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.