Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Could climate change lead to more food? Increased carbon dioxide could help wheat, rice and soybeans grow more efficiently

This study very cautiously states the bleeding obvious but it is a nice change to see the modellers getting closer to reality  -- after the barrage of one-eyed Greenie claims that global warming will create food shortages
Bringing drought and increased temperatures, climate change has been widely portrayed as a force that will leave staple food crops struggling in many areas where they are grown today.

But a new study has shown that increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may actually lead to greater yields of key crops like wheat, rice and soybeans.

Scientists say higher levels of carbon dioxide in the air helps plants build up greater biomass but can also reduce the amount of water needed to help them grow.

While the effects of a complex changing climate makes it difficult to predict exactly how crops in different parts of the world will grow, overall rising carbon dioxide levels could be beneficial.

Average levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have risen by more than a quarter since 1960, and now sit at around 400 parts per million.  Plants take in carbon to build their tissues through photosynthesis, and if there is more carbon around, the process is easier.

Leaves take in air through tiny openings called stomata, but in the process the stomata lose water. When more carbon is available, they don't have to open up as much, and this saves water.

Until now most research looking into climate change has focussed on changes in temperature and rainfall.

Many studies indicate that as temperatures rise, crops across the world will suffer as average temperatures become unsuitable for traditionally grown crops, and droughts, heat waves or extreme bouts of precipitation become more common.

But a large team of researchers have tried to predict the combined effect of a variety of changing factors caused by climate change to take into account the increase in carbon dioxide.

They introduced artificially heightened levels of carbon dioxide to farm fields, and measured the results on crop production.

Although the results are complicated, their research suggests some crops might grow better in 2080.

The study looked at how rising temperatures and carbon dioxide along with changes in rainfall and cloud cover might combine to affect how efficiently maize, soybeans, wheat, and rice can use water and grow.

The results confirmed heat and water stress alone will damage yields, but when carbon dioxide is accounted for, all four crops will use water more efficiently by 2080.

Based on the current biomass of these crops, the researchers predict water-use efficiency will rise an average of 27 per cent in wheat, 18 per cent in soybeans, 13 per cent in maize, and 10 per cent in rice.

This does not mean more of them will grow, however.

Taking it all into account, the study projects that average yields of current rain-fed wheat areas, mostly located in higher latitudes including the US, Canada and Europe, might go up by almost 10 per cent, while consumption of water would go down a corresponding amount.

But average yields of irrigated wheat, which account for much of India and China's production, could decline by 4 per cent.

Maize, according to the new projections, would still be a loser most everywhere, even with higher water efficiency yields would go down about 8.5 per cent.

'To adapt adequately, we need to understand all the factors involved,' said lead author Delphine Deryng, an environmental scientist at Columbia University's Centre for Climate Systems Research, the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the University of Chicago's Computation Institute.

She said the study should not be interpreted to mean that increasing carbon dioxide is a good thing, but its direct effects must be included in any calculation of what the future holds.

Taking it all into account, the study projects that average yields of current rain-fed wheat areas, mostly located in higher latitudes including the US, Canada and Europe, might go up by almost 10 per cent, while consumption of water would go down a corresponding amount.

But average yields of irrigated wheat, which account for much of India and China's production, could decline by four per cent.

Maize, according to the new projections, would still be a loser most everywhere, even with higher water efficiency yields would go down about 8.5 per cent.

Agricultural scientists say losses could be mitigated to some extent by switching crops or developing varieties adapted to the new conditions.

But the researchers warned the uncertainties in the models are high, because field experiments, which involve blowing carbon dioxide over large farm fields for entire growing seasons, have only been done at a handful of sites.

The study is less conclusive on the overall effects on rice and soybean yields - half of the projections show an increase in yield and half a net decline.

Bruce Kimball, a retired researcher with the US Department of Agriculture who has studied crop-carbon dioxide interactions, said the paper does 'a good job on a huge scale,' but 'more data from more crops from more locations' is needed.

