Whale Oil – another crank post on climate change

Whale Oil had two posts yesterday trying to discredit climate change. See Whale Oil – journalist or one eyed crank?

The second was just as blatantly one-eyed from Cameron Slater – Bugger, another global warming catastrophe claim busted.

It looks like, contrary to the alarmists views, that global warming is actually helping wheat production, not hindering it.

Anything starting with a reference to ‘alarmists’ raises wee warning bells. Slater then quotes:

Forbes reports:

Global wheat production set new records in 2013 and 2014, contradicting alarmists’ claims that global warming is reducing wheat harvests.

But this isn’t a Forbes report. It’s an opinion piece by ‘contributor’ James Taylor. It is clearly stated that “Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.”

The first link is to ClimateChangeConsidered.org which is headlined by Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) – which is linked to the Heartland Institute, another warning bell.

The Heartland Institute is an American conservative and libertarian public policy think tank based in Chicago, which states that it advocates free market policies.

In the 1990s, the group worked with the tobacco company Philip Morris to question serious cancer risks to secondhand smoke, and to lobby against government public-health reforms. More recently, the Institute has focused on questioning the science of human-caused climate change, and was described by the New York Times as “the primary American organization pushing climate change skepticism.”

The Institute has sponsored meetings of climate change skeptics,and has been reported to promote public school curricula challenging the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change.

They use similar tactics to the anti-evolution lobby in the US.

Heartland Institute questions scientific opinion on climate change, arguing that global warming is not occurring and, further, that warming might be beneficial if it did occur. The institute is a member organization of the Cooler Heads Coalition, which describes itself as “an informal and ad-hoc group focused on dispelling the myths of global warming.”

Back to Taylor:

Global warming alarmists and their lapdog media allies decided Christmas Week 2014 should be filled with claims that global warming is crushing wheat production. Grist, Reuters, the UKGuardian, and the Columbus Dispatch are among the many news organizations parroting alarmist assertions that global warming is reducing wheat harvests

Four references to ‘alarmist’ in the first two paragraphs (and fourteen in the article).

Reuters did not indicate whether it had fact-checked the straightforward claim that global crop yields have been declining in recent decades. Reuters also failed to provide any countering viewpoint, giving readers the impression that declining global wheat yields are universally recognized.

Knowing, however, that global warming alarmists and their ventriloquist dummies in the media often make straightforward factual claims that are proven false by objective, verifiable data, I decided to fact-check their straightforward claim about declining global wheat yields.

I decided to check some of Taylor’s claims. The UK Guardian: Global warming will cut wheat yields, research shows.

Production of wheat – one of the world’s most important staple crops – is set to fall by 6% for every 1C rise in temperature, say scientists.

Global wheat yields are likely to fall significantly as climate change takes hold, new research has shown .

The researchers found that wheat production would fall by 6% for every 1C increase in temperatures. The world is now nearly certain to warm by up to 2C compared with pre-industrial levels, with political efforts concentrated on holding the potential temperature rise to no higher than that limit. But some analyses suggest that if greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow at current rates then warming of as much as 5C could be in store.

A fall of 6% in yield may not sound dramatic, but as the world’s population grows the pressure on staple crops will increase.

That’s talking about future wheat yields, not past yields. And it states “a fall of 6% in yield may not sound dramatic”, compared to Taylor’s statement “that global warming is crushing wheat production”.

It turns out the alarmists and their media allies are also telling lies about wheat production in the very nations and continents they claim are experiencing wheat production declines — India, Africa, Brazil and Australia.

Let’s start by looking at Africa. Egypt is the only African nation that cracks the global top 20 in wheat production. In Egypt, wheat output has quadrupled during the past three decades, with the past 10 years producing the 10 highest wheat crops in Egyptian history. This is quite a contradiction to Reuters’ claim that “In recent decades, wheat yields had declined in hotter sites such as India, Africa, Brazil and Australia….”

Let’s start by pointing out that cherry picking Egypt doesn’t prove anything about Africa as a whole.

Then note that wheat output is not the same as wheat yield.

But if you want to look at facts on production here is the total world wheat production over the twelve years to 2013:

  • 2002 – 574.7 million metric tonnes
  • 2003 – 560.3
  • 2004 – 633.3
  • 2005 – 628.7
  • 2006 – 605.9
  • 2007 – 607.0
  • 2008 – 683.4
  • 2009 – 685.6
  • 2010 – 651.4
  • 2011 – 704.1
  • 2012 – 674.9
  • 2013 – 713.2

Global wheat is forecast to reach a record level of 725 million tonnes in 2014 (and total cereal production is also forecast to be a record).

