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March 20, 2007


Al Fin

Interesting. Not only can the investigators show that crop yields are down (?) due to warming, but due exclusively to human-caused warming! These are very sharp investigators, indeed.

This type of study is an obvious attempt to take advantage of current hyper-interest in anthropogenic warming. The grant money is there for AGW, if you can tie your study in.


Al Fin, it is an estimate based on a reasonabe set of assumptions. All they did was take into account the temperature rise due to human produced GHGs, as assessed by the IPCC and then multiply it by the reduction in yields per degree warming that they assess from comparing crop yields under different conditions. Doesn't sound like rocket science to me.


ps Al, would you rather not know this kind of info?


I will concede that the press release associated with this research can easily be misunderstood. Certainly overall crop yields have gone up over the time frame.


Why would food be grown outdoors, instead of inside windowless nuclear-powered PVA-ECC domes?


Food prices are soaring already due to ethanol production from corn.

Aquifers are diminishing and polluted. Drought is stalking farm country, with a chemical toxin laden dust bowl ready to blow the inert soil away.

Drought is a big part of global climate disaster from GHGs.

Look for ever increasing inflation in food and fuel prices. And stagnation due to perpetual oil war, job outsourcing, and debt. Consumer debt, government debt, and corporate debt.

Only one way out. Renewable energy revolution.


Nucbuddy--the problem here is the water. How is a hideously expensive nuclear power plant/sports dome going to help things? drive up the price of food so that nobody wants to buy it anymore???

Instead, why not plant farms under the skirt of Enviromission's solar tower, with irrigation in the form of all the water collected on the roof? perhaps for more water, you could bring in seawater, put it in tubes were it's hottest, and have it evaporate for energy and irrigation. I don't know if that would work, however...



At the same time, the world's populations is at an all time high and malnutrition is at an all time low. According to them, hunger should be growing, but it isn't.



Bde2200, overall production is growing. Its just that it would be even greater if it weren't for global warming. They estimate the loss, or in economic terms you might call it opportunity cost, due to anthropogenic warming. As I said earlier, its a bit of a misleading press release.

From DC

Completely bogus. They cannot possibly have accurately measured global crop yields. Africa? India? China? Do these people keep good records on crops? Is the average Chinese farmer anxious to show his harvest to the local commissar? Do hungry African countries invest a lot of money in gathering accurate harvest statistics?

If the study measured a smaller sample the extrapolation would be bogus, and a smaller geographic area(say, US crop yields) is subject to local temperatures, not global. And regardless of the sample size how could they ever separate the effects of temperature from the effects of variations in precipation, farming methods, severe weather events, and the crops themselves?

But they wrote a nice press release for the gullible.


"From DC", have you read the paper? I don't think you have any clue about what your're talking about. Unless you can come up with some specific evidence against/criticisms related to their methods


then leave it to the professionals. This paper did get through peer review and judging from Lobell's record he is no lightweight (previous publications in Science).

Al Fin

Obviously a garbage study--but if you can get funded and published, why not? Just tieing your study to AGW will often do the trick, with a lot of funding agencies and peer reviewers.


Mouseplatterman wrote: Nucbuddy--the problem here is the water. How is a hideously expensive nuclear power plant/sports dome going to help things?

The powered-agridome maximizes yield-per-area and eliminates loss from adverse weather events. The temperature is kept perfect. The lighting is kept perfect. The humidity is kept perfect. Water loss is zero. Pest level is zero. Soil degradation is zero, because there is no soil.

Growing is done 24 hours/day, seven day/week, on multiple tiers. The dome is 1000 feet in diameter by 500 feet high, for a total 3-dimensional hydroponic growing-space of 260 million square feet. If it can be built for $50/square-foot of floor space, the dome only costs about $39 million, which is about 15 cents per cubic-foot of growing-space.

The electricity from the reactor only costs ~2-3 cents/kwh, levelized over 100 years of reactor production.


Its quite sad how science is accepted by some people until it tells them what they don't want to hear. Its a shame reality doesn't always go your way but really, you have to grow up sometime.

From DC

Marcus, you mean I should read their paper before spouting off?

Guess I will take a look.

From DC

Marcus, I am sure the peer-reviewed statistical gymnastics are valid. But I am skeptical that the data on which the analysis is based can be accurate enough to support a sound conclusion. "Average global yields ... were obtained from the Food and Agriculture Organization." GIGO.


Well, in detail I would agree that it may be hard to get accurate yields from every farmer in China for instance. However from doing a tiny bit of reading on the Food and Agricultural Organization (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_and_Agriculture_Organization#FAO_Statistics)
I certainly wouldn't be dismissing their data out of hand. They have been at this job for a while.


marcus, there is a lot of politically driven science being done right now. I guess there always has been. Even the most respected individuals and institutions can be wrong and can be questioned. Maybe this study is accurate, but it is right to be skeptical.

You must certainly agree that it is very counter-intuitive that a longer growing season correlates with lower yields. I won’t get worried about the food supply until I see more hunger. What we have seen during the last 20-30 years is a lot less hunger. When we do see it, as in Ethiopia a few years back, it was the result of forced collectivization of agriculture, or government expropriation of farms, as in Zimbabwe, not climate change. (Two more lessons to those who want to impose 5 year plans on the rest of us, as if any more were needed.)


I think anyone publishing papers like this now probably recieves more scrutiny by reviewers than ever before because of concernts such as yours Bde2200. I think the vast majority of scientists know that if poor quality papers get published in a field such as this their impact will surely be lessened shortly down the road. Afterall, any hole that can be found is usually blown way out of proportion by the various political think-tanks and institutes out there with their anti-climate change agenda. As a rule I would urge that all peer-reviewed papers in reputable journals be considered seriously and with respect unless a valid criticism of them is also publised in a peer-reviewed, high quality science journal.


Just to add, the politics comes in when goverments decide on science funding priorities and fund accordingly. Yes, there is a draw card for scientists to do research on these topics, but that is exactly the idea and it has always worked this way. It certainly doesn't mean the science itself is low quality. Since climate change is such a big issue I find it quite natural that a body such as the DOE (which contracted the research) prioritize research in this area. How else are we going to know what's really going on?


"As a rule I would urge that all peer-reviewed papers in reputable journals be considered seriously and with respect unless a valid criticism of them is also publised in a peer-reviewed, high quality science journal."

The problem with this is that it always favors orthodoxy. The minority view is always at a disadvantage because of the inherent conservatism of established bodies, regardless of the merits. The history of science is full of examples of unpopular theories and data being ignored by the scholastic heavyweights of the time. This is especially true when the subject of the debate is emotionally and politically charged.


I would say (as a scientist and reviewer myself) that the number of worthy ideas out there that never made it into publication is a drop in the ocean compared to the number of fantasies out there that are legitimately rejected. I don’t think you understand how modern science works. Science isn’t ruled by committee. We are not talking about the dark ages when Galileo was silenced by the inquisition. Modern science is multinational and competitive. There are simply too many scientists out there for a good idea, backed up by real data, to be continually fobbed off due to some kind of conservatism. In the end what basis do you have, as a layman, for believing ideas not able to get past reviewers into print? I would propose pure political bias.


Gees, even a farmer could not tell you what of his own crop he has lost due to which weather.

5G$/year ??? This study must have tortured the data till they confess.


Let's get fucked up and die.

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I don’t think you understand how modern science works. Science isn’t ruled by committee. We are not talking about the dark ages when Galileo was silenced by the inquisition. Modern science is multinational and competitive.

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