He also cautioned that previous research has shown that the benefits of higher carbon dioxide levels tend to bottom out after a certain point, but that the damage done by heat only gets worse as temperatures mount.

'Thus, for greater warming and higher CO2 the results would likely be more pessimistic than shown in this paper,' he said.


The ‘establishment’ is slow to learn; Senate Republicans pushing for more #GreenPork

By Marita Noon

In this election cycle, we hear a lot about the "establishment." Most people are not really sure who they are, but they are sure that they do not like them. The anger toward the establishment is not party specific and has propelled two unlikely candidates: Donald Trump on the Republican side and Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democrats.

The faithful following these outsiders may be more about "the grassroots trying to teach the establishment a lesson," as Gary Bauer posited last month, than about affection for either man. In an InfoWars video, reporter Richard Reeves, at the University of Texas in Austin speaks to Wyatt, a young man who’d just voted for Sanders. Wyatt indicates that most of his fellow students likely voted for Sanders as well. The surprise is his comment about the students’ second choice: "Donald Trump."  Why? He’s not "establishment." Wyatt admits he didn’t consider voting for anyone else — just Sanders and Trump.

The establishment has been slow to grasp the public’s rejection of an increasingly distrusted political class.

However, one might define the "establishment," it certainly includes long-time Washington politicians like Senators Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Ron Wyden (D-Oreg.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — who have just engaged in the exact tactics that have fed the voter frustration aimed at them. Avoiding a vigorous debate, they are using a must-pass bill to sneak through millions in totally unrelated taxpayer giveaways to special interests in the renewable energy industry—and they hope voters won’t notice.

The bill is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act. On April 6, using an unrelated House bill (H.R. 636) that will serve as the legislative shell for the Senate’s FAA measure (S. 2658), the Senate began consideration to reauthorize the FAA for 18 months. It is expected that the bill will be voted on this week, followed by the House — which will take it up when it is back in session.

Funding for the FAA expired in September and received a 6-month extension—which expired again on March 31. Avoiding a shutdown, Congress passed another extension that President Obama signed on March 30. This legislation authorized federal spending on aviation and related aviation taxes through mid-July 2016.

Both the House and Senate have been grappling with a multi-year aviation bill. Now, FAA reauthorization only has about two weeks to be debated and approved before it will be shoved aside to make way for budget proceedings. One major point of conflict is the renewable energy tax breaks. Because the Senate FAA bill includes a tax title, it is open to unrelated tax amendments.

Many renewable energy tax credits were extended in the omnibus spending package that was passed late last year, but Democrats claim that in the chaos of last minute negotiations, some were "unintentionally" left out. According to Morning Consult, Thune said: "This is what [Democrats] always viewed as the best opportunity to get some of these things that were left out of last year’s extender bill." Senate Minority Leader Reid announced: "the inclusion of the provisions is a requirement for the legislation to move forward."

While many Republicans opposed the addition of the renewable energy tax credits, provisions supporting investments in fuel cells, geothermal and biomass were included in the Senate negotiations. Addressing the Senate’s scramble to "settle on a cohesive strategy" regarding attaching the renewable energy tax breaks to the bill, Politico reports: "House Republicans have made it clear they’re not interested in renewing any of the expired tax provisions this year." The bill’s coverage in Roter Daily states: "key Republicans have already warned fellow House members to oppose a deal on tax extenders if it comes out of the Senate, saying they have consistently failed to promote economic growth and create jobs."

As we have seen with the recent demise of government-funded, green-energy projects, such tax credits and subsidies have repeatedly failed to deliver on their promises of long-term job creation and economic viability. It is for this reason that, on April 5, a coalition of more than 30 organizations sent a letter to the Senate Finance Committee expressing our deep opposition to the proposal. The letter, of which I am a signatory, states: "Congress considered the matter of expiring tax provisions less than 4 months ago. … It should also be noted that Congress extended significantly favorable tax treatment to renewable energy in omnibus appropriation legislation that accompanied the aforementioned tax extender package."

