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ggelsrinc

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #200 on: November 04, 2013, 07:39:30 AM »
THE COMPLETE LIST OF CHINESE FOREIGN INVASIONS

0.

1.*

*Future battle based on the most recent translation of Sun Tzu's The Art of War, Chapter 1, Laying Plans.

Comment: A human wave attack carrying bamboo straws over 2525 years in development to date. Our Great Lakes don't stand a chance!

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #201 on: November 04, 2013, 07:55:17 AM »
As for famine, about a billion people are already experiencing chronic food shortage, and not too many people in better-fed countries gives much of a rat's @$$ about it, afaics. So I'm not so sure that humans will move heaven and earth if another billion or two fall below basic levels of food security.

I'd be inclined to agree with what I think JimD said - about countries tending to start to hoard (look at India and China right now?) and export bans. I'd agree with you that a society will not care about the suffering of others outside of that society - strangers can always go hang in times of social stress, but the powers that be cannot tolerate excessively large levels of hunger and want within those societies internally.

You can use the security apparatus only so far before you have your Arab spring event and the populace starts to rise up against you - in most cases (some nations like North Korea seem to manage to make the whole police state thing work long term without any uprising even as millions starve - I suspect the key to doing so is to move slowly and gradually with total ruthlessness).

It is therefore a priority for nations to contain social unrest and you can't typically do that solely through force, you need the bread and circuses (even North Korea needs some, I daresay).

There will be winners and losers, naturally - based on a combination of productivity and economic and military power. China is not well placed for food in the sense that it is so close to the margins even now for being able to feed itself (rising demand and climate change are rapidly shifting it towards net import in a big way) but it can use economic and military might to obtain and retain it's agricultural supplies (and the elites there assuredly make proper plans for these things, China must surely be a major logistical challenge to govern).

America should enjoy a position of relative privilege due to good production and economic and military strength, even if they are forced to relinquish their strangehold over a large chunk of the planet as they retreat before expanding Chinese influence.

Countries such as the UK though? A major net importer of food, likely to cling on for longer than most only due to political ties to the US (presuming the US can hold it together).

Egypt? Syria? Libya? Yemen? Somalia?

They fold first, but the nations that let them do so may underestimate the difficulties that it will bring. Suppose Africa collapses into chaos - Europe potentially later has a major phosphate problem as they mostly import from Morocco. Can they militarily control Morocco strongly enough to secure supplies? If that can be done for phospates can it be done for other key commodities?

Oil is another key commodity of great relevance to agriculture. The US is busy trying to ramp up domestic production to reduce it's reliance upon the Middle East. China is moving into Africa and I could see it offering military support to the Middle East nations if the US withdraws as it increases domestic supply (and the Middle East becomes increasingly volatile).

Again - what happens to Europe then? Where do they find their oil? Any remaining suppliers could practically dictate terms - and that means Russia, presuming they retain separate interests to China which seems reasonable.

Nations will try to withdraw into their own self interests and in doing so what few benefits globalisation and massive international trade bring will evaporate. How long it takes the house of cards to come tumbling down though, who knows - things haven't moved as quickly over the last couple of years as I expected them to in terms of the processes driving collapse (the trends are still very clear though).

I would argue Europe is deceptively vulnerable, largely on the basis of external resource dependencies and insufficient military power.

ggelsrinc

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #202 on: November 04, 2013, 12:18:59 PM »
I think war changed it's taste many years ago when warriors stopped being true warriors and total war became the reality of it's day. In the US, it happened during our Civil War, but it happened before those times in many places around our world. Surrender or be tortured and die, became surrender and some of you will be tortured and die was a reality of our ancient past, when men lost honour.

Let's try simple logic for a change! It's real easy to blame America for everything, but I have a simple question about global warming or so-called climate change. Considering the fact that global warming was known in the Reagan/Thatcher conservative days and Thatcher was a chemist calling it a greatest threat to mankind, it's ever faced, why didn't the US and the UK just remove the problem of people on our planet and most of the problem with a button at their control?

It's not hard to start a war and blame it on someone else. Why wasn't it done?

This may not seem like much to deal with this subject, but getting rid of enough people to decrease consumption and make more resources available to the people left is directly involved in the title of this thread. Just think about it and ask why wasn't it done! We could have had a Doomsday Parade.

wili

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #203 on: November 04, 2013, 01:10:25 PM »
ccg, many good points. And you might be right about Europe, but I suspect they may be more resilient than we give them credit for.

As to hoarding, it is kind of in the eyes of the beholder--when is it hoarding and when is it 'prudent build of food stocks in the anticipation of coming shortages'?

It seems to me that if most countries had a reliable back-up supply of grains and some other relatively non-perishable food stuffs, that would make it less likely that there would be local and regional food shocks.

"America should enjoy a position of relative privilege"

Again, privileged Americans should enjoy a position of relative privilege. Most of the rest of us are a few paychecks from homelessness and food insecurity (if we aren't already there as are about 50 million so far). And, perhaps you haven't noticed, but we've become much more of a police state since 9/11. All urban police forces have been greatly militarized, especially with training in crowd control/suppression of varying levels of brutality. ('oogle 'food insecurity' and 'militarization' for more info on these subjects than you'll know what to do with.)

But yes, between having a military larger than the next ten largest militaries combined (at least by expense), and having some of the world's most productive crop lands, we have some advantages. But these are also more and more undermined by enormous debt, political incompetence, and failures on a number of other fronts.

(I honestly can't parse sentences like: "Surrender or be tortured and die, became surrender and some of you will be tortured and die was a reality of our ancient past, when men lost honour." If others think they can, they are more than welcome to address whatever point was trying to be made there.)

On the China thing, I obviously was not talking about military invasion, but that there was concern that they were planning to buy up rights to basic water supplies in the midwest. As the US and other western colonial powers have long learned, you don't always have to use direct military force to take over a country's resources--economic 'force' will often do just fine.

But as to their history of non-invasion, the Tibetans, Uyghurs and a number of other historically non-Han nationalities might disagree with that math. Of course, once you've been invaded and redefined as part of China, the Chinese are eager to have you and everyone else forget that you didn't join the empire completely willingly. But perhaps a tour of 3000+ years of Chinese history would take us a bit far afield from the main topic of the thread?

Mostly, China has done an amazing job of feeding about 20% of the world's population on about 9% of the world's arable land mostly without importing massive quantities of food (as my bro points out in one of the articles in the last source I cited--didn't even notice he had something in there till after I posted the link).

But a couple bad years there (in India, in Russia...) and they will be out buying up as much food on the global market as they can, and they have a lot of US $$$ to buy it with.

To circle back and connect all this to "CC, the ocean, ag, and food," one predicted outcome of even one degree of GW (or less) is the destabilization of the Nebraska (and other) Sand Hills. During the thermal optimum earlier in the Holocene, these were Sahara like dunes that blew around the great plains making unimpeded. Over the last few millennia, they have been mostly stabilized by deep rooted grasses that wetter, cooler conditions have allowed to thrive there. But the long drought that still has its grip on that region will eventually be too much even for those hearty grasses to endure, and enormous hills of sand will again start to migrate across some of the most productive land in the world, turning fields into deserts. Some of the conservation measures that were put in place since the dust bowl days will doubtless help slow some of that. But even those tree breaks won't be much of a match for hills of sand. And of course many of those tree breaks have been bulldozed or are succumbing themselves to the area's perma-drought.

