File agricultural yields ought to allay local weather fears

By Vijay Jayaraj

Countries around the world are surpassing previous records for food crop production. This is good news that stands in stark contrast to the apocalyptic picture that the media paints daily in climate and weather reports.

Because food is fundamental to human survival, even a small increase in its price can significantly affect millions — even billions — of people. “When food fails, everything fails,” said Geraldine Matchett, co-chair of the CEO Alliance on Food, Nature and Health.

So it’s not surprising that the fear purveyors are portraying climate change as the greatest threat to the world’s food security. Endlessly reused items and TV shows constantly spread the misinformation that supposedly dangerous global warming is threatening crops or already destroying them.

However, in the real world, data shows historically high crop production around the world. This is because climate change has contributed to the spread of food crops and other vegetation. Rich harvests continue to confirm this. As in previous years, records in agricultural production are expected in many countries in 2023.

Wheat is an important source of calories, protein and essential nutrients and is relatively easy to grow and store. Wheat is a reliable food source in many regions and is the staple food for an estimated 35 percent of the world’s population.

After a year of supply insecurity due to the war in Ukraine, wheat production is set to increase worldwide. In the UK, for example, wheat production is expected to increase by 450,000 tonnes in 2022-23 compared to the previous year. In the US, winter wheat was planted on nearly 37 million acres, up 11 percent year-on-year and the highest in eight years.

In Africa, Zimbabwe produced a record 375,000 tonnes of wheat in 2022, making the country self-sufficient. The new record is 13 percent up on the previous year and surpasses 50-year-old records. That saves the country $300 million that would otherwise have been spent on wheat imports.

In terms of wheat production, India is second only to China. The Indian government reports that wheat production will reach an all-time high of 112 million tons in crop year 2022-23.

“Prospects for the wheat harvest are better due to the current weather conditions and the slightly higher acreage,” reported the Economic Times.

In fact, wheat yields, measured in tons per hectare, have been growing steadily around the world, with some of the highest being in China.

Crop yields in the 21st century have increased due to a combination of factors. This includes the use of modern technologies, the development of high-yielding crop varieties through plant breeding and genetic engineering, and the use of fertilizers.

Nevertheless, the level of production would not have been possible without the warming of the earth after the Little Ice Age since the 18th century and the modern increase in atmospheric CO2.

Greater warmth has allowed longer growing seasons and the growing of a greater variety of crops. Higher levels of CO2 have enabled plants to photosynthesize more efficiently, resulting in increased growth and higher crop yields.

Even in the alarmists’ worst-case scenarios, where temperatures rise sharply, global agriculture can adapt through genetically advanced food crop varieties that are resilient to extreme drought and high temperatures.

There is simply no reason to worry about the impact of climate change on global food production, today, next year or 100 years from now. In fact, the climate supports plant growth and helps the world feed its growing population.

This comment was first published on Daily Caller on January 21, 2023 and can be accessed here.

Vijay Jayaraj is a Research Associate at the CO2 Coalition, Arlington, Virginia. He holds a Masters in Environmental Sciences from the University of East Anglia, UK and is based in India.

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