the evolution and world dominance of …… “The Age of the Dinosaurs” from about 252 Mya to about 66 Mya …… with average global temperatures of 25°C.

And PS, …… during the Cambrian “Explosion” Period, ….. CO2 ppm quantities ranged between 4,800 and 7,000 ppm.

Talk about projection disorder! After talking about “false claims” made by the essay, Scientia Praecepta proceeds to make many obvious false claims. Here’s the best one

All extant life evolved or adapted under Cₐ = 160-300ppmV over the past 3.5Mya.

Most of earths history had many times higher CO2 than we have now. But I guess all those Alarmist blogs you read never mentioned that to you did they…

Bruce Cobb

So how’s that Climate Koolade? Good? Because they must have spiked yours with extra Stupid.

John Dilks

I see the Stupid Person with the big vocabulary is back. SP’s information is still BS.


I think we may have found the dumbest person on the internet.

John Hardy

Zazove “… from a coal industry shill…” that is an ad hominem attack made worse by the fact that you have no way of knowing if it is true.


In the mind of a true believer anyone who disagrees with them is evil. The only question being exactly which evil are they guilty of.
He doesn’t demand that the coal industry be outlawed, that makes him a shill for the coal industry.


Of course it’s possible to know. There’s a thing called Google search. Try it sometime.


Or just go directly to rationalwiki, if your goal is to find your expectations filled, Chris.


Profound insight, Hugs, the information can be found in more than one place. Gold Star for you today!


Chris, good thing you are thinking of and responding to someone else.

If you aren’t careful you will find that you can’t even hit the return key without thinking of Mark … even you are on line with some one else. At that point the dopamine release will become less and less … you’ll be like one of those little monkeys that just can’t stop the repetitive motions, even you don’t get anything out of it. return, return, return.

(If this does indeed happen to you, you can try to fool your brain by using your thumb on the return key … it might work for you).


Very profound, Don, thanks for the heads up.


@zazove Do you F8cking clowns even bother to study history before trying to opine on it?

“Dozens of famines occurred during the warm, 20th century, CO2 soaked, fossil fuel era.” Calling it CO2 soaked is doubtful, but the general gist is true.

“The vast majority caused by drought or war.”

Decidedly NOT true. Drought, deluge, and government abuse all outweigh war. As they usually have.

“As they always have been.”

Biotch Please.

I’m an amateur historian and wargamer who has played from the Summer and Autumn Period in China to the near future, and studied this stuff for fun. I’ve probably forgotten more about history than you will ever know, hell, forgotten more about Agriculture than you ever will know. And I’m by no means a specialist in agriculture.

But I know for a FACT that the idea that “drought and war” have caused the vast majority of famines in history is ABSOLUTE CODSWALLOP.

The big famine causers in history go something like this, in descending order.

1. Drought. The mother of famines, as you yourself inadvertently indicate. You can’t get enough food for the populace if your crops fail and the cascading effect upends your economy. And that mostly comes from too little water.

2. Deluge. Similar to 1, but in the opposite direction. When there’s too much rain or river flood that it spoils the crop, resulting in similar famine. You can go back all the way to looking at the Min River, ie “China’s Sorrow”, hundreds of years before Yeshua the Christ to see that. We also see it with the Bengal Famine of 1944 (coupled with Japanese military aggression and British bureaucratic sloth).

3. Blights. I’m using this as a general term for disasters targeting certain crops. Such as Potato blight. At the best of times, this stuff will massively undercut the diet of the average joe schmoe, make them dependent on other foodstuffs to meet the usual calorie intake, and cut down on the margin of safety before famine hits by THAAAT Much.

In more tragic cases- ESPECIALLY when there is mass cultivation and reliance on one or a handful of staple crops including one that gets hit- it usually tosses that margin of safety out into the garbage and causes STAGGERING DEATH. As it did in Ireland during the 19th century.

4. Animal Blight. Similar to 3 but hitting a more “luxury” part of the diet and so doing less damage on THAT front, but often causing even greater damage in OTHER ways. Because in addition to unbalancing diets by undercutting fat and protein intake, it also guts the logistical cords keeping a Pre-modern society alive.

Fewer animals means less and slower land based travel. Less and slower field cultivation. Less and slower transport capability.

And if you don’t have enough of a margin for error to begin with, this can be a multi whammy.

5. Capacity Exhaustion. The Classical “Tragedy of the Commons” and Overhunting, like the Herring Hike of 17th century Europe. Humans eat too much of a food supply that they cripple its ability to recover, and in doing so undercut their own supply. Usually accompanied with a major boom in population.

But supply and demand will be balanced out come hell or high water, and if demand so radically outstrips supply there will be forces that PUSH demand down to within the bounds of supply. In this case usually famine whittling down the number of hungry humans trying to get supplied. Hence why the cycle of overfishing is such a problem, because in order to keep meeting market demand providers will go out on such a limb to get new catches to meet the existing (and usually growing) supply. But eventually the mixture of the logistical load plus the oversoaring demand will reach a breaking point that will result in red ink, and hence famine.

We’ve only just began to realize this and take steps to counter it, especially with the development of fisheries and scientific design for our foodstuffs. But it is still a problem.

6. Human Deficit: Basically, Not Enough People to in the harvests that exist or create new ones, usually a trailing indicator of the ravages of plague or famine.

The Black Death is perhaps one of the most iconic examples of this, as we have reports from China to India to Europe of fields going fallow for want of people to cultivate them. There just is not enough manpower make the wheels on the cart go round ,or to make new ones if they fall off.

Now, you might go and say “BUT TURTLER, if there are fewer people to work the fields, doesn’t this mean that there’s less demand for food anyway and so famine will be averted as the decreased population eats enough from the diminished base?”

In theory, Jagoff.

And in theory, Communism and Carbon Credits work.

The PROBLEM with this is disconnect. The places where the decreased Demand will be most acute will usually be different from the places that will see the most acute Decrease in Supply.

If you’re Ivan of Generic-Gorod and you’re living in the years after the Time of Troubles and your former home has been laid to waste by famine to the point where almost nobody is left alive, you can go onto your dead neighbor’s land and farm, and mostly get along.

On the OTHER Hand, if you’re a city or town like Moscow or Novgorod and the motherfarqing agricultural areas that you’re relying on to grow the food to feed you are underpopulated, YOU’RE PROBABLY GOING TO STARVE TO DEATH unless you…

A: Have a friendly source that is willing to supply you with the stuff you lost from your usual sources.

B: Have a friendly source ABLE To do so. And in times of widespread famine that is BY NO MEANS a safe bet.

This is also why the Ethiopian famine lingered a bit after the Derg that was its primary driver was overthrown; because there was a big layover between when the old Stalinists got the axe and when the foodstuffs from outside came in.

It’s only AFTER these seven things that we finally, FINALLY get to…

7. Human supply shortfalls

This is another one of the big city killers. This is different (though obviously very closely tied into) both Human Deficit and War because this is not necessarily the result of dedicated conflict or catastrophic disaster.

It certainly can be, but it might not necessarily do so. It might be pirates stealing from the Egyptian grain transports to Rome. Or it might even not be the result of malice at all, but unfavorable winds blowing supplies off course or news from a market leading to a bunch of merchants to decide not to go to a certain place this year because there isn’t enough profit to justify it. Resulting in shortfall.

And particularly in a world before instant messaging or speedy global transportation, this happened a lot of times and had more dire consequences than you might imagine. For starters, this helped eradicate the Norse population on Greenland in the late Viking Age, because Greenland was so damn far away and didn’t attract many people.