And then we still have the collapse of the Hadley Cell system due to the opening of the Arctic Ocean (see I got ocean in there, too  :) ). Does anyone really think that a major re-distribution of where rain falls when and how much, in the Northern Hemisphere will not cause a major...disruption of world agriculture and fundamentally challenge humanity's ability to feed itself?

These are among the kinds of 'discontinuities' that make it unlikely that we will merely see a gradual decrease of 2, 4 or any other consistent percentage.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2013, 01:43:37 PM by wili »
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

JimD

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #204 on: November 04, 2013, 04:36:06 PM »
Wili/ccg  good points.

As noted above the shear number of factors which impact food production make it almost impossible to predict long term yields in a comprehensively degrading system.  There are just too many interactions to model or quantify.  All significant trends are negative but a few and those others are flat.  The flattening of the yield curves is very troubling. None are rising at significant rates.  The general trend situation for literally hundreds of other less significant factors are also almost universally downward.  We may not be able to determine to an exact date where there will be a big drop off in production but we can conclude it is coming.  The old adage of "If it can't continue this way, it won't." is applicable.

Quote
These are among the kinds of 'discontinuities' that make it unlikely that we will merely see a gradual decrease of 2, 4 or any other consistent percentage.

Those numbers are most likely an average over time and they do not mean them to be taken literally on a year by year basis.  Noise (weather and other fluctuating factors) would prevent that.  One would also expect that the percentage would increase over time as many of the factors effecting production will slowly worsen over the same period - especially climate factors.  And, as you point out, catastrophic failure is possible as well, but I do not think we know the possibility of that.  But failure comes when the production and demand curves cross and that is coming one way or the other.

One item that can quickly provide a cushion with supplies are the various food to ethanol programs around the world and especially in the US.  The US ethanol program uses about 40% of the US corn crop.  As I have pointed out before that is about 20 days of global food consumption equivalent (over 5%).  The prime purpose of this program was not to provide fuel (a complete failure in EROEI terms) but rather as a form of corporate welfare.  By dramatically increasing the demand for corn it jumped grain prices globally and made a lot of money for industrial agriculture.   But as we approach the date of real food shortages (instead of distribution/affordability issues) the prices for grain are going to be permanently high and there will no longer be a need to run prices up by turning corn into ethanol.  I hope/expect that this will happen, but not for many years yet.  But, if lobbyists and corporate greed prevent the eventual cancelling of  such programs it just will result in moving the inevitable forward in time. 
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

wili

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #205 on: November 04, 2013, 09:31:49 PM »
I largely agree with your assessment of corn ethanol. It is my impression that a number of otherwise pretty smart environmentalists really did think that this could be (or could be a necessary step toward a transitions to) a way to get the world of fossil fuels and support farmers at the same time. Early on, it looked to me that these (I have to assume well meaning) folks had made a deal with the devil, given eco-cover for a scheme that was, from the beginning, only really intended to further load down the corporate coffers of the major agri-business monstrosities.

On discontinuities, I guess I just meant that the world will likely mostly experience the future, not as a slow decline or as a sudden total catastrophe, but rather as a series of more or less sudden global crises, each of which is a major step down the ladder, but not all the way to the 'bottom.'

In between each down step, there will be some kind of effort to stabilize the system at the new, lower level.

To the extent these efforts at stabilization are successful, they will always be hailed as proof that the downturn is over, that the good times are on the way, and that we are about to take off to the Heavenly Mandated (but really God Damned) eternal ascent through limitless growth to consumerist paradise that is our inevitable and well deserved destiny. Obviously, such hopes will be continuously dashed, but the main populace (and even more, the press that tries to influence them) will constantly come back to that rapidly vanishing hope of for-ever expansion.

But who knows?

Maybe it will gradually deflate like yesterday's birthday balloon drifting ghostlike through empty rooms till drags against the floor slowly withers there to nothingness.

Or it might

just

go

POP!
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #206 on: November 04, 2013, 10:11:39 PM »
ccg, many good points. And you might be right about Europe, but I suspect they may be more resilient than we give them credit for.

Europe is hard to call. There are some very well governed nations in Europe, especially as you head north - and a collection of basket cases to the south, with the UK stuck on as a lump nobody can work out whether to scrape off or not.

In Europe's favour it does currently have significant agricultural production as a whole (not sure if it feeds itself offhand) and it seems to generally avoid pointless and expensive wars. Counting against it are major resource dependencies on other regions. So the question in my mind and where I think Europe will have major issues - is whether or not it can maintain access to those external resources given that they are required for agricultural production. Oil is less problematic than phosphates inasmuch as European nations typically have proper public transport (unlike the USA) and if the cost of private vehicles and air travel rises they are alternatives, leaving fossil fuels for food production and distribution. Phosphates are an issue period - but Europe would seem to be especially vulnerable - Russia, the US and China all produce roughly similar amounts to those they consume.

Again, privileged Americans should enjoy a position of relative privilege. Most of the rest of us are a few paychecks from homelessness and food insecurity (if we aren't already there as are about 50 million so far). And, perhaps you haven't noticed, but we've become much more of a police state since 9/11. All urban police forces have been greatly militarized, especially with training in crowd control/suppression of varying levels of brutality. ('oogle 'food insecurity' and 'militarization' for more info on these subjects than you'll know what to do with.)

I'm more up to speed with America than ideally I want to be. I know people there are poorer than the illusion presented to the world - but - they still enjoy a position of relative privilege. America still has the resources and even now - a poor American isn't that badly off compared to some countries. Only in the well governed northern European nations would I think it's a clear cut improvement not to be in America (and in certain specific cases in other European nations, particularly when it comes to if you need healthcare).

On the China thing, I obviously was not talking about military invasion, but that there was concern that they were planning to buy up rights to basic water supplies in the midwest. As the US and other western colonial powers have long learned, you don't always have to use direct military force to take over a country's resources--economic 'force' will often do just fine.

China is starting to flex it's military muscle increasingly. Furthermore both China and Russia are rapidly modernising and upgrading their armed forces - they clearly perceive some need to do so in the impending future. I suspect China will favour soft power - diplomacy and currency - and resort to military power only when they are attacked or when they think it absolutely necessary. That said - I wouldn't be surprised to see a rise in Chinese nationalism - as a new superpower is born - just as we see American nationalism so strong in recent history.

But a couple bad years there (in India, in Russia...) and they will be out buying up as much food on the global market as they can, and they have a lot of US $$$ to buy it with.

Not Russia - they are a substantial agricultural exporter with plenty of slack - and also a major fossil fuel exporter. I think Russia is actually sitting very pretty for the future - even better than the US potentially, if they can keep out of expensive wars and keep the Chinese looking at the rest of the world (should be doable, given how many warheads Russia has). Their main long term risk is a large land border that cannot be realistically secured.

India runs risks but my understanding is they are actively stockpiling. That isn't to say they are letting poor people get to the food... India is arguably even worse than the US when it comes to their attitudes towards the poor.

