Tuesday, August 08, 2006

More Global Warming Insanity

From ABC News, Global Warming Could Slam Food supply.

Where to start, where to start ...

To begin with, this piece isn't really about global warming at all, it's about the effect of the recent summer heat wave on agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley. The reporters then twist it all into a cautionary tale about the perils of global warming. Of course, anecdotal science is not science at all, but I guess that's just beside the point. I suppose we should start at the beginning ...

Suppose the dinner on your table last night had cost 20 times what it did? Or 50 times as much? Scientists say global warming very likely has something like that in store in the coming decades.

Scientists don't say any such thing, at least not in this article. And scientists don't generally talk about prices to begin with- economists will tell you about prices. Basically, the article starts out with an unfounded global warming scare. It gets better.

In that double heat wave, Fresno County, Calif., alone suffered $85 million in beef, dairy and poultry losses. That's not surprising, as they had 20 days exceeding 100 degrees, including three consecutive days of 113 degrees.

Once again, these anecdotal stories about specific local weather conditions don't tell us much of anything about global warming- additionally, the effects of warmer temperatures would likely be dependant upon a wide variety of local conditions. In other words, Fresno County's experiences with higher temperatures and hotter weather could be completely different from the experiences of other communities.

Scientists now calculate that man-made global warming makes the chances of events such as the deadly 2003 European heat wave, which killed more than 35,000 people, twice as likely — and that by 2040 Europe could well experience such serious heat waves every other year.

Just a little side comment- 35,000 people died in Europe in the heat wave because civilized as the Europeans are, they don't have the American love for air conditioning. Who ever died from a heat wave while sitting in an air conditioned room?

The warming attacks in different ways. Blossoms may open weeks too soon, before insects arrive to pollinate them, and fruit trees may produce weaker crops because there are fewer cool nights, which the trees need for recovering between harvests.

This is just ridiculous- as if nature doesn't adjust to climate changes. Plants that may struggle in their current habitats, may thrive in new ones.

The agricultural miracle of the San Joaquin Valley — crops stretching in every direction literally as far as the eye can see — simply wouldn't be possible if the farmers tried to pull it off with the natural weather. It only rains eight inches a year, and almost all of that in the wintertime.

In other words, farming thrives here because man-made alterations to the natural climate. And we're supposed to be worried because ... ? Here in the San Joaquin Valley we have some of the nation’s most productive farmland, where it only rains 8 inches per year. Clearly, we have the ability to alter natural conditions to better suit our needs, and I see no evidence that global warming would prevent us from doing so in the future. Maybe the San Joaquin Valley will become more difficult to farm, but once again, that doesn't mean the rest of the world will experience the exact same problems. Quite the contrary, as the article points out, these conditions here are unique to the San Joaquin Valley.

But computer model projections shown to ABC News by eminent climatologist Steve Schneider at Stanford University, and other calculations from California state water boards, now warn that because of global warming the mountain snowpack so essential to all the food is most likely to be not only melting out too fast in the spring, but diminishing drastically — by as much as 90 percent, according to some computer models — before the end of the century, well within the lifetime of today's kids.

Given everything in this story report, even the slightest climate changes may well have negative effects on the San Joaquin Valley. But once again, the ability of this one small valley to produce food is hardly indicative of the ability to produce food on a worldwide scale. The report headlines how global warming could "slam" the food supply, but this is dishonest. Climate changes in the San Joaquin Valley may well lead to high prices for apricots, almonds, raisins, and olives, as 95% of these products are produced in the Valley. But that hardly means overall food prices will increase by the 10 or 50 times the article warns us about. And not to beat a dead horse, but what are the tradeoffs here? I'll take temporary high prices on a few select fruits and nuts over having to give up joyriding in my car.

Perhaps the biggest problem with all the global warming hysteria is the utter lack of discussion about any benefits of climate change. Whether the climate was warming, or cooling, undergoing any changes, I find it impossible to believe that in addition to some regions being harmed by the changes, other regions would benefit from the changes. Yet rarely is a mention made in the media (or in any discussion of global warming) about any possible benefits of climate change. All we here is disaster, disaster, disaster, because that's the global warming storyline.

And finally, I'm well aware of the fact that I make a number of broad assumptions up above, assumptions which could well be proven completely wrong. I only make these assumptions to make the point that those in the prevailing side of the global warming debate make the opposite sorts of assumptions, with just as little evidence as I have in making my contrary assumptions.

I make these points not to hold my head in the sand, but to provide a countervailing viewpoint. I'll end by asking all my readers who sounds more rational? The lonely libertarian, the global warming skeptic, or my friends at Democratic Underground, patiently waiting for the global warming apocalypse?

smirkymonkey: This is how I think the human race will start dying out. It will start w/ massive crop failures, diseased animals, oceanic dead zones - which will all affect the worlds food supply. Combine that with oil and water shortages and we are doomed as a species.

niallmac: The question I have is will there be humans left after all the catastrophe business is over. We will be facing famine, disease floods, droughts and the spasm of global wars that only humans can inflict upon themselves so well. Thinning of the herd, I should say so.

femrap: So please people.....think very seriously about reproducing. Tell your children and grandchildren to think very seriously about reproducing. Bringing children into a world that is dying is not a nice thing to do. Tell them to adopt or get a pet.


Anonymous Larissa said...

Also, isn't this kind of a hypocritical complaint? "Waaa....Waaa...Waa....Global warming is killing our crops." Well, wait a minute, you changed the Valley's natural habitat and altered it to suit your needs, perhaps by over-extending natural resources and changing the balance of the climate in that area, and now you're complaining because it's not working anymore? Who's fault is that. Now here is a timeless American tradition: Blame someone else.

8:30 AM  

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