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The Great Greening Of The Global North

The fall crop is in, harvested. But the map of what we grow, where, is changing, with climate change. We’ll look at the new map of North American food production.

In this Aug. 19, 2008 file photo, a combine cuts durum wheat near an oil well in Tioga, N.D. The federal Agriculture Department has revised its estimates of North Dakota wheat production, though the changes are small. The Agriculture Department in late October 2013 re-contacted farmers who still had crop in the field when surveys were done for the annual late-September small grains summary. North Dakota leads the nation in the production of both spring wheat and durum wheat.  (AP)

In this Aug. 19, 2008 file photo, a combine cuts durum wheat near an oil well in Tioga, N.D. The federal Agriculture Department has revised its estimates of North Dakota wheat production, though the changes are small. The Agriculture Department in late October 2013 re-contacted farmers who still had crop in the field when surveys were done for the annual late-September small grains summary. North Dakota leads the nation in the production of both spring wheat and durum wheat. (AP)

Look at a crop map of North America over the years and you’ll see there is a great migration going on in food production.  Crops heading north.  Corn and beans – soybeans – marching north toward the Canadian border and spilling over it into brand new territory.  It’s about plant genetics and farming technique.  It’s also about climate change.  A southern tier turning too hot and dry.  A northern planting season getting longer, more welcoming.  Crop production moving.  How far can it, will it go?  Up next On Point: the new map of North American food production, pushing north with climate change.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

David Lobell, professor in environmental Earth system science at Stanford University. Director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment. (@DavidBLobell)

Wolfam Schlenker, professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Donn Teske, farmer, president of the Kansas Farmers Union.

Woody Barth, farmer, president of the North Dakota Farmers Union.

From Tom’s Reading List

USA Today: Some crops migrate north with warmer temperatures — “North Dakota is at the leading edge of a shift in North American weather patterns, with more variable weather and rainfall; longer, hotter summers; and warmer winters. USA TODAY visited the state as the seventh stop in its look at how climate change is impacting the way Americans work, live and play. In the town of Rugby, N.D., 50 miles south of the Canadian border, climate change is written in the fields. Where once wheat was king, field after field is now full of feed corn. At the beginning of September, farmers are hustling to get combines out to cut the golden wheat but green fields of corn are everywhere — and still a month from harvest.”

New York Times: A Jolt to Complacency on Food Supply – “This may be the greatest single fear about global warming: that climate change could so destabilize the world’s food system as to lead to rising hunger or even mass starvation. Two weeks ago, a leaked draft of a report by the United Nations climate committee, known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, suggested that the group’s concerns have grown, and that the report, scheduled for release in March in Yokohama, Japan, is likely to contain a sharp warning about risks to the food supply.”

Mother Jones: Climate Change Is Already Shrinking Crop Yields — “Of course, we can’t tie any individual heat wave to long-term climate trends—there’s plenty of random weather variation even in times of climate stability. But we do know that hot, dry weather can stunt plant growth and reduce yields—and we also know that we can expect more hot, dry weather in key growing regions as the climate warms up.”

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  • Wahoo_wa

    Growing warmer weather crops in the north is nothing new. The Vikings did it on Greenland. http://sciencenordic.com/vikings-grew-barley-greenland

  • James

    I noticed that after you get about 100 miles north of Toronto the crops disappear. Needless to say there is a lot of territory up there that could be tapped.

    Canada? the world’s next great superpower?

    • John Cedar

      Canada will be the next Muslim nation that has the poor manners to be sitting on top of OUR oil.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      I hear Rob Ford wants to run for Prime Minister.
      Good idea, eh?
      A Loonie in every pot?

    • Don_B1

      I understand that the further north the less great topsoil exists like that in the Great Plains states of the U.S.

      While the growing season is more intense, it is a lot shorter.

      But the other “feature” of climate change is that the weather becomes more variable, changing from drought to flood over years to decades, so that the productivity of areas decreases rather than improves.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        Hey Don, thanks for the pointer to the science Friday. I enjoyed the debate.

        Here is my comment to you from the Friday thread.

        http://onpoint.wbur.org/2013/11/15/typhoon-obamacare-reversal-statins#comment-1126039554

        • Don_B1

          Of course Kevin Trenberth did not say that climate change created any one storm out of whole cloth [like you create memes out of whole cloth]. But he did say that climate change is making more intense storms, longer and deeper droughts alternating with floods, all of which will be detrimental to agriculture.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            What did you think about the Princeton scientist?

  • HonestDebate1

    97% of the IPCC’s computer models overestimate the amount of CO2 induced warming.

    http://www.see.ed.ac.uk/~shs/Climate%20change/Climate%20model%20results/over%20estimate.pdf

    Nobody cares but folks around here swear 97% of scientist agree about AGW, bogus.

    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2010/12/30/lawrence-solomon-75-climate-scientists-think-humans-contribute-to-global-warming/

    • John Cedar

      I don’t want to split hairs over how much carbon warming we have. But a sure fire way to combat warming is with deforestation and replacement with some highly reflective crops. And some good old fasion coal carbon soot in the atmosphere would help immensely, but not so much as to cause a nuclear winter. The religion of environmentalism has all the appeal of Catholicism, as both offer man’s regional sin, blind faith and sacrifice at their cores.

      • Don_B1

        Did you come up with that on your own?

        1) Deforestation will reduce the ability of Nature to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. The CO2 will thus continue to increase, and migrate to the oceans where it will devastate most of ocean life, particularly that life that needs shells, which the resulting acidification of the ocean will prevent.

        2) Where will that carbon soot end up? Even now the effects of volcanos and other fires is putting soot in the atmosphere which is landing on glaciers and snowfields, turning the surface black and making the ice melt faster. The constant doing of this over hundreds of years would surely heat the earth so all land-based ice would melt, raising the oceans as much as 200 ft.

        Welcome to the positive-feedback world of unintended consequences!

        It will be MUCH, MUCH cheaper and effective to mitigate the use of fossil fuels to generate power and stop the release of CO2.