And finally, after all of this, we get to

8. War.

This is distinct from “Human Deficit” because while War is obviously a grand way to cause a human deficit, war’s about troops ravaging territory, stealing or burning stuff, and killing people. Human deficit is about the lack of people leading to the same results due to neglect.

And it’s ALSO worth noting that War is ironically one of the LESS devastating of these 8 things, at least in terms of scope. It usually is FOCUSED.

That is, troops will seige a city or town or fortress and in doing so induce highly regionalized hunger in THAT place they’re besieging and maybe in the areas trying to support them. But not wider than that.

Scorched Earth campaigns like Edward Woodstock’s Grand Chevauchees could and frequently did utterly cripple entire regions for years, but afterwards the survivors would usually get back to work rebuilding, often with the help of colonists and supplies from their home government (for instance, the relief given by the French Crown to help rebuild the Languedoc, or Toyotomi Hideyoshi or Otto von Bismark’s supplies of food to the garrisons that capitulated to them.)

And a lot of times, famine tends to TRAIL BEHIND war slightly rather than be concurrent with it, because soldiers are still people. And in a pre-modern era most of them are agricultural workers and a majority of the rest have some idea. So if all else fails they have some capacity to work the land themselves. Usually in a subpar way compared to dedicated local farmers, but subpar is better than nothing.

And finally, there’s the fact that War is a relative novelty to human history. Violent conflict isn’t, if anything it is the norm. But war on a grand or even limited scale isn’t.

Especially when you realize that for most of human history we were hunter-gatherer tribes roaming around the world’s continents looking for food. And often failing, hideously.

Compare the dates between the emergence of anatomically modern humans against the rise of the Fertile Crescent and Indus civilizations and try lecturing me about the textbook pitched battles our species fought during the big gap between them.

Now, as you might have guessed a lot of these things can be interrlinked or related. For instance, war can be a big cause of supply interruptions. Crop blight can help spread disease with weakened immune systems. Drought can make a deluge later much worse. A deluge that breaks the canals and drowns a dam will destroy the water supply for a resulting drought. Et cetera. Et Cetera. Et Cetera. And the story of the Little Ice Age and plenty of others like it are the story of these kinds of whirlwind effects bashing into each other and energizing in a horrible, horrible way.

But I tried to list relatively “standalone” examples, ones that were sufficient to cause famine in isolation of others.

Now, what has the modern fossil fuel economy gotten rid of?

Well it’s all but freaking erased problems 3, 4, 6, and 7 in the developed world. Not because blights are nonexistent or droughts do not happen, but because they are MUCH MUCH Easier to manage with backup crop yields, connections to foreign regions, and so on. Hence why a crop failure from my native California means a price increase, not famine. Because Poland, the Yellow River Valley, Florida, and so on are still producing their crops in parallel.

Likewise it means that humans are much more able to observe the supply of foodstuffs, stuff going into it, and manpower and respond adroitly and TIMELY to them.

In addition to this, it has seriously undercut the problems of 1, 2, and 5. Forfive it’s largely because we help replenish or grow capacities of other stuff almost as fast if not more than we deplete them.

If there’s a shortage of Wide Ocean Mackerel, we start Mackerel Farms. If the soil is slightly infertile now, we dump fertilizer in. Et Cetera.

For one and two it’s because we have better infrastructure to support them. Deluge ruin your crops? Well that sucks, time to buy stuff from somewhere else on credit.

Suffering from drought?

Here. Have some water from our reservoirs we built for this exact situation, and get emergency shipments.

Which leaves War and the new devil of conscious government intervention to be the big, unalloyed evils to food capacity.

And elsewhere in the developing or underdeveloped world, the immensely cheap surpluses of food and supplies still kill 3, 4, and 6 dead. Which is already a MAJOR improvement.

But of course, people will be stupid and assume they know what they don’t.
5. Human capitol loss.


Additionally, CO2 levels didn’t start to rise dramatically until the later half of the 20th century. I thought even a troll like Z and SP would know that. Seeing that they are self declared experts.

Both your analysis and Viv’s are very insightful and mostly accurate.
What both fail to emphasize is that famines are rarely because there is a shortage of food but rather because the food is not where the need is.
Why is it not?
#1 Those in need have not the cash or credit to buy.
#2 Adequate transportation is not available.
#3 Governments or groups (yes that can include greenies) deliberately impose or advocate policies that limit or eliminate supply.
#4 Because the problem may be largely localized, the rest of the world may not even be aware a problem exists.
#5 Put on your thinking cap and fill this one yourself. Why do some countries, some regions or some individual families sometimes suffer a shortage of supply while all around is abundance? The list could get pretty long.

All formatting seems to be lost until you hit the “read more” button.

Gerard O'Dowd,M.D.

Turtler: Thank you for the historical analysis of famine and the multiple interrelated factors that are associated with it. Your comments about the Great Hunger in Ireland in the 1840’s due to the potato blight struck a nerve; the reliance on a monoculture Irish diet was largely a by product of big families, population density, small Farm sizes, and the economic need to sell other protein rich sources of food to pay the rents on lease hold farms to Anglo land owners. Failing to do so would result in eviction from ones home and loss of ones livelihood and means of survival in a backward economy without many other options of making a living. The tragedy of the Irish famine and its costly toll in lives and the emigrations that were its consequence are primarily related to the wet weather and recurring episodes of Potato Blight that crested and spread rapidly during those terrible years, in addition to the factors that caused the Irish to rely on this one source of protein-poor calories while being forced to export food across the Irish Sea; but also to the delayed and inadequate humanitarian response of the British government to come to the assistance of the Irish people whom they regarded as illiterate, superstitious, heathens, Papists, an ethnically inferior race, and a historically bothersome and rebellious one to boot. Elements of both ethnic cleansing and British military-political objectives played a part in the Great Hunger. There may not have been open warfare at the time but one could hardly call it peace or reciprocal free trade between friendly countries; and it is difficult to say what factor played the biggest role in the death toll: political, technical, or biological.

It would be an interesting computer modeling simulation to test the various historical factors of the Irish famine and compare the mortality due to the same potato blight in an era of modern farming techniques, free trade, and a more modern economy. What are the risks today of famine for the Republic of Ireland?

I have read various estimates of the size of the Irish population pre famine and post famine; and the estimates of the proportion of the population who died of starvation or secondary illness, as well as the numbers that emigrated to balmier climes. If memory serves, out of 3.5-5.0 million pre famine, about 1/3 died of famine and secondary illnesses, 1/3 emigrated, and 1/3 survived and remained. Memorable odd numbers. I don’t think accurate numbers will ever be known for sure.

Thanks for this masterly overview of the causes of famines. Viv Forbes


Once again the troll fails to actually read the article it is critiquing.
Yes there were famines, the author mentioned them.
They were almost 100% caused by the policies of man, some deliberate, some not. None were caused by weather.

tom s

You disgust me. Liar leftist idiot.

I get that you are annoyed by the oversimplifications, minor though they are, of the article, especially since they run counter to your own particular worldview. It is mindful, though, of the frustration most of the readers on this site experience on a regular basis as they confront the far more insidious oversimplifications of climate Alarmism.

But you cannot coherently argue with the central premise, which is this: We humans have it better than ever, and this glut of comfort and plenty is due almost entirely to the cheap and reliable energy provided by fossil fuels, either directly or indirectly.

Of course there is downside, in the form of increased human population. And the minor extra CO2 we are responsible for may be having some measurable effect on the climate, though you could argue that, on balance, the effect is a positive one. But if you are the worrisome kind, you might also be concerned that we are setting ourselves up for an eventual Grand Collapse that pretty much erases all the good that will have a accrued. Fair enough.

