Climate Change

Record Temperatures and Record Grain Yields

Climate model projections of wheat yields are just stupid

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Those of us who try to monitor the torrent of climate change studies frequently come across various projections that just seem like a total waste of their researchers' time. The impacts of future climate change on crop productivity nearly a century hence is one such area. This particular blog post is provoked by a new study in Nature Climate Change purporting to predict that wheat yields will fall by 4.1 to 6.4 percent for every 1? increase in global average temperature. Some of the same researchers estimated in a 2014 study in the same journal that global wheat production will fall by 6 percent for each degree Celsius of further temperature increase. Other researchers projected that higher temperatures will also significantly lower corn yields in France, the U.S., Brazil, and Tanzania by "4.5, 6.0, 7.8 and 7.1% per °C at the four sites, respectively." While these projections claim to take into account efforts to adapt, the researchers all seem to be technological pessimists who more or less assume that farmers and crop breeders will be stuck using techniques and crop varieties not much different from the ones they have now.

Actually, crop breeders in the United Kingdom are already working to create a "super wheat" genetically modified with enhanced photosynthesis. In greenhouses, this boosts yields by 15 to 20 percent and the researchers are planning on field trials next year. In addition, the GMO wheat is even more productive when carbon dioxide levels are higher. In South Australia, researchers are figuring out how to add beneficial microbes (endophytes) that boost wheat yields by 10 percent. American researchers detail in a November 16 article in Science how they are working on another technique to boost photosynthesis that could increase yields by 15 to 20 percent.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change the world has warmed at a rate of 0.12 degrees Celsius per decade since 1951 which implies that global average temperature has increased by nearly 0.8 degrees Celsius. Even as the world warmed, the World Bank reports that per hectare yields of coarse grains (including wheat and corn) have increased from an average of 1,400 kilograms per hectare in 1961 to 3,900 kilograms per hectare in 2014, an increase of 280 percent.

It bears noting that world grain production (including wheat) reached a record high this year, which has been declared by the World Meteorological Organization to be the warmest year ever in the instrumental temperature record.

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  1. I’m not sure why they’d assert that anyway. The medieval warm period led to a boom in agricultural output.

    1. Sorry, I am obligated to automatically believe whatever someone tells me is consensus because I dare not be labeled anti-science.

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    2. And when it ended, lots of people starved or died of diseases after hunger weakened them.

      1. See, it’s global cooling that’s the real danger!

      2. They didn’t have access to a global market for food. Shipping across the ocean was slow and fraught with risk. Flight hadn’t been invented. Modern agriculture hadn’t been invented either. Mendel wouldn’t be born until hundreds of years later, so people grew with whatever seed they had and knew nothing about breeding better strains. The germ theory of disease as well.

        1. Shipping across the ocean was slow and fraught with risk.

          While this is true more so than now, it is not absolutely true. Rome’s main granary was Egypt. Athens got its food from Black Sea colonies. Long distance international food trade in the western Mediterranean was well established by 1500 BC at least and continued increasing thereafter, with some fall off from, more or less, 1200 to 900 BC. It no doubt fell considerably with the fall of Rome, but the Byzantine empire kept trade going, and western Europe kept it up a little.

          1. Trade in the Mediterranean crashed in the 7th Century. First to Arab piracy then the Muslim conquest of North Africa. Much of North Africa was a net food exporter to Europe. Those events, along with the temperature crash contributed to the European “Dark Age”.

            1. Which was an interesting form of “conquest” by all accounts. Byzantium itself was most to blame for it. Much of north Africa was taken without much bloodshed because early Islam promised, and actually delivered, several concessions to many cities. Submit to their rule and they would let you keep your religion (as second class citizens, but living citizens nonetheless, unless you converted), your taxes would be slashed heavily as well as a reduction in all that Byzantine red tape, and nobody had to die.

              All that shit sounded like a pretty sweet deal, so many cities simply laid down arms and came under the control of the Caliphate.

              Catastrophe due to bureaucracy is by no means a new thing. Byzantium could have defended its people. The people could have believed in it had it served them rather than itself and chosen to fight to defend it. A massive, centralized self-serving bureaucracy that cared nothing for its citizenry fell and toppled a lot of states like dominoes. Kinda draws some comparisons to the present, doesn’t it?