I might have strayed off topic for this thread into geopolitics too much - but it's all interconnected in the end. Climate change - extreme weather events - abrupt climatic shifts - it all feeds back into food in the end, and from there into resources and social stresses and collapse. A complex tangle of positive feedbacks of all sorts (in different "systems") slowed mostly at this stage only by human ingenuity and willpower (which paradoxically also drives us to this state).

wili

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #207 on: November 05, 2013, 02:31:57 AM »
Yes, southern Europe will be in increasing trouble. Not only are their economies and politics something of a mess, they also are at the cutting edge of the shift north of the Sahara essentially into Europe--things are already hotter and drier in most of the Mediterranean countries than during historic norms and that is likely to just keep getting worse. And they are also likely to be the first places people from MENA go (if they can) as things get even more unlivable in most of those countries.

When I mentioned Russia parenthetically, I had the 2010 drought in mind. That time they just stopped exporting wheat (with arguably major political ramifications abroad--Arab Spring and all that...). The strongest heat waves are not going to be getting less intense going forward. The next time they may not only stop exporting but also start importing. But, yes, they do have a lot of gas and oil to trade. Good for them. But the effect on the price of food globally and so on the stability of many countries and regions if/when Russia turns from a grain exporter to importer for even a year could be extreme.

On India--what can one say. Yes, they have grain stores on the books, but according to some sources I've seen there is lots of corruption and incompetence associated. A lot of it goes to waste (it's hard to keep things from rotting in the tropic, and there are always lots of hungry rats...). Last I heard, they were using up their main northern Aquifer so fast it was falling at a rate of about 40 feet a year and was down some hundreds of feet or more already (though I haven't checked on those stats recently. When they can no longer pump water from that source, it has been estimated that about a hundred million people will die. And then the monsoons are likely to be shifting as the NoHem weather systems gets kicked to sh!t by the climatic effect of having a new ocean at the top of the world. Northern India is also one of the heavily populated places on the planet that is closest to hitting lethal wbts of 35 C (they get up in the 30s already, iirc). So it doesn't take much of an increase to make any productive work essentially impossible.

They are also next to Pakistan and Bangladesh. Need I say more?

But as you say so eloquently at the end of your post, it's a tangled, complicated mess, and any number of events or decisions could improve or deteriorate the national, regional and global conditions we're talking about.

Meanwhile, here's another treatment from CP on the report referenced up-thread:

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/11/04/2882901/leaked-ipcc-report/

Eating More With Less: Leaked IPCC Report Confirms Climate Change Will Shrink World’s Food Supply

Quote
climate change could exacerbate poverty, strain water supplies, make extreme weather more common and increase conflict around the world. Cities are most vulnerable to climate change’s effects, according to the report, along with the world’s most impoverished communities.

I bet if their conclusion was that somehow the worlds riches people would be the most severely and immediately threatened, suddenly we would start seeing all sorts of effective action to deal with CC. But predictions that the poorest are going to suffer yet more will be greeted by most with barely a shrug.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

JimD

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #208 on: November 05, 2013, 03:07:18 PM »
Wili,

Just for accuracy I wanted to point out that your 40 feet above should be 4 feet.  Just over a meter a year in the worst locations in India (maybe 5 ft in a few places).  Which is catastrophic.  Part of the cause is a political pork barrel choice to provide free electricity to farmers pumping deep water for irrigation (they are pumping water from 3000 ft (1 km) in some places - that is expensive).  It promotes unrestrained use of the aquifer as electricity costs don't count in trying to make a profit.  Stupid.  There are also areas of the north China plain (their equivalent of the US mid-west) where aquifers are dropping a meter a year.  And we all know about the Ogallala in the US.  Very big problems coming in all three places.  20-30 years it gets ugly.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #209 on: November 05, 2013, 04:06:11 PM »
Bruce

I saw the below comment on your Carbon thread and did not want to disrupt it so I moved it over here.

Quote
Mea culpa, you can see my boat on the video( linked in the article ) 
 I burn lots of fuel and as a result doing what I do for a living causes me a certain amount of guilt. I try to farm and put resources into perfecting low carbon farming technics but the only way I have figured to reduce my fuel consumption as a fisherman is to fish less. Fishing pays about 10 to 1 compared to farming. After twenty  days diving I will put the boat on the trailer and not use it for another year.
 The farm has 4 listed species, most of the land is undisturbed riparian southern cottonwood forest..and willows. I have never deep tilled and as a result the reptiles , owls, and critters dependent on small rodents do very well. This year badgers showed up. There are beaver and endanger steelhead in the river on the back of the property.
 It is very difficult to balance the good with the bad.  Every farmer and most fishermen think about what kind of shape the world we leave behind will be in. Most don't feel guilt over burning fuel, most don't study the carbon cycle. I have to do better, I know it , I hope more people begin to understand how many of the little birds, reptiles, fish are headed over the brink. I have to do better     

Your comment about your boat sitting 11+ months of the year made me think of the below.

When I was farming at the end of the year a couple of times I made an attempt to calculate how many btu's of energy were consumed in the production and distribution of the vegetables I grew.  My farm was small and I sold at farmers markets and through a small CSA.  I, like you, was trying to farm in as sustainable a fashion as possible.  So the idea was how efficient I could be in terms of fossil fuel use.

In comparison it is certainly true that a human/animal powered subsistence farmer can, most of the time, feed himself and his family (with their labor included) and occasionally produce excess he can trade for other goods.  But not much more than that is possible.  And it is a hard life.

When you start adding in machinery, whether animal powered or not, you also have to start including the embedded energy of that equipment.  Fossil fuels in some form are needed for the manufacturer of that equipment.  When that equipment evolved into steam powered threshing and such there was another big jump in the embedded energy.  And so on right up to todays behemoth equipment.  The same equipment progression above occurred in the commercial fishing industry.

Obviously the modern farming/fishing equipment used for production and distribution cannot be made and used in a strictly sustainable sense.  But how does it stack up against the modern organic semi-sustainable farming operation?

Better than I would have ever expected.  If, for arguments sake, we temporarily set aside the climate change issue of carbon emissions and over use of critical items like phosphate and just look at btu's one finds that the industrial system of farming/distribution is pretty damned efficient.  If our only concern is cheaply feeding large numbers of people.

I was not able to come even close.  I have seen articles written by university ag depts. which seem to indicate that the giant farms in Calif can grow vegetables and ship them to the east coast and sell them in Cosco and use less energy doing it than I did farming in Virginia.  The more equipment (tractors especially) I added to my farm the more efficient I got. But I could never approach a big industrial farming operation.

One can certainly question the source of the figures and how well they calculated the embedded energy but it shows how efficient big machinery is (with the exceptions mentioned above kept in the back of our minds).  And then there is the energy used by the consumer coming to get the produce.  One of the things which struck me was all the big SUV's coming to the farmers markets for $10-20 of vegetables.  Not efficient.  And CSA's are a terrible waste of fuel.  One of our neighboring farms had a 350 member CSA where the members drove to the farm to pick up their produce each week.  Some drove more than 70 miles round trip - this is really a form of tourism!  Grocery stores are much more efficient.  If you are going to use vehicles to get to your shopping locations it is best to have everything you need in one place and not far away.