        Your religion of denial is the problem.

      • nj_v2

        You really are an idiot.

    • Ray in VT

      How can they claim that when Joe Nobody’s blog and the creationists who say that only God can destroy the world are opposed? Amazing really.

      • HonestDebate1

        What’s God got to do with it? The 97% number is laughable, that’s all.

        • Ray in VT

          Seems to figure pretty prominently in why some don’t believe in climate change and/or man’s impact upon it. Laughable certainly describes some of the positions that I have seen cited against AGW. What? Some guy denied that smoking led to cancer long after the link was established. Let’s totally get a pseudo-scientific group to throw its weight behind that guy.

          • HonestDebate1

            97% of climate scientist do not agree.

          • Ray in VT

            “97% of climate scientist do not agree.” Is that like how one guy sort of has a little doubt? I am talking about climate scientists. Plural.

            Your evidence supporting your contention is what?

          • HonestDebate1

            Them too.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      The 97% consensus nonsense is based on a flawed study. It was created for a propaganda narrative just as the IPCC increase in their confidence to 95% DESPITE the new science to the contrary.

      You can’t get a 97% consensus on ANYTHING. Clearly it should have been immediately denounced as bogus by honest brokers in the climate community. Are there any honest brokers willing to speak? Are they concerned for their careers and funding? Reminds me of the DC insurance commissioner who recently spoke his mind. He was fired within 24 hours.

      Fortunately, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) took this head on with a survey of their members. The AMS consensus is only 52%.

      From Dr. Judith Curry:

      “Members of the American Meteorological Society generally have better expertise for assessing issues related to climate change detection and attribution than the AGU (with substantial numbers of geophysicists, geochemists, etc), the AAAS, the APS, etc. And this is in spite of the fact that a substantial number of members do not have a Ph.D. We have discussed previously on the Joe Bastardi thread the value of the perspectives of forecast meteorologists, including those without Ph.D.s – they certainly understand limitations of forecasting and general circulation models.”

      http://judithcurry.com/2013/11/10/the-52-consensus/#more-13717

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        Dr Curry is an outlier, and she is an apologist. To hang the entire climate on her conclusion alone is asinine and utterly stupid.

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          So you dismiss the entire AMS community as an ‘outlier’?

          You are so wound up in your ideology that you can’t see straight.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            You are claiming to be rubber, and that I am glue.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Reread my post. No rational person can disagree with the thesis.

            Notice that I said NOTHING about the CAGW theory. I was only commenting on the bogus consensus and the irrational actions by the IPCC. I also pointed the results of a poll of the AMS.

            So you are defending the 97% consensus mythology?
            You are also defending the increase of confidence by the IPCC from 85% to 95%?

            Good luck with that.

          • Don_B1

            Every “rational person” that has a brain and is willing to use it to look into the subject, reading the output of climate scientists, will see that your thesis is not worth the bits it is written in.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            I’d appreciate a comment on the science friday episode (see below).

          • BlueNH

            Most meteorologists have degrees in communications. They take online courses in TV meteorology. They are members of AMS but not scientists and not reliable sources for climate change info. See the AMS statement on climate change.

          • Don_B1

            Exactly! The AMS has a strong statement here:

            http://www.ametsoc.org/policy/2012climatechange.html

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Suddenly you guys are into authority worship. What happened to the natural skepticism when it was about ‘weapons of mass destruction’?

          • Don_B1

            So you just take a bunch of scientific illiterates like the WUWT crowd and elevate them to “authorities” whom you then worship?

            Its a nice twist on the normal and much practiced argument process of the radical science-denying rightwing of projecting its false argument and action on its opponent, trying, and all-too-often succeeding in winning a debate where the audience does not know enough about debate or science to work out the issues on their own.

            So we all know you will keep on trying! But Mother Nature does not like to be fooled with, and your comeuppance awaits.

          • jefe68

            So you dismiss the entire scientific community? Or should I say 98%.

          • Don_B1

            He likes to dismiss anyone and everyone that does not agree with his ideology.

          • HonestDebate1

            Science isn’t an ideology.

          • Don_B1

            Absolutely true and you know it, but you disregard that fact when science tells you what you don’t want to hear because it disagrees with your ideology.

            You try to put your ideology above science.

          • Ray in VT

            …and history and the dictionary.

          • HonestDebate1

            History? Do you want to talk about ice ages coming and going? Or continents colliding to form mountain ranges? Or the highly productive and hot as hell Bronze Age? Or the history of warming in the last 15 years?

            You don’t care about history or science, just propaganda which is exactly what the 97% figure is.

          • Ray in VT

            I would be fine talking about any of those things, although I’m not that interested in doing so with one who has shown such a blatant disregard for that which does not agree with his ideology. Propaganda and partisan lies seem to be your mainstay, so your opinion of what I want or care about means less than nothing to me, if that is mathematically possible. Feel free to give me Steven Goddard’s, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine’s, gemworld. com’s or Rush’s “facts” on the issue. They’re all pretty equally worthless.

          • HonestDebate1

            All I said was 97% of scientist do not agree. You can pinball off to wherever you want to and there still will not be a 97% consensus. To parrot the talking point is not honest debate.

          • Ray in VT

            I provided a source. Just saying that it is propaganda isn’t honest debate, but that isn’t a surprise, considering the things that you want to call honest debate. Lie to me about what the dictionary says about lie again. I always love that one.

          • HonestDebate1

            Yea, 75 out of 77 is 97%. Take it to the bank.

          • Ray in VT

            Better than 100% of Steven Goddards or the dopes on the petition. Belittle the people researching and publishing in the field of climate science all you want. I’m sure that they’re no more qualified to speak than Joe Sixpack over at wordpress or some guy who doesn’t even have a college degree. A number of surveys have found similar results, but feel free to dismiss those in favor of your ideology as well.

          • HonestDebate1

            I don’t now who would endorse the petition as science or who Steve Goddard is but 97% of climate scientist do not agree. You’ve been duped.

