JAYARAJ: Climate Change Transformed India into an Agricultural Superpower — Just Ask My Grandparents

From the CO2 Coalition

By Vijay Jayaraj

My grandparents survived a nationwide famine in the 1960s that pushed many Indians into abject poverty. Little did they know then that they would go on to become farmers producing some of the best rice and coconuts on the planet.

Starting with purchases of small paddies, my grandparents supplemented income from professional occupations and other businesses with profits from rice and eventually invested in coconut farms. Their story is part of India’s agricultural revolution — a transformation partly made possible by the warmer temperatures and higher concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide of today’s climate.

According to researchers, poverty and a scarcity of food grains caused the famine of 1960-65, which had been preceded by many similar calamities that killed tens of millions over the centuries.

However, much changed in the 1970s when India’s government invited American agronomist Norman Borlaug to work alongside Indian scientists to introduce genetically modified crop varieties that were more resistant to diseases and produced higher yields.

Along with crops that failed less frequently and provided greater profits, the green revolution of the latter 20th century was helped by moderate increases in both temperatures and CO2 levels — the latter likely a result of emissions from human activities.

Contrary to the popular narrative of a changing climate being an “existential threat,” Earth’s green plants have been recovering from the “browning” of the Little Ice Age, which occurred from the 14th to 19th centuries. Modern warmth and CO2 levels are facilitating a greening that shows up on satellite photos and contributes to record crop harvests.

British Meteorologist Hubert Lamb, founder of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, said that the Little Ice Age devastated economies with crop losses. In a widely accepted paper, he writes that a “notably warm climate in many parts of the world” existed between A.D. 1000–1200, then was followed by a cooling that culminated with the coldest temperatures between 1500 and 1700 — “the coldest phase since the last ice age occurred.”

Lamb says these changes in climate were “undoubtedly upsetting for the human economies of those times (and perhaps of any time).”

The cold eventually gave way to rising temperatures in the 18th century, well before the modern industrial revolution in Europe and North America.

The positive of effects of the modern climate are found in arid climatic zones like those in India. NASA reports: “For rain-fed wheat grown in more arid climates, such as southern Africa and India, results show that doubled carbon dioxide levels, and their associated climate change impacts, increase yield by eight percent, an increase that’s driven by decreased crop water needs of up to 50 percent. As with rain-fed maize crops in arid climates, without the carbon dioxide boost these rain-fed wheat crops do not cope as well because of the greater water stress imposed on them, resulting in a 29 percent reduction in yield.”

Despite its population doubling to 1.3 billion since the 1960s, India can now produce enough food crops for both domestic needs and exports. In fact, since 2017, the country has been registering successive record harvests of food crops.

For the 2021-22 crop year, “a record output is estimated for rice, maize, gram, dry grains, rapeseed and mustard, oilseeds and sugarcane.” At 315.72 million tons, it is 5 million tons higher than the previous crop year.

According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, “India is the world’s largest producer of milk, pulses, and jute, and ranks as the second largest producer of rice, wheat, sugarcane, groundnut, vegetables, fruits, and cotton. It is also one of the leading producers of spices, livestock, and plantation crops.”

A recent Australian study reports that “CO2 fertilization correlated with an 11 per cent increase in foliage cover from 1982-2010 across parts of the arid areas studied in Australia, North America, the Middle East and Africa.”

Today’s warmth and CO2 levels are a boon to human civilization, not a bane. Just ask my grandparents.

Vijay Jayaraj is a Research Associate at the CO2 Coalition, Arlington, VA. He holds a masters degree in environmental sciences from the University of East Anglia, UK and resides in India.

This commentary was first published at Daily Caller September 3, 2022.

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Tom Halla
September 6, 2022 2:07 pm

In 1968, Paul Ehrlich pronounced that India was unsaveable, and to let people die of famine.

Reply to  Tom Halla
September 6, 2022 2:14 pm

So many have died since that it’s population is up almost 300%.