However, your contention that drought will become more common does not hold water, pun intended. As you may recall, a warmer world is a wetter one. If anything drought becomes less common in a warming world, not more so. In Central Texas, USA, where I live, there is ten percent more rainfall now, on average, than there was at the beginning of the twentieth century, along with three-ish degrees F warmer temperatures. The wet and dry zones of the world will shift around some, as they always do. But in response humans will do as they always do: Move. Problem solved.

Change always means losers and winners. I would contend that the complex, interconnected, highly advanced, safe and comfortable society that fossil fuels have enabled produces far more winners than losers, though, even if there is a minor climatic alteration as a result.

Without question, the human misery quotient is lower than ever, mostly thanks to fossil fuels. You are, presumably, human, and so this ought to resonate positively with you. And if it doesn’t, that says a great deal about you.


Which climate model and which pathway are you using to predict a shifting monsoon which will cause drought, etc? What’s the predicted CO2 concentration in that model by 2100?

Mike M

Your claim doesn’t bear close scrutiny –

comment image?cb=1390929674

Alan Tomalty

To follow Zazove’s logic Famines only were invented in ~ 1950 after the start of heavy fossil fuel use Since 80% of our energy use comes from fossil fuels, Zazove would have us git rid of fossil fuels and VOILA no more famines or droughts. Zazove has found a way to conquer nature. He is the coming of the 2nd MESSIAH……………………………….We bow down to you THE GREAT ZAZOVE. We are not worthy. We are not worthy.We are not worthy.We are not worthy.We are not worthy

Leo Smith

But the biggest expansion in food production started with the invention of the coal-powered steam engine – the iron and steel smelted with coal, and the engines, generators and machines powered by coal and then oil, created a food and population explosion.

I have to take issue with that.

And with the general assertion that poverty and starvation are relatively new.

In fact we know from the archeology that the first big leap in population was when man learned to herd and build stock proof fences rather than hunt.

Then when he learnt to plant fodder crops there was another leap., and finally the development of cereals which could be milled into flours heralded another leap in population and the appearance of ‘grinding poverty’ – a short life full of toil with incipient famines.

Read Jared Diamond’s views* on this – they are interesting even if you dont go along with all of them

Poverty in the sense of famine hunger diseases and starvation is simply the result of more people than the current resources and means of exploiting them can support ion comfort: In many ways we could lose 85% of todays populations and the remainder would live better lives – think of Germany post War.

That this scenario is being spun by some Greens as a desirable future, is as deplorable as it gets. Nevertheless it probably is a realistic scenario.

I am not a Cornucopian. I do not believe in limitless resources. History is littered with the evidence on societies that believed this, and were brought to book by the failure of that notion.

I do believe in Malthus’ analysis – its been shown to be correct in the past, and it will prove correct once again. Humanity expands to fill the resource base, and when the resource base shrinks, so too will populations. In unimaginable horror.

However I see no point in deliberately limiting resources to kill off one’s population. That is perhaps even more reprehensible than that Nice Mr Adolf managed.

We are short of many things. Meaningful work, in a society where machines have replaced humans in all but the most skilled jobs. In many countries, clean fresh water. In many countries, and adequate and affordable diet.

But we are not short of energy. There is an almost unlimited supply of fissile and fertile nuclear fuel at a cost that is well within viable if the primary cost of building a nuclear power station were de-regulated.

Equipped with that we could perhaps support far more population than we have now.

The question is, is that the limiting factor, and do we actually want to?

Europeans and the Japanese have self-limited their birthrate to below replacement. But this has produced a demographic crisis – debt economies cannot function as they have done on a falling population, so the import of third world breeding populations has been spun as morally desirable.

We are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, as the saying goes. The debt levels of Europe and the West are unsustainable without rising population to raid for the interest, and rising population cannot be maintained without massive deployment of nuclear power, which is o[opposed by the Greens..who are also in Cavour of mass immigration.

I think they want a a war – a bloody genocidal war in which tribe kills tribe. Certainly the documented increase in ‘street crime’ which is not being addressed by the police for political reasons, seems to indicate that this is where we are headed.

There is a tendency to think, to even hope, that someone somewhere is in control of all of this, and their minds could be changed.

I fear myself after a long exposure to human beings at all levels of society, that there is in fact no one in control. Note even George Soros, or the Koch Brothers.

Globalisation fails because its too complex to manage.

Everyone is working the angle that presents itself to their particular narrow experience set, and the result is what we call here a ‘right bugger’s muddle’. Green ideology itself appeals to those who are not terribly smart, but are educated to think that they are.

So I will leave you with a thought for the day, As Climate skeptics you will have come to appreciate how much the vagaries of climate impact on humanity, and how little the activities of humanity have to do with it. Reflect also on the forces that bind and drive societies, and cultures and ways of life, and on how complex and non-linear they are – far more than climate – and how little we can actually affect events.

We dare to think that the actions of great men, or women, good or evil, have an impact..and yet without there being some groundswell in the tides of men, what could they have done? It was generalized resentment against British Rule that led to the emergence of great leaders to oppose the colonial status and to lead the USA towards independence. And that generalized resentment had as much to do with the difficulty of managing a colony months away by ship. But that doesn’t go in the History Book of Glorious Leaders, does it?
Globalization failed then. It’s great for a certain sort of efficiency buts its too big to succeed in a crisis.

This article is broadly correct…but what difference will it make?

If it’s not lack of access to energy that kills billions, it will probably be something else… Guns, germs, steel…

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Humanity will as it always does, blunder on to a new way of survival, or it will die out.

Many civilizations have before. Globalization will probably end up like Chichen Itza, replete with monuments to a culture and a ruling class that have ceased to exist.

Meanwhile the Mayans live on, in their hovels, scratching a living. Those that are left.

*e.g. “Guns, Germs, Steel”.

If people had any idea of the difficulty of governing even a small village of mostly similar people, they would reject out of hand the idea of governing a planet full of very diverse people.

Sam C Cogar

Me thinks there is a big difference between ….. “the first big leap in (human) population” …….. and ……. “the biggest expansion in food production”.

In actuality, the latter is responsible for the former.

The importing of the potato to Ireland triggered a population increase …… as well as the lack of potatoes triggered a population decrease via death and out-migration.

Paul Penrose

There is one resource that is limitless as long as there are people: human ingenuity. This is what has saved us in the past and what will save us in the future.


Good article, but quote

people ate horse flesh


I understand this is a serious issue for englishmen who probably rather eat a holy cow than a horse, but it still always makes me smile. I’m pretty certain my great-grandfather would have been very very happy had he had some horse meat in the midst of a serious famine 150 years ago. But all well, he didn’t die. He was just sold in an auction to the local vicary, which, incredibly, was one of the best options available.

I wonder if I have some meetwurst in the fridge…

(The dark side is, that as the religion of the great peace approaches, the amount of ‘vegetarian’ and ‘halal’ food is increasing, and so particles of pork are considered contamination, not food.)

((Oh yes, and next some people will ride the cannibal card. You may not complain on kosher, halal, or people finding horse disgusting here.))

hint: don’t EVER feed pet ferrets horse meat.. the little buggers will decline all else in favour of equine flesh from then on ! A local pet store owner and former butcher sold fresh horse meat and I confess I acquired a taste for it, after many years on a no-horse diet I introduced my wife to some (there’s a butcher in Perth who sells it now) and she declared my horse stew the most delicious thing she’d ever eaten. In naively relating her newly discovered taste to friends she learned her enthusiasm was directly proportional to the disgust of the uninitiated. Moral of the story: If you can’t get horse meat easily – do not sample it, for you will live a life of longing thereafter.