          • Ray in VT

            You continue to forget what you have cited, but that’s cool. I don’t really expect any more from one who has been fooled by the likes of Rush and Palin.

          • HonestDebate1

            I didn’t forget, I never said I didn’t cite them. I did but I never said anything close to what you said I said. I cited them as an example of what was not science. Look it up.

          • Ray in VT

            I cited a survey of scientists, and you bragged that you could top it ten fold and linked to that piece of garbage. The difference was that my source polled members of a long standing and highly respected organization and looked at the views of people with advanced degrees in relevant fields and took into consideration whether or not those people were publishing scientific research, while you countered with a petition that has such a low bar that tens of thousands of people who have no relevant experience or published research can tack their name onto some lousy petition run by some religious nuts. There’s a big difference.

          • HonestDebate1

            Look it up dude and see what it was 97% of. It certainly wasn’t all climatee scientist. It was 97% of those of a select group who responded which was a small percentage of those surveyed. It turns out the number was 75 of 77 and they were not all climate scientist, You were duped big time. Just admit it and move on.

          • Ray in VT

            I’m aware of the size of the sample. 75 or 77 of “those who listed climate science as their area of expertise and who also have published more than 50% of their recent peer-reviewed papers on the subject of climate change” from members of a highly respected scientific organization. It’s worth a lot more than a creationist-sponsored petition or some anonymous blogger. The response rate was fairly in line with online surveys, and it was a select group of over 10,000 research scientists. Those are the people best positioned to know what they are talking about. You’ve been duped by the likes of Heartland and their bogus paper.

          • HonestDebate1

            Alrighty then.

          • HonestDebate1

            97% of climate scientist do not agree.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Of course not. Maybe I wasn’t clear — the 97% number is bogus. It was put forward by a psychology student and readily accepted by the propaganda machine.

            But that OK with you guys because it is GOOD propaganda.

          • HonestDebate1

            It should say 75 of 77 earth scientist, whoever they are.

          • Ray in VT

            I’d take any one of them over 100 Steve Goddards or the signers of that joke over at the petition project.

          • Ray in VT

            It doesn’t take any measure of ideology to see that the AMS has membership options for those who only have an interest in weather. One not even have had to have a college degree in order to receive and answer this survey. The number for those who conclude that human activity is playing at least a 50% role whose expertise and publication focus is climate science is 88%, with most of those concluding that it is mostly man made.

          • Don_B1

            See my post above for the details, but meteorologists are not climate scientists ! !

      • Don_B1

        You tried appealing to Dr. Curry the other day.

        Meteorologists are NOT climate scientists and do not have any expertise on the history of the climate, no matter how well they can predict the weather, unless they commit to a lot of study of the climate literature, which not that many do. Thus you are trying to confuse the percentage of meteorologists with the percentage of climate scientists to try to cast doubt on the certainty of the human-caused climate change, since that requires humans to change their actions to prevent a big disaster. For the correct information on scientific consensus, see:

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/how_97.html

        Joe Bastardi eventually left Accuweather when either his rants got too problematic or he saw a gold mine in working for the fossil fuel interests denying climate change.

        • HonestDebate1

          Earth scientist are not climate scientist either.

    • Don_B1

      I guess you will continue to repeat your outright and outrageous lies, but those who are interested in science instead of ideological denial, will read the truth, as it is best understood now, here:

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-since-1997-more-than-twice-as-fast.html

      • HonestDebate1

        The lie is that 97% of climate scientist agree. They don’t.

  • Brian Cartwright

    Don’t leave out the soil carbon factor. A lot of the CO2 in the atmosphere came from soil depleted by industrial agriculture – too much chemical inputs and plowing. GM crops also create an addiction to chemicals that takes a toll on the climate.

    On the other hand, if you farm in alliance with nature, the web of organisms in the soil provide the nitrogen and mineral nutrients, and carbon-rich soil protects the land from the effects of drought and flood. This is the biggest unknown story about climate change.

    • Don_B1

      An excellent point that everyone needs to keep in mind for this highly complex subject.

  • TFRX

    Our host isn’t hoping to ignore bugs, pests and such, I hope.

    I guess they’re gonna just die out every November from habit, rather than the cold.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    “The Great Greening Of The Global North”

    Actually the entire planet is greening due to the increased CO2 levels. The results are clearly visible from satellite images and have been studied by the academic community:

    http://www.thegwpf.org/rising-co2-level-greening-planet-earth-study/

    Regarding climate change; the climate is always changing. There has been slow, steady warming since the end of the little ice age and the warming is not dramatic relative to the historic record (MWP, Roman warming period, etc.).

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      We know that a little more carbon dioxide is okay, but also we know that a lot more is *not* good.

      We know that a lot of things are detrimental to to productive food production: rain is required in not only the right quantities, but also at the right times. Pollinators have to be present at the right times. Temperature changes even during the winter often hurt food production – plants have evolved to live in the “old” climate, and cannot necessarily adapt to the “new” climate. Soils at more northerly areas are not the same, so we cannot assume anything.

      Water use at the moment is unsustainable. Erosion is another huge problem – we are essentially mining our soil, and this is also unsustainable.

      Chemical fertilizer effectively killing the natural decomposition processes in the soil, and this is unsustainable, too.

  • creaker

    There are 2 levels to this – pushing food production north because you can, and pushing food production north because you have to (lost production in the south). The former sounds good, the latter not so much.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      Where is the evidence of lost production?

      You do understand that ‘global warming’ is not evenly distributed and the warming is disproportionally in the arctic regions.

      • northeaster17

        Just as climate change models have predicted.

      • creaker

        Haven’t we had really bad droughts in the south recently?

        • J__o__h__n

          No, god is just so pleased with them that he isn’t crying.

  • James Patrick Dwyer Jr.

    We will do what humans have always done, we will move according to the climate. A changing climate is nothing new for us.

    • BlueNH

      James, exactly where are you going to put the residents and buildings of New York City??Shanghai? Miami? San Francisco?

