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Global Warming Rage Fuels Global Starvation

I hate being right about this but I warned y’all it was going to happen. God help the billions already hungry if the globe starts cooling. It probably will begin cooling soon as it always does on cycles of two to four decades. Pray to whatever gods you believe in that it’s a small cooling.

Global warming rage lets global hunger grow
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor

We drive, they starve. The mass diversion of the North American grain harvest into ethanol plants for fuel is reaching its political and moral limits.

“The reality is that people are dying already,” said Jacques Diouf, of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). “Naturally people won’t be sitting dying of starvation, they will react,” he said.

The UN says it takes 232kg of corn to fill a 50-litre car tank with ethanol. That is enough to feed a child for a year. Last week, the UN predicted “massacres” unless the biofuel policy is halted.

We are all part of this drama whether we fill up with petrol or ethanol. The substitution effect across global markets makes the two morally identical.

Mr Diouf says world grain stocks have fallen to a quarter-century low of 5m tonnes, rations for eight to 12 weeks. America – the world’s food superpower – will divert 18pc of its grain output for ethanol this year, chiefly to break dependency on oil imports. It has a 45pc biofuel target for corn by 2015.

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31 Responses to Global Warming Rage Fuels Global Starvation

  1. I heard some climate scientists discussing this recently actually, they’ve been having a discussion recently on how to increase the production of the crops necessary for biofuels while simultaneously reducing the carbon imprint of said crops so as to not further the global warming problem.

    Intelligent Design is obviously a better theory for evolution to explain the origin of life, and I thank God for that, but does the Discovery Institute have any research planned or already carried out pertaining to Global Warming issues?

    Again, I thank the Discovery Institute for all they do!

  2. Ethanol is a crass fuel from a physico-chemical viewpoint.

    EtOH has a lower energy density than petrol, because it is already partly oxidized.

    –OH group makes EtOH very hygroscopic, so it can’t be piped.

    Normal distillation won’t purify EtOH beyond about 96% because it forms an azeotrope. If chemists want purer ethanol, they tend to distill it with the highly toxic and carcinogenic benzene to break that azeotrope.

    No wonder EtOH can work only with policitized government subsidies.

  3. [...] DaveScot wrote an interesting post today on Global Warming Rage Fuels Global StarvationHere’s a quick excerptGlobal warming rage lets global hunger grow By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor. We drive, they starve. The mass diversion of the North American grain harvest into ethanol plants for fuel is reaching its political … [...]

  4. There is serious concern that the unusually low sun-spot activity may be a “Maunder Minimum,” resulting in a very cold period similar to the “Little Ice Age.” e.g., see:

    Solar Activity Diminishes; Researchers Predict Another Ice Age

    With it, there will be serious reduction in grain production.

  5. And, they are still building ethanol plants that lower water tables and retask food producing land toward producing uneconomic (and government subsidized) fuels.

    Sad, really.

  6. 6

    DLH,

    My dad used to have the best model for predicting sunspots. (We had a great time at the National Solar Observatory when I was in elementary school.) He says he doesn’t think anyone can make accurate long term predictions of solar weather. Just because there aren’t many sunspots now, like 400 years ago, it doesn’t mean things will continue like 400 years ago.

  7. 7

    P.S. – There’ve been a lot of sunspots since the 1950s. Can this Russian guy use the small numbers prior to 1920 to predict the large numbers from the 1950s until not long back? If he can’t, then he has no business talking about small numbers from 2040 to 2100.

  8. 8
    sagebrush gardener

    DLH:

    Solar Activity Diminishes; Researchers Predict Another Ice Age:

    Dr. Kenneth Tapping is worried about the sun. Solar activity comes in regular cycles, but the latest one is refusing to start. Sunspots have all but vanished, and activity is suspiciously quiet. The last time this happened was 400 years ago — and it signaled a solar event known as a “Maunder Minimum,” along with the start of what we now call the “Little Ice Age.”

