Feeding the world in a warming world

Chris Mooney, a man long recognized as one of the most alarmed of climate activists, writes in the Washington Post that “With a world population of 9 billion in 2050, wheat demand is expected to increase by 60%. To meet the demand, annual wheat yield increases must grow from the current level of below 1% to at least 1.6%.” That’s why the punchline of a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is pretty troubling. A warming climate, it suggests, could drive wheat yields in the opposite direction – down — in the United States and, possibly, elsewhere.”


The thrust of the article is that global warming will either reduce crop yields if there are more days with high temperatures above 34C, leave them the same or improve crop yields if there are fewer freezing days in the fall.

So of course the piece is headlined “Troubling new research says global warming will cut wheat yields”.

President Obama joined his voice to the scientific community’s in declaring (quite correctly) that 14 of the 15 highest recorded temperature years have occurred this century. Some have declared an increase in the number of heatwaves, droughts and dry spells falling short of drought.

So let’s see how that has impacted global wheat yields. We turn to the FAO, the UN Organization for Food and Agriculture, which for some reason wasn’t consulted for Mooney’s article. They show that wheat yields have increased from 585,690,886 tonnes in 2000 to 713,182,914 tonnes in 2013. The table doesn’t extend beyond 2013, but 2014 set records…

Mooney quoted the Wheat Institute as saying “To meet the demand, annual wheat yield increases must grow from the current level of below 1% to at least 1.6%.” But the FAO says historical growth for the past 15 years has been 1.34%. Someone will have to explain that to me.

At any rate, having the 14 hottest years since modern records began, having the supposed increase in droughts and heatwaves–has resulted in bumper harvests and record yields. Someone will have to explain that to me as well.

Given the rate of technology transfer and the ability of farmers in the developing world to improve yields by adopting modern agricultural methods, given the promise of genetically modified strains and the boost afforded by additional CO2, I really have to wonder if worrying about wheat is the most profitable use of our time.


9 responses to “Feeding the world in a warming world

  1. Mooney is an anti-communicator. Basically everything he says after “hello” is designed to promote his extremist gig and to look for ways to condemn those who dare disagree with him.
    Mooney is to science journalism what Lewandowsky is to science research: a waste of time.

  2. Perhaps the proper course of action is to reverse decolonization.
    Zimbabwe used to be a breadbasket and not a basketcase.

    • The climate consensus fanatics are seeking to impose a climate imperialism on the third world based on restricting access to carbon based energy sources.

  3. A few science facts:

    The rise in CO2 has resulted in a measurable ‘greening’ of the planet. Agricultural productivity is increasing due to more CO2.

    In a world where close to one-third of the population subsists on $2 a day or less, the rise in CO2 has literally kept some of them from starving.

    Conversely, if CO2 was lowered to 350 ppm as some propose, it would absolutely result in mass starvation.

    Finally, the rise in CO2 has been from about 3 parts in 10,000, to 4 parts in 10,000 over the past century. No global harm has been identified due to the rise in CO2, therefore it can be called “harmless”.

    Those demonizing “carbon” don’t seem concerned that masses of people on the other side of the world would starve if the demonizers got their way. I think those poor folks would surely think of them as demons, if they knew what was intended.

  4. It will be much easier to feed people in a warming world than a cooling world.
    Climate catastrophists are fools.

    • “Climate catastrophists are fools.” Now that promotes dialogue.

      • catweazle666

        “Now that promotes dialogue.”

        What has dialogue to do with it?

        The climate is going to do what it is going to do, as simple as that.

        A degree or two or three of warming along with a few ppm of CO2 will be of pretty much unmitigated benefit, especially if the population continues to increase.

        A degree or two of cooling will be an unmitigated catastrophe, billions will die.

        There is nothing that we humans can do to significantly alter that, any more than we can alter the time the sun rises.

        Dialogue will not affect it either way.

    • We can broaden that to include all catastrophists so they don’t feel so all alone.

  5. Marty,

    It’s simply the truth. The information is available: there is nothing either unusual or unprecedented happening with the global ‘climate’. In fact, the past century has been unusually benign. There is no evidence whatever of any problem.

    So if they insist on believing there is a climate catastrophe happening, I’d call them fools. YMMV.

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