Climate Change Weekly #199
Good news on the food front: Global food prices declined dramatically in 2015 as bumper crops continued to defy some scientists’ claims human-caused climate change would cause widespread crop failures. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports international food prices dipped by 19 percent in the past year, the fourth consecutive annual decline. FAO cites abundant supplies and an appreciating U.S. dollar as the main reasons for the general decline in food prices in 2015.
The FAO report comes as Bloomberg News reports stockpiles of corn and soybeans are growing on the nation’s farms, in storage bins and warehouses, despite low crop prices. After record yields during the 2015 harvest, growers in southern Minnesota, for example, have retained 80 percent of their corn crop and 70 percent of soybeans. In a normal year, half the supply would already have been sold and shipped. Nationwide, stockpiles of corn and soybeans were the biggest ever on December 1, and wheat inventories were the highest in five years. Domestic stockpiles have swelled as U.S. exports falter, fueled by a strong dollar and rising production in other countries.
Defying the predictions of climate alarmists, world cereal crop production has grown 20 percent in the past decade and, as pointed out by Matt Ridley, the boom in food production and food stockpiles has happened as the acreage devoted to crops and the fertilizers and water used to produced them have declined dramatically.
A number of factors account for this paradoxical trend. First, state-of-the-art precision farming techniques – using satellites to tell farmers exactly which parts of each field should get more or fewer seeds, and more or less fertilizer or water – combined with the growing use of high-yield genetically modified crops needing fewer inputs, have resulted in producing more with less. In addition, crops have been boosted by the fertilizing effect of increasing carbon dioxide emissions that are greening parts of the globe formerly unable to support crop production while improving the water use efficiency of crops.
What does this all mean for the world’s hungry? We can feed them, especially if we stop diverting as much as 5 percent of the world’s grain crops to fuel production. And unless you just hate people, this is good news regardless of one’s position in the climate change debate.
— H. Sterling Burnett
IN THIS ISSUE …
Unnatural climate consensus … Climate alarmists increasingly embrace authoritarianism … Obama breaks regulation records … Glacier calving slows warming … Heartland experts respond to president’s SOTU climate canards
A number of scientists on both sides of the climate debate say the Paris climate agreement will do little to reduce global warming. Many scientists who believe humans are causing warming view the proposed emissions reductions as insufficient to prevent dangerously higher temperatures. Scientists who regard climate variations to be relatively insensitive to carbon dioxide emissions say the Paris accord will not alter global temperatures because no carbon reduction policies would.
Climate scientist Judith Curry argues we don’t understand the natural factors that affect climate well enough to shape an effective climate policy. Global climate models are unable to account for key natural factors including major volcanic eruptions, solar cycles, and long-term oscillations in the ocean. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2013 assessment noted, “the rate of warming over the past 15 years … is smaller than the rate calculated since 1951.” The observed rate of warming in the early twenty-first century was slower than climate model predictions, and the discrepancy between climate model predictions and the observations is growing.
Curry writes, “Until we have a better understanding and predictive capability of natural climate variability, we don’t have a strong basis for predicting climate change in the decades or century to come. Whether the climate models are correct or whether natural climate dominates, it appears that the Paris agreement will turn out to be phenomenally expensive but ultimately futile in altering the course of the 21st century climate.”
SOURCE: The Financial Post
Professor Nico Stehr, founding director of the European Center for Sustainability Research, notes there are many threats to democracy – including the widespread, growing feeling of not being heard or represented by the political class.
Some climatologists, including many who believe human-caused global warming poses a catastrophic threat to the planet, say democracy itself is a hindrance to sound climate policy. They say democracies are increasingly proving themselves incapable of delivering strong and timely policy responses to exceptional global threats. Stehr quotes Australians David Shearman and Joseph Wayne Smith, who write in The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy, “We need an authoritarian form of government to implement the scientific consensus on greenhouse gas emissions.”
James Hansen, James Lovelock, and Eric Hobsbawn have all written the democratic process is not working when it comes to climate change. In his book The Vanishing Face of Gaia, Lovelock went so far as to demand democracy be abandoned to meet the challenges of climate change, which he deemed “a state of war.”