    I don’t understand the alarmism here. You can view sunspot data here and although it is clear that we are at a low point in the sunspot cycle, this happens approximately every 11 years. It is predicted that sunspot activity will begin to increase again by next year.

  9. Dr Sarfati:

    You are right that ethanol is a not so great fuel [~ 67% the energy density of gasoline, and it is hard to handle due to tendency to absorb water and associated solvent action and corrosive effects], though of course it is easily produced using longstanding technologies and “works” in more or less standard car engines.

    The flip side is the same that obtains for all major decisions on energy: the unintended consequences. For instance, sugar cane, esp the energy cane varieties makes a far better candidate for ethanol production, or getting some form of woody-herbaceous biomass to fuel process going. But, cane is a more or less tropical crop. [Miscanthus, a related grassy crop, evidently thrives very well in temperate zones as far north as Denmark. I've seen reports of up to 24 tonnes per acre per year in temperate zones.]

    But so far, corn dominates in the temperate zone ands the shift shifts food prices etc. [H'mm: can we use the corn for food and the woody-herbaceous biomass for fuel feedstocks, then remaining residues for fertiliser?]

    Now, too, I think n-Butanol [the 4-carbon linear alcohol] seems to be a much better direct substitute for gasoline, and because it’s R-group is longer, it is far more amenable to the existing machinery of distribution, while burning at nearly 1:1 for gasoline. Another good thing is that if we get the technicalities and economics right, we may be able to shift ethanol plant to butanol plant fairly easily. However: IF.

    But, given the far higher energy densities involved, bio-diesels tracing to fatty acid methyl esters and/or to gasification and synthesis from organic matter are a far better longer term objective. In that context, I have my eye on such processes and on the hopeful promise of micro-algae species that are up to 50% oil, and may yield up to maybe 5,000 – 20,000 gallons of oil per acre per year. [For Montserrat that means that maybe 300 or so acres could produce our entire oil imports per year; and that is the scale of one good-sized plantation.]

    BTW, such algae could be pumped with CO2 from power plant emissions. So given the rough correspondence of electricity and transportation uses, that could in principle cut CO2 emissions by about half.

    I am also impressed by Prof Mark Holtzapple’s work on mixed alcohol fuels through biodigestion processes.

    As to hydrogen, it is of course an energy carrier not [yet] a fuel as there is no low energy cost way known to make it in economically relevant quantities. Besides, organics [and of course, classically, Ammonia] are often a more convenient and volumetrically efficient stores of H than H2 itself. So, maybe the alcohols will come into their own as fuels when fuel cells come in.

    I also have my eye on Nanosolar of California and their Cu-In-Ga-Se nanoparticle ink process for literally printing PV cells. They reportedly are offering PV panels at US$0.99/W based on this process. Of course, if you gtot the sties for it, hydro and wind make sense. I would also take a very serious look at developments with pebble bed modular reactor [PBMR] technologies. Long term, let’s hope fusion comes in in the next several decades.

    And, with oil having trebled over the past decade or so, and with talk of another trebling in price to up to US$ 300/bbl, we need to look to serious alternatives, on grounds unrelated to whether or no the IPCC models and associated claims will stand up to the test of empirical reality.

    So, investigating and implementing energy alternatives makes sense.

    At least, that is what I have argued in the M’rat draft energy policy.

    GEM of TKI

  10. Petroleum products make up a considerable fraction of the cost of producing grain. The market price of crude oil has recently doubled; a fraction of this increase is due to commodity speculation fueled by investors bailing out of U.S. dollars, the rest of it is largely due to increased demand by developing nations, e.g. China and India. Ethanol production partially offsets increased U.S. demand for oil, but at an increased cost partially hidden by Federal subsidies. It’s an economic witches brew and the involvement of the politicians makes it even more difficult to analyze, much less rectify.

    It’s my guess that the increase in the price of oil is the prime culprit, not ethanol production, regardless how economically stupid that is. The same people that gave you the alar scare, the population bomb, the Malthusian starvation of the “masses” (Oh, how I hate that arrogant usage!), and global warming, also led the campaign against nuclear power, the one thing that could have alleviated some of this. It’s too bad there is no legal way of holding these vicious fools responsible, because I have a feeling that a lot of innocents are going to die because of it. Or maybe it’s eugenics by other means? Ultimately rational, but evil just the same.

