Climate scientists declared 2016 the warmest year on record, sending shockwaves through the media, which immediately began attributing the warming to fossil fuel use.
Earth is “heading toward levels that many experts believe will pose a profound threat to both the natural world and to human civilization,” The New York Times warned. Global average temperature was less than a one-hundredth of a degree Fahrenheit warmer than 2015.
While the media worried about anthropogenic global warming scenarios, some good news in 2016 was likely missed: record crop yields and relatively fewer storms.
Global crop yields hit record levels, according to United Nations data. Production of wheat, coarse grains and rice are forecasted to be higher in 2016 than the previous year. The United Nations expects cereal production to be 1.7 percent, or 44 million metric tons, higher than 2015.
U.S. corn and soybean yields hit record levels in 2016, according to U.S. government data. Corn production rose 15.1 billion bushels, or 11 percent, from 2015, and soybean production rose another 4.31 billion bushels, or 10 percent, over the previous year.
University of Colorado professor Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr. noted the record crop yields and few natural disasters.
Selling climate policy on “hottest year ever” hard bc 2016 also had v low disasters & record high crop productivity
It doesn’t scare people https://t.co/NPTeD4lvu0
— Roger Pielke Jr. (@RogerPielkeJr) January 18, 2017
Pielke was chased out of climate research in 2015 after being attacked by Democratic lawmakers and some of his colleagues for questioning claims global warming was making extreme weather worse.
Pielke explained that while 2016 had record-high temperatures, it wasn’t a very extraordinary year for tropical storms.
Fewer major tropical cyclones made landfall in 2016 compared to 2015. In fact, tropical cyclone numbers for 2016 were below the 40-year average.
2. How does it look if we break out by S/S Cat 1+2 & Cat 3+?
Again, no simple trends. No evidence of a secular increase over 47 yrs. pic.twitter.com/x1drXZyh9B
— Roger Pielke Jr. (@RogerPielkeJr) January 12, 2017
Meteorologist Dr. Ryan Maue tweeted:
Global tropical cyclone numbers were below 40-yr average:
79 (avg 85-87) … time series shows no trend. pic.twitter.com/bDCwpbUVqw
— Ryan Maue (@RyanMaue) January 19, 2017
Maue also noted that 2016 wouldn’t have likely been a record warm year without an incredibly strong El Nino warming event.
Effect of El Niño on global T since 2015, on average over past 2-years, at least 0.2°C. Is it clear 2015 or 2016 would be record w/o it? pic.twitter.com/xgS3cvlSE3
— Ryan Maue (@RyanMaue) January 18, 2017
Reinsurance company Munich Re said 2016 had the most losses from storms and other natural disasters since 2012, at $175 billion globally. Though the biggest loss came from earthquakes in Japan, events which have nothing to do with the weather.
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