Andrew Langer, President of the Institute for Liberty, who also signed the letter, explains his position: "In December, Congress purposefully allowed a series of tax credits for so-called ‘green’ energies to expire. This was not some mere oversight as some have alleged, but a purposeful recognition that as the energy landscape has changed, the need to extend some two dozen of these credits was unwarranted. Others were allowed to continue — but roughly $1.5 billion were not."

If you believe, as all the signatories to the letter do, that American taxpayers shouldn’t have to prop up large, well-connected special interests through tax handouts, carve outs, and loopholes using unsustainable Washington spending, please let your representatives know now. Please urge Senate offices to oppose keeping in the tax extenders, and encourage House offices to oppose adding in extenders.

With our national debt totaling more than $19 trillion, the last thing we need is more corporate welfare. But our legislators are slow to learn. Senate Republicans, like Thune, who is the lead negotiator for the Republicans, have worked with the Democrats to include the renewable energy tax credits. Thune stated: "We’re listening to them and we’re working for them."

No wonder the electorate is angry. But Washington politicians don’t get it. While a battle rages over who will be the next president, unfazed, the establishment continues on.

Langer concludes: "the political ramifications are clear, as history has taught us. Republicans who give in to cronyism, who give in to profligate spending… they get nothing in the end. Worse, they do considerable damage to the concept that Republicans are the party of lower spending and less government. In a political cycle where the future is entirely uncertain for Republicans at all levels, those who are pushing for these tax breaks do their colleagues no great service."

Join us in educating the "establishment" by calling them and telling them: "No more green pork!" #GreenPork


Green Europe is Killing 40,000 Poor People a Year

Europe’s suicidal green energy policies are killing at least 4o,000 people a year.

That’s just the number estimated to have died in the winter of 2014 because they were unable to afford fuel bills driven artificially high by renewable energy tariffs.

But the real death toll will certainly be much higher when you take into account the air pollution caused when Germany decided to abandon nuclear power after Fukushima and ramp up its coal-burning instead; and also when you consider the massive increase in diesel pollution –  the result of EU-driven anti-CO2 policies – which may be responsible for as many as 500,000 deaths a year.

But even that 40,000 figure is disgraceful enough, given that greenies are always trying to take the moral high ground and tell us that people who oppose their policies are uncaring and selfish.

It comes from an article in the German online magazine FOCUS about Energiewende (Energy Transition) – the disastrous policy I mentioned earlier this week whereby Germany is committed to abandoning cheap, effective fossil fuel power and converting its economy to expensive, inefficient renewables (aka unreliables) instead.

According to FOCUS around ten percent of the European population are now living in ‘energy poverty’ because electricity prices have risen, on average, by 42 percent in the last eight years. In Germany alone this amounts to seven million households.

The article is titled: The grand electricity lie: why electricity is becoming a luxury.

The reason, of course, is that green energy policies have made it that way. Many of these have emanated from the European Union, which in turn has taken its cue from the most Green-infested nation in Europe – Germany.

Germany has long been obsessed with all things environmental. Besides having invented the dodgy ‘science’ of ecology in the 1880s it was also, of course, between 1933 and 1945 the home of Europe’s official “Greenest government ever” – the first to ban smoking on public transport, an enthusiastic supporter of organic food, national parks and population control.

The Greens have also since the early Eighties been arguably the most influential party in Germany. Though their percentage of the vote has rarely risen above the 10 percent mark, they have punched above their weight either as a coalition partner in government or as a pressure group outside it.

For example, the reason that after Fukushima, Chancellor Angela Merkel completely changed Germany’s policy on nuclear power was her terror of the Greens who were suddenly polling 25 percent of the national vote.