Steve W

I objected to the phrase from the other direction.

Horse meat used to be very commonly eaten here as well, the last butcher ‘officially’ selling it was somewhere in Yorkshire in the 1950s (I think 1958, but could easily have made that up…).

Joe Friday

Don’t forget cannibalism, we been told about the Donner Party that perished in the Sierra’s. But cannibalism has been around forever. Famine brings out the worst humanity has to offer to survive.

Mihaly Malzenicky

We have to choose, either fried or hungry. But it is also true that the elimination of fosil fuels is no longer sufficient, only new technologies can save us, like geoengineering, fusion and LENR.

Mihaly Malzenicky—” elimination of fosil fuels is no longer sufficient,”
Please show some actual evidence that man’s CO2 is causing serious global warming.
And don’t make the usual climate alarm industry’s errors:
— Unusual weather occurrences are not evidence of its cause
— Correlation is not causation
— An expert’s assertion is not evidence.
— Government assertions are not evidence.
— Consensus is not evidence
— “What else could it be” is not evidence
And, don’t ignore Basic facts:
— Man emits 4% of annual CO2 emissions, nature 96%
— CO2 causes only 9-26% of the warming. Water vapor with clouds 66% to 85%
— Ice core data show CO2 follows temperature – a cause must happen BEFORE the effect
— Climate is cyclical including short term, 1000 year and longer cycles
— Its been warmer in the past (and cooler too.)
— There have been more (and less) storms in the past.
— There have been more (and less) floods/droughts in the past.
— Trillions of dollars are being made from the climate scare


Since fried isn’t going to happen, lets worry about keeping hunger at bay.

John in NZ

If it is a choice between fried chicken and going hungry,

I’m going to fry the chook.

Ben of Houston

No. We don’t. The warming is going to be quite small, a few degrees at most, and that will be concentrated in cold regions and increased minimums. Nothing that we can’t easily adapt to.


The tiny bit of warming that might actually happen will actually be good for agriculture.


In the modern era, famine is wholly caused by disruption of the food distribution networks, due to political collapse, or deliberately to use starvation as a weapon. Note: in the modern era, i.e. post industrial revolution.

Mike M

No, not “wholly”, over population can also cause starvation when the land simply cannot produce enough food for the number of people living there. Syria is the perfect example of that. There are too many of them and they’ve pumped their aquifer almost dry. FF increases crop yields immensely but there is still a limit.

On the bright side, high GDP via FF use induces population stability.

D. J. Hawkins

Larry means “wholly” in the global sense. Globally, enough food is produced to keep everyone reasonably well-fed. It’s getting the surplus to the deficit that’s the issue.


Completely bizarre article. Linking lack of famines to fossil fuels? Please. The vast majority of historical famines were due to drought or war or cold. Not about availability of fossil fuels. Now, it is true that fossil fuels allowed farming to scale from small plots to hundreds of hectares per person, and the food distribution system. But to imply that reducing fossil fuel in the food industry use is going to lead to famine with zero evidence provided? Laughable.


There’s a lot of evidence that the mechanisation of farming increased farm productivity the world over.

But there’s no evidence that human emissions of CO2 have increased the planet’s temperature; unless you count the fraudulent charts that NOAA, BOM & the MET Office put out. When the only data supporting your claim is data that you falsified yourself, you have a terribly weak argument, Comrade Lysenko.


Why are you changing the topic, Hivemind? You’ve only brought up points irrelevant to the main thrust of the article. Fraudulent data at all organizations? Yeah, right, Comrade Tin Foil Hat. Don’t forget to mention Agenda 21, a UN takeover of the world, and rent seeking scientists in your next post.

Jacob Frank

Don’t forget “your all being paid by big oil”!!


He’s not changing the subject, just pointing out where you are wrong. Again.

tom s

So that sfc data is solid to within 1/10th of a degree world-wide eh?


@Chris “Completely bizarre article.”

No, your comment is.

” Linking lack of famines to fossil fuels? Please.”

Please get over yourself.

” The vast majority of historical famines were due to drought or war or cold. Not about availability of fossil fuels.

Are you seriously ignorant?

A: HOW THE FLYING FAJORK do you think we adjusted to COPE with drought, war, and cold?

We redirect or store water from other sources (sources we generally built or maintain using fossil fuels), if need by by outright asking for foreign aid and expecting it to not take a year for planes to start flying it in.

We heat shelters and places for growing up, such as building greenhouses or strapping insulated buildings to power plants.

We refrigerate other insulated buildings for the same reason.

And we make use of cold-or-heat resistant variants of plants (or ones that require less water), usually designed in advanced labs.

And we provide aid to war ravaged areas in accordance with customs and laws about just war.

And I could go on.


B: Actually, you’re missing about half a dozen factors in there, which I helped outline. Starting with the opposite of drought, deluge.

“Now, it is true that fossil fuels allowed farming to scale from small plots to hundreds of hectares per person, and the food distribution system. But to imply that reducing fossil fuel in the food industry use is going to lead to famine with zero evidence provided? Laughable.”

No, what’s laughable is your inability to recognize how interconnected the economy is.

It’d be kind of freaking hard to run an efficient logistic chain without trucks, planes, trains and ships. Almost all of which require fossil fuels.

And that’s just one example.


While he is ignorant, in this case he’s just desperate to shift the focus.


Turtle – so what? So freaking what about planes, trucks and ships? I work with logistics companies, cold storage facilities and food companies every day, so I have a bit of an idea about the food supply chain.

Viv’s article implies – with zero evidence provided – that if an action happened that affected the supply chain, it’s somehow the fault of green policies or green technology advocates. He states: “A natural disaster affecting key Asian oil refineries or a naval blockade of the fleet of tankers carrying petroleum products to Australia would stop road transport of food to Australian cities in a few days.” He then follows that with “Greens are inviting famine, humanity’s ancient enemy, into our cities via the green door.”

So if, for example, China were to blockade the routes of oil tankers to Australia, it would be the fault of green energy advocates/policies. What complete rubbish. When the US suffered gas lines during the Arab oil embargo, they built a strategic oil reserve – that’s how the US fixed their fossil fuel supply chain exposure. It’s Australia’s fault, not green energy advocates, that they have not done the same thing in the 40 years since the Arab oil embargo. Green policies have nothing to due with Australia (or any other countries’) supply chain risk for fossil fuel movement or food movement.


Wow, quite a dissertation there.
Too bad none of it is relevant.

BTW, is this the point where I proclaim that since you didn’t put a link in that post that it is therefore wrong?


No evidence provided as to how my points aren’t relevant. Another fail for 50,000 foot debater MarkW.


I gave exactly the same amount of evidence as you did.


I gave quite a bit of evidence, you gave none. Your kind of sad sack posting works well on a fawning skeptic site like WUWT, not so well elsewhere. No wonder you live on here……

mass transit of populations of food delivery is independent of energy supply? hmm..


Another troll who prefers to re-write history rather than deal with the actual facts.
It’s the availability of fossil fuels that have eliminated famines that were once caused by drought or cold.

Reducing fossil fuel use may not decrease food production but only if reasonable alternatives are available. That would be to the energy source as I do not believe alternatives to food are possible. Reasonable alternatives for fossil fuel use in agriculture are nearly as difficult to imagine. That leaves increased efficiencies which farmers already strive for in the name of sustained profits.