  11. Ethanol is a crime against humanity. If the government didn’t subsidize it, it wouldn’t exist because it doesn’t make economic sense.

    Now people are starving because of government stupidity and scientific consensus.

  12. Okay:

    Newton is probably right on the dominant root cause for the rise in food and commodity prices. For instance think about how much of transportation, storage, tillage and fertiliser costs are tied to petroleum prices. (And notice how the news usually does not even try to disaggregate contributory factors.)

    But then, post hoc reasoning is a classic fallacy precisely because it is effective!

    Plato’s cave style spin games, again.

    Sadly, as per usual.

    GEM of TKI

  13. Austin

    In the investment world it is very common to see the disclaimer: past performance is not a guarantee of future performance.

    So while it’s quite true that the behavior of sunspots in the past is no guarantee that they’ll behave the same in the future, history remains as the best guide we have to work with.

  14. Meet the New Big Energy, Same as the Old Big Energy
    By Jon Sanders
    15 April 2008

    If you are a politician and you favor federal support for ethanol and other biofuels, would you kindly stop telling voters you care for the poor? We all expect candidates to tell some whoppers, but even so, that one is just plain unseemly.

    Look what has happened in the few short years since Congress passed and President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 with its “renewable fuel” requirements. The insulated thinkers in Foggy Bottom reached amid all this market uncertainty and hand-selected the energy alternatives to save America and the planet. And what they’ve accomplished is already as thorough a cock-up as possible even from that rarefied assemblage of bumblers.

    Is their solution better for the environment per the standards of manmade-global-warming orthodoxy? No. The most recent studies have shown that, taking into account all the factors involved in producing biofuels, including the need for shipping and for converting land to cropland, they would increase greenhouse gas emissions substantially over the amount contributed by conventional fuels.

    What of oil prices? They are still on the increase. Their rise is being eclipsed, however, by the staggering increase in the worldwide price of food. What does the price of food have to do with energy policy? Because our savants’ energy is made from food, especially corn, one of the primary staples worldwide.

    Corn prices are at all-time highs, having passed $6 a bushel this month after hovering mostly between $2 to $3 the last ten years. This sizeable increase is affecting all kinds of markets worldwide; increasing the prices not only of consumer items and cereals made from corn, but also of beef, chicken and dairy products (livestock that is corn fed), and substitute goods such as grains.

    Record profits, record high prices, suppressed supply, consumers facing higher bills – and you thought oil was bad? This new behemoth is worse for the environment and worse for the poor — rising food prices hit the poor the hardest, and even “liberals” know that; it’s why they often try to exempt food from sales-tax increases.

    Only a central-government policy “fix” could be this counterproductive. Everything else is subject to being laughed off by investors, consumers, and people whose fortunes depend upon finding ways to please investors and consumers. Officials insulated from this necessary corrective and equipped with the coercive power of government are doubly able to foist great boondoggles not only on their country, but sometimes even the world.

  15. That’s weird. Grain shortages because we don’t want to use oil, you say? With famine, disease, and death to follow? Where have I heard that before?

    Oh yeah. Never mind.

  16. sagebrush

    Looking closer at the sunspot number

    http://sidc.oma.be/html/wolfaml.html

    it’s pretty easy to see at a glance that the latter half of the 20th century has a far greater average number of sunspots than any time in past 300 years.

    If we adopt the mantle that the IPCC uses (correlation equals causation) then it appears that the warming in the latter half of the 20th century is due to increased solar activity. Let’s hope it stays increased because we’ve been spoiled by a warming climate that has greatly increased the output of the primary producers in the food chain (plants) commensurate with the expansion in the number of people being fed. If it starts getting colder like it has countless times in the past we’re going to be in world of serious hurt.