I think one can make an argument (and I don't like to make it much) that as long as we have our current huge population there is no point that the arguments of sustainability and climate change (at least until it is much worse) can make which can overcome this critical issue.  It is just not possible to grow/harvest enough food in an efficient fashion to feed everyone except by industrial methods.  It is politically unacceptable to do anything else as to change course is to condemn untold numbers of people to death.   Now the Reality is such that we do not really have this choice to make that we think we do.  We do not have a choice of continuing BAU to infinity.  We can choose to avoid a lot of pain associated with adapting now but that means we actually are choosing to let the next generation or the one after suffer many times the pain we would now.  I am confident our lack of courage will have us choose the later.

Don't let me depress you however.  Keep up the good work as the knowledge you gain will benefit someone at some point in the future.  Trying to do the right thing is always the right thing to do.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Bruce Steele

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #210 on: November 05, 2013, 05:20:24 PM »
Jim, I wish you had been my next door neighbor while you farmed, I am sure I would have learned much. I also wish I was computer literate while you were posting on "the oil drum" campfire.
 I understand the efficiency issue somewhat but it is based on scale. Big tractors demand large landholdings. I watched my grandfather try his damnedest to keep up. Even at a thousand acres and a equipment yard of over an acre he eventually went under. My strong desire to farm has a strong emotional part due to the pain I witnessed as the family farm went down. It took me thirty years of hard work and no small amount of luck to finally get some acreage to give it a try myself.
 I have no illusions about feeding large numbers of people with the low carbon technics I am working with. But from what I have learned about the carbon cycle we have to reduce fossil fuel emission to near zero within 40-50 years. Many many people will not make it  ( they will starve ) but unless much more effort is placed on zero carbon food production technics now while we can afford to experiment
there will be no leveling out in the human population once we begin our inevitable decline.
 The boat is a bit of a security blanket for me, it is very much a part of  who I am and what I have done with my life. My stature in the harbor drops quickly if I don't , at least on occasion , put my wetsuit back on. My ability to carry the acidification message is dependent on me being able to call myself a fisherman. I am far better read than many people in academia re. acidification but my ability to address the political process is dependent on my stature as a fisheries representative . It takes many many years to be able to stand up and say I represent fishermen, my peers can be rather ruthless to anyone without a lot of years under their belt ( weightbelt ).Diving is probably the single most dangerous job in the U.S., I have lost dozens of friends, 40 years qualifies me as both tough and kinda crazy. I will spend my remaining years trying to do something about the impending disaster for the oceans I love. The crazy part will serve me well. 

wili

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #211 on: November 05, 2013, 07:57:09 PM »
Thanks for the correction, Jim. I must have seen something about decadal rates of water table loss in India and got that in my head. This article mentions a drop of 1.5 meters per year over the last decade in China, though I see that is now a decade old. http://academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz/WORMKA/

I agree that it is hard to see how alternative methods could be geared up and efficient enough to provide food for all. But part of what has to be done, I would say, is both change some of where food is produced (more urban farms, fruit and nut trees in yards...) and where people live relative to where the food is (see Astyk's "50 Million Farmers" about getting more people on the land). But certainly none of this is easy. I think you also have to balance various measures of efficiency with considerations of resilience.

"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

ggelsrinc

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #212 on: November 05, 2013, 08:52:04 PM »
Farms are just like any other possessions a person can own, or perhaps trappings is a better term. A person can own their possessions or their possessions can own them. I value my freedom more than any bobble.

Been there and done that is all I need to know about farming and fishing. I'm too old and wise to repeat my past mistakes. Besides being hard work, the slaughter involved in the process is too much for my sensitive heart to bear. There is nothing wrong with just wanting to smell the flowers and enjoying our Earth. That doesn't destroy anything.

I remember a pollution project growing oysters being axed in New Jersey, because they were afraid people would gather and eat the polluted oysters. The concept of using oysters to clean up past pollution is simple enough, but what is so complicated about locating the source of present pollution and stopping it? Is it really that complicated to inform people to not eat those oysters? I understand the human greed concept, but can't they simply hire a human watchdog in that area to prevent a scoundrel harvesting and selling tainted oysters to the public? I just shake my head!

Bruce Steele

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #213 on: November 05, 2013, 11:29:09 PM »
Troll

ggelsrinc

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #214 on: November 06, 2013, 08:53:25 PM »
This body only has four cheeks on it, so there will not be another turned.

JimD

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #215 on: November 11, 2013, 05:58:26 PM »
Bruce  I think you will find this very interesting.

The Devolution of the Seas
 
The Consequences of Oceanic Destruction

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/140164/alan-b-sielen/the-devolution-of-the-seas
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #216 on: November 12, 2013, 05:21:47 PM »
Stumbled over this - apologies if it came up on the forum already:

http://www.telegram.com/article/20131102/NEWS/311029802/1052

I thought one key part makes the problem clear:

Quote
On the food supply, the new report finds that benefits from global warming may be seen in some areas, like northern lands that are now marginal for food production. But it adds that overall, global warming could reduce agricultural production by as much as 2 percent each decade for the rest of this century.

During that period, demand is expected to rise as much as 14 percent each decade, the report found, as the world population is projected to grow to 9.6 billion in 2050, from 7.2 billion today, according to the United Nations, and many of those people in developing countries acquire the money to eat richer diets.

So let's cut supply by 2% per decade and boost demand 14% per decade and see how long that lasts...? That's nearly 2% more pressure per year on average - and notwithstanding scope in the system to buffer this (theoretically, if more affluent peoples cared about less affluent ones) - I don't see how you can get more than a decade or two out of things?

And that assuming no sudden shocks or abrupt transitions in the system, which I assume to be at least possible if not likely as a result of changes in the Arctic.

ggelsrinc

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #217 on: November 12, 2013, 06:14:52 PM »
Stumbled over this - apologies if it came up on the forum already:

http://www.telegram.com/article/20131102/NEWS/311029802/1052

I thought one key part makes the problem clear:

Quote
On the food supply, the new report finds that benefits from global warming may be seen in some areas, like northern lands that are now marginal for food production. But it adds that overall, global warming could reduce agricultural production by as much as 2 percent each decade for the rest of this century.

During that period, demand is expected to rise as much as 14 percent each decade, the report found, as the world population is projected to grow to 9.6 billion in 2050, from 7.2 billion today, according to the United Nations, and many of those people in developing countries acquire the money to eat richer diets.

So let's cut supply by 2% per decade and boost demand 14% per decade and see how long that lasts...? That's nearly 2% more pressure per year on average - and notwithstanding scope in the system to buffer this (theoretically, if more affluent peoples cared about less affluent ones) - I don't see how you can get more than a decade or two out of things?

And that assuming no sudden shocks or abrupt transitions in the system, which I assume to be at least possible if not likely as a result of changes in the Arctic.

Economics, like many things, is something someone has to study to understand. The assumption that farming is near capacity is bogus. I proved it with data on a thread when someone mentioned the UK and showed with details that production increased twice your decadal amount in the year following a policy to stop paying farmers not to grow crops. Farmers are paid about a fifth of what they produce in food value prices and the industry of feeding people is not going away. The people making that 80% will work out any problems of supply. Those breadbasket areas of our Earth are the result of cooling and not warming. As the Earth warms, those areas will migrate to higher latitudes. That doesn't mean warming is a good thing, it just means some pick the wrong bogeyman, worrying about nothing, when there are real problems ahead of us. Our world has the resources and technology to make many times the food we presently do. We can even make our oceans and waters more productive, if we stopped and reversed our destruction.   