@ Chris …your reading comprehension sucks. The main point of the post is that a change in weather patterns such as has occurred in past history could lead to food shortages for a portion of the world.

A shortage of fossil fuels would also have a negative impact as all food products require energy to grow transport and store the products, also getting foods to their market requires energy. A shortage of energy in that regard would impact the price of food products swiftly. Those who could least afford the cost would suffer the most. The only somewhat laughable aspect here is your deluded comment.

Sam C Cogar

Chris -June 8, 2018 3:28 am

But to imply that reducing fossil fuel in the food industry use is going to lead to famine with zero evidence provided? Laughable.

Chris, apparently you have never heard of the …. World Food Programme.

Assisting 80 million people in around 80 countries each year, the World Food Programme (WFP) is the leading humanitarian organization saving lives and changing lives, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience.

On any given day, WFP has 5,000 trucks, 20 ships and 92 planes on the move, delivering food and other assistance to those in most need. Every year, we distribute approximately 12.6 billion rations at an estimated average cost per ration of US$ 0.31
Read more @

Chris, ….. do ya pose the WFP can deliver all that food via “horse n’ wagon” to avert that “food famine”?

Ben of Houston

Chris. None of our mechanized farming equipment can run on things other than fossil fuels.
I don’t think there is a single electric tractor on the planet.
Almost all of our transportation infrastructure is based on fossil fuels. There is not a single cargo ship on the planet that is not fossil-fired, and almost all train and truck traffic is also fossil fired. Without our equipment, we would need an order of magnitude more farmers. We simply don’t have the land available to go back to our pre-industrial efficiencies.

I really don’t see how this is arguable.

More than anything else, this article is a counterpoint to an argument that isn’t listed here, but has gained significant rhetorical traction, eliminating fossil fuels immediately. Now, this won’t happen. Can’t happen. Because of these very points. Perhaps it’s just because you are a reasonable person that you aren’t thinking that. However, that is what some people are arguing for, a complete ban on fossil fuels.


Ben of Houston – thanks for writing a reasonable response. I work with shipping companies, logistic companies and freight forwarders on a daily basis. Pretty much every single one of these companies state that AGW is real, and that action needs to be taken – and they have made commitments on what they are going to do. In other words, voluntary actions based on what they believe will happen.

Are there some folks advocating for a complete ban on fossil fuels right now? Sure, even though that makes no sense and is not practical. And there are people advocating for a return to coal fired plants, such as Viv Forbes, the author of the above article. Even though we both know that makes zero economic sense in a world with plentiful, cheap natural gas.

So let’s not focus on the extremes, but rather on what the industry bodies themselves are saying. Let’s look at the sectors you mentioned. Shipping – IMO. They are committing to a 50% reduction in CO2 by 2050. That will involve a major shift to LNG powered vessels. It does not mean a world with no ships.

For farming, there is not a single regulatory body. However, farmers can do a lot with biomass and especially biogas – and it’s good for them as they operate on razor thin margins. Carbon soil enrichment is hugely beneficial to farmers as well (better soil quality as well as carbon offsets). So a farmer who takes action in those areas can, for example, generate their own methane to power their tractors, which already exist in the market:

For railroads, there are a lot of efforts underway:

So a lot of steps to reduce CO2 can be taken, and are being taken, in the supply chain.

Sam C Cogar

Chris, …..

I work with shipping companies, logistic companies and freight forwarders on a daily basis. Pretty much every single one of these companies state that AGW is real, and that action needs to be taken

Shur nuff, Chris, ……. they are simply stating the Politically Correct verbiage to APPEASE their employees, their competition, their customers, government inspectors, etc., etc.

But don’t you fret about those shipping companies, logistic companies and freight forwarders until they all start trading off all of their “fossil fuel vehicles” for brand new evo-friendly solar powered, sail powered and/or horse n’ oxen powered vehicles, …… and bicycles n’ wheelbarrows for short hauls.


Sam C Cogar, thanks for your post with zero supporting evidence.

Sam C Cogar

Chris, ….. you yourself provided the “supporting evidence” when you stated, …. to wit:

Pretty much every single one of these companies state that AGW is real, and that action needs to be taken

John Dilks

Chris, are you really as stupid as your paragraph reads? You really should read slower so that you can comprehend what you read.

Gerard O'Dowd

The evidence that Fossil fuel combustion as well as other cultural, demographic, genetic, biological, and technical variables that gave rise to the Industrial Revolution, were also responsible for the decline in the incidence of famine in Britain is largely indirect but no less salient. The demographic, economic, behaviorial evidence is correlative rather than causative.

The economic argument is based on the premise that fossil fuel use in steam and then internal combustion engines increased industrial productivity per worker, increased wages, that increased the overall standard of living and increased real incomes supporting an increased population while commodity prices including agricultural produce remained stable or declined relative to both GDP and family incomes.

It is an accepted historical fact that Fossil fuel usage mainly coal tied to the invention and development of the steam engine by James Watt is one of the key events that led to the Industrial Revolution starting in the mid 18th C into early 19th C. Prior to the IR the English population lived on subsistence incomes tied to agriculture, a subsistence diet, and for many centuries prior to the IR the English population was subjected to both periodic famines and epidemics and the demographic rules of Malthus applied I.e. The Malthusian Trap. Population slowly increased but real incomes did not from the 1200-1750’s.

Yet as illustrated by Figure 7.1 in A Troublesome Inheritance. Genes, Race, and Human History by Nicholas Wade 2014 starting in the mid 18thC coinciding with the start of the IR began an exponential increase in the real incomes of the English people. The exponential increase in real incomes which really took off after the beginning of the 20thC, was preceded by a three fold increase in population from 1770-1860. This was the first recorded break with the Malthusian Trap. Britain’s economy rose to preeminence as did its navy and empire during this period. Food production increased to support this population boom.What food the British could not grow themselves they could afford to buy in trade with other nations or their colonies. Some of this agricultural production was raised in Ireland and sent to Britain while the Irish starved during the Great Hunger in the 1840’s.

Coal mining, coal consumption for metallurgical and thermal uses, fossil fuel combustion rose dramatically, the number, efficiency, power of steam engines, their application in multiple industries starting with mining itself and transportation, worker productivity, agricultural produce, wages, standard of living, and population itself all began their concurrent exponential rise in England starting with the mid 18th C with real incomes increasing 600 fold by the year 2000. Prior to the start of the IR real incomes per capita from 1200 to 1750 AD hardly changed at all.

Fossil fuels enabled the rise in British industrial productivity, international trade, the laying of the the first trans Atlantic telegraph lines between the US and Britain, economic growth, real incomes, and standards of living which also coincided with a decrease in violent deaths, an increase in male and female literacy rates, thrift, propensity to work, and a decline in interest rates trends documented by Greg Clark at UC Davis based on data from 1200 AD.. Wade writes that These behaviorial indicators suggest that something in human nature and genetics itself changed perhaps selected for under pressure of the Malthusian Trap during the period from 1200-1750. Inheritance Data in family wills support that wealthier men left more children cited in their wills than poor men.

Many books have examined the social, technical, historical and even the IP legal arguments for the start of the IR in England. Wade makes the argument that the reasons for the start of IR in Britain and the exponential increase in real incomes and economic prosperity ultimately can be related to changes in the genetics of human nature itself that selected for behaviorial changes of the English people that occurred over the 5 centuries prior to the start of the IR. Wade’s argument based on Clark’s work is controversial in our age of political correctness and multiculturalism but his book’s demographic and economic statistical evidence is compelling nonetheless. But whether it was an ultimate change in human genetics of the English people or other cultural factors that begat the IR may remain in doubt but there can be no question that fossil fuel consumption increased and played a independent and significant part in enabling all the above to occur.