  17. As Jehu points out, this is all a crime against humanity. This ‘fight’ against so-called global warming is forcing sub-Saharan Africa to go without power generators since this would increase global CO2 output, yet we, here in the West, live like kings. Africans are forced to burn animal manure to produce heat–as well as unhealthy gases. I cannot help but think that behind all this GW hysteria lies a bunch of wealthy individuals who, through the imposition of government policies regarding GW, stand to make a huge profit—all at the expense of the Third World. Taken together, this is simply, if not literally, diabolical.

  18. Sagebrush (con’t)

    The way I see it is that we have the technology to stop a runaway greenhouse if we must. A few dozen (as many as needed) subsurface nukes in the middle of the Sahara Desert will raise enough dust into the stratosphere to cool the earth as much as we need. Fallout will have no more effect than a small statistical increase in the rate of cancer. Perhaps instead of spending vast resources to reduce CO2 production we would better spend those resources to cure cancer. In the event we don’t need to cool the earth a cure for cancer is still something of great value – that’s a win-win situation which is always the best possible situation.

    The flip side of the coin is what could we possibly do to warm the earth if it starts getting too cold. A cold planet is much worse than a warm planet. If it starts getting colder we’ll be wishing the answer was as simple as pumping more CO2 into the atmosphere. We can’t burn fuel fast enough to make that a practical option. There’s no easy way to warm the planet as there is to cool it.

    People alarmed about so-called global warming should be far more alarmed about the possibility that it will get cold again. TRYING to make it cold again before any real damage is caused by warming (at least 50 years in the future according to IPCC) is insane. We could very well be the authors of our own doom. We can cool the planet if we must but can we warm it if we must?

  19. austin_english:

    The warming trend that is now causing alarm began circa 1835. Could you please explain what caused that warming, and what we can do to stop it?

  20. austin_english at 5,6
    Good points on predicting solar cycles. We would welcome any references or papers to your father’s work on predicting sunspots, and comments on the predictability of sunspot cycles from current models.

    Part of the current concern appears to be the increasing delay in the start of the next sunspot cycle #24 – originally predicted for 4th quarter 2006! E.g. see:

    Where have all the sunspots gone?

    Sun’s Next Cycle of Fury Delayed

    Sagebrush Gardener at 7

    The Maunder Minimum article summarizes the observed data and the proposed correlation of low sunspot number with global temperature. Thus the concern that we may be seeing a longer sunspot cycle with lower sunspot numbers and thus lower global temperatures resulting in lower food production.
    Starvation from lower temperatures and lower food production is a far greater real danger than global warming hype where we would have to roll up our cuffs while being able to grow more food from higher Co2 and higher temperature.

  21. Now people are starving because of government stupidity and scientific consensus.

    For what it’s worth, no credible environmental organization thinks corn ethanol is a good idea. That’s all the corn lobby’s doing. (Well, early on I think many supported the idea but quickly abandoned it upon further consideration).

    So I’m not sure you can blame this one on climate scientists. Nor is the need of the developed world to reduce oil consumption entirely based on climate change. The instability of the Middle East pops instantly to mind.

  22. mb135
    The EU has formally committed to 20% renewable fuel by 2020 to combat “global warming”. That is driving grain to fuel and away from food.
    Its the bureaucrats and politicians who have jumped on the global warming bandwagon that are the problem – regardless of the reality of global warming or not.

    The other major issues are:
    1) whether it is more cost effective to accommodate or prevent global warming.

    2) Is that our highest priority?

    See The Copenhagen Concensus and Bjorn Lomborg who show that global warming is the LEAST cost effective and LEAST important of the top ten global issues.

  23. Ethanol is a crime against humanity. If the government didn’t subsidize it, it wouldn’t exist because it doesn’t make economic sense.

    Now people are starving because of government stupidity and scientific consensus.

    Amen. History repeats itself. During Chairman Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” in China, the government decided wage a war on birds, as birds were spreading disease and eating crops. So Mao established a 3-day campaign to kill the birds. Boys destroyed nests and broke eggs, adults created ruckus and chased birds whenever and wherever they tried to land, until they litterally fell from the sky exhausted.