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #218 on: November 12, 2013, 08:14:53 PM »
Ccg, the 2% decline and 14% increase was up thread post # 188 by JimD. I said the same sort of numbers would draw alarms if they described a fish population.
JimD, I tried your devolution article but it's to big a file for me and the I-pad dumps the file. I googled it and I got dumped so it isn't an error in the link you provided.
ggelsrinc, you caught me at a weak moment when you described my farm as "trappings" "a bobble" and as such some manifestation of my ego. Ergo, I took it personal. I could have ignored you but I was at the heart doctors office at  the time , got angry ,didn't and haven't really gotten over it.  After 3 days my heart went back into rhythm and I will try to ignore future insults or at least not return them. You sure as shit didn't send me into A-fib but brother you sure didn't help.     

Theta

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #219 on: November 13, 2013, 02:42:40 PM »
Stumbled over this - apologies if it came up on the forum already:

http://www.telegram.com/article/20131102/NEWS/311029802/1052

I thought one key part makes the problem clear:

Quote
On the food supply, the new report finds that benefits from global warming may be seen in some areas, like northern lands that are now marginal for food production. But it adds that overall, global warming could reduce agricultural production by as much as 2 percent each decade for the rest of this century.

During that period, demand is expected to rise as much as 14 percent each decade, the report found, as the world population is projected to grow to 9.6 billion in 2050, from 7.2 billion today, according to the United Nations, and many of those people in developing countries acquire the money to eat richer diets.

So let's cut supply by 2% per decade and boost demand 14% per decade and see how long that lasts...? That's nearly 2% more pressure per year on average - and notwithstanding scope in the system to buffer this (theoretically, if more affluent peoples cared about less affluent ones) - I don't see how you can get more than a decade or two out of things?

And that assuming no sudden shocks or abrupt transitions in the system, which I assume to be at least possible if not likely as a result of changes in the Arctic.

I am confident that there will still be some marginal areas on earth that will remain undamaged, or perhaps benefit, from a rapid transition to a new climate, with rapid CH4 release probably acting as an exception to this rule, and any areas that are affected badly might see some recovery if natural variation is in our favor, like it was this year with the Arctic Ice. However I hope that there are no rapid occurrences with the climate, although hoping for a slow transition to a new climate state may be meaningless because the ending is the same.
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TerryM

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #220 on: November 13, 2013, 04:30:29 PM »
Theta
I think that rather than rapid or gradual climate change we have to consider a chaotic period before things settle into a new pattern. In my opinion this may be more difficult to adapt to than anything short of full blown runaway global warming.
It seems to me as though we're experiencing this now and I expect it to worsen going forward.
Terry

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #221 on: November 14, 2013, 12:05:19 AM »
Theta
I think that rather than rapid or gradual climate change we have to consider a chaotic period before things settle into a new pattern. In my opinion this may be more difficult to adapt to than anything short of full blown runaway global warming.
It seems to me as though we're experiencing this now and I expect it to worsen going forward.
Terry

I think one ought to keep in mind we should probably expect chaotic operation and shocks to the system for quite a while in human terms. There are multiple tipping points and thresholds operating on different timescales with different processes driving them. I don't think we're going to be so fortunate as to just need to weather the sort of one off climatic shocks that wiped out ancient civilisations given how much we have perturbed the system relative to those episodes.

My gut feeling is that we can expect most of the rest of this century to be defined by substantial shocks and instability in the earth system - with perhaps a few outliers in the next century or two and beyond. That said - the perception of the changes will diminish massively as modern civilisation collapses and people only perceive their immediate locality.

@Bruce Steele - thanks for drawing my attention to those numbers having already been brought up, apologies to all for the duplication (pretty busy atm, so not participating fully and maybe shouldn't at all for a while).

JimD

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #222 on: November 14, 2013, 05:10:07 AM »
Another data point on future problems in food production.

Just to review for those who may have forgotten or not been aware of it.  The common view, in the US at least, is that the American mid-west is the most fertile large growing region in the world.  This is actually not accurate in a critical sense.  While the American mid-west is farmed in a way that results in massive production we are doing so in a very unsustainable fashion as most are aware.  One critical future problem in our mid-west (absent any consideration of climate change) is the amount of top soil left.  As many of your are aware this top soil issue will become critical in some areas in the next few decades.

If we jump over to the North China plain we find the greatest accumulation of prime top soil in the world.  A yellow silt-loam which gives the great Yellow River its name.  This top soil is in places over 1000 ft thick (that is not a misprint - The best in the US mid-west was about 100 ft when farmers first arrived).  As some have noted this area of China has been farmed for a good 4 thousand years in what could up to fairly recent decades have been described as a sustainable fashion.  A bit of an exaggeration perhaps, but a fair point.   Properly taken care of this critical resource could be expected to remain a key production area for the duration of human civilization.  But will it?

Quote
....Four-fifths of China’s water is in the south, notably the Yangzi river basin. Half the people and two-thirds of the farmland are in the north, including the Yellow River basin. Beijing has the sort of water scarcity usually associated with Saudi Arabia: just 100 cubic metres per person a year. The water table under the capital has dropped by 300 metres (nearly 1,000 feet) since the 1970s.

China is using up water at an unsustainable rate. Thanks to overuse, rivers simply disappear. The number of rivers with significant catchment areas has fallen from more than 50,000 in the 1950s to 23,000 now. As if that were not bad enough, China is polluting what little water it has left. The Yellow River is often called the cradle of Chinese civilisation. In 2007 the Yellow River Conservancy Commission, a government agency, surveyed 13,000 kilometres (8,000 miles) of the river and its tributaries and concluded that a third of the water is unfit even for agriculture. Four thousand petrochemical plants are built on its banks.

The water available for use is thus atrocious. Song Lanhe, chief engineer for urban water-quality monitoring at the housing ministry, says only half the water sources in cities are safe to drink. More than half the groundwater in the north China plain, according to the land ministry, cannot be used for industry, while seven-tenths is unfit for human contact, ie, even for washing. In late 2012 the Chinese media claimed that 300 corpses were found floating in the Yellow River near Lanzhou, the latest of roughly 10,000 victims—most of them (according to the local police) suicides—whose bodies have been washing downstream since the 1960s.

Quote
...China is hoping to follow America into a shale-gas revolution. But each shale-gas well needs 15,000 tonnes of water a year to run. China is also planning to build around 450 new coal-fired power stations, burning 1.2 billion tonnes of coal a year. The stations have to be cooled by water and the coal has to be washed. The grand total is 9 billion tonnes of water. China does not have that much available.....

Not enough water for drinking and washing, not enough for growing food, not enough for fracking, not enough for industry, and not enough for the coal plants. Do I dare mention what climate change is  going to  do to the amount of water coming out of the Himalaya's which fills all the rivers of Asia?

Chinese actions attempting to manage this crises will certainly create significant problems with neighboring countries.  See the below article for more.

http://www.economist.com/news/china/21587813-northern-china-running-out-water-governments-remedies-are-potentially-disastrous-all
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

wili

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #223 on: November 14, 2013, 03:05:45 PM »
If you haven't yet, please do read the article Jim linked to. Here's the passage that got my attention:

Quote
The water table under the capital has dropped by 300 metres (nearly 1,000 feet) since the 1970s.