It was the Greens too who were responsible for Energiewende – the policy which is turning Germany into the opposite of what most of us imagine it to be: not the economic powerhouse we’ve been taught to admire all these years, but a gibbering basket case.

This becomes clear in an investigation by the German newspaper Handelsblatt, which reports the horrendous industrial decline brought about by green energy policies.

    Hit hardest, of course, are the traditional utilities. After all, the energy transition was designed to seal their coffin. Once the proverbial investment for widows and orphans because their revenue streams were considered rock-solid — these companies have been nothing short of decimated. With 77 nuclear and fossil-fuel power plants taken off the grid in recent years, Germany’s four big utilities — E.ON, RWE, Vattenfall and EnBW — have had to write off a total of €46.2 billion since 2011.

    RWE and E.ON alone have debt piles of €28.2 billion and €25.8 billion, respectively, according to the latest company data. Losses at Düsseldorf-based E.ON rose to €6.1 billion for the first three quarters of 2015. Both companies have slashed the dividends on their shares, which have lost up to 76 percent of their value. Regional municipalities, which hold 24 percent of RWE’s shares, are scrambling to plug the holes left in their budgets by the missing dividends.

    Thousands of workers have already been let go, disproportionately hitting communities in Germany‘s rust belt that are already struggling with blight. RWE has cut 7,000 jobs since 2011. At E.ON, the work force has shrunk by a third, a loss of over 25,000 jobs. Just as banks spun off their toxic assets and unprofitable operations into “bad banks” during the financial crisis, Germany’s utilities are reorganizing to cut their losses.

Why are the Germans enacting such lunacy? Aren’t they supposed to be the sensible ones?

Well yes, up to a point. As a seasoned German-watcher explains to me, it’s with good reason that one of Germany’s greatest contributions to the world’s vocabulary is the word Angst.

The Germans are absolutely riddled with it – always have been – and it explains the two otherwise inexplicable policies with which Germany is currently destroying itself.

One, of course, is Energiewende caused by a misplaced, but deeply-held neurosis about stuff like diminishing scarce resources and “global warming” and the evils of Atomkraft (Nuclear power).

The other are its similarly insane immigration policies – the result of the neurosis that if it doesn’t replace its declining population with a supposedly healthy influx of immigrant workers, then it will wither and cease to be the great force it was under people like Frederick the Great, Bismarck and that chap in the 1930s and that no one will know or care where Germany is any more.

Ironically, though, if national decline is what the Germans most fear then the two policies they are pursuing to avoid it happening to be the ones most likely to hasten it.

This is sad. Sad for Germany which, for all its faults, has produced some pretty impressive things over the years: Beethoven; Kraftwerk; Goethe; Porsche; autobahns; those two girls on Deutschland 83.

And even sadder for those of us who, through absolutely no fault of our own happen to be shackled politically and economically to a socialistic superstate called the European Union, most of whose rules are decided by Germans over whom we have no democratic control.

Oh and by the way, Greenies: as I never tire of reminding you, you insufferable tossers, not a single one of the “future generations” you constantly cite in your mantras as justification for your disgusting, immoral and anti-free-market environmental policies actually exists.

But the people you’re killing now as a result of those environmental policies DO exist.

Or rather they did, till you choked or froze them to death, you vile, evil, eco-Nazi scumbags.


German Government ‘Plans To Stop And Reverse Wind Power’

If the green energy plans by the German Federal Government are implemented, the expansion of onshore wind energy will soon come to a standstill and then go into reverse.

According to figures by the Federal Network Agency, in the twelve months from February 2015 to January 2016 new wind turbines with a net capacity of nearly 3,600 megawatts were installed. The 3600 MW correspond to about three nuclear reactors. […]

What is the future of wind energy in Germany?

This depends entirely on political developments. In early March, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel presented a draft for the amendment of the Renewable Energies Act (EEG). The new rules regulate the subsidy levels for renewable energy. The new regulations are to be adopted in coming months. The draft says, inter alia, that the amount of renewable energy in the electricity mix will be limited to a level of 40 to 45 percent by 2025. At the end of last year the level was already nearly 33 percent.