              1. That could never happen here, cause ‘Murica.

          2. Rome controlled the entire mediterranian basin and had a particular hate-on for Pirates.

            The North African Islamic states were direct sponsors of pirates and there was certainly a reproliferation of them (not to mention the fact that by this point, North Africa had lost much of its former airable land, so the output was no longer there).

            Couple that with the fuedal nature of society and you get a mix that actually supports Malthus. All the more reason to fight against greenies now, or they’d cause a circumstance where Malthusian catastrophes become possible again.

            1. Keep in mind, feudalism was an improvement on the previous social order which was that of a grossly centralized statism. Feudalism represents decentralization, which laid the foundations for Europe’s unique and unparalleled success down the road. Feudalism should not be confused with serfdom.

              1. However, the system did represent a severe drop in mobility, also leading to a damper on trade volumes.

                I keep speculating how long it would take to ramp up the volume of trade to what would have been needed to feed the masses that died off instead. The roads and ships would need to have been built, and communication was poor.

                Knowing that Rome would be a good market for grain was easy.

                1. However, the system did represent a severe drop in mobility, also leading to a damper on trade volumes.

                  You mean the aspect of certain governance systems that at different times and places that tied common people to the land or to certain lords? That’s serfdom.

                  Feudalism says nothing about common man or how he must live his life beyond the fact that he *may* own property, perhaps even allodial property. Feudalism was a system of contracts that governed relationships between titleholders (landowners). It gave us the concept of property rights springing forth from natural law instead of it deriving from the centralized state as had been the conception of property before. It was an improvement on the decadent statism that proceeded and in terms of the long term promise for the well being of the common man that it represented, it was a better system than anything that came before it.

                  Even serfdom, rightfully derided as it is, was an improvement on the prior system of abject slavery that held sway in the ancient world.

  2. “the world has warmed at a rate of 0.12 degrees Celsius since 1951 which implies that global average temperature has increased by nearly 0.8 degrees Celsius.”

    Should that be 0.12 per decade since 1951?

    1. CM: Grrr. Yes. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Will fix.

      1. You’re welcome. Thanks for all the great work you do

    2. Yes. I suppose it’s a mere coincidence that 1951 was a particularly cold year. Had they used 1981, 1961, 1956, 1946, 1940, or 1936, they’d get less warming. If allowed to pick convenient start and end dates, one can make the chart zig-zag like an amusement park ride. I am not saying there’s no warming, bro. 12/100 per decade sounds reasonable for 1900-2100. I’m just pointing out that when someone selects a (local) minimum to start the analysis, results do get amplified.

      1. Cherry picking is the BEST picking.

        1. Per Dr. Murray Mitchell of NOAA (paper published in 1975), measured ground temps in the Northern Hemisphere drooped .5 degree between 1945 and 1968.

          1. The unedited temperature data has a distinctly sinusoidal pattern to it…

        2. Cherry harvesting to continue to rise as well and, conversely, fuck yields are expected to plummet.

      2. I’m saying there’s no human caused warming bro.

        or at least, there is absolutely no proof to the positive that is any more compelling than proof to the negative.

    3. So in 100 years we can expect the average temperature to be 1.2C or 2.16F warmer than it is now.

      So when a farmer has a wamer than average summer now, by 2.16 deg F, his yield decreases by 6.3% ????

      Now I’m no scientist. Nor am I a wheat farmer. But color me skeptical.

      1. I didn’t read the papers but if I had to speculate, I’d guess that they project increasing desertification with persistently warmer temperatures. You wouldn’t get that with yearly swings if the mean is stable.

        1. I haven’t read them either, but in other cases the projection was based on the CO2 level directly affecting plant growth. Like saying summer and the modern fashion trend against hats kills people because skin cancer!

        2. I get that.

          So, the average high temp in Topeka KS is 89.1 in July. It’s 82 in Great Falls MT. So in 590 years (at 1.2/100) we can expect to be growing corn in Great Falls and wheat somewhere in northern Canada?

          And Topeka will look something like Dallas.

          The horror.

          In 590 years. With no advances in technology.

          Not only do I question the warming (a little), I question whether it is due to CO2 (a little more), but where they totally go off the rails with me are the predictions of mass destruction that will result if it’s unchecked. We’ve gone from living in mud huts to skyscrapers in the last 100 years (much less actually). What, is innovation going to stagnate?

