"In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

Report: Climate Change Estimated To Slash Major Crop Production Worldwide By 23% Over Next 30 Years

In Uncategorized on May 24, 2017 at 6:32 pm
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Photo – Oxfam International/flickr

Oldspeak: “Hmm. 23% Less food for nearly 10 billion people equals a clusterfuck of monumental proportions. Resource wars, mass migration and mass mortality events become more probable. In fact, we’re bearing witness to 2 of 3 of those consequences as I type. As usual, the world’s poorest and least responsible for this planetary predicament are likely to be hit the hardest. With each passing day, the threats to “civilization” multiply, largely unnoticed by those most responsible for creating the threats. Sigh. Same fuckery, different day.” -OSJ

Written By Brian Bienkowsky @ The Daily Climate:

Extreme weather and temperature swings are estimated to cut production of major crops by 23 percent over the next 30 years, scientists warn.

Climate change, and its impacts on extreme weather and temperature swings, is projected to reduce global production of corn, wheat, rice and soybeans by 23 percent in the 2050s, according to a new analysis.

The study, which examined price and production of those four major crops from 1961 to 2013, also warns that by the 2030s output could be cut by 9 percent.

The findings come as researchers and world leaders continue to warn that food security will become an increasingly difficult problem to tackle in the face of rising temperatures and weather extremes, combining with increasing populations, and volatile food prices.

The negative impacts of climate change to farming were pretty much across the board in the new analysis. There were small production gains projected for Russia, Turkey and Ukraine in the 2030s, but by the 2050s, the models “are negative and more pronounced for all countries,” the researchers wrote in the study published this month in the journal Economics of Disasters and Climate Change.

Lead author, Mekbib Haile, a senior researcher at the Center for Development Research, University of Bonn, said that an increase in average temperatures during the growing season isn’t projected to have much impact on the staple crops. But this is only true until that increase hits a certain “tipping point”, he said, which is about 89 degree Fahrenheit for these crops.

“Rising temperature at the two extremes—minimum temperature in the case of rice and maximum temperature in the case of corn—are detrimental to production of these crops,” he said.

In addition to temperature, extreme weather—including droughts and excessive rainfall—was predicted to slow production.

Haile’s study is one of two major studies this month reporting big impacts to major crops in the future. Just this week UC Davis researchers released a study in the Environmental Research Letters journal reporting that by the end of the century climate change is likely to cause France’s winter wheat yields to decrease 21 percent, winter barley yields to decrease by 17 percent and spring barley to decrease by about to 33 percent.

The reports are concerning as wheat and rice are two of the top calorie sources in the world, and decreases in such staple crops could add to the current total of 795 million people suffering from hunger and more than 2 billion people with nutrient deficiencies.

And there will be more mouths to feed as the world population is projected to grow by more than 2 billion, reaching about 9.7 billion people, by 2050.

Haile said some farming changes—such as improved irrigation or genetically modified crops, or more sustainable practices like increased organic production or tilling less—could help offset some climate-induced losses.

Agricultural crop production more than tripled between 1960 and 2015, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ new report on the future of food and agriculture.

But farms will have to produce about 50 percent more food in 2050, and in some areas such as Sub-Saharan Africa, output will have to more than double to meet increased demand from growing populations.

“Despite overall improvements in agricultural efficiency, yield increases are slowing due to climate change and so maintaining the historic pace of production increases may be difficult,” according to the FAO report.

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The Daily Climate is an independent, foundation-funded news service covering energy, the environment and climate change. Find us on Twitter @TheDailyClimate or email editor Brian Bienkowski at bbienkowski [at] EHN.org

 

Oceanographer: “The impact of ocean deoxygenation may be profound…” Ocean Oxygen Decline Greater Than Predicted

In Uncategorized on May 24, 2017 at 6:06 pm

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Oldspeak: “From the department of Faster Than Expected, we find that one of the least studied of the ocean’s “deadly trio“, deoxygenation, is occuing 3 times faster than predicted. One of the “profound effects” scientists have observed is likely the continued collapse of the marine food chain resulting from the decline of its basis and producer of 70% of the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere, plankton. As Trump sucks up all the air in the room, the air gets more scarce worldwide. Couple this with recent reports that Global warming could breach 1.5c in less than ten years and what you have is a world of shit, friends.  And we’re alllll gonna have to take a bite. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick….” -OSJ

Written By Tim Radford @ Climate News Network:

Circulation changes caused by warming waters and melting polar ice are the most probable explanations for the rapidly falling levels of oxygen in the ocean.

