Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Be afraid …

There have only been a few months in the past 30 years which have been as cold in the tropical troposphere as March 2008 four months in the 1988-1989 La Nina… That from Climate Audit.

From Watts up with that (and elsewhere) we get:

A cool-water anomaly known as La Niña occupied the tropical Pacific Ocean throughout 2007 and early 2008. In April 2008, scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced that while the La Niña was weakening, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) - a larger-scale, slower-cycling ocean pattern - had shifted to its cool phase.
Look out California agriculture, he writes. The wine industry, fruits and nut growers will be hit with a shorter growing season and more threats of frost, among other things. Recently in Nevada County, much of their grape crop was wiped out.

Nevada County's agricultural commissioner will seek disaster relief from the state after tens of thousands of dollars worth of crops were ruined from last week’s freezing temperatures. Orchard trees, wine grapes and pastures were hardest hit, Pylman said. The commissioner is compiling a report of damages that he will send to the state Office of Emergency Services in coming weeks. "Growers don’t have anything to harvest. That’s a disaster in my mind," Pylman said.

In Paradise, CA, Noble Orchards reports damage to their Apple crop from recent colder weather, as well as reports of issue with vineyards in the Paradise ridge area suffering from frost damage recently. In 1977, the PDO had switched to a warm phase. California agriculture has ridden a wave of success on that PDO warm phase since 1977, experiencing unprecedented growth. Now that PDO is shifting to a cooler phase, areas that supported crops during the warm phase may no longer be able to do so.

And, from Dow Jones we get a report about the US wheat crop:

Meteorologists are watching out for unusual cold weather systems in the central and southern Plains, DTN Meteorlogix said. Colder temperatures are expected in the northern Delta, although conditions should not be cold enough in the south to impact heading or flowering wheat, the private weather firm said. In the northern US Plains, spring wheat planting was 34 percent complete, compared to 28 percent last year and the average of 40 percent. Snow and rain may help recharge soil moisture in central and eastern areas of the region this week, although cold temperatures could slow seeding and the development of the crop, Meteorlogix said.
Recently, I was quite optimistic that, in respect of the "global food crisis", we were over the worst with Chicago wheat futures dropping 40 percent on reports of record wheat plantings.

But, as a rule of thumb – all other things being equal – the later development, the lower the yield. Planting may be up, but yields may be down, the one cancelling out the other. We are not out of the woods yet, even if price sentiment is still bearish.

What I find utterly bizarre about all this though – although perhaps I should not – is the way agriculture, food supplies and "climate change" have dropped out of British politics. But Cameron has bought into to the AGW myth, so the Conservatives are totally compromised, while the government is more concerned with the revenue-raising potential of environmental taxes than it is with the reality.

With agriculture being an EU "competence", that rules out any discussion on that issue, which means that the minor question of whether in the future we get to eat – or can afford what is on offer – is off-limits to our politicians. It is a funny old world, as a former prime minister once observed.


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