          This doesn’t even need to be a blip on our RADAR at this point. It’s nothing but a means to push an agenda.

          1. This is especially ironic given that the people advocating stagnation of innovation are the ones trying to justify a distant doom that can only come about from stagnation.

          2. I’m not sure you can just look at average temperatures. Rainfall patterns would also matter.

            Anyway, the models are flawed for other reasons. Just trying to parse out what their reasoning is.

            1. Their reasoning is “we must show catastrophe for the money to flow, so make the predictions catastrophic”

            2. Yes, I’m certainly oversimplifying. But from what I understand, an increase in average global temperature will decrease rainfall in some regions while increasing it in others. I suspect farmers will plant stuff that will grow in the current climate (much as they have since the beginning of agriculture). And people will move to more favorable climates (perhaps Floridians will even move back to NYC?)

              Unless the argument is that NOTHING will grow anywhere on planet earth post AGW Apocalypse.

              (and then we mine spice and trade it for food)

      2. Yeah, this sounds like it should go into the ‘Paul Erlich science’ file.

      3. So when a farmer has a wamer than average summer now, by 2.16 deg F, his yield decreases by 6.3% ????

        Now I’m no scientist. Nor am I a wheat farmer. But color me skeptical.

        It’s, of course, far more absurd than this. It has to do with degree days and depends on *how* it’s 2.16 degrees warmer. Gaining an extra week of low/no frost vs. gaining a heatwave. Much above 100 degrees for a week and, yes, yields in some parts of the country will suffer. However, strains of crop seeds are *already* optimized per market. Not only is it exceedingly hard to buy the same seed from the same manufacturer in Florida and Saskatchewan but, if you did, you’d find that the ‘same’ seed of the same crop would grow differently in the same market or wouldn’t fail the same way in their inappropriate markets. Moreover, this assumes the food supply to be universally dominated by one crop using one kind of photosynthesis region-to-region and year-over-year. It isn’t and never really has been.

        It prioritizes human-caused global warming to as a fixed variable and completely disregards more than a century of known human-caused global agriculture.

  3. Wait….plants like higher temps?! So we shouldn’t be praying for a new ice age???

    Maybe some of these “researchers” should tell us at what temp we should set Gaia’s thermostat, for optimal plant growth!

      1. Electrolytes?

      2. Carbon Dioxide?

        No wait, that stuff is evil! Or is it good? Fuck!

      3. Horny bees?

  4. This wetter warmer greener world sounds horrific. Now where’s my money?

  5. While there is finally a Bailey climate article where I’m not arguing the basic premise with him, there was one thing overlooked.

    The increased carbon dioxide levels would in of themselves contribute to increased crop yields before adaptation is even taken into account. A warmer, more carbon-rich time would result in a boom in agricultural output thanks to longer growing seasons and more favorable growing conditions over much larger areas of land.

  6. Since a tax hike is the solution for negative externalities it follows that a tax cut should accompany positive externalities.

  7. Climate model projections of wheat yields are just stupid

    1. baby steps. The more inconsistancies Ron sees, the more he will come to realize that the core premises of the carbon-centric model don’t add up and look at the alternative hypotheses.

  8. Or just start growing on farms in New Mexico and Arizona when the global warming bubble bursts and we’re in an ice age.

    1. Will there be enough water in that area?

      1. After California calves off into the Pacific, for sure.

        1. We are forgetting about the wolves, snail darters, and sturgeon.

          There is so much to be done.

          I wonder what massive bureaucracy can handle all of these pressing issues without damaging anyone unintentionally?

          1. Sorry, we’re stuck with a massive bureaucracy that intentionally damages almost everyone.

  9. OTOH: was your turkey dry and stringy? Blame global warming, says expert.

    “With climate change, as we understand it, there is predicted to be more variation in the weather patterns, so we expect temperature swings from very hot weather to very cold weather,” said Strasburg, a professor of food science and human nutrition at Michigan State University.

    IOW an expert on bupkis.

    1. as we understand it,

      love those weasel phrases. Because those four words can’t possibly be used to float sheer nonsense and peddle it as hard fact.

    2. was your turkey dry and stringy? Blame global warming, says expert.

      More like “blame dumbasses who don’t know how to cook.”