Stehr notes this is not the first time intellectuals have called for rule by educated elites. Economist and social philosopher Friedrich Hayek remarked on the paradoxical development, noting as “ignorance” of science falls, “people who are intoxicated by the progress of knowledge, so often become enemies of freedom.” Stehr also observes climate alarmists’ pessimistic assessment of the ability of democracies to cope with climate change, as with other purported instances of exceptional circumstances, is linked with an optimistic assessment of the potential of central planning.
And really, is it any surprise that as the public becomes less supportive of their cause, the climate alarmists become less interested in the opinions of the public?
SOURCE: Global Warming Policy Foundation
Bureaucrats in the Obama administration added a record number of pages to the federal rule book in 2015, carrying out the president’s directives to work around Congress when necessary to push his big-government agenda on issues such as climate change.
In 2015, the administration added 81,611 pages to the Federal Register, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Clyde Wayne Crews, the highest total on record and the third time Obama has crossed the 80,000-page level during his presidency. Crews noted with the exception of President Ronald Reagan, who managed to limit the Federal Register to under 50,000 pages of new rules and regulations per year, the number of pages in recent years has generally been around 70,000. Under Obama it’s been averaging more like 80,000.
The administration proposed 2,334 rules and finalized 3,378 rules and regulations in 2015. Major rules issued by the administration in 2015 included a number aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions, such as the Clean Power Plan regulations on new and existing power plants, and new efficiency standards for commercial air conditioners.
About the administration’s regulatory onslaught Crews said, “[The] president has made clear he’s going to go around Congress when he gets the chance. Just the sheer volume, the size of the Federal Registry, has never been this high.”
SOURCE: Washington Times
New research out of the University of Sheffield published in Nature Geoscience indicates if climate change does indeed cause increased glacier calving, that calving will result in a negative feedback increasing the uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thus mitigating climate change.
The researchers found as glaciers melt, they release iron and other nutrients into the ocean, sparking high levels of phytoplankton growth, which removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The research indicates glacier-induced phytoplankton growth is responsible for storing up to 20 percent of carbon in the Southern Ocean. The lead author of the study, Professor Grant Bigg, said: “This new analysis reveals that giant icebergs may play a major role in the Southern Ocean carbon cycle. If giant iceberg calving increases this century as expected, this negative feedback on the carbon cycle may become more important than we previously thought.”
SOURCE: Watts Up With That
Scholars and policy advisors at The Heartland Institute, which publishes Climate Change Weekly, forcefully responded to the tired canards President Barack Obama trotted out in his final State of the Union address. Among other points, Obama claimed scientists increasingly agree humans are causing dangerous global warming and fossil fuels are to blame, at the same time taking credit for low energy prices.
Responding to the president’s claims about the state of climate science, Heartland policy advisor James Rust said:
President Obama “urges voters to reject politics of fear.” This comment is hilarious. For the entire Obama administration they have been using fear to promote abandoning our abundant, inexpensive, and geographically distributed fossil fuels of coal, oil, and natural gas due to the false premise carbon dioxide from using fossil fuels is causing catastrophic global warming.
Hundreds of thousands of years of climate data show the influence of atmospheric carbon dioxide changes had a negligible effect. Present satellite temperature data show no global warming the past 18 years in spite of 30 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions since the start of the Industrial Revolution happening since the mid 1990s.
And policy advisor Kenneth Haapala, president of the Science and Environmental Policy Project, remarked:
President Obama’s campaign against fossil fuels is misplaced. He blames use of these fuels, and carbon dioxide emissions, for global warming/climate change. Yet the United Nations and the U.S. government have failed to provide actual evidence that carbon dioxide emissions change the climate, which has been changing for hundreds of millions of years.
Heartland experts also countered Obama’s suggestion his policies were responsible for current low gas prices and the expansion of domestic oil and gas. Heartland Research Fellow Isaac Orr said, “President Obama had nothing to do with $2 gasoline. In fact, oil and natural gas production on federal land has been dwarfed by production on private land as federal agencies have delayed the permitting process for oil and gas wells. The hydraulic fracturing breakthrough … has essentially happened in spite of his actions, not because of them.”
Research fellow and former North Dakota state legislator Bette Grande added, “President Obama said last night that ‘gas under $2 a gallon ain’t bad either.’ This from a president who has done everything possible to shut down the oil and gas industry through regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Bureau of Land Management, the Endangered Species Act, etc. He wants to take credit for something he didn’t do, and I’m not surprised.”
SOURCE: The Heartland Institute
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