      Climate change that has been forced on us as we are seeing today, has NEVER happened before. Humans are dumping trillions of pounds of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. It’s very clear that we (humans) are changing the climate.

      • jefe68

        It’s sometimes better not to argue with a fool.

        • JamesG

          If NYC regularly or permanently floods, most of them will move themselves I would imagine.

      • James Patrick Dwyer Jr.

        New York City and Miami will be underwater deep enough that they will be mostly vacant. Humans have always moved. A good book is “Scatter, Adapt, and Remember” by Annalee Newkitz

      • JamesG

        Not true. Humans were around when global warming started at the end of the last ice age and responded by expanding out of Africa and across the planet.

    • Ray in VT

      Hello James,
      I am sorry that I did not respond to your kind response from last week regarding Vietnam. I am glad that you, as well as all of the other Vietnam, and other service, vets whom I know made it home, and we should mourn the loss of those who did not, regardless of what we think of the fight.

      My friend was there fairly early, and he found the Vietnamese civilian population to be quite agreeable (especially the young ladies). His beef was often with those whom we were supporting. He made a number of references to the “white mice”, who he said abused, sometimes physically and sexually, their own countrymen and women. He was out before it got really bad, but then he got bored, joined the navy and sailed around the Med. for a while. He said that his ship was the one that took the bodies off of the U.S.S. Liberty during that incident, and he always felt that it was an intentional act.

      Thank you for your service, sir.

    • Don_B1

      The climate humans have lived in since the beginning of civilization, some 10,000 years ago, has ranged in temperature some +/- 1°C or less.

      The earth’s temperature has already reached the upper excursion of that range and is about to roar high above that level into temperature territory totally unexplored by “civilized” humans and at a rate never seen before on earth. Good luck to our descendents with our legacy that “they should be able to adapt (without any mitigation needed).”

      • JamesG

        Oh yea of little faith…

  • Wahoo_wa

    Um…the guest just said the settlement of the west was a result of climate change. I think I’ve heard everything now.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      We deforested virtually the entire east coast.

      • Wahoo_wa

        The native population deforested much of New England. The European settlers replanted the forests and introduced grass species that replenished the soil and provided nutrient rich feed for domestic animals.

        • Gary Welch

          Wuh? As you said, “I think I’ve heard everything now.”

          If we are talking Eastern US, it was the European settlers who deforested for ship building, homes, anything made of wood. The stripped land was used for crops, among them those requiring lots of land (grains like oats and wheat). Probably 80% or more of New England was clear cut by the time of the Civil War. That’s why you can walk deep in the woods and still find foundations and stone walls. Rail travel and the Erie Canal helped to move the grain crops farther west, and a lot of land reverted to forest.

          • Wahoo_wa

            Read more primary resources and you’ll understand that the description you give is based more on the myth of natives frolicking in the forest than the existing conditions.

          • Gary Welch

            I don’t think that there is anything in “Changes in the Land” that refutes the general gist of what I said about New England. Some pieces of land may have been farmed intensively, but then were left alone to reforest as the native population moved on to other areas.

            Refer to this as a graphic example of what I was talking about:

            http://harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu/diorama-series/landscape-history-central-new-england

          • Wahoo_wa

            Actually Changes states that the natives exhausted one ecosystem and then moved unto the next in a continual cycle of destruction.

        • Ray in VT

          I’m not so sure that you’ve got that right regarding native populations deforesting the region. In places, sure, but population density and intensive land use weren’t very high for much of the area controlled by native populations. When European settlers began moving into Vermont in the mid 1750s there was much talk of the vast expanses of old growth timber, such as had been logged off in places like western Connecticut and Massachusetts from 1700-1750, and there was little native forest left in this state by the mid to late 19th century. It has only been in the past 80 years that Vermont has largely become reforested.

          • Wahoo_wa

            Read Changes in the Land and primary sources for a description of the land around both Boston and in the Narragansett Bay. Both areas were stripped bare by the natives. Conanicut Island was so stripped of resources the native abandoned it. The area I grew up in in Connecticut was called East Great Plains because that had been stripped bare by the natives as well.

          • Charles Vigneron

            ‘A Forest Journey’ published decades ago, is worth a read, Ray in VT.
            Population density was quite high and the European immigrants came across large Indian ghost-villages, populated by the dead of smallpox and measles.
            You can find the report of Abraham Wood, of Henrico, Virginia, online.

          • Ray in VT

            Is that the Perlin book? Certainly disease did cause a major die off of native peoples prior to European colonization, however, my general readings regarding the period in question don’t lead me to the conclusion that there was deforestation on anything quite like the scale that European settlement created.

          • Charles Vigneron

            Agreed “like the scale” is correct. But far greater than understood.
            Yes, The Perlin book.

    • Charles Vigneron

      Settlement of the west were the younger sons and daughters of the earliest colonials, and new immigrants. Primogeniture if a forgotten concept today.

      • Wahoo_wa

        Settlement of the west was however not caused by climate change as the guest stated.

        • JamesG

          In the big picture it was. North America was and is in a warming trend since the last Ice Age. So the climate here was suitable for European colonization. Were it still glaciated, it probably wouldn’t have occurred. Ever wonder why there is no “United States of Greenland”?

  • damnspot

    Looking forward to opening my alligator ranch here in Massachusetts.
    How long before I can start collecting gators and planting palm trees?

    • JamesG

      Next week? LOL

    • fun bobby

      yeah why cry about corn when we can plant pine apples

  • J__o__h__n

    Mayor Ford hopes the climate warms enough to be able to crow coca leaves in Toronto.

  • Charles Vigneron

    November 19 and without a hard frost yet. Not unheard of here. Exceptionally rare. 36ºN 118ºW

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      About a century ago, we would be harvesting ice in a month or so. The past two winters, virtually *none* of the ponds and lakes even froze all the way across.

      We have a building code to have footings at least 4′ below grade, to avoid heaving. The ground is not even close to freezing yet, and in the past several winters, the ground freezes and thaws over a dozen times.