What does this mean for the expansion of wind energy?

A study by consultants ERA on behalf of the Green Party’s parliamentary group concludes that under these provisions the development of wind energy will collapse fairly soon: A target of 45 percent would mean that only 1500 megawatts could be installed annually after 2018, according to the study. That’s less than half as the average of wind energy installed in the past five days.

How does this affect the amount of electricity produced?

The 1500 MW of new-built wind turbines would be insufficient even to replace older ones against new ones, the ERA-authors write. This means that wind generation capacity is actually shrinking. “As a consequence, there will be an economic stagnation of electricity from onshore wind energy already in the 2020s”, the study claims. From 2022 onwards, the amount of wind power will begin to shrink. With a 1,500 megawatts limit the government would undermine its own goals of a so-called expansion corridor of 2400-2600 megawatts.

What would the 40 percent cap mean?

A 40% cap for wind energy completely stop the construction of new wind farms by of 2019, according to the ERA study. Overall, this would reduce onshore wind power by almost 6000 megawatts compared to the end of 2015 – which would mean a massive slump in wind power generation by 18 terawatt hours.

What does this mean for companies that build the plants?

“The domestic market for many manufacturers collapses completely,” says Julia Verlinden, spokesperson for Energy Policy in the Green Party’s parliamentary group. “With their plan, the federal government is killing the wind companies.” This although wind energy is a cost-effective technology which can replace nuclear and coal power plants, she adds.

Who are the vested interests behind the government’s new plan?

Julia Verlinden claims that Energy Minister Gabriel seeks to protect “old, fossil fuel power plants against green competition”. There is a core of truth in this argument. It’s about power plants by the big energy companies RWE, Eon, EnBW and Vattenfall. All four companies are badly damaged, because they have relied too long on coal and nuclear power. As a result, these sectors are now threatened by massive job cuts. Trade unionists are putting pressure on to support these companies. Moreover, the Quartet are to bear the costs for the demolition of nuclear power plants and the disposal of nuclear waste.

What plans for the transformation of energy mean?

“With the planned EEG amendment Sigmar Gabriel wants to set himself a monument as the wrecker of the green energy transition,” said Green Party Vice Oliver Krischer. While the rest of the world is investing in solar and wind power, Germany’s federal government is going into reverse – just at a time when renewable energy has become so cheap.


Polish Government Threatens To Kill Wind Industry, Critics Warn

Poland’s thriving wind energy industry has warned that it faces bankruptcies, rapid divestment and an end to growth under a bill that threatens executives with prison.

The wind power sector in Poland installed the largest amount of turbine capacity in the EU last year after Germany, taking total industry investment to €8bn. Turbines, including those owned by EDF, RWE and Eon, produce about 13 per cent of the country’s electricity.

But proposals submitted to parliament by the ultraconservative rightwing administration will tighten regulations to the point of killing off the industry, critics have said.

"For some projects, it will be terminal . . . it will kill them," said Wojciech Cetnarski, president of the Polish Wind Energy Association, an industry lobby group. "This will result in bankruptcies. That is for sure.

"No one will invest any more in this country’s wind energy industry if this law is passed."

The bill will make it illegal to build turbines within 2km of other buildings or forests — a measure campaigners said would rule out 99 per cent of land — and quadruple the rate of tax payable on existing turbines — making most unprofitable.

Another clause in the bill would give authorities the power to shut down each turbine for weeks at a time during monthly inspections, said industry figures. Violations would result in hefty fines or two years’ imprisonment.

Foreign investors are already viewing the bill with alarm.