And when they start turning to the Brahmaputra and the Mekong, conflict (to put it mildly) is sure to ensue.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

JackTaylor

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #224 on: November 14, 2013, 09:19:18 PM »
And when they start turning to the Brahmaputra and the Mekong, conflict (to put it mildly) is sure to ensue.
https://www.chinadialogue.net/blog/5678-China-gives-green-light-to-new-era-of-mega-dams/en
"Notable is the lack of mention of the more contentious dam slated for the “great bend” in China, before the Yarlung Zangbo in Tibet (Brahmaputra in India) swings round into India and through the world’s deepest canyon. Here, a massive 48,000-megawatt dam (over twice the size of the Three Gorges dam) is under active consideration but is likely to be built only after related infrastructure and ultra-high voltage power transmission lines are complete."
Motuo Dam and it may not be built ??

The Zangmu Dam on the Brahmaputra (Yarlung Zangbo) started in 2009 due for completion 2015.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zangmu_Dam

JimD

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #225 on: November 17, 2013, 02:09:09 AM »
We have talked a number of times about overpopulation and the projected increases in population by 2050 and further about how difficult it is going to be to feed all those people.  Africa is expected to experience huge population increases over the next 40 years and food production there will have to increase dramatically if the continent is not to experience massive famines.

One of the thoughts many have had about farming in Africa is that currently the amount of arable land there that is being irrigated is only 5%.  This implies that there is huge upward potential just by introducing large scale irrigation as is practiced in many other areas of the world.  But can it be done?

A new research report has been published which contains the first continent wide quantitative analysis of the amount of aquifer storage and potential borehole yields.  Africa is not suitable for large numbers of dams to store water for irrigation and much of the continent does not have large numbers of free flowing rivers.  Thus water for drinking and other human consumption as well as farming must come from the same groundwater.  The analysis shows ..

Quote
..Groundwater resources are unevenly distributed: the largest groundwater volumes are found in the large sedimentary aquifers in the North African countries Libya, Algeria, Egypt and Sudan...


Thus the majority of the ground water is located in the most inhospitable part of the continent and far from where the majority of the people live and where population growth is going to be greatest. 

A crushing fact is that analysis shows that for most areas the groundwater sources are only suitable for hand pumping (0.1 to 0.3 liters per second) and are not suitable for pumped irrigation.

Quote
Nevertheless, for many African countries appropriately sited and constructed boreholes can support handpump abstraction (yields of 0.1–0.3 l s−1), and contain sufficient storage to sustain abstraction through inter-annual variations in recharge. The maps show further that the potential for higher yielding boreholes ( > 5 l s−1) is much more limited. Therefore, strategies for increasing irrigation or supplying water to rapidly urbanizing cities that are predicated on the widespread drilling of high yielding boreholes are likely to be unsuccessful.


So not only is providing water for the increasing population going to be very difficult but pumping large amounts of water at high pressure for crops seems to be a non-starter.  This situation does not bode well for large increases in food production in Africa.     

http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/7/2/024009/article
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How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #226 on: November 17, 2013, 03:02:01 AM »
While we're on the water kick, I found this a little amusing - while also actually rather serious in implication:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/17/jubilee-deluge-saved-us-from-drought

I think it serves to highlight why most regions will experience problems - it isn't the absolute forces at work that are the problem, more that all the existing infrastructure and behaviour patterns are built around the predictable climate that historically could be relied upon. That is to say that the UK could in principle store enough water to handle these droughts but never having needed to there is no infrastructure to do so, nor signs of any haste to remedy that.

The same principle applies in reverse with the capability of a nation to withstand severe flooding. In the UK, the government actually cut on flood defences despite a pretty cast iron economic case in their favour (much cheaper to protect than to rebuild, at least for now).

In theory in general, I would note that low energy desalination processes (someone brought up graphene in this context some months ago) could theoretically alter the ground water situation over the next couple of decades if it were the only force at work and the only problem the world faced - it would in principle be soluble.

In practice, I don't expect to see the existing infrastructure changing much - the construction timescales of large projects combined with the inability of the mainstream community to perceive and assess the scale of the risk suggest to me that human response to climate change in terms of threat to infrastructure is going to prove to be somewhere between almost entirely lacking and woefully inadequate.

That - and the fact that a myriad of other problems will be besieging nations. Even if nations truly wanted to configure their infrastructure into a format capable of meeting the needs of the coming century - it likely won't be an option due to other constraints.

wili

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #227 on: November 17, 2013, 06:30:31 AM »
"somewhere between almost entirely lacking and woefully inadequate."

Nicely put. I feel inadequate to judge the viability of these technologies at this point. Someone somewhere (sorry for the vagueness) at some point proposed that some such highly efficient desalination plants be use, along with pumping stations, to created vast new forests, lakes and grasslands in the dry interiors of continents such as Australia and Asia to both combat  SLR and biologically sequester carbon. I'm generally suspicious of such grand schemes, but there is little we should rule out at this point, I suppose.

Meanwhile, here's another cheery piece from McPherson:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDdhL3hLP-M&feature=youtu.be
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

JimD

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #228 on: November 17, 2013, 03:14:22 PM »
ccg

I was just reading yesterday that Northern Europe and especially the UK have seen a string of 6 consecutive years with above average precipitation (possibly due to the shrinking Arctic sea ice).  For the UK this is the longest streak of above average since records have been kept.  If you can't get efforts for flood control in those circumstances?

Wili, I have read that there is significant ground water under large parts of the Outback in Australia but it is un-useable due to its very high salt content..  There must not be any efficient way to desalinate and pump it up or someone would have done it since they need water so badly.  Where I was raised in Wyoming there are areas where the groundwater is also to salty to bring to the surface.  I imagine there are many places in the world with that issue.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #229 on: November 24, 2013, 06:41:54 PM »
Hi ccg,
i just wanted to say that I agree with you and others that geopolitics are very much intertwined with the future of food.  As climate becomes more unstable, causing shortages and price increases, there is liklihood of conflict and political instability, which can cause famines, as seen in various African countries, during the Holomodor, etc.

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #230 on: November 25, 2013, 04:29:45 PM »
Bruce you will love the pics in this link about crabs in Australia

http://www.bbc.com/travel/feature/20131118-australias-sea-of-crimson-claws
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

ggelsrinc

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #231 on: November 25, 2013, 05:15:59 PM »

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #232 on: November 26, 2013, 12:54:35 AM »
Meanwhile, here's another cheery piece from McPherson:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDdhL3hLP-M&feature=youtu.be
I think McPherson doesn't have good evidence for what he claims. He says we're heading towards extinction, but there's no good evidence for that.

ggelsrinc

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #233 on: November 26, 2013, 01:44:51 AM »
Meanwhile, here's another cheery piece from McPherson:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDdhL3hLP-M&feature=youtu.be
I think McPherson doesn't have good evidence for what he claims. He says we're heading towards extinction, but there's no good evidence for that.