      • Ray in VT

        My brother lives almost right on the Canadian border, and I don’t think that he got a frost until about Halloween. The guy who he bought his farm from said that he couldn’t remember so late of a frost. It was certainly a relatively quite warm fall there.

    • Don_B1

      ACC is marching on relentlessly; the following shows the changes that the HadCRUT4 implemented to account for the Arctic warming, for which it had previously not been including in its estimates:

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-since-1997-more-than-twice-as-fast.html

      It basically puts it in line with the estimates by other groups, such as NASA, I believe. it may show even more warming.

    • fun bobby

      I was out hunting in short sleeves yesterday. crazy there were tons of ticks this late

  • BlueNH

    This is such a crucial subject. Your guests sound uninformed about the Northern soils (canada). What about research? The US and Canada ought to be researching their soils in connection to climate change. Science is clear that we’re going to have much hotter temps bythe end of the cnetury (10+++ degrees F!!!!!) which is going to impact our ability to grow food. And add teh extreme storms that will be damaging to crops on a regular basis, and we darn well better investigate this.

    Without soils, without agriculture, without crops……we die! Let’s spend some money to research this. Jeez!

    • Don_B1

      Reduction to hydroponics for all agriculture is probably a dubious undertaking.

      • JamesG

        Only because, “That’s not the way we’ve done it…”

  • jefe68

    On thing I’m not hearing here is if the temperature rises there is another slight problem. The permafrost.

    Nearly a quarter of the Northern Hemisphere’s land surface is covered in permanently frozen soil, or permafrost, which is filled with carbon-rich plant debris — enough to double the amount of heat-trapping carbon in the atmosphere if the permafrost all melted and the organic matter decomposed.

    http://www.climatecentral.org/news/nearing-a-tipping-point-on-melting-permafrost-15636

    • Don_B1

      Also, a huge swath of Canada contains the remains of a large boreal forest, necessary for absorption of the increased CO2 from burning fossil fuels. Its loss, as an effect of climate change or to turn it to agriculture would be hugely counterproductive.

      • JamesG

        Ideally, you would think that we would be wise enough to leave those virgin forests alone or at least manage them responsibly.

        But OTOH- They may not be able to adapt to warmer temps and so will die off and become plains or temperate forests as opportunistic spieces infiltrate in. So we would have an opportunity to shape it without being directly the agent of the boreal forest’s demise.

        But yeah, the BIG unknown is if the permafrost and undersea methane ice start out-gassng, things could get real ugly and… messy.

  • hennorama

    Farmers can’t just “adapt” by picking up their land and moving it north or west to follow changing weather patterns. Just ask durum wheat farmers in eastern North Dakota about “adaptation” and whether change is “no big deal.”

    Here’s an excerpt from a recent Newsweek article titled “The End of Pasta – Temperatures are rising. Rainfalls are shifting. Droughts are intensifying. What will we eat when wheat won’t grow?”

    “Durum used to be grown throughout North Dakota, but over the past 30 to 40 years, the growing zone has shifted farther west as weather conditions have changed. “Rainfall patterns have shifted,” explains Professor Manthey. “It’s become too wet in eastern North Dakota for durum.”

    And from an agweek.com article from March 2012:

    “North Dakota farmers planted 4.4 million acres of durum in 1980, 3.1 million acres in 1990, 3.25 million in 2000 and 1.8 million in 2010. They planted only 750,000 acres in 2011, although that reflects the exceptionally wet spring a year ago.

    “Unofficial estimates peg [2012] durum acreage in the state at 1.2 million to 1.6 million. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will issue its official prediction of durum acreage on March 30.”

    See the map below for 2006 ND durum production levels by county, and how production is now concentrated in the western half of that state.

    See:
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/12/09/bakken-oil-boom-and-climate-change-threaten-the-future-of-pasta.html

    http://www.agweek.com/event/article/id/19640/#sthash.FJiMKCFM.dpuf

    http://www.business.nd.gov/uploads/resources/199/wheat.jpg

    • JamesG

      So they will grow something else. Deal with it or sell out and go do something else.

      • Ray in VT

        That seems like sort of a dismissive and simplistic approach. Given the water demands and land stress from intensive agriculture, if the water table drops far enough or soil gets eroded or depleted to a certain extent just growing something else there may not be a viable option, and the food and feed needs to come from somewhere.

        • JamesG

          Not dismissive, just accepting reality. Yes some land will become uncultivatable, but other areas will become more productive. That is nothing new, it’s occurred for millenia. Farmers are always at the whim of the weather.

          • Ray in VT

            And while that it true, and I know that first hand from having grown up on a farm, our impacts upon the land can and are much more severe than they were in ages past, and we are seeking to feed more and more people on that land. Our options to pick up and move on are considerably less than they were a couple of centuries ago.

          • JamesG

            That is not true. No one is a feudal surf or share-cropper., even though it feels like it sometimes. No one is tied to the land by anything except tradition and lack of imagination of alternatives.

            Right now is probably the easiest time in all of human history to enter or exit agriculture because of demand for land and/or easy availability of credit/capital (for some anyway).

          • Don_B1

            It is true that only 3% of Americans are still on the farm, and any individuals are not “bound to the land.”

            However, if all the farmers leave because the land no longer produces food there will be no food for anyone (or more likely, a greatly diminished amount over which there will be wars).

          • JamesG

            Naw, food prices would just increase to the point where it became attractive for someone to figure out how to meet demand (Soylent Green? ;+)

          • Ray in VT

            I don’t think that it is that easy to get into agriculture. That is actually a fairly significant issue with many young people. They may want to get in, but without resources, the financial commitments that it takes, based upon crop prices that can be highly volatile, makes it difficult for many to get the sort of financial backing that it takes to get off of the ground.

            Also, my comment regarding movement was larger than just at the personal level, where that is much easier. I am talking about mass movements of people and the supports that a vastly increased human population requires. When many millions fewer people were relying on the same amount of land then shocks to the system were easier to absorb.

