The Greenhouse Effect

The sun came out in W. Oregon today, and a welcome visitor it was. Temps shot up into the upper 50’s, a comforting change from the soggy lower 40’s. I swear the grass grew an inch.

Much to do on Mike’s Back Acres: pruning, spraying, planting of trees, tilling, planting of peas, starting starts in the greenhouse, etc. In the coming weeks more time must be spent on the agrarian actual, less on the digital virtual, which will be nice for me.

The solar blessing of the day got me to thinking about the dreaded greenhouse effect.

I assume we all know why greenhouses have that word “green” attached. And that we all know why people build them and what greenhouses are used for. In case there is any confusion, greenhouses are places for growing plants, where the climate can be warmed, because plants like it warm.

Some folks worry that global warming, should it occur, will have a negative impact on agriculture. Grotesque Algore warns of “agricultural deterioration” [here]. Obama’s spanking new Secretary of Energy and Media-acclaimed genius-type Steven Chu warned [here]:

“I don’t think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen,” Chu told the newspaper. “We’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California.

Excuse me? You’re tripping, Stevo. Plants like it warm. The warmest places on the planet are Equatorial jungles, and they’re called jungles for a reason.

The warmest place in California is the Imperial Valley, a below-sea-level inland basin south of Death Valley. It is also one of the most productive agricultural areas in the USA. In 2007 tiny Imperial County produced $1.37 billion in farm commodities [here].

Get it? Warmer is better for agriculture. Farmers in the Imperial Valley are harvesting right now while farmers in the Willamette Valley are looking at rain-soaked fields and just starting to think about planting.

The urban know-nothing press is very confused about this. From the BBC a year ago:

Climate ‘could devastate crops’

The BBC, 31 January 2008 [here]

Climate change could cause severe crop losses in South Asia and southern Africa over the next 20 years, a study in the journal Science says.

The findings suggest southern Africa could lose more than 30% of its main crop, maize, by 2030. In South Asia losses of many regional staples, such as rice, millet and maize could top 10%, the report says.

The effects in these two regions could be catastrophic without effective measures to adapt to climate change.

The majority of the world’s one billion poor depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Yet, said lead author David Lobell, it is also “the human enterprise most vulnerable to climate change”.

Nope, David my good man, agriculture is the human enterprise most likely to benefit from a warming of the climate. Warmer climate means more rain, longer growing seasons, and bumper crops. Rising CO2 levels are also good for plants, since CO2 is the principal component (nutrient) of photosynthesis.

James Shortle, distinguished professor of agricultural and environmental economics at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences notes [here]:

Climate change is likely to benefit our state’s agriculture. … Higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere should stimulate photosynthesis and raise crop yields, while crops may also benefit from additional spring and summer rainfall and warmer temperatures.

In Mendelsohn, Robert and Dinar, Ariel, 1999. “Climate Change, Agriculture, and Developing Countries: Does Adaptation Matter?,” World Bank Research Observer, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(2), the authors point out:

… Although agronomic simulation models predict that higher temperatures will reduce grain yields as the cool wheat-growing areas get warmer, they have not examined the possibility that farmers will adapt by making production decisions that are in their own best interests.

Computer models frequently go haywire and predict impending doom from global warming, but the darn things fail to factor in the farmers. No doubt, in those countries where agriculture is centrally controlled by imbecile bureaucrats running haywire computer models, agriculture is in trouble, global warming or not. But where actual on-the-ground farmers make decisions in their own best interests, agriculture blossoms.

Ayup. There is a lesson here about liberty and property rights that is lost on the imbecile bureaucracy.

An article in ScienceNOW 28 May 2008: 5, entitled “Climate Change Is Bad News for U.S. Agriculture” [here] notes:

The authors, which included federal and academic scientists, found big changes in store for the $200 billion U.S. agriculture industry. IPCC last year forecast a 1.2 degrees C temperature increase for the continental United States over the next 30 years. The authors of the report used that figure to see how crops would respond to such a temperature increase, according to the existing literature. (Warmer weather can help crops, but it can also damage them, for example, by making pollen infertile.) Corn grown in the United States could see as much as a 4% reduction in its yield per acre, the study concluded, whereas rice grown in the South could see a 12% cut. Higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could stem the losses, however: Soybean farmers in the Midwest, for example, may see up to a 10% boost in their yields. Moreover, farmers may be able to adapt to many of the changes by altering planting times or the crops they grow, says plant physiologist Jerry Hatfield of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service in Ames, Iowa.

Emphasis added. The central planners are screaming the sky is falling, while the people who are responsible for actual productivity would be happy to see a little warming.

Those who can, do. Those who can’t sit in government offices going crazy and spouting hysterical brainless alarmism, probably because they know they are worthless in every respect and are searching for something, anything, no matter how absurd, to justify their welfare checks paid for by the non-governmental productive sectors.

