Global Warming Is Creating Perfect Crop Conditions
The news media are flush with stories claiming global warming is crushing global crop production. According to the media, global warming is putting the hurt on two of our favorite indulgences – coffee and beer.
The news media are flush with stories claiming global warming is crushing global crop production. According to the media, global warming is putting the hurt on two of our favorite indulgences – coffee and beer. For the more globally conscious (or less caffeinated/less inebriated) among us, the media are also focusing attention on an alleged African corn crisis. A look at facts rather than alarmist speculation, however, shows global warming is strongly benefiting nearly all global crops, including coffee, beer barley, and African corn.
Without a doubt, global warming is affecting global crop production. The tremendous improvement in global crop production and worldwide growing conditions during recent decades is one of the most important yet least reported news events of our time. As the earth continues to recover from the abnormally cold conditions of the centuries-long Little Ice Age, warmer temperatures, improving soil moisture, and more abundant atmospheric carbon dioxide have helped bring about a golden age for global agricultural production.
During the past decade, which alarmists claim is the warmest in recent history, record per-acre yields have been recorded for nearly every important U.S. crop. During the past five years alone, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, record per-acre yields have been registered for barley, beans, canola, corn, cotton, flaxseed, oats, peanuts, potatoes, rice, sorghum, soybeans, sugarbeets, sunflowers, and wheat.
Global crop yields have also registered spectacular growth as global temperatures have warmed. Global grain harvests have nearly tripled since 1961. As is the case in the U.S., nearly every important global crop has attained record productivity during the past five years, including the Big Three corn, rice, and wheat crops.
Indeed, while the media claim global warming is threatening our morning coffee, farmers are preparing to harvest a record global coffee crop. While the media claim global warming is jeopardizing our beer bellies by harming barley production, U.S. farmers in 2009 netted their highest ever barley yield per acre. Claims that global warming is harming African corn production are the most ridiculous of all.
During the past decade, African nations have registered record harvests in a variety of crops, including corn and rice. Moreover, the modestly warming climate is stimulating more frequent and abundant rainfall which, together with more atmospheric carbon dioxide, is greening the African continent.
A March 2009 study in the peer-reviewed Biogeosciences reported the Sahel region of the southern Sahara Desert was growing greener, sending the Sahara desert into retreat. According to the study, “satellite sensors have recently shown that much of the region has experienced significant increases in photosynthetic activity since the early 1980s.” According to the study, more abundant rainfall was the most likely cause, more than compensating for higher evaporation rates due to modestly rising temperatures.
A July 2009 National Geographic News article confirmed the Biogeosciences study. “Emerging evidence is painting a very different scenario, one in which rising temperatures could benefit millions of Africans in the driest parts of the continent,” National Geographic News reported.
“Scientists are now seeing signals that the Sahara desert and surrounding regions are greening due to increasing rainfall. If sustained, these rains could revitalize drought-ravaged regions, reclaiming them for farming communities,” National Geographic News explained. “This desert-shrinking trend is supported by climate models, which predict a return to conditions that turned the Sahara into a lush savanna some 12,000 years ago,” the article noted.
A January 2007 study in the peer-reviewed science journal Geology explained the greening of Africa in a longer-term context. According to the study, much of Africa is currently “experiencing an unusually prolonged period of stable, wet conditions in comparison to previous centuries of the past millennium. … The patterns and variability of 20th century rainfall in central Africa have been unusually conducive to human welfare in the context of the past 1400 years.”
While alarmists cry about global warming and crop devastation, consumers in the real world have never had such an abundance of plenty.