April 12th 2014

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Articles from this issue:

EDITORIAL: Global warming to hit the latté set: IPCC

SCIENCE: Global cooling means the party's over

CLIMATE CHANGE: We are on the edge of the abyss

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Racial discrimination amendments rule out hate speech

OPINION: Claims of racism more damaging than the real thing

CINEMA: Christian critics pan the movie Noah

CANBERRA OBSERVED: MH370 disaster highlights maritime surveillance weaknesses

ENERGY: NSW farmers win breakthrough on gas exploration

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: Why economists failed to predict 2007/08 meltdown

NATION-BUILDING: You say you want a revolution?

HUMAN RIGHTS: Andrew Forrest backs bid to stamp out slavery

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: China trade roils Taiwanese students

LIFE ISSUES: A poor prognosis is not an argument for euthanasia


CULTURE: The Case of Mr Sherlock Holmes

BOOK REVIEW: Taking God to School, by Marion Maddox

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We are on the edge of the abyss

by David Archibald

News Weekly, April 12, 2014

There was a time in climate science when tree-ring data was used for good instead of evil, a time of innocent enquiry, a time that ended with the noble-cause corruption of the state-sanctioned climate orthodoxy.

From that time, one of the best predictions of climate ever made (weighted for distance and accuracy) was by two Californian researchers, Leona Libby and Louis Pandolfi. In 1979, they used tree-ring data from redwoods in Kings Canyon to make a remarkably accurate forecast.

From a Los Angeles Times interview of that year: “When she and Pandolfi project their curves into the future, they show lower average temperatures from now through the mid-1980s. “Then,” Dr Libby added, “we see a warming trend (by about a quarter of 1 degree Fahrenheit) globally to around the year 2000. And then it will get really cold — if we believe our projections. This has to be tested.”

How cold? “Easily one or two degrees,” she replied, “and maybe even three or four degrees.” Three or four degrees! That would have real world consequences in terms of crop yields and food prices. That would be worth confirming, wouldn’t it?

Confirmation had to wait almost 30 years in the form of a conference poster by Finnish forestry workers in 2007. The tree-ring readings of the Finnish foresters are predicting a large decline in temperature bottoming out in about 2045. The downturn will be deeper and broader than any other in the last 500 years. A cold period longer and deeper than any other in the last 500 years would have lots of real world consequences. That would be worth following up on, wouldn’t it?

My own efforts in climate science started about the time of the Finnish study. To cut a long story short, my forecast of temperature decline, based on forecasts of solar activity from the solar physics community, is almost the same as that of the Finnish foresters.

Let’s go on to consider some of the real world impacts of temperature decline. The big one is the reduction in agricultural production in prospect. Back at the time of the 1970s cooling scare, one researcher determined that each 1.0°C change in annual average temperature moved the U.S. Corn Belt 144 km north or south. The annual average temperature decline in prospect for the Midwest is at 4.4°C. That is 30 years out.

There are several factors that affect agricultural productivity:

1) Productivity is directly proportional to temperature in the mid-latitudes. For the Corn Belt it is 10 per cent per 1.0°C of average annual temperature. Corn requires temperatures above 10°C, wheat above 0°C. Where it is too cold to get a corn crop off in a season, wheat is grown. Where too cold for wheat, rye and oats are possible.

2) As growing conditions move south (or northwards in the Southern Hemisphere), some formerly productive land will be abandoned.

3) Regions closer to the Equator in which the length of the growing season currently allows double cropping will be reduced to one crop per season.

4) Wheat production could go up by a switch from hard summer wheat to winter wheat which has a lower protein content and makes lower quality bread.

5) Production will respond to higher prices — several farmers from the Midwest have told me that they could have a big increase in production with the right price signal.

6) Large areas of land in the southeast and northeast U.S. that are currently non-competitive with the Corn Belt could be brought into production with the right price signal.

7) Also, with the right price signal, a lot of food could be grown residentially. During World War II, 40 per cent of U.S. vegetable production was from domestic plots. The appropriate high-protein plant crop is soybeans, which are 36 per cent protein. You can grow potatoes easily enough, but they are only 2 per cent protein.

All things considered, the production decline for U.S. agriculture might be 8 per cent per 1°C. A fall of 3°C and the United States would be out of export markets for agricultural products, with the same true of most mid-latitude grain exporters.

This will have profound geopolitical implications — namely, starvation and collapse for countries that import food. That’s for the next decade. This decade, once the temperature decline is widely apparent, currently importing countries around the world will rush to stockpile, bringing forward the price effect of scarcity.

We should be ever thankful to the promoters of global warming alarmism. If it wasn’t for their predictions of temperature rises of six degrees and more, boiling oceans of acid and so on attracting outsiders into the climate science field, humanity would be sleepwalking into the climatic and agricultural disruption that is coming.

We will still have the consequent famine and death, but we will know what’s causing it at the time. We are on the edge of that abyss. A vale of tears awaits. Good luck to all of good heart.

David Archibald is a Perth-based scientist who has recently published a book, Twilight of Abundance, available from News Weekly Books. 

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