Of course, the most worthless slugs and trough suckers in whole world work for the United Nations. The UN Food and Agriculture Magnus Bloatus Bizarro Secretariat wants to shut down agriculture in order to prevent global warming [here]:

UNFAO: Agriculture’s role in climate change

Agriculture is responsible for an estimated one third of global warming and climate change. It is generally agreed that about 25% of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, is produced by agricultural sources, mainly deforestation and the burning of biomass. Most of the methane in the atmosphere comes from domestic ruminants, forest fires, wetland rice cultivation and waste products, while conventional tillage and fertilizer use account for 70% of the nitrous oxides.

The FAO wants to kill off all the farmers. They think that’ll save the planet.

Here’s a better plan: deny UN bureaucrats access to farm commodities. Let them eat dirt. No soup for you! That strategy is completely functional and will solve a chronic major world problem in a week.

The IPCC Third Assessment Report “Climate Change 2001″ notes that:

5.3.5. Modeling Impacts and Adaptation in a Global Economy

As a result [of global warming], impacts on aggregate welfare are a small percentage of GDP and tend to be positive, especially when the effects of CO2 fertilization are incorporated.

The Fourth Assessment “Climate Change 2007″ opines:

Crop productivity is projected to increase slightly at mid to high latitudes for local mean temperature increases of up to 1-3°C depending on the crop, and then decrease beyond that in some regions. * D [5.4]

Globally, the potential for food production is projected to increase with increases in local average temperature over a range of 1-3°C, but above this it is projected to decrease. * D [5.4, 5.ES]

Globally, commercial timber productivity rises modestly with climate change in the short- to medium-term, with large regional variability around the global trend. * D [5.4]

Here’s the gist: even the super-alarmist IPCC acknowledges that warmer is better for agriculture.

There is, sadly, very little likelihood that global temperatures will increase 3°C. If they do, it will take a hundred years to get there. For the last ten years global temps have been falling, despite all that CO2 floating around (a whopping 380 parts per million). Major oceanic changes bode colder global temps for the next thirty years, at least. From Don J. Easterbrook. 2008. Global Cooling Is Here! Evidence for Predicting Global Cooling For the Next Three Decades [here]:

The IPCC prediction of global temperatures, 1° F warmer by 2011 and 2° F by 2038 (Fig. 1), stand little chance of being correct. NASA’s imagery showing that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) has shifted to its cool phase is right on schedule as predicted by past climate and PDO changes (Easterbrook, 2001, 2006, 2007). The PDO typically lasts 25-30 years and assures North America of cool, wetter climates during its cool phases and warmer, drier climates during its warm phases. The establishment of the cool PDO, together with similar cooling of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), virtually assures several decades of global cooling and the end of the past 30-year warm phase. It also means that the IPCC predictions of catastrophic global warming this century were highly inaccurate.

Which is a bummer for agriculturalists. But we can adapt. I’m expanding my greenhouse. And I may plant more cold weather crops, like broccoli, and fewer tomatoes. Tomatoes tend not to get ripe when PDO La Nina cold fronts sweep through in August. Potatoes do fine, though. It could be that potatoes will be worth their weight in gold next Fall, when the economy has totally tanked and ragged UN bureaucrats come begging for a morsel to eat.

Meanwhile, the sun came out today. It was a most welcome climate change here in the Valley of the Big Drizzly Cloud.

2 Mar 2009, 8:46pm
by bear bait

Mike: put your pea seed in the ice tray, fill with water, freeze for a day or so and plant the ice cubes. Pea seeds need help to germinate. Start the shortest to ripening tomatoes now in the greenhouse, and then find some of those water ring things to put around them when the days get longer. The sun warms the water by day, and at night the water radiates heat to keep the tomatoes warm. I think you do have to cover them. And quit watering them when you get fruit. Most Oregonians water their tomatoes too much, and too late. No water after August first, no matter what. OK… a little bit if we get a heat wave.

Put spuds and onion sets in now… my grandpa from Denmark used to grow his spuds on top of the dirt and the kept putting old straw on them as they grew so he could just reach in and pull out little new potatoes. He’d cook up those red spuds with onions in a white sauce, and flounder. He flounder fished before the Marine Mammals Act let the seals and sea lions eat all the flounder out of the bays. Now you can’t catch enough flounder in a week to make a good meal…

He would get a pickup load of chicken manure in the fall, and put that and straw on his garden spot. In the spring, he would turn it over with a spading fork. He grew huge tomatoes, and cukes, and little onions and red spuds… a Danish delight garden… they have been gone 40 years and I miss them every day. I guess it is up to me to raise a little Danish garden. Now if I only could make a decent loaf of pumpernickel.



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