Almost every major American daily newspaper picked up an article published earlier this month by New York Times scribe Justin Gillis entitled “A Warming Planet Struggles to Feed Itself.”
How many times have we read, in the last 50 years, that this or that environmental apocalypse is going to starve the world? I got my doctorate on the wings of one; at that time it was called “global cooling,” after a 1974 CIA report leaked to the Times said that rapidly cooling planetary temperatures could usher in an era of heightened global instability caused by food shortages.
In my lifetime there have been a large number of predicted nutritional apocalypses, caused by overpopulation, lack of biological diversity in our food supply, genetic engineering run amok, acid rain, too little ozone, too much ozone and, finally, global warming. If there were futures on the end of the world, I’d go short. The wrong bet won’t matter anyway.
Facts: Global surface temperature rose about three-fourths of a degree Celsius in the 20th century. U.S. corn yields quintupled. Life expectancy doubled. People got fat. Global warming didn’t cause all of this, but increased atmospheric carbon dioxide directly stimulated plant growth. Further, greenhouse warming takes place more in the winter, which lengthens growing seasons. With adequate water, plants then fix and yield more carbohydrate.