There’s little to no evidence man-made global warming is hurting U.S. crop yields in corn belt states, according to a climate scientist who’s spent years consulting on the issue.
In fact, it’s unclear the U.S. corn belt has gone through any statistically significant warming since 1960 despite climate model predictions the region would warm about 1.5 degrees Celsius over that period.
“That plot alone should tell you that something is wrong with the climate models,” according to Dr. Roy Spencer, a climate scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Spencer runs a satellite-based temperature data set along with climate scientist Dr. John Christy.
“It’s not even obvious a statistically significant warming has occurred, let alone attribute it to a cause, given all of the adjustments (or lack of proper adjustments) that have been made to the surface thermometer data over the years,” Spencer recently wrote in a blog post entitled “Global Warming Be Damned: Record Corn, Soybeans, Wheat.”
“Note the models also cannot explain the Dust Bowl warmth of the 1930s, because the models do not mimic the natural changes in Pacific Ocean circulation which are believed to be the cause,” he added.
Environmentalists have claimed for years global warming would reduce crop yields around the world as temperatures rose and extreme weather, like droughts and rainfall, increased. TIME magazine’s Byran Walsh warned in 2014 scientists predicted global warming would cause the “next great famine.”
Walsh wrote that “global warming of only 2º C (3.6º F) will likely reduce yields of staple crops like rice and maize as early as the 2030s.”
A study by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found global warming could reduce crop yields 1 percent per decade and create “”hotspots of hunger” as prices rise.
That doesn’t seem to be happening, according to Spencer.
“So, here we are with yet another year (2016) experiencing either record or near-record yields in corn, soybeans, and wheat,” he wrote. “Even La Nina, which was widely feared would cause reduced crop yields this year, did not materialize.”
“So, once again, claims of severe agricultural impacts from climate change continue to reside in the realm of science fiction….in the future, if at all,” he wrote.
Spencer’s own research has shown that while global warming may cause a small decrease in crop yields in the long-run, it would be “far exceeded by technological advancements that increase yields.”
Recent studies, however, show that carbon dioxide fertilization of plants has caused the world to “green” in the face of higher temperatures. CO2 is absorbed by plants for food, and increased amounts of it actually make plants more drought resistant.
“The people I know in the grain trading business do not even factor in climate change…primarily because they do not yet see evidence of it,” Spencer wrote. “It might well be there…but it is so overwhelmed by other positive factors, especially improved varieties, that it cannot be observed in corn yield data. In fact, if varieties can be made more heat tolerant, it might be that there will be no climate change impact on yields.”
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