Reply to  Scissor
September 6, 2022 6:25 pm

Same prediction and similar results for polar bears.

Yet, that whackjob (crazy person, pejorative) is still making similar predictions to his utterly failed predictions.

Reply to  Tom Halla
September 6, 2022 5:12 pm

He probably enjoyed setting cats on fire too. Would that be surprising?

September 6, 2022 2:13 pm

 Vijay Jayaraj is a very reliable author for environmental issues affecting Asia, as you can tell from this article. There’s not enough coverage of Asia in the US — with too much coverage of the EU — especially China and India, with over 2 billion people living there. China has Covid lockdowns with Omicron, which is just an easy to spread a common cold, so I can’t figure them out!

Reply to  Richard Greene
September 7, 2022 3:22 am

Richard, You got that right.

Reply to  Richard Greene
September 7, 2022 9:15 am

I don’t think it was climate change that “saved” agriculture. I think it was the internal combustion engine. Suddenly pumps could move water to where it was beneficial and remove it from where it wasn’t. Those low lying river deltas have been subject to monsoon floods since recorded history….Add to that some crops rationally chosen by experimental methods to be more successful…and viola ! A degree warmer climate makes zero difference to the advancement of a tidal wave….….

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  DMacKenzie
September 7, 2022 5:51 pm


comment image

Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
September 7, 2022 6:17 pm


September 6, 2022 2:21 pm

And given that this years heatwave hit grain yields and mustard crop etc? And if the same level of rainfall as in neighbouring Pakistan happens? 

David Kamakaris
Reply to  griff
September 6, 2022 2:33 pm

Griff, how long is your record?

Reply to  David Kamakaris
September 6, 2022 3:53 pm

His record of being wrong? How old is he?

Reply to  MarkW
September 6, 2022 5:42 pm

Monsoon rainfall can be so heavy thats its peak periods can be virtually unmeasurable , even with modern methods

Reply to  MarkW
September 7, 2022 11:59 pm

Mentally? About 6.

Reply to  David Kamakaris
September 6, 2022 6:17 pm

It’s as long as the fish from the one armed fisherman.

Bryan A
Reply to  David Kamakaris
September 6, 2022 8:47 pm

About 3″

Reply to  David Kamakaris
September 7, 2022 2:01 am

I’ve got some great 70s LPs…

Reply to  David Kamakaris
September 7, 2022 2:18 pm

It is on a turntable that is never unplugged.

Reply to  griff
September 6, 2022 2:49 pm

So one poor season negates decades of remarkable harvests?  Griff, stay in the city, in your mom’s basement, farming is not for you!

Reply to  PCman999
September 6, 2022 3:53 pm

griff has trouble with reality in general.

Reply to  MarkW
September 7, 2022 2:01 am

And vice versa!

Reply to  PCman999
September 7, 2022 2:02 am

There is a pattern of increased heatwave, drought and then when rain comes, coming in extreme events. Pakistan and India just saw that sort of event and sadly it isn’t going to be a one off.

Reply to  griff
September 7, 2022 5:18 am

griff Brisbanes biggest flood was 1893. Why do you think rain has not increased since then

Tom Abbott
Reply to  griff
September 7, 2022 5:42 am

“Pakistan and India just saw that sort of event and sadly it isn’t going to be a one off.”

You are correct: it’s not going to be a one-off. It will happen again in the future, just like it happened in the past. It’s called weather.

CO2 is “lost in the noise” of all the interactions that make up the Earth’s atmosphere and what happens on the ground as a result.

Seeing CO2’s hand in everything is just a consequence of wishful/misinformed thinking. You wish to be right about CO2 being the control knob of the Earth’s atmosphere, so you look for things that seem to confirm your bias and reject things that do not confirm your bias.

This thought process is perfectly human, we all do it to one extent or another, but in this case you are wrong on the CO2 facts. Your bias is misleading you into believing things for which there is no evidence.