One could say that, in the U.S., mechanized farm equipment powered by fossil fuels vastly reduced the manual labor required for agriculture. Thus the use of fossil fuels, in effect, eliminated slavery.


That has been said often. Many ascribe the increase in mechanisation as being behind the American civil war. The North was becoming mechanised, while the South stuck to their slavery.


Your comment makes no sense. The northern states were free states many decades before the Civil War. Mechanization was not relevant as the states of the North were already free states long before mechanization.


As usual, Chris doesn’t even bother to understand the comment before arguing against it.

Andrew Cooke

Chris, time to open up your mind. Your brain washing is also making you illiterate.

First – the issue of the Civil War was slavery. Why did the south have slaves? Because they allowed for free planting and harvesting in the large cotton production facilities known as plantations. Cotton farming was exceptionally labor intensive. Slaves equaled free labor.

Second – The southern plantation owners grew extremely rich from the use of slavery. They were incentivized to not mechanize. The entire southern economy was built around the free labor.

Third – The North, which had its own issues, did mechanize, at least as much as possible, which is why it’s industrial capacity was far greater. At the start of the Civil War, the North had 22000 miles of railroad, the South only had 9500.

Quite plainly, if the South had seen slavery as the evil institution that it was and spent its money on better mechanization, maybe the Civil War could have been avoided. As it is, because their society was built on chattel slavery and not mechanization, they got their posteriers whupped.


The south had large areas of flat land with good weather. Great for big farms.
The north had hilly land with not so great weather. Lots of small farms, also the hills provided many streams that could provide hydro power for mills.
As a result the south specialized in agriculture and the north specialized in mechanization.
The war was partly about slavery, but it was also about trade policy. The north wanted to force the south to buy tools and equipment from the north, not from Britain. They also wanted to force the south to sell their cotton to the north, not to Britain.


Andrew, can you come back once you’ve taken a critical thinking class? I’ll explain again. hivemind said: ” Many ascribe the increase in mechanisation as being behind the American civil war. The North was becoming mechanised, while the South stuck to their slavery.”

The implication is that mechanization led to the North declaring war on the South. The only possible way there could be a connection between the two issues is because either a) the North mechanized and no longer needed slaves, enabling them to take a moral position without causing economic harm or b) once mechanization was in place, the South no longer had an economic excuse for having slaves and yet continued to do so, leading to war.

I explained earlier why (a) is not possible. The North banned slavery far, far earlier than the North mechanized. That only leaves (b). Except that the mechanization that took place was almost all unrelated to farming. It was for things like textile factories, which were located in New England – water powered looms and such.

The most important mechanical invention related to cotton, the dominant crop in the South, was the mechanical cotton picker, which was invented in the mid 1930s – 70 years after the Civil War ended.

And if you think it was the invention of the cotton gin in the early 1800s that should’ve ended slavery, that’s backwards – it actually extended slavery: “Paradoxically, the cotton gin, a labor-saving device, helped preserve slavery in the U.S. Before the 1790s, slave labor was primarily employed in growing rice, tobacco, and indigo, none of which were especially profitable any more. Neither was cotton, due to the difficulty of seed removal. But with the gin, growing cotton with slave labor became highly profitable – the chief source of wealth in the American South, and the basis of frontier settlement from Georgia to Texas. “King Cotton” became a dominant economic force, and slavery was sustained as a key institution of Southern society.”


As always, Chris makes assumptions based on ignorance and assumes that others must agree with him.

Andrew Cooke

Well Chris, I am glad to see my comment made you go do a search on the internet to find information to refute me. That means you are actually learning, which is always a good thing.

Now, you will notice we are arguing over hivemind’s original statement where he used the verb ascribe which means “attribute something to (a cause)” Oooh neato, I can use the internet too. He was not implying that mechanization ALONE led to war, but that it was a contributing cause. For the record, this isn’t just hivemind’s opinion. There are historians that think this could be a cause.

Here’s the way this works. Beyond the moral and ethical fact that it was evil, slavery was only a viable institution when there was a need for a large amount of free labor, like on a plantation. Mechanization, as has always been the case, reduces the need for labor, which in this case would make slavery a less viable institution. This is one of the reasons slavery was outlawed in England. Once the industrial revolution started rolling, they didn’t need it.

Frankly, I despise the slave master culture of the elite in the Antebellum South. They were evil of a special kind in that they actually looked for ways to continue slavery even after the industrial revolution started gaining steam (no pun intended).

The cotton gin was effective at the reducing the labor of the seed separation part of cotton, thus making it more economical, driving up demand and creating the atmosphere where the southern elite (read plantation owners) could justify importing more slaves for the planting and harvesting.

In the North, where Ohio, Indiana and Illinois were being settled, slavery was rejected. It should also be noted that the Midwestern culture quickly embraced mechanization. Read “Victory Rode the Rails”. Railroad connections across the Alleghanys was why the Midwestern states gladly chose to stay in the Union even though politicians know as Copperheads wanted them to pull out.

So yes, the South stuck to its slavery and were culturally adverse to mechanization.

Of course, I know that Climate Justice 101 class teaches that Mechanization=Industrialisation=CO2=WhiteSupremacy/Racism = Injustice but the rest of us live in the real world.


Andrew, just curious why you avoided the main point I made? Please point out the specific mechanization technologies the South could have deployed to assist with cotton farming – which was the primary crop of the South – but didn’t. Specifics, not hand waving mechanization general statements. Details matter. You bring up England. What was mechanized in England in the early 1800s was mills, not farming.

I already pointed out that the cotton picker was invented in the 1930s; the first gas powered tractor was invented in the 1890s. Work was being done on steam powered tractors in the mid 1850s, and that work picked up in the 1860s, but did not ever take off in a big way. So there were no major farming related mechanization technologies the South could’ve deployed.

Certainly some labor was saved by railroads versus horse and carts, but the South did have railroads: “Although the South started early to build railways, it concentrated on short lines linking cotton regions to oceanic or river ports, and the absence of an interconnected network was a major handicap during the Civil War.” So they didn’t reject railroads in favor of road transport out of loyalty to slavery, they had rivers for long haul (unlike much of the North).

And transportation labor paled compared to cotton planting, weeding and picking – those were the areas that required huge amounts of labor, and there were no mechanical solutions for them until many decades after the Civil War.


Andrew, and as to your first comment: “He was not implying that mechanization ALONE led to war, but that it was a contributing cause.”

Actually, no, here are his words: “Many ascribe the increase in mechanisation as being behind the American civil war.”

“being behind” does not mean a contributing cause, it means the primary reason.

John Hardy

very scary article. We should do something for our environment.


We are. We’re putting lots of CO2 back into the air.

The next revolution in food production was the discovery and manufacture of nitrate fertilisers and urea using the natural gases nitrogen, methane and carbon dioxide. These fertilisers, assisted by vast irrigation schemes, gave a huge boost to crop growth.

This stunning food revolution based on combustion engines, hydro-carbon fuels, natural gas fertilisers, irrigation and refrigeration has banished famine from the first world.

The Haber-Bosch process feeds half of humanity…

How fertiliser helped feed the world

50 Things That Made the Modern Economy, BBC World Service
02 January 2017

It has been called one of the greatest inventions of the 20th Century, and without it almost half the world’s population would not be alive today.