GMOs and India: The Mustard Chapter

The oil makes up about 30% of mustard seeds and has long been  used for cooking in India.  Americans will be pleased to know that their wonderful bureaucracy has protected them from mustard oil by banning its sale in America -- as a threat to their health.  A billion Indians can be wrong apparently

Last month, anti-genetically modified organism (GMO) activists engaged in a war in the streets of India’s capital. The agitation is about the genetically modified (GM) variant of mustard — DMH-11 (Dhara Mustard Hybrid 11).


Proponents argue that it will increase crop yields by 25–30 percent compared to the varieties grown in the country now, a move that could help the country increase its edible oil production.

The opponents, though, put forward various arguments, a majority of which are about the yield percentage and the impact of GM crops on the health of the ecosystem, including on humans.

The DMH-11 variant was developed by The Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP) at Delhi University. It is directly regulated by The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), which comes under the Indian Government’s Environment Ministry. So it is an Indian government project aimed at genetically modifying mustard to increase yield, thereby directly addressing food security. The CGMCP was scheduled to distribute the seeds for free, after the approval for commercial cultivation from the government. It is at this juncture that the anti-GMO advocates have caused the disruption.

The most commonly debated issues are: productivity, economic contribution, and safety.

GM crops and Productivity: The Numbers

Developing countries constitute 54 percent of the total global GM crop area. Over the period of 18 years between 1996 and 2013, farm incomes have increased by a cumulative $133.5 million due to the use of GM crops. The direct global farm income benefit due to GM crops was $18.8 billion in 2012 and $20.5 billion in 2013.

Apart from improving the economic condition of farmers, the biotech crops have also reduced the use of pesticides. The amount of reduction in pesticide usage has been 550 million kg or 8.6 percent. Moreover, the environmental footprint of biotech crops was reduced by 19 percent.

Let us for example consider Bt cotton — the only GM crop allowed for commercial cultivation in India. The farm income benefit from that crop was $16.2 million between 1996 and 2013.

When a developed nation like the U.S. can benefit $58.4 billion from biotech crop-based farm income (1996 to 2013), why should poor countries like India not adopt similar measures?

Economic Contribution: India’s Import of Oil from GM Crops

India imports 14 million tons (mt) of edible oil, 24 percent of which comes predominantly from GM rapeseed oil and soybean oil. Surprisingly, the anti-GMO advocates have not protested against GMO oil imports. Rather they chose to protest against the genetic development and implementation of mustard that contributes to 25 percent of India’s edible oil production.

Even a meager conservative estimate of 10 percent increase in Mustard production (actual projection of 20-30 percent increase in yield) will help in reducing the import of GMO oil.

Safety of GM Mustard DMH-11

Anti-GMO activists have claimed that the GM variant is unsafe. But DMH-11 went through Biosafety Research Level-1 (BRL-1) tests between 2011 and 2013, in Rajasthan, under the coordination of the National Research Centre for Rapeseed-Mustard at Bharatpur, and BRL-2 tests at the Indian Agriculture Research Institute in Delhi and the Punjab Agricultural University in 2014-15.

It was deemed safe.

Yet the Anti-GMO campaigners had the single-minded objective of banning the seed. It is quite amusing, given that the GM variant has not been released for commercial farming, yet they have found “unsubstantiated” reasons to call for a ban. After the recent protests, the government of India ordered eight additional tests which will be included in the seed’s biosafety dossier.

Thus the GM variant of mustard satisfies the important standards regarding its use — productivity, economic contribution, and environmental safety. Far too many voices have been raised against GMO mustard without due consideration of the research behind its development and the role it will play in edible oil production.

The Indian government is neither a proponent nor a villain of GMOs. But it needs to be pro-active about food security. The government needs to stand firm in its commitment to food security and the development of scientific technology that will benefit millions. This should be achieved without risking the quality of the environment and the livelihood of many Indians.

My opinion is echoed by the Environment Minister of India, Prakash Javadekar: “We cannot let our people starve. But if there are other good alternatives available … our Prime Minister has repeatedly talked about organic farming, and using biotechnology in agriculture. But at the same time, scientific methods (GM) are also important.”



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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