    It was very effective and the bird population was decimated.

    The next year, a locust pestilence ensued, and thanks to this and similar government mismanagement, and famine ensued, and tens of millions of Chinese starved to death.

    * * *

    When a farmer gets it wrong, the farmer will have to suffer.

    When a government gets it wrong, everybody has to suffer.

  24. Mao’s Great Leap Forward exemplifies the critical dangers of turning over life/death issues to central planning – e.g. the UN. Some 20 to 40 million died while a similar 20 to 40 million births did not happen. i.e., somewhere between 40 to 80 million fewer people in China because of this government induced famine.
    See: China’s great famine: 40 years later, Vaclav Smil, distinguished professor. BMJ 1999;319:1619-1621 ( 18 December )

    These data made it possible to estimate the total number of excess deaths between 1959 and 1961, and the first calculations by American demographers put the toll at between 16.5 and 23 million.9 More detailed later studies came up with 23 to 30 million excess deaths, and unpublished Chinese materials hint at totals closer to 40 million.10-12

    Officially reported and reconstructed mortality in China, 1950-90 (famine period is shaded)

  25. 25

    DaveScot says,

    past performance is not a guarantee of future performance.

    But where does the Russian show his past performance in predicting 30-70 years into the future? I just found a NASA press release related to this. They are still TRYING to predict over the long term.

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=22534

  26. 26

    DLH,

    I’m good at different stuff than my father. All I can say here is that scientists think sunspots are chaotic. If this is true, accurate prediction far into the future is impossible. Don’t ask me to explain.

    My dad’s sunspots work is summarized here.

    http://boundedtheoretics.com/imlm.pdf

    The full description is Biosystems 39:11, 3-18, 1996. The summary doesn’t preview very well. Just print it. I don’t understand the details. But I can see that the idea is to use many models together. And table 1 shows that my dad got much better results than anyone else did. I have known since I was little he was excited about sunspots. It’s funny that I never knew why until now.

    Dad tells me he’s working again on predicting solar activity. Something DaveScot posted on solar weather affecting earth weather motivated him.

  27. David Archibald’s 2007 presentation on sunspots and climate change is posted at:
    Global Warming & Sunspots explained and future predicted.

    See: David Archibald’s 2008 paper Solar Cycle 24: Implications for the United States International Conference on Climate Change, March 2008. He predicts:

    2008 is the tenth anniversary of the recent peak on global temperature in 1998. The world has been cooling at 0.06 degrees per annum since then. My prediction is that this rate of cooling will accelerate to 0.2 degrees per annum following the month of solar minimum sometime in 2009.

    Cycle 23 should have finished in Jan 2007. While the first sunspot of the next cycle 24 may have occurred in January 2008, the full minimum in sunspots may not be until sometime in 2009. i.e., sunspot cycle 23 was at least 1 year longer than average of 10.7 years and may be two years longer. If solar cycle 24 as weak as many predicting – it is likely to be 13 years or longer.

    There is about 0.6 C decline per year increase in solar sunspot cycle length. Consequently solar physicist Ken Schatten predicts about a 1.5 deg C COOLING by 2030 due to longer lower solar sunspot cycle 24.

    Medieval Warm Period was 2 C Warmer while the little Ice Age was 2 C Colder than average. During the Dalton Minimum in solar sunspots from 1796-1820 winters were resulted in longer winters and harder freezes. Expected temperature decline like 1970s – but longer.

    (Archibald notes CO2 is shown to INCREASE plant growth 15% from 300 ppm increase in CO2.)

    For futher background, see the experts at ICECAP.us provide a paper “FORECASTING SOLAR CYCLES, By Joseph D’Aleo

    and

    This Long Cycle Should Portend a Cooling By Joseph D’Aleo, CCM

    Dennis T. Avery observes:

    Except that over the last 13 months, the earth’s thermometers have dropped for the first time in 30 years. Three global monitoring sites measured a decline of 0.5 to 0.7 degree C. Now we learn that the ocean warming stopped even earlier, 4-5 years ago.