A hundred years ago two German chemists, Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch, devised a way to transform nitrogen in the air into fertiliser, using what became known as the Haber-Bosch process.


How it is done

First of all, you need natural gas as a source of hydrogen, the element to which nitrogen binds to form ammonia.

Then you need energy to generate extreme heat and pressure.


Haber discovered that was necessary, with a catalyst, to break the bonds between air’s nitrogen atoms and persuade them to bond with hydrogen instead.

Imagine the heat of a wood-fired pizza oven, with the pressure you would experience 2km under the sea.

To create those conditions on a scale sufficient to produce 160 million tonnes of ammonia a year – the majority of which is used for fertiliser – the Haber-Bosch process today consumes more than 1% of all the world’s energy.

That is a lot of carbon emissions.


If you look at a graph of global population, you will see it shoot upwards just as Haber-Bosch fertilisers start being widely applied.

Again, Haber-Bosch was not the only reason for the spike in food yields.

New varieties of crops like wheat and rice also played their part.

Still, if we farmed with the best techniques available in Fritz Haber’s time, the earth would support about four billion people.

Our current population is around seven and a half billion, and growing.


Fossil fuels are both the raw material and fuel for the Haber-Bosch process… which manufactures plant food, while “polluting” the atmosphere with more plant food… A total win-win… particularly for the 3.5 billion people, who would otherwise be dead (AKA not alive).

comment image

D Matteson

“The Green Door” is a 1956 popular song with music composed by Bob “Hutch”

Midnight, one more night without sleepin’
Watchin’, till the morning comes creepin’
Green door, what’s that secret you’re keepin’?

There’s an old piano and they play it hot behind the green door
Don’t know what they’re doin’ but they laugh a lot behind the green door
Wish they’d let me in so I could find out what’s behind the green door

Knocked once, tried to tell ’em I’d been there
Door slammed, hospitality’s thin there
Wonder just what’s goin’ on in there

Saw an eyeball peepin’ through a smokey cloud behind the green door
When I said Joe sent me someone laughed out loud behind the green door
All I want to do is join the happy crowd behind the green door

Midnight, one more night without sleepin’
Watchin’, till the morning comes creepin’
Green door, what’s that secret you’re keepin’?

Saw an eyeball peepin’ through a smokey cloud behind the green door
When I said Joe sent me someone laughed out loud behind the green door
AII I want to do is join the happy crowd behind the green door
Wish they’d let me in so I could find out what’s behind the green door.

Richard Wakefield

But that is what they want, reduce the human population.

As the saying goes,” extreme famines only last 8 weeks”.
Famines in Ethiopia of some 30 years ago were politically caused. Dictatorial governments forced people to move to regions that could not provide enough food. And then kept aid from being delivered.
Post-Malthus Malthusians in the British government were so concerned about a catastrophic die-off that some deliberately interfered with trying to get aid to Ireland during the potato famine. Having fewer people “now” would defer a Malthusian collapse later.
Much the same happened with a severe famine in India in the 1890s.
In the 1970s, Barbara Bell wrote about the “Dark Ages” in ancient Egypt when with a climate change the Nile floods reduced. Poorer harvests and the governing classes had the food and the people did not. In between were the palace guards. When push came to shove, the guards who were not of the governing classes laid down their spears. The first recorded popular uprisings. Bell states that they caused dynastic changes.
Peasant “bread riots” in medieval Europe were caused by regional crop failures. Today’s abilities to move massive amounts of grain have eliminated what would have been local famines.
But, fortunately, popular uprisings still happen. The last successful one had ordinary folk in Eastern Europe taking down the Berlin Wall and Communism. No mean feat.
The current uprising in the US is taking on the equivalent set of authoritarians.
And beginning to win. In the elites’ mind another “Peasant bread riot”.
In the political markets, this is the most exciting times for the individual in some 400 years.

Can’t work the edit function. Wanted to sign with:
Bob Hoye

Peter Morris

The number that most often come up is 500 million. I don’t know where it comes from, but I’ve seen it enough as the “perfect” number of humans to know it must come from a central source.


Mankind : We’ve been called fleas on the planet, the plague upon Mother Earth, a disease, infestation, etc. Then they pack millions of people in cities, slums and other high density enclaves. Only to tell them they now live in food deserts. (A great gnashing of teeth ensues but nothing is solved). Now we use cropland to grow fuel instead of food…what’s next in the plan for wiping out the plague upon the planet?


Oh come on, we have enough of these bogeymen. We want to get rid of them when they come from warmunists, I don’t need WUWT to spread some just as BSish opposite bogeyman, pinpointing some extreme green misanthropy as if it was a real threat. It is not.
This sort of rant is damaging.


Put the link for this in email to all 4 of my state’s members of Congress. Fairly certain only Mike Kelly will actually read it.


Well. That’s quite a paean to the threat of famine. Some things are missing.

For example:
Not including how grains are actually marketed now to all markets, foreign and domestic, on the commodities markets is a glaring error. In fact, at this point in time, there are only TWO countries with intentionally starved populations: Venezuela, where you have to have a valid voter ID to be eligible to buy food; and North Korea, where cultivation is still by oxen drawing ploughs, and fertilizer is human waste. The North Koreans are almost all infested with intestinal parasites.

The implication is that one or two seasons of drought or bad weather will have us all starving. That is completely NOT true. Irrigation and reusing water has been going on for a very, very long time. Furthermore, wheat, corn, soybeans, and other grains are bought on contracts for delivery by specific dates. And farmers will hold back their products to get a better price at the grain elevator. At least, that’s how they do it here. I used to buy oats for my horses at the grain elevator, so I always checked the market price before I went there.

Weather is taken into account in the contract bidding, which means that a one-year drought in Kansas might raise the cost of your loaf of bread by a few cents, or the price of your frozen pot pies by 10% – maybe. One or two bad weather seasons raises the price at the grocery store just slightly. The PROBABILITY of a constant or prolonged bad cycle is very slim. Cattle, chickens and hogs are also sold by contract, price based on delivery dates.

There’s no reference at all to how stuff is really harvested or processed, nor is there a nod to how a long rainy season can be just as bad for a grain or a livestock farmer as a hot, dry summer, nor is there any acknowledgement that some grains are planted as WINTER germination crops, e.g., hard winter wheat, or that grain crops have been developed/hybridized to provide higher levels of nutrients (e.g., triticale wheat, golden rice) for the markets.

The assumption in the article is that we’re all on the edge of Doom, which is not true. However, if you force your population to be completely dependent on government (Lysenkoism under Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung and Pol Pot and the Nork Kim family) decisions on what will be planted and when, and the result is a starving population, then it was intentional, meant to destroy the population, and has nothing to do with climate or weather. It is going on now in Venezuela.

And it is NOT famine. It is genocide. Do not EVER confuse those two aspects.

I don”t give a flying frog in space if the Greenbeans, CAGWers and Warmunistas don’t like mass market foods and modern agriculture or any of the other things they don’t like. If they want to reduce the human population, they should volunteer to be the first to go. They rely completely on everything the modern world has produced, including the food they eat, but they make it clear at the same time that they detest it all. Hypocrites to the nth degree, they are. But make a note: they just lost another toehold in Ontario’s election yesterday.

However, since the author of this attempt to strike panic into our hearts thinks we’re all facing the Doom On You dodos, I may just make a trip to Walmart and get another FREEZER so that I can keep the vegs and frozen potatoes separate from roasts and chicken and bacon and butter.

There’s always going to be a drought some place, always bad weather disrupting things, and always some way to store stuff for future needs.