There is no evidence that CO2 is the control knob of the Earth’s atmosphere. Floods in Pakistan and India are not evidence of any effect from CO2.

The Other Nick
Reply to  Tom Abbott
September 7, 2022 7:33 am

What ever.
Neither India or Pakistan have done much to try to minimise these flood events especially on the lower plains.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  griff
September 7, 2022 6:07 am

Please provide a link to a study supporting your claim.  “Go look for yourself” is not a valid reply in any debate.  Anyone advancing a claim is obligated to support it.  I’m going to hazard a guess that A) you won’t bother because B) the evidence doesn’t exist.

Reply to  griff
September 7, 2022 6:21 am

I’m sure you can back you assertion up with hard empirical evidence.

What, you can’t?

Matthew Schilling
Reply to  griff
September 9, 2022 6:06 am

No tropical storms in August in the Atlantic basin? Pfft! That means nothing. A big flood in Pakistan? A clear and unmistakable sign of The End – a horrible, miserable end, caused by Trump supporters driving pickup trucks!

Reply to  griff
September 6, 2022 3:52 pm

I see griff still can’t tell the difference between climate and weather.

Who wants to bet that this winter, griff will be ridiculing anyone who points to any record cold temperatures?

Robert W Turner
Reply to  griff
September 6, 2022 5:14 pm

Not nearly as damaging as the globalists’ Malthusian fertilizer restrictions.

Matthew Schilling
Reply to  Robert W Turner
September 9, 2022 6:13 am

Correct me if I’m wrong, but Malthus seems more like Marx to me than Lenin – predicting a bleak inevitability vs. actively making it happen. Self-appointed Elites are Leninites, working at facilitating mass murder. The 20th Century was just a dress rehearsal. It was beta-testing. Rehearsal’s over! Beta-testing concluded!

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  griff
September 6, 2022 8:20 pm

Bumper crops in most of western canada due to lots of rain and lots of heat.

Great growing year Griff.

Please choke on it.
Do us a favor.

James Schrumpf
Reply to  griff
September 6, 2022 9:29 pm

I just spot checked 5 of the 38 GHCN stations in India that had records from 1960 to 2022, and August 2022 was no higher than the 3rd warmest in 60 years, with one of the stations putting it at 41st, and two others in the teens.

It appears that heatwaves notwithstanding, this August was nothing special.

Reply to  James Schrumpf
September 7, 2022 2:04 am

(apologies if link doesn’t work… getting odd set up in comment panel)

  • he heatwave in Punjab has reduced the yield and quality of wheat this year.
  • Punjab’s wheat yield this year has reduced to 43 quintals per hectare, which is the lowest since the year 2000.
  • The heatwaves and particularly their early onset have resulted in an estimated 10-35 percent reduction in crop yields in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
Reply to  griff
September 7, 2022 2:28 pm

So, a rather small part of Northern India had Some heat, and it affected Some crops. Farmers have NEVER experienced Localized weather like this before?

Reply to  griff
September 7, 2022 1:43 am

Eeyore chimes in with another non sequitur.

Kevin Kilty
Reply to  griff
September 7, 2022 10:41 am

Griff, I farmed through an operation owned by me and my siblings from 1982 to 1996. Biggest yields during the entire period occurred in the blistering hot year of 1988. Oh, certain crops can be hurt by high temperatures, but for most you’d have to have unrealistically high temperatures to not notice increased yield related to higher temperatures (especially at night to get a head start on the next day).

Joao Martins
Reply to  griff
September 7, 2022 12:40 pm

… and if the sky falls on our heads next month? … and if an asteroid collides with Earth in January? … and if Joe Bidden’s dog dies with dog-covid? … and if … ?

Have you any modicum of understanding of the facts of the great variability, and thus the great impredictibility, of hagricultural harvests? Did you ever go to school or your ignorance is aquired?