LONDON, 10 May, 2017 US scientists who have been warning that warmer oceans are more likely to be poorer in dissolved oxygen have now sounded the alarm: ocean oxygen levels are indeed falling, and seemingly falling faster than the corresponding rise in water temperature.

That colder water can hold more dissolved gas than warmer water is a commonplace of physics: it is one reason why polar seas are teeming with marine life and tropical oceans are blue, clear and often relatively impoverished.

In 2013, an international consortium of marine scientists warned that oxygen levels in the oceans could fall by between 1% and 7% by the century’s end. And this could, other scientists predicted, lead to what they politely called “respiratory stress” for some marine life.

Ocean warming

Ocean ecologists in the US and Germany warned last year that parts of the deep oceans were already showing signs of oxygen deprivation with corresponding dead zones.

Earlier this year, another research group looked at the computer simulations for the years 1920 to 2100 and predicted that the hazards were likely to increase with warming.

Now the team have returned to the issue. They report in Geophysical Research Letters that they looked at data for the last 50 years and found the oxygen levels started dropping in the 1980s, as ocean temperatures began to climb and falling unexpectedly rapidly.

“The trend of oxygen falling is about two to three times faster than what we predicted from the decrease of solubility associated with ocean warming,” says Takamitsu Ito, of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who led the study.

“This is most likely due to the changes in ocean circulation and mixing associated with the heating of the near-surface waters and the melting of polar ice.”

“If it is a warming signal, we should expect to see
continued widespread declines in oceanic O2.
The impact of ocean deoxygenation may be profound”

The sea’s oxygen content comes from air absorbed at the surface or released by phytoplankton photosynthesis, and carried deeper by ocean currents. But as water warms it becomes more buoyant, which means mixing with cooler subsurface waters becomes less likely. And melting ice delivers more fresh water to the ocean surface, which also interferes with the pattern of circulation.

“After the mid-2000s, this trend became apparent, consistent and statistically significant beyond the envelope of year-to-year fluctuations,” Dr Ito says. “The trends are particularly strong in the tropics, eastern margins of each basin and the sub-polar North Pacific.”

That the oceans are warming is well established. That the seas are becoming more acidic as extra carbon dioxide from fossil fuel emissions increases in the atmosphere is now widely accepted.

Oxygen loss

That the oceans are at risk of oxygen loss is harder to establish: the oceans cover seven-tenths of the planet, and systematic study of the oceans began only relatively recently. And, of course, such research is bedevilled by natural patterns of local variation: it becomes harder to make any link with manmade global warming.

But, the researchers conclude, “the evidence is consistent with anthropogenic warming acting as the primary driver of long-term trends in ocean O2. The trends we document are suggestive of the effects of warming beginning to supersede natural variability and emerge as a recognisable signal.”

And, they add: “If it is a warming signal, we should expect to see continued widespread declines in oceanic O2. The impact of ocean deoxygenation may be profound.” Climate News Network

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The Absurd Economics Of 7.5 Billion People On One Planet

In Uncategorized on May 19, 2017 at 7:13 pm

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Oldspeak: “Population overshoot is behind many of our most pressing economic problems. But the best intelligent response faces terrible obstacles….Virtually every major problem, from climate change and wars to mass migrations and resource scarcity has its root in too many people. Economics are not immune. The lowered prospects of the politically potent white working class, for example, have much to do with millions overseas who can do the same jobs for a fraction of the cost. When you hear about theories of “secular stagnation” and the like, think 7.5 billion.

The enormous and growing costs of human-caused climate change are juiced by those 7.5 billion. Globalization has created large middle classes in nations such as China and India — and its members want the sprawly car-dependent “American lifestyle” and the rights to their share of the atmosphere to heat in order to get it. The greatest deprivation, and lost economic potential, happens in countries with the biggest population overshoot.

