Yesterday I looked at some commonly viewed indicators of climate change–temperatures, sea level rise, drought and storms. Today I will look at some equally common indicators of climate impacts–agriculture, key species and a few others if I find the stats.
Because it’s so early in the year, 2014 statistics aren’t available for some of the indicators. Where that is the case we look at trends since 2000, comprising the period where 14 of the warmest 15 years in the temperature record have occurred.
In what may have been the warmest year in the modern temperature record, how did agriculture fare? The FAO in October reported that “Global markets for most foodstuffs are characterized by abundant supplies and less uncertainty than in recent years” in their October biannual report ‘Food Outlook‘. Their December check on prices show that prices for major foodstuffs have declined since then, an indication that the situation continues to improve. Record global production was reached for wheat, cassava and coarse grains.
Since 2000, malaria, predicted by some climate scientists to become wider spread due to warmer temperatures, has seen mortality decrease by 47% worldwide and by 54% in the WHO Africa region, where about 90% of malaria deaths occur. As for global spread, “In 2013, 2 countries reported zero indigenous cases for the first time (Azerbaijan and Sri Lanka), and 11 countries succeeded in maintaining zero cases (Argentina, Armenia, Egypt, Georgia, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Oman, Paraguay, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan). Another 4 countries reported fewer than 10 local cases annually (Algeria, Cabo Verde, Costa Rica and El Salvador).”
Polar bear populations have been a political football for decades and 2014 is no different. The global population of polar bears appears to be robust. Data is not available for several key regions where polar bears are found. The bears are mobile and migrate easily to areas where their food supply goes and where ice conditions are most congenial. So, although some sectors see populations rising and some falling, it is not clear whether this is because of birth/death ratios, migrations or just bears going on temporary walkabout. The same sentence could have been written 20 years ago, not exactly a testament to modern scientific data collection. Explore for yourself: The ‘consensus’ view is here, a skeptical view here and what may be a synthesis view here. Readers are warned that I personally believe each of those views are more political than anything else. Time to find another icon–charismatic megafauna are in short supply, but certainly one could be found…
Global economic output grew by about 3.5% in 2014 according to the IMF. Since 2000, during the period of 14 of the 15 warmest years, global GDP has tripled from $40 trillion to $120 trillion USD at PPP (Purchasing Power Parity). In inflation adjusted nominal terms, global output has almost doubled, to $74 trillion USD.
According to the CIA World Factbook, global mortality in terms of the crude death rate has declined from 8.37 in 2009 to 7.89 in 2013. During the period since 1950 it has declined from 19.5 per 1,000 to its present level.
The point in this post and the previous one should be becoming clearer. Just as the IPCC has noted, any effects of global warming that may harm humans are for the future, not the present. Hysterical claims of extreme weather, rapid spread of disease and economic catastrophe are just that–hysterical claims. As the IPCC has noted, even with higher sensitivity, impacts on the planet will turn negative some time after 2040 (or 2070, according to a report Richard Tol wrote for the Copenhagen Consensus). If sensitivity is lower it may be even later.
In another post I will look at the twin issues of climate refugees and climate deaths.