Matthew Schilling
Reply to  griff
September 9, 2022 6:02 am

Because gains have to occur perfectly in lock step with a 45-degree straight line up every single year or forget about it!

Some bad weather this year completely negates, cancels, nullifies, and destroys the trivial “fact” that a nation that couldn’t feed itself sixty years ago can feed itself well today, even though its population has tripled since those days of rampant hunger. Or something.

Climastrologists are willfully obtuse and religiously bent on destroying civilization. Many of them want up to 15 out of every random group of 16 people to die as soon as possible.

Philip CM
September 6, 2022 3:30 pm

It would be nice to see India taking steps now , so when in the future and the global thermometer drops a degree C, they can maintain agricultural productivity and not revert back to years of famine.
I’ve no idea how Holland and Canada expect to escape Sri Lanka’s end with their anti-farming, anti-nitrogen fertilizer b.s..

The climate pendulum swings.

Reply to  Philip CM
September 6, 2022 6:51 pm

I’ve no idea how Holland and Canada expect to escape Sri Lanka’s end with their anti-farming, anti-nitrogen fertilizer b.s..”

Netherlands exported $1,630,433,000 worth of “Plant bulbs, tubers, roots” in 2021, on top of $5,725,766,000 Fresh or dried flowers (for bouquets, ornamental)”, and $6,369,339,000 from “Miscellaneous live plants”.

That’s $13,725,538,000 of plant exports alone dependent upon fertilizer, before taking into consideration vegetable farming and husbandry.

I suppose it is possible that the Netherlands could use fish for fertilizer…

James Schrumpf
Reply to  ATheoK
September 6, 2022 9:30 pm

…and then the overfishing complaints begin.

Philip CM
Reply to  ATheoK
September 7, 2022 12:22 am

Fish contain nitrogen. Carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen make up 96.5% of an living organism’s weight.

Reply to  ATheoK
September 7, 2022 2:17 am

You mean our fish?

September 6, 2022 3:30 pm

“ughh. more life”

Reply to  billtoo
September 7, 2022 11:56 pm

Warmunists are a death cult.

September 6, 2022 3:51 pm

Vegetation begets vegetation due to the water retention in the soil and foliage that becomes available to the atmosphere as the ground heats up. This ensures high convective towers that result in mid level moisture convergence from ocean to land. India is primed for this as bot the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal are now reaching 30+C ahead of the monsoon kicking in. A significant portion of the atmospheric water ends up on land due to the more powerful convective towers over land.

This process has been observed over the Amazon basin as described here:

There is some indication that this is occurring in Australia as well but La Nina appears to be the most significant factor in Australian rainfall south of the tropics.

The worst action for local climate is to remove vegetation. Placing massive solar arrays over a region will create desert like landscape. Removing thick vegetation to install wind turbines will do the same thing but not as fast as having no vegetation and very hot solar panels.

Dry land that warms quickly becomes a low altitude divergence zone that prevents convective instability. The moist air from oceans is not drawn to the land. The high altitude converging air is dry.

Reply to  RickWill
September 6, 2022 8:36 pm

BoM – May- “There is a less-than-40 per cent chance of much of the South West Land Division in Western Australia and western Tasmania exceeding median rainfall. ”

“The Kimberley region of Western Australia as well as the Great Southern and Southern Wheatbelt regions, recorded above average winter rainfall”

Reply to  lee
September 6, 2022 10:37 pm

I expect that betting against BoM forecasts is a winning strategy.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  RickWill
September 7, 2022 6:11 am

When I paid attention to such things, I would find a TV critic that I could reliably depend on to be absolutely the reverse of my preferences.  If he/she hated it, I’d almost certainly love it.  Who knew you could apply the same strategy in the sciences?

September 6, 2022 4:09 pm

Humanity rising with climate stability.

September 6, 2022 4:19 pm

Thank you Vijay for a very rare dose of common sense.