McPherson lied throughout his presentation and is a nutcase, IMHO. The general point is correct that our world faces real problems, but his presentation is so bad the enemy could easily shoot holes through it. We have real problems on planet Earth and we don't need people inventing more problems just by thinking they are doing good. Sometimes we have to separate the wheat from the chaff and I say kick their asses back to doomsday. They aren't my friends and that should be obvious. I want results and people like that are as bad as Denialistas, trying to invent reality.

wili

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #234 on: November 26, 2013, 02:24:18 AM »
domen, some of his evidence is better than others. But a lot of it is straight out of peer reviewed materials. It is more valuable to pick out a point that you think is particularly good (or bad) than to just sweep his whole presentation under the rug because you don't like where it leads (if that is your reason for rejecting it).
« Last Edit: November 26, 2013, 08:05:57 AM by Neven »
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #235 on: November 26, 2013, 08:10:07 AM »
Sorry for removing the nonsense, but it's getting tiresome.

I'm under the impression that ggelsrinc is here mostly to pick fights and vent frustration, which is why it's important to not give him a stick, especially not out of nowhere. Just ignore each other, or go find an echo chamber that's better suited to your tastes.
Il faut comparer, comparer, comparer, et cultiver notre jardin

ggelsrinc

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #236 on: November 26, 2013, 08:14:37 AM »
Sorry for removing the nonsense, but it's getting tiresome.

I'm under the impression that ggelsrinc is here mostly to pick fights and vent frustration, which is why it's important to not give him a stick, especially not out of nowhere. Just ignore each other, or go find an echo chamber that's better suited to your tastes.

Try removing more nonsense! Isn't there a way to PM people on this site?

wili

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #237 on: November 28, 2013, 04:27:37 PM »
Back on the specific topics of CC, oceans, food...

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/11/26/2999611/plankton-ocean-food-web/

[size=150]Rapid Plankton Decline Puts The Ocean’s Food Web In Peril[/size]

Quote
The dramatic decline happened in the North Atlantic in first half of this year, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) told the AP. It also coincided with sea surface temperatures from the mid-Atlantic to the Gulf of Maine that were the third-warmest on record, after an all-time high in 2012. Further south in the Atlantic there was more cooling, but overall warming throughout the oceans remains on a steady upward trend.

The result is earlier warming events in the oceans over the past few years and NOAA scientists suspect the changes are affecting plant and animal reproduction.
“The first six months of 2013 can be characterized by new extremes in the physical and biological environment
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

Laurent

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #238 on: November 28, 2013, 07:47:36 PM »
You may want to sign this petition ! Anyway it is worth to have a look very interesting and artistic !

http://www.penelope-jolicoeur.com/2013/11/take-5-minutes-and-sign-this.html
http://www.bloomassociation.org/en/

Shared Humanity

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #239 on: November 29, 2013, 06:51:49 PM »
Neven has posted an exceptionally well delivered lecture in ASIB that would help inform this discussion. I would encourage everyone to read it here....

http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/2013/11/in-memoriam-albert-a-bartlett.html#comments

Simply put, most of the ways that we see our problems and possible solutions avoid the real issue facing human civilization. We are rapidly approaching a crisis and we need to immediately begin addressing it.

Anyone, and I mean anyone, who disagrees with the fundamental premise of this lecture is simply not worth listening to.

JimD

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #240 on: December 02, 2013, 04:43:10 PM »
Well the US corn crop is almost 100% harvested now and we blew the doors off so to speak.  A new record.

900 million bushels over the last record.  14 BILLION bushels   that is a lot of corn

Now the rest of the story is that corn futures are dropping like a rock  -  down 40%.  A common result of this is that next year the amount of land planted to corn will drop significantly and cause a smaller harvest next year.

http://news.yahoo.com/usda-2013-corn-harvest-record-13-9b-bushels-173505758--finance.html

Drought pushed down the Chinese harvest this year thus preventing an even bigger surge in the corn harvest.  Chinese imports will have to climb and this should have been good for US exporters but a recent shipment to China upon testing contained banned varieties of corn and this is causing some issues.

The global corn harvest this year will be some 26 million tonnes above consumption thus adding a bit to global grain stocks.  Converted that is 1 billion bushels or 7% of US production.  Or approximately 4 days of global food consumption equivalent.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-06/floods-to-drought-curbing-china-corn-harvest-commodities.html

Bigger news from the global perspective is that total grain production is projected for 2013 at 2498 million tonnes.  This is also a record and some 8% higher than 2012.  This rise is mostly attributable to the US corn harvest ands the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent Countries) wheat harvest.  Rice production was pretty flat.  Global grain stocks will get some padding this year.  Global stocks will have risen some 4.6% since the all time low of 2007/2008.

A side impact of the big rise in stocks and much lower prices is that CAFO operations will be much more profitable as feed prices are key to those operations and this will boost meat consumption globally.

http://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/csdb/en/
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

wili

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #241 on: December 03, 2013, 02:00:35 AM »
Well, that's good news, especially for replenishing of stock--should help reduce the likelihood of widespread famine, and perhaps of major destabilizations of countries, for the next few years.

Interesting (though not surprising on a moment's thought) effect on futures and future land planted in corn. Maybe some other crops will have a chance, then??

...
And this may be premature, but I can't resist. Smeagol is free!

"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #242 on: December 03, 2013, 04:15:18 AM »
Well, that's good news, especially for replenishing of stock--should help reduce the likelihood of widespread famine, and perhaps of major destabilizations of countries, for the next few years.

Good news for the upcoming year at least - and in practice a bit beyond as getting to the next harvest assures at least some portion of a year with enough food even if the next harvest is very bad (it will still yield something...).

I don't think you can assume on much for even a few years - we live essentially from year to year in terms of global food supply, a shortfall would transmit shocks rapidly into both markets and societies - and every year the bar of how high we must jump just to remain standing in one place is raised.

By that same token even a shortfall no worse than historic ones could cause new effects as the necessary goal has shifted that much more year on year since the last such shortfall. Medium term risks still strongly to the downside, I feel, notwithstanding the good news in the shorter term.

JimD

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #243 on: December 03, 2013, 04:56:51 AM »
Quote
Interesting (though not surprising on a moment's thought) effect on futures and future land planted in corn. Maybe some other crops will have a chance, then??
Sure, but the some other crops will probably be an increase in soybeans and maybe wheat out on the periphery of the corn regions.  And there may be some land rotated to alfalfa or fallow.  Not likely to be an increase in vegetable crops or anything like that.  The famers who plant corn on a large scale are not going to be interested much in high labor crops as they are not configured for it. 

The seeds of a future shortfall are in this bumper crop as bumper crops are the ones where commodity prices fall, cut into profits and result in less being planted.  Combine that effect with a b ad harvest year and you run short again, prices jump, profits go up.

But this is just the equivalent of weather as ccg indicated.  The long term climate equivalent trend is that there are going to be more bad years, rising demand, decreasing water supplies, changing climate, etc.  The cliff so to speak.  It is a matter of when not if.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Shared Humanity

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #244 on: December 03, 2013, 06:08:11 PM »
This years harvest is absolutely good  news. I actually believe we could continue to have these kinds of harvests periodically for a number of years.

I am not, however, optimistic about whether we can avoid humanitarian disasters and societal disruption in the short term. We need to look at global harvests, not in isolation but as part of a larger system (I know, I sound like a broken record.) and JD has done this with his evaluation of the grain markets. The markets will, in fact, fail to operate in a way to help us avoid mass starvation and societal collapse. In fact these markets are already failing in that many countries are no longer able to purchase enough food to feed their people.  They rely on aid from wealthier nations.