Don’t think America is immune, either. The Southwest is at population overshoot and directly in the path of climate change. Possibly the Southeast, too, beyond soon-to-be-submerged Florida.” –Jon Talton

“Population overshoot. Two of the most undesirable words one could ever utter in a globalized consumer culture predicated on buying ever more stuff and having ever more babies to plug in to the hyperconsumption matrix and perpetually restart the cycle. (closely followed by two other most undesirable words; ecological overshoot.) These conditions are unsustainable and omnicidal. At some point there’s likely to be a global regime shift to a significantly less hospitable state than present conditions. That regime shift is quite possibly underway now, one need only witness the disintergration of the cryosphere, worldwide…  As time passes and irreplaceable resources dwindle, these words will be harder to avoid saying. There is no infinite exponential growth on a finite planet. In my view, the economics of 7.5 billion people on one planet point to one outcome, 2 more undesirable words; population dieback. ” –OSJ

Written By Jon Talton @ The Seattle Times:

Population overshoot is behind many of our most pressing economic problems. But the best intelligent response faces terrible obstacles.

The most disheartening story in today’s Seattle Times today is about the 38 million pieces of trash, almost all plastic, strewn on remote and uninhabited Henderson Island in the Pacific Ocean. When some future alien starship discovers post-apocalyptic Earth, their first impression will be, “What a bunch of slobs once lived here.”

This story can be told in many ways: A runaway consumer culture, globalization and the 10,000-mile supply chain, more affluence even in developing nations, environmental catastrophe from polluting the oceans. But don’t forget the latest estimate of the planet’s population: 7.5 billion. At the turn of the 19th century, it was only 1 billion. It took more than another century to add another billion. Since then, the billions have been piling on with astonishing speed. The world held “only” a little more than 6 billion in 2000.

Virtually every major problem, from climate change and wars to mass migrations and resource scarcity has its root in too many people. Economics are not immune. The lowered prospects of the politically potent white working class, for example, have much to do with millions overseas who can do the same jobs for a fraction of the cost. When you hear about theories of “secular stagnation” and the like, think 7.5 billion.

The enormous and growing costs of human-caused climate change are juiced by those 7.5 billion. Globalization has created large middle classes in nations such as China and India — and its members want the sprawly car-dependent “American lifestyle” and the rights to their share of the atmosphere to heat in order to get it. The greatest deprivation, and lost economic potential, happens in countries with the biggest population overshoot.Don’t think America is immune, either. The Southwest is at population overshoot and directly in the path of climate change. Possibly the Southeast, too, beyond soon-to-be-submerged Florida. They’ll be moving here in the coming decades unless they go back to the Midwest and Northeast (so our mantra must be: “Seattle, it’s cold and rainy all the time”).

The most constructive response is to have societies where women have control over their bodies, including having access to birth control and abortion. Yet we have reached this population crisis at the same moment as religious fundamentalism has revived and, in many places, muscled out or exterminated moderate opposition. Women are considered little more than baby-making chattel in many nations, the ones that most need lower populations. This, as much as advances in medicine and agriculture, is to blame for population overshoot.

President Trump revived the Reagan-era ban on foreign aid for organizations that offer counseling on family planning that includes abortion. A powerful faction in the Republican Party also opposes most forms of birth control. Trump and the GOP show a curious lack of care for the fetus once it is born and needs, say, health care. Interestingly, abortion rates have declined sharply in advanced nations. In the United States, it is at the lowest level since the procedure was legalized by the Supreme Court in 1973.

Conservatives such as William F. Buckley used to argue that every new life was an asset, not a cost. And people of good will can certainly disagree over abortion. But when the new lives are born into radicalized traditional societies, where is their opportunity? And whatever the argument over abortion, the United States and advanced nations should be doing more to make birth control available in the developing world and advance the rights of women (offending our powerful Saudi “allies”). Nations with a modicum of freedom for women prosper…and birth rates go down. Those same nations turn economics from a zero-sum game into wide prosperity and breakthroughs.

Henderson Island is another marker for the slow crisis enveloping our larger common island in the black outland of space, and we have no lifeboats.


Today’s Econ Haiku:

Wall Street just woke up

Bullish greed is put on hold

While Don gores himself