September 6, 2022 5:11 pm

I have watched a number of very interesting videos on water retention projects in low rain areas of India that markedly changed the landscape from effective desert to very fruitful agriculture. Several rather different approaches have been used but all capture rainwater that previously was lost in runoff, resulting in build up of water in the soil that replenishes wells and aquifers and in many cases also captures water in relatively small ponds that result in considerable wildlife and plant growth while providing water for irrigation. These all take advantage of the natural terrain to channel water flow so it can be absorbed instead of running off rapidly and/or so it will be directed into constructed ponds. Some use tree planting as part of the plan, some do not.

I don’t know how widespread the practice actually is but, as least in the more arid regions where it has been used, it is probably a much larger benefactor than the growing CO2 concentration. Also, according to a couple of those videos, Indian government studies have determined that wide spread use of these techniques are much less expensive than building large dams for irrigation water and no one ever has to be displaced from their property to accommodate the dam reservoir.

Similar, or sometimes seemingly significantly different approaches, are being used in more and more parts of the world. As much sense as that practice might make in the US southwest and large parts of California, I’m sure it would never be allowed. In some places, so I’ve read, putting out a rain barrel to catch the runoff from your roof is a criminal offense.

Reply to  AndyHce
September 6, 2022 10:50 pm

In some places, so I’ve read, putting out a rain barrel to catch the runoff from your roof is a criminal offense.

That was the case in Australia a couple of decades ago because there was a health risk associated with drinking untreated water.

When the El Nino driven drought of the late 1990s hit, the Federal Government actually provided subsidies for householders to acquire tanks to lower the stress on water supply. These are used for flushing toilets and watering gardens but I still think there are restrictions on using them for drinking if there is water service to the property.

It is handy to hold some water on the property everywhere in Australia because when the fires come, service pressure can drop very low. A few hundred lites of water to wet dry leaves sitting in gutters can save a house. Rural property owners can claim a tax deduction on installing and maintaining a swimming pool as a source of emergency water. I have seen pool water being used by fire services. The pool could be a key factor in preserving life in a fire. People have survived fires by securing themselves inside concrete water tanks; using them as a bunker while the fire raged over them.

Reply to  RickWill
September 6, 2022 11:52 pm

In this country it is, in some places, considered theft.

Reply to  AndyHce
September 7, 2022 2:00 am

? can you expand on that ?

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  griff
September 7, 2022 6:18 am

I believe there was a case in Oregon or Washington not long ago where some individual was persistently “farming” the water falling on his property. The state theory is that the state owns all the water that falls in a drainage area, so if you divert any to private use, you are stealing the water.

OK, found it. It was Oregon. There are some nuances that may have escaped the more excitable members of the media.

Gary Harrington, Oregon Resident, Sentenced To Jail For Stockpiling Rainwater | HuffPost Impact

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
September 7, 2022 9:50 am

Well done D.J., you have responded to griff’s question.
Now, griff, when  are you going to start responding to at least some of our questions?

Reply to  Oldseadog
September 7, 2022 11:58 pm

Griff has neither the comprehension or IQ to engage in debate.

Reply to  griff
September 9, 2022 12:02 am

In articles and videos I’ve run across various complaints from individuals interested in using some of the techniques for retraining rain water that falls on their home and or land, saying that ‘environmental’ laws prohibit them from diverting any runoff for their own use.

Many techniques have been developed around the world to use whatever rain falls to replenish ground water, aid in irrigation, etc. rather than letting it run off and disappear. There are many articles and videos on these topics.

I have, however, not followed up on any of the complaints to verify their truthfulness or find out what penalties might be imposed. My interest was the results being reported where efforts have been implemented, not associated politics. However there were enough such complaints to make it seem likely that there is truth to at least some. For awhile, until the courts overturned some of the more extreme US EPA efforts on wetlands and waterways, people were being heavily attacked for digging a ditch. or repairing a stream bed, after heavy rains, to help drain what had long been their pasture or crop land, which is the opposite of trying to retain the water but are still cases of overriding government control of “private” property.