    We should have been expecting this, because the sunspot index turned down nine years ago. There’s a 79 percent correlation between the sunspots and the earth’s sea-surface temperatures—with roughly a ten-year lag.

    Bush just proposed the US stabilizing emissions by 2025. If these solar sunspot scientists’ cooling predictions are anywhere close, the social policy needs to be the OPPOSITE of the current global warming bandwagon’s efforts!

    Such opposing policy issues and the politics thereof parallel ID vs evolution issues, and are instructive to analyze.

  28. The debate is all but over, gang.
    I have no actual doggie in this fight but still must all but admit defeat also. It would be more noble to stop piddling and absorb the real stats on this. Just because more kids played with snowmen this year in China does not mean Co2 is not the proximate cause of AGW. It is not sunspots, either.

    I hate to say it, but it looks like the incremental predictions of AGW are here, for better or worse. We can talk about the cruelty of biofuels and no doubt probably need some other source of power, like nuclear, to wean off the carbon. But this notion that the ecosphere will profit from carbon (and even if so) will be the counteracting agent to melting icecaps is hooey.

    Despite the goofs at Daily Tech, this march was the warmest on record over land, and despite the snowfall caused by a variety of things (like water vapor increasing over certain areas), it was nevertheless warmer overall. The Arctic is not the problem. The problem is the massive meltdown taking place in the Antarctic where the ice is anchored to land. Yes, biofuels are a funded folly of farmers.

    But something has to give, unless maybe we all move away from coastal cities. We can do this, of course, but the residents of Bangledesh and other lowland areas have it much more harshly.

    http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/s.....stats.html

  29. austin_english
    Thanks for the link.
    Your dad probably knows far more about this than I have dreamed of. However, for my two bits worth, may I particularly encourage him to look at the links at 27 above and the negative correlation between sunspot length and rural temperature:

    David Archibald’s 2007 presentation on sunspots and climate change is posted at:
    Global Warming & Sunspots explained and future predicted.

    See: David Archibald’s 2008 paper Solar Cycle 24: Implications for the United States International Conference on Climate Change, March 2008. He predicts:

    2008 is the tenth anniversary of the recent peak on global temperature in 1998. The world has been cooling at 0.06 degrees per annum since then. My prediction is that this rate of cooling will accelerate to 0.2 degrees per annum following the month of solar minimum sometime in 2009.

    In particular note the inversion of the sunspot cycle LENGTH to estimate the magnetic field and INVERTED to estimate the cosmic rays that get through and thus the cloudiness and consequent cooling.

    I think if he explores something like the power or RMS of the solar cycle related to the magnetic field – and inverted etc to correlate with the cosmic rays coming through and causing cloudiness, he could improve on this presentation. See Archibald p 16 “Oulu, Finland Neutron Monitor Count1960 -2010″
    Then include the El Nino/La Nina cycle and the North/South decadenal cycle to improve the temperature correlation. Use rural data sets to avoid the urban heat island problem. Combine that with Ken Schatten’s work on the Solar Dynamo Index (Archibald p 14). See also Svendmark’s work on cosmic rays causing clouds.
    See also Roy Spencer’s findings on NEGATIVE (not positive) feedback on clouds from increased CO2.

    We look forward to what he might come up with for better solar – temperature correlations.

  30. Wakefield

    Mark my words. Within the next 10 years you’ll be wishing AGW was really possible.

  31. Wakefield at 28

    The Arctic is not the problem. The problem is the massive meltdown taking place in the Antarctic where the ice is anchored to land.

    Unless your are trying to be satirical, you have been reading too many global warming bandwagon newspaper accounts. The actual data is the opposite. See Solar Cycle 24: Implications for the United States Archibald, Global Sea Ice Area 1979-present figure on page 2. David Archibald 2008 paper Solar Cycle 24: Implications for the United States International Conference on Climate Change, March 2008. He observes global ice area increasing 5%.

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