Posted by: Petros | June 16, 2009

Global food crisis

I commend Christopher Booker for suggesting there may be a global food crisis coming because of insufficient sunspots. My friend Michael said that his Mulberry bush was several weeks late in bearing ripe berries. Also, I won’t need to replace the air conditioner that we removed last summer. It is June 16, and there is no hot weather yet here in Ontario. Here is the money quote from Booker’s article:

It is now more than 200 years since the great astronomer William Herschel observed a correlation between wheat prices and sunspots. When the latter were few in number, he noted, the climate turned colder and drier, crop yields fell and wheat prices rose. In the past two years, sunspot activity has dropped to its lowest point for a century. One of our biggest worries is that our politicians are so fixated on the idea that CO2 is causing global warming that most of them haven’t noticed that the problem may be that the world is not warming but cooling, with all the implications that has for whether we get enough to eat.

It is appropriate that another contributory factor to the world’s food shortage should be the millions of acres of farmland now being switched from food crops to biofuels, to stop the world warming, Last year even the experts of the European Commission admitted that, to meet the EU’s biofuel targets, we will eventually need almost all the food-growing land in Europe. But that didn’t persuade them to change their policy. They would rather we starved than did that. And the EU, we must always remember, is now our government – the one most of us didn’t vote for last week.

I would go further. The insistence on the use of biofuels is utter folly and presumption. God is the one who provides the abundant harvest; rather than give back to him the tithe owing to him, we have instead burnt it frivolously in our vehicles even though He has provided us abundant sources of high-efficiency energy: nuclear, coal, shale, tar sands, petroleum, and natural gas. We should have stored the food for leaner times instead of using them in our cars. I can easily foresee serious problems because of the lack of wisdom that our political leadership has shown. Famine, pestilence, and war may result from starving populations. Where is Joseph when you need him?


Responses

  1. I wouldn’t worry too much – the sunspots are expected to pick up shortly. Long-term warming presents a much greater threat, as most of the staple crops of the world (eg corn, wheat) can’t survive heat waves.

    I’d love you to come check out my blog, which has to do exclusively with climate change, especially how it relates to ideas such as credibility and risk management. Link on my username. Thanks!

  2. Hi Kate:

    No Kate. We all need to worry. History teaches us that our planet has always gone through periods of abundance and want. We have just passed through a period of about 50 years of unprecedented agricultural abundance. But now, in world food markets, especially in places like Africa, food shortages are already causing basic commodities to increase drastically in price. This blog concerns African issues, where basics of survival are much more precarious than here in Canada. But the Canadian harvest especially may be drastically affected by the cooler temperatures. Our first goal should be to ban the use of biofuels and to insist that we use nuclear and carbon-based products for energy.

    I visited your site. It unfortunately seems to favor the anthropogenic global warming myth. For example, you criticize the Global Warming Swindle. My climatologist friend says that the documentary has great credibility because the scientists who are interviewed in it are leading experts in his field. For example, he says that Richard Lindzen is an esteemed expert in the field. Also, despite what you maintain, there is no scientific consensus causes of on global warming. The problem with the myth is that we are experiencing a very cold spell now, which even you admit may have something to do with sunspots.

    I would like to know who is saying that the “sunspots are expected to pick up shortly”. What is the scientific basis for such a claim?

  3. Please watch the video I provided on the site regarding the Great Global Warming Swindle. It made some pretty stupid mistakes. Also read my post “The Credibility Spectrum” to see which sources are most trustable.

    Richard Lindzen is part of an extreme minority. “Consensus” on climate change is perhaps not the best word to use, as there still are skeptics, but there is widespread agreement. Over 97% of publishing climatologists agree that climate change is real and anthropogenic (Doran and Zimmerman, 2009) as well as every professional scientific organization on the planet. In a topic like science, complete consensus is nearly impossible – but this topic has very broad agreement.