          • fun bobby

            look into the beginner farming programs. farms can actually be acquired for free in some cases with commitment required of course. there is a lack of people to be farmers. the average age of a farmer is in their 50s or 60s

          • Ray in VT

            Most of the descriptions that I saw were for loan programs. Loans, even with good terms, that run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars are problematic, given the high volatility involved with some ag crops.

          • fun bobby

            there is a myriad of grant programs available to beginning farmers both governmental and non. even though I think its a bad thing because of the unintended consequences of making agriculture less risky, crop insurance was created for just that very reason.

            here are some resources

            http://afsic.nal.usda.gov/farms-and-community/beginningnew-farmers

          • Ray in VT

            There are some grants there, and quite a few support resources that can help people to run their business, but most of the financial resources listed there that I saw are loans. To be sure there are more programs and support than there once was, but, then again, back in the day someone trying to get into farming wasn’t competing with an agribusiness company that can plant thousands of acres or milk 40,000 cows per day. That sort of market concentration, and the economies of scale that they create, make it increasingly difficult for smaller businesses to survive or come into being, especially considering land, equipment or livestock costs.

            Crop insurance certainly can have some drawbacks, such as with more marginal lands, however, considering the financial calamity that a major crop failure can be, I think that it is likely a net plus. However, no such protection exists for dairy, where prices to the farmers can swing wildly, even lately having dropped to roughly 1/2 of the cost to produce.

          • fun bobby

            that list was the tip of the iceberg. clearly there is quite a large effort and resources to get people into farming. the problem with the whole “its impossible to compete with agribusiness” thing does not hold up in light of all the small farms that are doing great. I thought there were some price supports for milk?
            without the crop insurance there would be fewer failures its a double edged sword for sure

          • Ray in VT

            I didn’t say impossible, but if you think that it is a breeze, then, by all means give it a whirl. It’s not impossible, but it’s not easy. Some farms may be doing great, but the general sense that I get from the people whom I know in agriculture, including what I see at my brother’s place, is that is not true of the industry at large.

            There are some price supports for dairy, but even those didn’t prevent the price from dropping to around $10 per hundred weight. That is about what it was at times during the 1980s, and those are not in inflation adjusted numbers. Production cost is somewhere around $16-18.

          • fun bobby

            its like any other business, some people will do well and others will struggle. Its always a lot of work to start any business. If I owned a farm and that happened I would get busy making cheese or yogurt and giving farm tours, maybe plant a corn maze. Maybe use that time of low prices to get a loan and to transition to organic production.

          • Don_B1

            You are volunteering to be one of the billion or so that die from starvation when a crop grown elsewhere or a replacement crop does not provide enough nutrition for all the humans on the planet?

            The uprising in Syria was in part caused by a large decline in agricultural output and price rises due to climate change.

          • JamesG

            Nope. I am smart enough not to live in a desert and I know how to garden.

            See my comment at the bottom of this thread.

          • Ray in VT

            And are you prepared for what happens if areas become less than ideal for large scale human habitation and people do indeed pull up stakes and start moving? Land changes and crop failures can put a lot of people in motion, and to think that we might not be immune to such factors would be shortsighted.

          • JamesG

            It doesn’t matter if I’m prepared, or like or dislike it. IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN. All you, I, and everyone else in the world can do is adapt the best that we can as it occurs.

      • hennorama

        JamesG — thank you for your response.

        Yes, it’s all so simple — just change the seeds that you throw in ground, sit back, relax, and enjoy, right? It’s just the same as an auto manufacturer switching over to microchip production — it just takes a snap of the fingers, after all.

        Seriously, it’s true, as was pointed out by the speakers and callers, that farmers are adapting to precipitation and other changes, and switching crops. Part of the switch is due to changing weather patterns, and part of it is economics. Corn yields to a greater extent, and soybean yields to a lesser extent, have risen faster than wheat yields, making the profit per acre potential of these crops greater than that of wheat.

        Part of this increase has been made possible by genetic modifications, combined with pesticides tailored to specific modified organisms.

        See the maps in the “Crop production moving. How far can it, will it go?” link in the intro above, showing significant northward migration of corn and soybean acreage, and notably into eastern North Dakota.

        • fun bobby

          the mayans did predict an end to the corn people and now they are cutting out the ethanol.

    • fun bobby

      they can grow different things

  • ThirdWayForward

    Are there any predictions regarding the effects of global warming on the Sahara Desert? In former epochs, as recent as 5000 years ago, the Sahara was lush. Holocene Wet Phase a.k.a. Green Sahara a.k.a Wet Sahara a.k.a Neolithic Subpluvial.

    This is not to say that we shouldn’t be wary of climate change, or delay taking immediate action to deal with it, only that there could be unexpected benefits in the longer run (like monsoons returning to northern Africa).

    • fun bobby

      and Worcester could become a tropical archipelago

  • creaker

    So are the bugs moving further north as well? Are any traditionally northern crops being affected by traditionally southern bugs? Or weeds for that matter?

    • JamesG

      That is probably inevitable. Nature adapts too.

      • creaker

        Inevitable or not if it happens you still have to deal with it.

        • JamesG

          Probably not an “IF”. You might as well assume palmetto bugs and kudzu is on its way! LOL

  • Guest

    so are the bugs coming north as well? are northern crops getting hit by southern bugs?

    • Don_B1

      Absolutely the bugs are coming north and more virulently than ever.

      • JamesG

        We trained them and toughened them up for you. MuHAAHAAHHAAHA!

  • JamesG

    Meh. If you can grow tomatoes in Arizona…

  • JBK007

    Please address the issue of the declining bee population as a sign of climate change and related to our future ability to grow crops in the US.

    • JamesG

      Different issue. Colony collapse is being caused by widespread pesticide overuse and other pollution. Ordinarily bees should benefit from elevated temperatures and an expanded range.

