Cheat-Seeking Missles

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Pack Your Ark -- But Not With Maize

In the same Greenie Watch series linked below, there's a piece from the Financial Times by Robert Matthews that captures the silliness of the global warming debate: "From cities vanishing under rising seas to global starvation as key crops fail, [dire predictions] blithely ignore the time-honoured response of humans confronted by climate change: adaptation."

Matthews gives this example:
Take the latest study of the likely effect of global warming on Africa, published this week by an international team of scientists in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It concludes that as crops wilt under heat and drought, African food production may be "severely reduced". Yields of maize, Africa's favourite crop, will be especially badly hit.

Only after reaching this headline-grabbing conclusion do the researchers state that they have taken no account of attempts farmers might make to avoid such a calamity, such as planting different crops or making better use of land and irrigation. They hint that a switch to other crops such as sorghum might help, but give few details.

When the effects of adaptation are taken into account, the results are frequently revelatory. In research about to appear in the journal Environment and Development Economics, a team led by Robert Mendelsohn of Yale University examines the economic impact of predicted climate change when adaptation is included. It finds that a warmer world can actually produce net economic gain ....
Yes, most of that gain will benefit wealthier nations that are generally located in more temperate climates. Poorer nations clustered in hotter climates will suffer more -- but Matthews correctly points out that wealthier nations will be better able to help them.

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