    The cold spell right now is not really so cold. Regionally perhaps, but in terms of the energy balance of the Earth, it reflects nothing unusual or unexpected. The past few years have had a strong La Nina (find out more about that here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y15UGhhRd6M) as well as a solar minimum (I’ll get to that in a second). As you can see on this graph – http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.A.lrg.gif – 2008 (the last year on the graph) was slightly cooler than the previous few years, but when you look at the whole picture, those few years don’t make a difference. The overall trend is definitely up. Climatology and global warming deal with long-term trends, and two years is not long enough to change any conclusions. Nobody is saying that global warming means that each consecutive year will be warmer than the last. Oscillations and variability are expected. But that’s weather (short-term), not climate (long-term).

    Regarding the sunspots – the sun follows an 11-year cycle of sunspots (read more about it at http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/SunspotCycle.shtml ) You can read about what NASA scientists think of the unusually strong solar minimum here: http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2009/01apr_deepsolarminimum.htm

    At the end, the article says, “Pesnell believes sunspot counts will pick up again soon, “possibly by the end of the year,” to be followed by a solar maximum of below-average intensity in 2012 or 2013.” It is inevitable that these sunspots will eventually resolve themselves.

  4. Well that’s a relief. I’m glad to know that sunspots will pick up again. Because global cooling is far more of a threat to humanity, polar bears and penguins, than global warming.

    I don’t understand how you can characterize Lindzen and the other numerous scientists as an “extreme minority”. The extremists are on the anthropogenic side. This is because anthropogenic global warming is not falsifiable. No matter what the data will show, it will not convince the true disciples, such as yourself. The hockey graph shows that carbon emissions are the cause of warming. The emissions haven’t been reduced, but it is colder; hence, the model is falsified. And yet, now you come up with all kinds of other factors that the hockey graph never considered to show that global warming is still happening despite the cold weather that we are experiencing. I was blogging with another guy who said that the next ice age will be caused by anthropogenic global warming. You guys aren’t scientific, you are religious devotees. Anthropogenic global warming has been falsified by the weather!

    So there is no consensus, despite the attempt on the part of alarmists to bulldoze the discussion. Galileo was an extreme minority and a denier. But he was right.

    The fact is that my climatologist friend, Richard Lindzen, Roy Spencer, John Theon, Timothy Ball and many other “skeptics” are elite people in the field of climatology. And their views are being drown out by people like Al Gore who flunked out of divinity school (and then law school).

  5. By the way, you left out an important caveat in Peshnell’s prediction: “But like other forecasters, he knows he could be wrong. Bull or bear? Stay tuned for updates.”

    This is to say we still have a lot to learn about the sun. For example, we don’t know what caused the ice ages, and it is not so speculative to suggest that they were caused by extreme solar minimums that none of us has ever seen in our lifetimes, nor in recorded history. What we do know is that solar minimums have caused little ice ages. Please consider the following quote from Nasa site:

    Unusually low solar activity, indicated by little or no sunspot activity, between 1645 and 1715 likely triggered the Little Ice Age in Europe and North America. During this event, known as the Maunder Minimum, astronomers observed only about 50 sunspots over a 30-year period as opposed to a more typical 40-50,000 spots. The sun normally shows signs of variability, such as its eleven-year sunspot cycle. Within that cycle, it goes from a minimum to a maximum period of activity represented by a peak in sunspots and flare activity.

  6. We know exactly what causes the glacial and interglacial cycles (ice ages).
    http://www.eoearth.org/article/Milankovitch_cycles

    Please learn some elementary climatology before you try to debate this stuff.

  7. So Lindzen, who is a dean of climatology and knows way more than you do, is an extremist denier. But I don’t know anything about climatology, so that I am an ignoramus who should just shut up. Yet I was not relying on my own evidence when I suggested that sunspots may have an effect on Ice Ages but on the NASA site. Did you want to tell the NASA guys that I quoted that they should also stay out of the debate? Furthermore, the evidence presented on the page you linked is no problem for my view, since I believe that the sun’s heat or lack thereof is the most significant and the driving factor in climate change, not the burning of carbon fuels or the flatulence of cows.

    I told you that the anthropogenic global warming theory is not science but religion, because it is not falsifiable. You’ve just shown that it is not science, because by your own admission the greatest climate changes that this planet has ever seen (the ice ages and the subsequent warm periods) have nothing to do with greenhouse effect but about the proximity of the earth to the sun, if the theory presented on the page that you linked is correct. But even that is not enough to convince you that mankind is not destroying the climate.


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