      • JBK007

        that’s good to know, thanks James. I see it as a related issue, given farmers need to use more and more pesticides to get a decent crop these days….

        • JamesG

          Farmers don’t “have” to. They do so because they’ve been told it maximizes yield/profit.

          Plus a lot of what is killing the bees isn’t agricultural pesticides, its the bug spray people use in their homes and yards.

  • creaker

    More radical weather could make a lot more farm land marginal regardless of the climate.

    • fun bobby

      a bigger problem is that crop insurance makes it profitable for farmers to plant on marginal land because they do not have to take all the risk

  • BlueNH

    90 Million acres of corn being cultivated? Does this mean that 90 million acres are planted with GMO crops? 90 million acres of Roundup ready crops that end up in every piece of meat we eat?

    What is this doing to our environment, and what will this do to the human race? Bad enough that we have climate change. Now we’re being force-fed Roundup!

    • JamesG

      Yes. Fun eh? Also the corn being planted are varieties (bred and GMed) to be heat and drought tolerant. Just wait until corn becomes a pest weed, lol!

      • Don_B1

        The GMO genes that give corn those capabilities can migrate into other species, etc, and contaminate the gene pools of all kinds of plants, some more likely than others.

        • JamesG

          Source?

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      Never mind the superweeds.

    • northeaster17

      Only buy organic corn. Do not buy products with corn syrup. Eat as much grass fed meat as possible.Change habits. Read labels and pay attention. If no one eats it they will grow less. Simplistic but true.

      • BlueNH

        Easy for you to say. What about those in lower incomes…..they cannot afford to buy organic foods (if they are even available at their local market). And the cheapest food, such as McDonalds and processed food, which is what poor people can afford, is loaded with HFCS and GMO’s.

        More importantly, GMO food is NOT labeled. I believe that it should be labeled (mandated by law) and then we’ll see how much people buy. I’m pretty sure that most people will leave it on the shelves.

        • northeaster17

          Your right about the lower incomes. A few years ago that was me for awhile. At that point food is food
          As far as GMO, anything with corn or corn extracts, unless organic or you know your farmer is GMO. We shop very carefully and still get what we don’t want. Buy local as possible, then organic. It’s more expensive and GMO’s still get in but it is something that a family can do on a daily basis.
          As I think about my lunch today, restaurants can be the worse. Food suppliers do not care. We are in a tough situation.

          • fun bobby

            perhaps join a CSA

        • fun bobby

          mcdonalds offers organic fair trade coffee for a buck.

          • jefe68

            How about they offer their employees a fair living wage.

          • fun bobby

            if you work hard at mcdonalds you can be making $60,000 and up there plus very generous benefits (although I don’t know how obamacare will affect that.) I am sure there are plenty of people who work for McDonalds who make more. Maybe times are tough for Grimace but he seems to have fallen off probably because no one could ever figure out what the heck he was. I support their workers if they want to strike to get more. Selling organic fair trade coffee for a buck must take pretty tight margins to pay higher wages I am sure they would have to cut some dead weight. I am sure those downs syndrome and elderly people who lose their jobs will find lucrative careers elsewhere right?

  • Ray in VT

    I’m not presently able to listen to the show, but I was very glad to see that some farmers were being included in the discussion today.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    Here is a great chart that overlays the historical temperature record over the last 18,000 year with civilization milestones.

    The historical record is quite an eye opener.

    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/younger_dryas_to_present_time_line.pdf

    Here is the accompanying essay.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/11/17/climate-and-human-civilization-over-the-last-18000-years/#more-97612

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      More magical thinking from Anthony Watts…

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        There you go again…..
        It wasn’t from Watts. It was on his site.

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          Same thing. Anthony Watts has zero credibility, and so everything on his site is negated.

          Bringing up anything Anthony Watts supports is effectively a reverse-checkmate. You lose the argument.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Neil, you have a closed mind.

            And btw, I didn’t lose any argument.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Again with the rubber and glue thing…

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            False equivalence Neil. I wasn’t the one who dismissed and attacked the historical record.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            What’s the equivalence of a fact-free world?

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Feel free to live in your bubble.

            Now the historical record is ‘fact free’. You sound like a ‘denier’. So sad.

        • Don_B1

          Mr. Watts almost uniformly posts to his website only those arguments that strongly favor his ideological goals.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            What is IDEOLOGICAL about the historical record?

            Also, Watts opens up his comments to folks that disagree with his view.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        OK Neil. Listen to this Science Friday episode.

        There are two scientists opining on Yolanda and the influence of climate change. Kevin Treneberth is clearly pushing an agenda. The Princeton scientist won’t be baited into making false claims.
        This interview was a good view into what is wrong with the climate community.

        It could be that the two scientists agree on 90% of the big issues. However, if the spokespeople for the climate community behaved like the Princeton scientist then there would far less controversy. Instead, the vocal few in the community are activists and thus create distrust.

        “Gauging the Impact of Climate Change on Hurricanes”

        http://www.sciencefriday.com/segment/11/15/2013/gauging-the-impact-of-climate-change-on-hurricanes.html

  • Kerry

    As a farmer in CT, its not just the changes in temperatures that are a problem, it is the increase in severe weather events and variability in weather. This summer northern and western CT experienced huge amounts of rain for early summer. When we see rain, its large storms in a short amount of time. We also see 60 degree days followed by 30 degree drops at unseasonable times, i.e. yesterday to today.

    • Don_B1

      The growth setbacks from water-soaked land following an intense rainfall over days then a long dry period that hardens the soil, preventing the absorption of subsequent rain, contributes to reduced output.

      • Kerry

        Also, its impossible to get into the fields to do anything. For vegetable growers, during a moth of heavy rain, it is impossible to get into the field to plant, kill weeds, etc., resulting in delayed plantings, weedy fields, resulting in reduced to no production. Excessive water results in the washing out of nutrients in soil so plants can’t access them. Flooding in fields obviously is too and heavy rains pulverize crops.