  10. Anyone predicting anything 100 years from now with a precision of 0.1% is doing something wrong.

    1. Anyone predicting anything 100 years from now with a precision of 0.1% is doing something wrong full of shit.

    2. To date, unless something has changed recently that I’m unaware of, the Farmers Almanac is consistently more accurate than a single ‘climate model’ put forward in the history of Climatology or NOAA.

      That’s right. The Farmers. Fucking. Almanac.

  11. “…a total waste of their researchers’ time.”

    Researchers get paid to research.

    1. haters gotta hate.

    2. Unpossible. That ‘waste of time’ got them a tax supported grant, which is all it was ever meant to do. The holes in AGW are already apparent, even to many true believers (which is why they’ve tried to pivot to ‘anthropogenic climate change’), but they’ll ride it as long as they can until they find the next big hobby horse.

  12. Could it be because Ant. Climate change is a bullshit extortion scam fomented by ginning up excitement among the zombie herd?

  13. Isn’t the alleged problem with CO2 that it is a greenhouse gas? Yeah, greenhouses are renowned for their inhospitability for plant life.

    1. Don’t worry, they will rename the evil consequence as well soon i’m sure.

      I am waiting for the day when the EPA just hangs a sign out in front of their building saying “kill all the capitalists and shut down all businesses.”

  14. Actually, crop breeders in the United Kingdom are already working to create a “super wheat” genetically modified with enhanced photosynthesis. In greenhouses, this boosts yields by 15 to 20 percent and the researchers are planning on field trials next year. In addition, the GMO wheat is even more productive when carbon dioxide levels are higher. In South Australia, researchers are figuring out how to add beneficial microbes (endophytes) that boost wheat yields by 10 percent. American researchers detail in a November 16 article in Science how they are working on another technique to boost photosynthesis that could increase yields by 15 to 20 percent.

    B-b-but… GMOZ!!11!!!!!! FRANKENFOODZ!!1!1!!1!!!!!! MONSANTO!!11!111!!!!!!! DERPA DERPITY DERPA DERR!1!11!!!!!!! /progtards who “fucking love science”

    1. When I wrote a product review of RoundUp on Amazon, I specifically titled it “Thanks, Monsanto!”

    2. Did anyone profit from this innovation?

      1. If so, we have to execute them and eat their children.

        Except the tech profiteers and entertainment profiteers; They’re good.

  15. Oh yay. More wheat to dump on fragile African markets to disrupt their economies and create the breeding grounds for more ‘terrorists’ (aka people to feed CVE propaganda).

    1. How dare someone try to come up with a way for poor Africans to grow crops in their non-agriculturally hospitable environments!

      1. If they improve their lives by using affordable energy, then we will all die of heat exhaustion.

        So fuck em.

      2. Eat local, stay poor.

    2. Oh no. Someone gets something for free and allows them to use their time for more productive work instead! The horror!

  16. Hey Ron, I bought your book “The End of Doom”. Notice me, senpai!

    1. He has your money, why would he need to keep pandering?

      1. Haha true. The book ain’t half bad so far, the beginning chapter on Paul Ehrlich is delicious.

  17. My brother is a microbiologist in the agriculture industry. It’s ridiculous how much potential for development there is. Convincing farmers to change their ways is the hardest part. Fortunately, the large agribusinesses (and younger farmers) understand that farming is foremost a business, not a culture, and adjust accordingly. My college buddy returned to the family farm after working as a mechanical engineer, and is cleaning up (granted, with a significant head start in capital).

    The agricultural industry will be fine.

  18. It is worth noting that from the 1960’s to well into the 1980’s, what what their prediction for the increase in crop yields.

    I don’t have the numbers exactly but I think they were DOOM, FAMINE, DEVISTATION. Note: those are just the averaged numbers of their estimates.

    Also: Paul Erich is a complete loser….

  19. Even as the world warmed, the World Bank reports that per hectare yields of coarse grains (including wheat and corn) have increased from an average of 1,400 kilograms per hectare in 1961 to 3,900 kilograms per hectare in 2014, an increase of 280 percent.

    Shouldn’t that be 180 percent, not 280 percent?

  20. Of all the horrendous things that will befall us with a couple additional degrees of global warming, has an alarmist anywhere at anytime admitted that maybe, just possibly, one itty bitty *good* thing will inadvertently occur with global warming?

    1. Kill the heretic!

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