But remember that there is still quite a lot of people with insufficient food.

And the world population has increased to a similar extent and is predicted to keep rising.

  • 2000 – 6,074 billion
  • 2005 – 6,454
  • 2015 – 7,324
  • 2020 – 7,717
  • 2025 – 8,083
  • 2030 – 8,425
  • 2035 – 8,743
  • 2040 – 9,039
  • 2045 – 9,308
  • 2050 – 9,551

Even a small drop (like 6%) in food production would have a serious impact. In fact if the population increases by 30% as predicted by 2050 then we will need a similar increase in food production.

But Slater and Taylor would seem to prefer to raise the level of cranky alarmist rhetoric and cherry pick data to suit their bias (or agenda) rather than look at the facts that matter.

Taylor concludes:

This newest round of global warming alarmism –with global warming activists and their willfully ignorant media allies attempting to dupe people into believing global warming is causing a decline in wheat harvests – is a perfect illustration of all that is wrong with the alarmist global warming movement.

The alarmists count on people being either too stupid or too detached from the objective facts to discover the falsity of the alarmists’ claims. Fortunately, however, people are smarter than the alarmists think.

Slater responded:

Yes they are…which is why alarmists try to stifle debate and run contrarian views out of town.

Very ironic considering the extent Slater has stifled debate and run contrarian views out of Whale Oil.

Taylor and Slater count on their audience being too stupid to look for objective facts to expose their crank counter claims.

Leave a comment


  1. Kittycatkin

     /  4th January 2015

    I am a climate change sceptic, given that it has happened over and over throughout history-look at the mini ice age that made winters in the Tudor era wretched.

    • Obviously there has always been climate change. The issue is whether human effects will change it more rapidly than it would have changwed naturally.

      If we started to change towards an ice age then some human warming would be handy. But if we add warmikng to a warming cycle – as the population keeops increasing – then we could have significant problems.

    • Kittycatkin: I don’t think any sane person argues that there isn’t natural climate change. The “Little Ice Age” you refer to was caused by really very minor factors – a very minor reduction in solar output and possibly an increase is sulphur dioxide due to volcanoes. So you accept that very minor changes can produce really bad effects for us – i.e. a marginal increase in sulphur dioxide resulted in freezing winters.

      And it is an indisputable fact that for most of history, we have had roughly 280ppm of CO2 – in a relatively short period of time, the human race has lifted that to almost 400ppm. That is not a marginal change.

      Slater is a crank. I am not sure what he is arguing, except that we can continue to pump huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere without consequence.
      Yet on the other hand, he gets very bothered at Nitrogen leaching into waterways from farms, where he argues that even marginal increases in N will have a devastating effect on water quality and we should take a precautionary approach. He is completely inconsistent.

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  4th January 2015

    More nonsense, Pete. Obviously wheat production has increased despite large CO2 increases. Why on earth do you believe models instead of actual data?

    Unscientific hogwash.

    • I quoted actual data of wheat production. Do you think that can be increased another 30% in the next thirty years (just to keep up with population increases)? Along with all other food production? That’s a bigger issue than climate change effects, which may or may not make the problem worse.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  4th January 2015

        That’s a completely separate issue but the simple answer is yes. There is no reason to believe technology coupled with improved democracy and stable liberal government will stop innovating and improving productivity.

  3. Like most things.. the biggest climate change deniers are those who have most to lose from curtailing the CO2, from burning fossil fuels.

    If it is just a myth or a natural cycle, then why have the hottest ten years (in a century) apparently occurred in the last 15 ?
    Methinks the fact, that CO2 content in the atmosphere has now passed 350ppm maybe a contributing factor..

    • One of the indicators of climate change is the way that the polar icecaps grow or shrink. The disparity in the change in ice levels says that CO2 is not the driver, since CO2 levels are the same in both hemispheres (although there is a greater seasonal fluctuation in the northern hemisphere due to the greater land mass for plants).

  4. PS the song says ‘9 million bicycles in Beijing’ BUT I think they are now replaced by 9 million cars, belching out CO2

  5. “Global wheat production set new records in 2013 and 2014, contradicting alarmists’ claims that global warming is reducing wheat harvests.”

    Logic fail. There hasn’t been any global warming to speak of over almost the last two decades, so it can’t be a factor in new records for global wheat production.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  4th January 2015

      No, but increased atmospheric CO2 can be and almost certain is.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  4th January 2015

        God, I hate autocorrect. When can we have an edit function, Pete?

        Certainly, not certain.


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