        • fun bobby

          looks like we will have to adapt our techniques

  • PithHelmut

    Boy are we one dumb species. Talk about climate change like things are going to stay like this. We fail to realize that temperatures next summer could reach 150 degrees. We don’t know. It could be more. The poles are melting and the permafrost is being released. That could spell exponential rise. Nobody knows how quickly the temperatures will rise. I can’t get over our stupidity – we are still giving subsidies to the oil companies!

    • jefe68

      I’m amazed that the permafrost is not being mentioned at all. A quarter of the Northern Hemisphere’s land surface is covered in permanently frozen soil, or permafrost, which is filled with carbon-rich plant debris.

      • JamesG

        Not for long! lol

        BTW- They did mention it early in the hr.

        • jefe68

          Thanks. I was wondering. I started listening at about 11:20 or so.

    • Don_B1

      What you are proposing is just about impossible. The Earth is a huge system with a lot of inertia, making large changes in a short time span next to impossible, for which everyone should be happy.

      Among the various scenarios that climate scientists consider reasonably possible, the one predicting the largest increase in average temperature is around 11° F over the remainder of this century.

      But if you mean a peak temperature occurring somewhere on earth, the current highest recorded temperature is around 133°F in Pakistan a few years ago, unless it has been superseded more recently. So a peak temperature somewhere of 140°F would not be impossible within the next ten or so years.

      • fun bobby

        actually if a tipping point is reached the global climate can shift quickly. more likely than 150 degrees it will just start to snow one day and not stop for 1000 years when the global thermocline fails

  • John_Hamilton

    This is a pretty silly conversation, similar to claims of greatly increased longevity based on current trends. The problem lies in the Western intellectual tradition of reductionism, thinking of phenomena in isolation from ALL other phenomena, when ALL other phenomena are changing along with the isolated variable.

    When growing seasons change, the Polar ice caps are melting, ocean levels are rising, sea life is threatened, forest fires are increasing, and, as we saw last weekend in the nation’s breadbasket, the weather becomes more threatening.

    A show on Wisconsin Public Radio regularly interviews UW professors about various aspects of climate change, and one of them, an entomologist, has observed the movement northward of insects that plants and other insects have no defenses against. When the permafrost is deeper other negative effects result.

    This show segment is a time-filler, a faux conversation starter that does little to advance our knowledge of the subject at hand. Tom Ashbrook sounds completely at home.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      John, I hear you on the point that climate change is *by far* the most important thing that humans have ever faced.

      This is an ongoing process, and it is far from perfect. We cannot expect everyone to get onboard instantaneously, and On Point is one of the few places where climate change gets discussed at all. We have our resident trolls and sock puppets, and the noise from those quarters is frustrating.

  • David Small

    There are many threats to the global food supply that have nothing to do with climate change. Many serious environmental problems have causes rooted in short sighted government policies rather than climate change. Take for example ground water depletion driven by government subsidies or subsidies on corn for biofuels. I wish we could have a discussion about environmental problems without the focus being completely on climate change like its the only problem that exists. Climate change is a real problem, but only one of many. Until we take a broader view in our discussion of environmental threats, we’re not going to make any progress. This is coming from a degreed climate scientist who sees climate change as one of many emerging threats to our society.

  • fun bobby

    I guess we are going to have to farm hemp

  • fun bobby

    maybe it will become a tropical socialist paradise?

  • fun bobby

    in hydroponics water is used much more efficiently and the greater productivity could allow for greater portions

  • Joanna Murphy

    I thought Tom Ashbrook did a horrible job with this topic. As I listened in horror about the effects of climate change on our environment the guests were talking as if it was no big deal and that in fact it was a great thing because now we can start growing soybeans in North America. Are you kidding me! Where we live climate change is altering our vegetation so much that livelihoods will be changed forever and not in a good way. ‘Come on!’ Tom Ashbrook you could have handle this topic much better.I am extremely disappointed in this show and NPR in general for its lame interviewing and shows!

    • Brian Cartwright

      I have to agree, Joanna. Tom grew up in farm country but doesn’t seem to know that the conventional wisdom about farming doesn’t suffice anymore. Farmers are on the front lines of climate change, both in suffering its damage and in potentially creating resiliency, surviving and thriving. Industrial agriculture brought large-scale productivity but does tremendous environmental damage, with chemical inputs killing off the life in the soil and running off to pollute water, and GM crops totally eliminating protective diversity with more and more chemicals required as the years go by.

      I was encouraged to hear the farmer from North Dakota who talked about smart farming practices that are taking hold. There are developments in agriculture that are promising for growing more nutritious food, building soil carbon to protect land from drought and flood, using microbial life to fix and retain nutrients without excess fertilizer, improving water flow and retention of soil moisture, and using livestock with rotational grazing to improve soil. How about an On Point show on resilient farming?

      • Joanna Murphy

        Brian, Thanks for your comment, I could not have said it better. You really nailed it and yes, On Point should do a show on resilient farming but I cringed to think who they would interview….someone from Monsanto?

        • Brian Cartwright

          My suggestion would be Judith Schwartz, author of “Cows Save the Planet”. A very positive and hopeful book.

    • Candid One

      Is NPR generally taking an adversarial role? If reinforcement of political agendas is a need, why turn to NPR, or PBS? That’s not their best role. These are information sources that aren’t intended to support any particular brand of polemics. If their information is wrong, incorrect, they’re not doing their job. If they’re taking political sides, they’re not doing their jobs. They can’t present very much that’s going to meet anyone’s particular agenda on any topic, nor can they cover all details of a complex situation in necessarily brief treatments. What NPR does provide is already invaluable. Why get greedy?

  • Wahoo_wa

    I think we’re talking about the United States here.

  • Ray in VT

    In the dairy industry there was also the price collapse a couple of years ago, when farmers got $10 per hundred weight, although the break even point is about $16-$18. The haulers have been pretty well squeezed too.

  • jefe68

    As long as we learn to say excuse me and sorry….
    I think it they will be OK with it.

    • fun bobby

      we could offer them some putiene

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