When you take stuff for granted, you’re more likely to lose it than keep it. Good thing I know how to make a garden grow.

Mary Brown

Nice article. The anthropogenic impact has been roughly 0.5 deg C, 2″ of sea level rise, no increase in bad storms. All beyond the senses of a human. The human gains from fossil fuels are staggering in human history. Innovation is always three steps forward, two steps back. The climate crazies want us to take three steps back. . Just say “no”


Don’t feed trolls !!! This article was attacked early and often both on the major premise and niggling exceptions. The industrial revolution tamed weather cycles…that is indisputable. The dust bowl was a glaringly exceptional event, the 1930’s in the midwest being truly historic. Industrialization saves lives.

Andrew Cooke

Since Neo – Malthusians ultimate goal is population control to protect the environment, it would appear that Malthusian/green policies causing famine would be a fortunate feature and not a bug.

Max Kummerow

Reminds me of an April Fools post I saw years ago blaming sawmills in Wyoming shutting down on environmentalists who had failed in their duty to stop the loggers from cutting so many trees the mills ran out of timber. Outright lies in this post. Fossil fuel emissions are the problem, not green responses to scientific facts, and climate denial like this post enables climate change disasters. Emitting CO2, on balance, will not be good for humanity’s future. It will be a big challenge to replace the nitrogen fertilizer responsible for over half of world grain yields. Probably the best chance and what will happen will be a combination of crop rotation to nitrogen fixing crops and use of solar and wind to make hydrogen to run the Haber-Bosch process. Storing intermittent energy in NH3 fertilizer helps solve the problem of how to store wind and solar. The fossil fuels will run out. If we burn enough of them the sea will rise 200 feet, storms will increase and crops will fail. In the Midwest, where I live, we are already seeing scary weather–winds, heat and flash droughts as well as downpours that make it too wet and erode soil. Listening to the consensus of climate scientists is the right way to deal with this problem. Accepting climate lies convenient to fossil fuel interests is not.

Andrew Cooke

Max. Really? Just really?

First, lets just double check something to make sure we live in the same world. Do you believe that CO2 has any good impact?

If you said no, then stop reading, as you are brain washed and not worth wasting time on.

Second, we are incapable of getting enough solar and wind to provide sufficient energy for our energy needs, how are we going to get enough to do the “Haber-Bosch process?”

If you believe that solar and wind is hindered by the eeevil fossil fuel industry and not by it’s own ignorant expense, then stop reading, as you must have a marketing degree.

Third, seas will rise 200 feet? Really? Did you learn that in Climate Justice 101?

Finally, I love the pablum…”Listen to the consensus of scientists.” You realize that make you sound like a religious fanatic who has not studied anything about the climate. It’s a phrase guaranteed to put you wholly in the brainwashed camp.


From his first example to his last, not a single thing Max mentions is actually true.

Do you have any evidence that any of these bad things will actually happen, or is that just what you have been taught to believe?


Or try NOAA ,
“The relative sea level trend is 2.82 millimeters/year with a 95% confidence
interval of +/- 0.16 mm/yr based on monthly mean sea level data from
1921 to 2017 which is equivalent to a change of 0.93 feet in 100 years”


Not all locations will see sea rise at the same rate.

Mike M
Craig Austin

Mass starvation is not a bug, it is the main feature. Reduction of the planets population and controlling the remainder is the goal.

Sam C Cogar

Excerpted from above commentary authored by Viv Forbes, ….. to wit:

Warmth also drives moisture and carbon dioxide plant food out of the oceans into the atmosphere, creating a much more crop-friendly environment.

And, in the final blow, cold oceans and lakes absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, further reducing plant growth.

“YUP”, and the seasonal (annual) “cycling” of atmospheric CO2 ppm quantities as defined by the Keeling Curve Graph is proof positive of the aforesaid …… “ocean-atmosphere CO2 exchange” as per Henry’s Law, … to wit:

Stephen Skinner

Based on the profile of previous inter-glacials and how temperatures returned to cold it will take about 8,000 to 10,000 years before there is sufficient recorded data to demonstrate this. And one way or the other there is not enough coal or oil to get us to the next inter-glacial in 100,000 years time.

Peta of Newark

Fossil fuels have enabled us to increase the rate of soil erosion (weathering) – a natural process that occurs over time spans of millennia. Ploughs, paddy fields, endless cultivation and artificial fertiliser (especially nitrogen) have hugely accelerated the natural process

At some point, the dirt ceases to support plant life.
It varies all over the world. One third of the land area is completely dead.
Australia is well gone, as is most of North America. The final descent into permanent desert is what is being witnessed now in Southern California – plants try to grow, haven’t much strength, vigour or water retention so they burn.

Deserts have crap climate and, despite the high temperatures often seen there, are actually cold places. There is no water to retain/store/trap the incoming solar energy. Sod CO2 and the GHGE – it has nothing to do with anything here. You wanna ‘trap heat’ – go get a big lot of water.
If rising CO2 is anything to do with anything, it is coming from the soil. Not the ocean – an alkaline thing that is NOT going to spontaneously release an acidic species like CO2 as many followers of ‘Henry’ imagine. (Please people, get a little ‘fish-tank’ pH meter from ebay, well less than a fiver, and do the experiment. Rocket science it ain’t)

So, deserts are cold. When you’ve enough of them, you have an ice-age or even worse, Earth becomes a complete snowball.
If nothing comes along to break the ice, you finish up with a Mars. Why are comets = ‘dirty snowballs’? Could it be Martian water that was blown away by the solar wind and has condensed onto dust particles in a cold place – just beyond Pluto – now supposed to be itself a huge ‘dirty snowball’

We have accelerated the weathering process and made the End Game humongously bad, by turning fossil fuel into people. Just as the author says.

Civilisations and societies have collapsed many times before, blaming The Climate of course for their own misbehaviour
But they were on local scales but, this next time and thanks to our technology, it will be Global.


Excellent. I think it is time we sceptics got our act together and took advantage of the hockeystick by knitting together these advantage graphs with the CO2 trace and clearly show the remarkable correlation. In addition, perhaps could be added the flat lining traces of all the purported catastrophic problems put out by the. Warmisters.

It could make a powerful image for all to see on the social media. Sadly not my expertise; but there must many capable of doing this.

Joel Snider

And again, with the stated goal of the elitists behind this movement, of 90% human population reduction, you have to wonder how much of that is an accident.

Kristi Silber

No, no, no! The greens are saving the fossil fuels for when people really need them! It would be a big problem if the next ice age came and people ran out of fuel, no? And it allows countries to be more fuel-independent, or they can preserve what they have for things like naval blockades.

All the talk about solar and wind energy being intermittent assumes there will never be grid-capable batteries commercially available, and that doesn’t seem like a safe assumption.


Your solution amounts to a claim that we have to keep people poor today so that they might become wealthy sometime in the future.
The best solution is, and has always been, get rich now and use that wealth to invent technologies that allow you to solve tomorrows problems tomorrow.

As to grid level batteries, since you admit that we need grid-capable batteries for renewables to work, you will also agree that we should immediately abandon all efforts to install renewables until these mythical batteries do become available.

BTW, how many batteries do you suppose we will need to survive a 9 weak “wind drought”?


Viv Forbes:
You missed large scale production of fertilizers, using fossil fuels. Prior to that, bird and bat guano were primary fertilizer sources.

Lets be honest here the decimation of the American bison was a government policy to CAUSE famine and eradicate and exert control of the native plains peoples. Laying that blame soley on carbon based gunpowders and “hunters” is disingenuous.