Barry James
September 6, 2022 5:19 pm

The Borg has the answer to that. Their quiet campaign to ban nitrogen based fertilisers, especially ammonium nitrate, using the same pretext of saving the planet from “GHG pollution” is already starting to bite. Look at what it has done to Sri Lanka. The Greens in the Netherlands seem to have successfully forced Dutch farmers into the same tragedy and Trudeau is implementing it now in Canada. They have already created energy poverty throughout the West. Time now for the coup de grâce with forced famines and starvation.

September 6, 2022 5:39 pm

My great great grandparents migrated from Canada- Gulf of St Lawrence area- and Scandinavia to the other side of the world in the 1850s because of the harsh climate of that era

September 6, 2022 7:16 pm

Good news.

Pat from kerbob
September 6, 2022 8:17 pm

Vijay, you are missing the point.
They are angry BECAUSE the green revolution allowed so many of your people to survive and multiply.
We were supposed to be approaching nirvana where most of the third world has died off.

Your raining on their parade.

Pat from kerbob
September 6, 2022 8:25 pm

Also, I’m aware of an irrigation project in India that includes 10, 35MW pumps


Reply to  Pat from kerbob
September 7, 2022 1:59 am

and increasingly solar powered (and often using solar panels over irrigation channels).

Peta of Newark
September 7, 2022 12:29 am

Nice, Very lovely:

Do pause for a second to consider 2 things:

  • Rice is not any sort of food for human beings. Starving people eat rice and even then they universally despise it
  • With regard ‘Climate’ – You may have confused Cause and Effect
Reply to  Peta of Newark
September 7, 2022 2:29 am

Sorry Peta. Rice has been a staple for millenia.
One and a half thousand million people can’t be wrong!

Reply to  Peta of Newark
September 7, 2022 2:46 pm

Visiting Taiwan, I was introduced (street vendors) to dishes of rice over which was a sauce of saute’ed? chopped onions, egg, tomatoes, garlic, spices. Couldn’t get enough of it then… still make it frequently at home. Rice is the basis for about 50% of the dishes in my home. Guess at 87, I’m not a human being… Please advise..

Reply to  Peta of Newark
September 9, 2022 12:04 am

Good for them or not, the majority of people love rice dishes.

September 7, 2022 1:38 am

According to researchers, poverty and a scarcity of food grains socialism caused the famine of 1960-65

Socialism causes poverty and scarcity which leads to famines. After decades of self-imposed socialist poverty, India ended their social experiment and reverted to the natural economy of humans: private ownership and free markets. The result was (predictably) miraculous. Long stagnant crop yields, living standards, health, and wealth all grew rapidly. Sure, CO2 contributed marginally, but it was a small fraction compared to the benefit of turning away from socialism.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  stinkerp
September 7, 2022 6:01 am

“Socialism causes poverty and scarcity which leads to famines. After decades of self-imposed socialist poverty, India ended their social experiment and reverted to the natural economy of humans: private ownership and free markets.”

I think the story of Vijay’s grandparents is a confirmation. They were able to participate in buying and selling without government interference. And they prospered through their own efforts.

Free Enterprise! It works every time.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
September 9, 2022 12:06 am

No, most people lose their shirt, along with the farm. Free enterprise can be very profitable but, like poker and roulette, most people lose.

Tom Abbott
September 7, 2022 6:03 am

From the article: “For rain-fed wheat grown in more arid climates, such as southern Africa and India, results show that doubled carbon dioxide levels, and their associated climate change impacts, increase yield by eight percent, an increase that’s driven by decreased crop water needs of up to 50 percent.”

A 50 percent reduction in water needs is significant. Think about that for a while.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
September 9, 2022 12:07 am

sound too extreme to be true but if there are any published results to recommend, I will look into them.

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