The Guardian reports that a paper that report predicting that global temperatures would rise by 2.4oC or more by 2020, has now been dropped from the
Eurekalert!, a news service operated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). It was checked by Osvaldo Canziani, Nobel-prize winner and a former co-chair of the UNIPCC.
Problems with the report are
The report was meant to have been checked by Canziani. At a minimum that means that the reports major prediction is validated. As it was based upon the UNIPCC climate assessment report of 2007, then any figures that were substantially out of line should have been carefully justified. Instead, the author, Ms Liliana Hisas, says that instead of withdrawing the report
“We are just going to go ahead with it. I don’t have a choice now. The scientist I have been working with checked everything and according to him it’s not wrong.
Therefore, the report is correct because a distinguished person put their name to it. However, they appear not have done basic checks, so the validation process has failed. Very much like the peer review
The claim that the 900 million people extra people by 2020 will go hungry relies on some ignoring some basic adaptive facts.
- Changes in climate can be partly met by changes in crops. A slightly warmer climate in Europe can be met be changes in crop varieties.
- One of the countries with lower yields across crop varieties is Brazil. Having visited Brazil a number of times, I have observed vast tracts of farm land that are underutilized. I have picked oranges from trees that act as wind breaks, and where most of the fruit rots. I have sampled star fruit and large avocados from trees where the fruit is never commercially harvested. Similarly for large papaya, watermelons, bananas and cassava. Increased food prices have been, and will continue to increase outputs. It is not just in Brazil, but in the Russian Steppes, much of Africa and the plains of Canada that agricultural productivity can be increased.
- Low productivity is more often due to poor economic policies than natural factors. In the extreme, the greatest famines of the twentieth century are due to the collectivization of agriculture. Even the lesser famine of Ethiopia in 1984, where “only” 500,000 died was partly due to the collectivization policies of the communist government, and the need to feed the city populations where disaffection was centred.
Ignoring the Burden of Government
The claim that the 900 million people extra people by 2020 will go hungry relies not only on the rapid warming claim, but also upon no change in government policy. World food prices have doubled in the last few years due to vast areas being given over to growing fuel for cars. Repealing the subsidies and ethanol content regulations in fuel will release vast acres for food production. Back to Brazil, there are thousands of square miles given over to sugar cane production for ethanol production. Growing food instead in Brazil would probably close half the global gap. In Europe, where the less productive sugar beet is grown for ethanol (or USA where maize is used), then switch to food production could have similar dramatic impacts on food production. A lesser increase in productivity could be made from abandoning organic farming for more intensive varieties. Most studies have shown no difference in quality, or health effects with artificially-fertilized production. Also, by adapting more GM crops, which can vastly increase productivity and provide greater resistance to extreme weather.
Extreme position also requires Extreme Climate Disruption
The claim that the 900 million people extra people by 2020 will go hungry relies is based not only on the rapid warming claim, but also that this results in extreme weather and changed climate patterns. Even if we accept that the 2.4oC+ of warming is likely, the forecast changes in the weather as a result are speculative. Any mitigation policy should cost these as a risk, not as a certainty. The likely cost therefore should be weighted downwards by a risk factor.
Alarmist Policies Discriminate Against the Poor
The report is from a group trying to justify more intensive mitigation policies, whilst believing “in the need for a more equitable society, especially for those living under underprivileged circumstances.” That means that they should consider whether the policies will leave the poor in a worse position than if nothing was done at all. But the main policies of Cap-n-Trade or a Carbon Tax are highly regressive. It is those on the margin who will have to give up their cars and central heating, or hundreds of millions in developing countries who will be denied the opportunities to every obtain what is viewed as the staples of life in Europe. To work, both must impose economic pain, and that pain is greatest for the poor. Furthermore, if policies are imposed that are ineffective in controlling CO2, (such as windmills) then society as a whole will be made poorer for no benefit.
The Universal Ecological Fund (Fundación Ecológica Universal FEU-US) has produced an extremist report in more ways than just having a silly forecast. In failing to consider the wider adaptive ability of the human race, it is overstates both the likely consequences, whilst understating the harm to the poor of the policies it advocates. The author states
“Scientific information is usually not easy to understand. Communicating climate change is often also complicated. As a result, the understanding of climate change has led to misconceptions.”
A report that spreads undue alarmism is the enemy of true science, and will entrench the misconceptions.
Donna Laframboise at