It hasn’t warmed in well over a decade; it probably won’t for over a decade more; honest scientists now see through the haze of hysteria that it’s a bright, bright sun-shiny day.
This is a job for the New Yorker!
“Many of the ills of the modern world—starvation, poverty, flooding, heat waves, droughts, war and disease—are likely to worsen as the world warms from man-made climate change,” the Associated Press observed in its analysis of the report.
[T]he summary reads like a laundry list of the apocalypse—flood, drought, disease, starvation. Climate change, the group noted, will reduce yields of major crops by up to two per cent each decade for the remainder of this century. (One of the reasons for this is that heat waves, which will become more common as the world warms, depress the yields of staple crops like corn.)
Since the global population is projected to grow throughout the century—to eight billion by 2025, nine billion by 2050, and almost eleven billion by 2100—this is obviously rather bad news. At the same time, the incidence of flooding, drought, and general weather-related mayhem will increase, and already-vulnerable populations will be pushed closer to the edge, or, quite possibly, over it. Conflict is bound to ensue. Climate change “will increasingly shape national security policies,” the report warns.
Oh m’gosh! Help! Help!!!
Help is on the way:
If this has a familiar ring, it’s because it harks back to the neo-Malthusian forecasts of the 1960s and ’70s, when we were supposed to believe that population growth would outstrip food production. This gave us such titles as “Famine 1975!”, a 1967 best seller by the brothers William and Paul Paddock, along with Paul Ehrlich’s vastly influential “The Population Bomb,” a book that began with the words, “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.”
In case you’re wondering what happened with that battle to feed humanity, the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization has some useful figures on its website. In 1968, the year Mr. Ehrlich’s book first appeared, Asia produced 46,321,114 tons of maize and 439,579,934 of cereals. By 2011, the respective figures had risen to 270,316,205, up 484%, and 1,289,633,254, up 193%.
It’s the same story nearly everywhere else one looks. In Africa, maize production was up 247% between 1968 and 2011, while production of so-called primary vegetables has risen 319%; in South America, it’s 308% and 199%.
But what about the supposedly warming climate? According to the EPA, “average temperatures have risen more quickly since the late 1970s,” with the contiguous 48 states warming “faster than the global rate.” Yet U.S. food production over the same time has also risen by robust percentages even as the number of acres under cultivation has been steadily falling for decades.
In other words, even if you believe the temperature records, a warming climate seems to correlate positively with greater food production. This has mainly to do with better farming practices and the widespread introduction of genetically modified (GMO) crops, and perhaps also the stimulative effects that carbon dioxide has on photosynthesis (though this is debated). Warming also could mean that northern latitudes now not suited for farming might become so in the future.
But whatever the reason, the world isn’t likely to be getting any hungrier. Quite the opposite: Purely natural (as opposed to man-made) famines are becoming unknown. As the Irish economist Cormac Ó Gráda noted in a 2010 paper, “in global terms, the margin over subsistence is now much wider than it was a generation ago. This also holds for former famine zones such as India and Bangladesh, whereas China, once the ‘land of famine,’ nowadays faces a growing problem of childhood obesity.”
Now for the ultimate kick in the ‘nads:
What does hurt people is bad public policy. Exhibit A is the U.S. ethanol mandate—justified in part as a response to global warming—which diverted the corn crop to fuel production and sent global food prices soaring in 2008. Exhibit B is the cult of organic farming and knee-jerk opposition to GMOs, which risk depriving farmers in poor countries of high-yield, nutrient-rich crops. Exhibit C was the effort to ban DDT without adequate substitutes to stop the spread of malaria, which kills nearly 900,000 people, mostly children, in sub-Saharan Africa alone with each passing year. The list goes on and on.
Environmentalists tend to have conveniently short memories, especially when it comes to their own mistakes. They would do better to learn from history. Just take the quote about the warming climate with which this column began. It’s from “Notes on the State of Virginia” by Thomas Jefferson, published in 1785.
Warming is becoming a major problem. “A change in our climate,” writes one deservedly famous American naturalist, “is taking place very sensibly.” Snowfall, he notes, has become “less frequent and less deep.” Rivers that once “seldom failed to freeze over in the course of the winter, scarcely ever do so now.”
And it’s having an especially worrisome effect on the food supply: “This change has produced an unfortunate fluctuation between heat and cold, in the spring of the year, which is very fatal to fruits.”
Some people read only the New Yorker and not the Wall Street Journal; others the other way around. You tell me who’s the ignorant one.