When you factor in the inputs of agriculture, particularly energy, then the approaching disaster is more apparent. We are having to mine increasingly expensive sources of fossil fuel (tar sands, shale oil, deep sea drilling etc.) to provide for our needs. As the price of fuel, fertilizers and pesticides inevitably rise at an accelerated rate, more nations will be effectively priced out of the food markets. Where nations are still able to grow enough food, more citizens of these nations will be unable to afford to feed themselves. This is already happening in the wealthiest nations in the world. This is the normal functioning of efficient markets.

Public policy, outside of the markets, will determine how this emerging crisis will be addressed. In the U.S., we are responding to the domestic poverty crisis by cutting food stamps while continuing to provide agricultural price supports and pay farmers not to grow food.

Shared Humanity

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #245 on: December 03, 2013, 06:17:00 PM »
To put it bluntly, the system of capitalism is failing. This is already clear in markets as basic as food. It will become increasingly clear in all kinds of markets over the next decade. Energy for heating, transportation, manufacturing etc. will become increasingly expensive and distort the smooth functioning of these critical pieces of global capitalism. As these failures become more serious, actions outside of the markets will increasingly be required. Hopefully, these will take the form of decisions that result in the more equitable distribution of items needed to survive. Given our history of wars for resources, I am not optimistic this will be our response.

wili

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #246 on: December 03, 2013, 07:33:14 PM »
http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2013/s3903815.htm

[size=150]Report paints terrifying picture of global warming future[/size]

Quote
Professor Christoff, what do you say to those who say it's simply alarmist to be talking about four degrees of global warming, twice the level that world leaders have identified as dangerous, and are working to keep below.

PETER CHRISTOFF: Well, two years ago or four years ago, it would have been regarded as science fiction to think about a world heading in that direction. But frankly, given the pace of negotiations and the projections that are being made on current levels of emissions and also projected changes to those emissions, four degrees is pretty much about the centre figure that is being projected by the IPCC, the scientific body looking at climate change.

So four degrees unfortunately is now a very realistic prospect by the end of this century.


Conservative estimates are that you lose about 10% of global crop production for every degree C of GW. So the mid-range estimation (again, conservative, in my view) of probably GW by the end of the century means about half the current production.

Given feedbacks already kicking in that are generally excluded from these calculations, I'd put that more like at mid-century if not before--right about when standard estimates say global population will be peaking at 9-12 billion. (I'd be happy to be corrected on any of these as they are all from my famously foggy memory and there are updates all the time.)

I ghink things will get really bad long before this, but it's hard at this point to paint anything other than a very grim picture, grimmer with every decade going forward.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

JimD

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #247 on: December 03, 2013, 08:13:49 PM »
SH & Wili

I am certainly in tune with your last few posts on this.  While I have guestimated, as best I can, that real collapse will occur circa 2050 it surely does not mean that things will not be getting progressively worse as time goes on.  That is a certainty.

All we are talking about in essence is where the actual break point is and that can change as conditions change.  If one evaluates the ten most significant factors which are degrading and will eventually precipitate the crash and comes to an estimated date it is the best one can do at the time.  But there can be unforeseen events which change that calculation.  A 10% probability negative change in one factor can be enough to push the date forward due to that factors importance in the calculation.  Crop pathogens are one of these types of changes.  The chance of one proving to be critical is not high but also not insignificant.  Such pathogens come and go and the odds of one hitting a critical commodity are not high on a yearly basis.  But mono-cropping increases that risk and we are increasing our vulnerability along those lines every year.  Or a bio-terrorist comes along and creates one which destroys half the US corn or wheat.  There are dozens of other possibilities.  The financial system grinds to a halt even earlier than we expect for example.

When one sees the internal rot that is taking place in the US it is tempting to move forward ones estimated date, but I am holding off for now and thinking about it a lot.  The pace of global deterioration does seem to be increasing but there are cycles in everything and we may hit some lulls along the way.

 
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Theta

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #248 on: December 03, 2013, 09:59:46 PM »
SH & Wili

I am certainly in tune with your last few posts on this.  While I have guestimated, as best I can, that real collapse will occur circa 2050 it surely does not mean that things will not be getting progressively worse as time goes on.  That is a certainty.

All we are talking about in essence is where the actual break point is and that can change as conditions change.  If one evaluates the ten most significant factors which are degrading and will eventually precipitate the crash and comes to an estimated date it is the best one can do at the time.  But there can be unforeseen events which change that calculation.  A 10% probability negative change in one factor can be enough to push the date forward due to that factors importance in the calculation.  Crop pathogens are one of these types of changes.  The chance of one proving to be critical is not high but also not insignificant.  Such pathogens come and go and the odds of one hitting a critical commodity are not high on a yearly basis.  But mono-cropping increases that risk and we are increasing our vulnerability along those lines every year.  Or a bio-terrorist comes along and creates one which destroys half the US corn or wheat.  There are dozens of other possibilities.  The financial system grinds to a halt even earlier than we expect for example.

When one sees the internal rot that is taking place in the US it is tempting to move forward ones estimated date, but I am holding off for now and thinking about it a lot.  The pace of global deterioration does seem to be increasing but there are cycles in everything and we may hit some lulls along the way.

I am confident that when we do begin to hit a point where we start to experience food shortages or certain pathogens begin to really affect society as a whole (especially if the pathogens become a pandemic that infects the general populace, although this might not apply everywhere as various areas have different population densities, although if pathogens were to simply affect the crops needed for food production...), then we may be dangerously close to or at the breaking point, but as the Crux of Climate Change thread shows, it is possible that a quick collapse can hold some advantages.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2013, 10:18:15 PM by Theta »
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JimD

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Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« Reply #249 on: December 05, 2013, 04:05:55 PM »
This is worrying.

Maine's shrimp season has been cancelled.

This is a sad article because it indicate how short term interests screw up long term needs.

Quote
....The annual shrimp survey in 2012 revealed the lowest abundance of adults ever recorded in the survey’s thirty-year history.

“I think everyone was startled by what we saw in 2012, and there was a lot of pressure to close down the fishery for the 2013 season,” said John Annala, Chief Scientific Officer at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. “The survey this summer found just 20 percent of the 2012 record low, so it has fallen off incredibly sharply.”

Perhaps most worrying is the fact that juvenile shrimp have not been picked up in a survey since 2010. Northern shrimp live about five years, so the lack of younger shrimp for three years straight may mean empty nets for years to come.
....

Bruce should hop in here and give us some more info but it sure sounds like the warning signs were there and they should have pulled back a couple of years ago not just last year.  If there have been no b aby shrimp since 2010 this population is likely toast.

And it may be climate change.

Quote
....“During the last ten years the water temperature in the Gulf of Maine has been running about 2.5 degrees Celsius or about 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the previous one hundred year average,” Annala said. “We don’t know what the thermal threshold of this species is, but the Gulf of Maine has always been the southernmost extreme of their range, so we probably don’t have much wiggle room.”

Even if Northern shrimp prove themselves to be more heat tolerant than scientists predict, the warmer waters in the Gulf of Maine are proving deadly to the shrimp’s food supply, tiny zooplankton. Last spring, the usual surge in plankton never happened. Many species of plankton are also at the southernmost end of their thermal tolerance. Warmer waters are also making the Gulf more hospitable to shrimp predators like dogfish and red hake.
....


http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/12/04/3021451/maine-shrimp-season-closed/
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein