Oh dear God, how the hell do they get to this result?

But rising temperatures in this time have acted as a handbrake to farming productivity of crops and livestock, according to the new research, published in Nature Climate Change. Productivity has actually slumped by 21% since 1961, compared to if the world hadn’t been subjected to human-induced heating.


Our baseline model indicates that ACC has reduced global agricultural TFP by about 21% since 1961, a slowdown that is equivalent to losing the last 7 years of productivity growth.

Right, so, the heating has lost us 12% of the gains we should have had from the use of artificial fertilisers, which are themselves a leading cause (no, really) of the heating. So, we gain 88%, lose 12%. That’s a win, right?

19 thoughts on “Oh dear God, how the hell do they get to this result?”

  1. How did they get to that result? They just modelled their input assumptions, the output reflects the input assumptions, therefore the output is correct.

    That’s the same logical fallacy that underlies most modelling studies which can’t be tested against the real world.

  2. Question:

    A few of my distant cousins have been complaining about having to buy more refrigeration units to chill their potato harvests due to less extreme winters with the investment increasing over what our forefathers paid(well didn’t pay back in the day). The “greens” recently seized upon this as a cost of ‘gobabble warning’ impacting real world farmers. Is this a real problem that will raise the price of my crisps(I hope I’m getting the American to English translation right) or is this merely my Republican cousins trying to screw me out of a few pence per packet at the grocer’s?


    Please tell me I can tell the publicans to F off, scammers. I just picked up another second hand fossil fueled ICE and don’t want to pay a carbon tax because radical proggie farmers think they can turn an extra buck due to climate change nonsense.

  3. Sounds like alarmism to me – just move the potato storage about 150-200km further North, or 100m up in altitude, and that gets you a very rough 1 degree C drop in temperature.
    What’s the life-span of a barn before you knock it down and rebuild it somewhere new. I don’t know, but if it’s 70 years that covers the average planet warming expected I’d have thought.
    There must be a local climate effect going on to shorten the length of the cool season – or the farmland owner wants to store more potatoes for longer. Just thoughts LY.

  4. 60F sounds like quite a high temp to keep vegetables fresh. Do they have to protect them against the -10C that much of the midwest experiences for 3 months a year ? Would they not be better off building stone buildings to keep the temp stable rather than installing air con ?

    Anyway it is all tosh. Of course agricultural production in the Sahel has fallen, most of the population is now queueing up for boats on the Libyan coast.

  5. Bongo,

    “or 100m up in altitude, and that gets you a very rough 1 degree C drop in temperature.”

    So you’re suggesting my distant cousins should invest in Zeppelins???

    You know the nation Karl M. was from was also the nation of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin? How very “that nation’s socialism” of you.

    Ottokring, see above.

    Seriously, these are party-line proggies, and by proggies I mean Republicans, arguing ‘gobabble warning’ is harming them. If they weren’t family I’d accuse them of far worse than expecting a social security check and medicare after a lifetime of hard word. Since they are family I’ll call them dumbarses for not knowing social security and medicare are socialism but I won’t fault their knowledge of the land that’s been in the family for generations. ‘Merica proggies may be dumb but they ain’t stupid.

  6. Global population in 1960: 3 billion, with widespread malnutrition and an average consumption of ~2360 kcal/person/day.

    Global population in 2020: 7.7 billion, with much less malnutrition and an average consumption of ~2800 kcal/person/day.

    Conclusion: GORBAL WORMING BAD

    Where’s my grant?

  7. LY it is a fact that there have been small increases in average temps over the last 50 or so years. In the UK, it has shown up as a small increase in minimum temps in winter months, which means that unless you are up and atem at 5am, you would not have noticed. Given that the USA is closer to the equator and will have experienced less warming on average – most of the “warming” is experienced at polar latitudes – I think your farmers are doing what farmers do best, gifting and grant-hunting

  8. Diogenes,

    You obviously aren’t a potato farmer.

    To make matters worse you couldn’t even make a spud joke. At least there is an obvious punchline there. Instead I’m getting suggestions like truck the literal spuds ~300 km so they can be stored on a laker in the middle of the Great Lakes or create a Zeppelin production line to store the sprouts at altitude.

    Timmy’s idea of a carbon tax would be far cheaper than these type of radical greenie hair-brained schemes.

  9. I suspect the year-to-year variation in the potato harvest is way bigger than any problem caused by temperatures in storage increasing due to global warming.

    And anyway, you can’t buy a decent potato in the US. Bloody Idaho leatherbacks.

  10. PJF,

    In case you haven’t heard, the prices of food in US grocery stores are inflating at an alarming rate. My average shopping run costs ~70% more than it did in 2019, or nearly thrice as much what I was paying when Obummer was president.

    I have an explanation. That’s what happens when a dimwit thinks that only stock market valuations count and pushes insane fiscal and monetary policy to prove it. It’s like we got the worst of LBJ and Nixon all rolled into one orange baboon in just four excruciatingly long years.

    Considering the orange baboon merely fucked things up so badly that we only “matched” Obummer’s eight years of failure to balance the budget in less than twelve months I’m surprised a low-end steak cut isn’t £110/kg yet.

    Not that I’d know. I haven’t been able to afford steak since Obummer was in office. F the proggie Repubnicans.

    Anywho, does anyone have a rational explanation for why Michigan potato farmers are stuck spending ridiculous amounts of dollars on refrigeration other than that proggie orange baboon’s trade war(which most definitely doesn’t explain the full costs)?

  11. rhoda,

    My local grocer used to stock Maine reds and midwest golds. Now the produce manager’s excuse is only leatherbacks come from those regions due to gabblediguic warmmmainginging.

    I’m sick of the excuses. Someone tell my why I can’t even get a halfway decent spud in the land the real spud should have migrated to years ago.

  12. I dont think potato prices can be blamed for rising crisp prices. Potato prices are volatile but are currently around £180 / tonne which is less than a penny for a UK standard packet of crisps (25 grams) even allowing for processing waste.

  13. Lying Yank:
    In case you haven’t heard, the prices of food in US grocery stores are inflating at an alarming rate. My average shopping run costs ~70% more than it did in 2019, or nearly thrice as much what I was paying when Obummer was president.

    We are what we eat, so I ain’t swallowing your shit.


    – Grocery store food prices up 3.5 percent in 2020 compared with 2019
    – Food price inflation over 2016–2020 equal to economy-wide inflation (7.8 percent)
    – Americans’ budget share for total food was at a historical low of 9.5 percent in 2019
    – Food spending as a share of income declines as income rises

    Food costing a bit more not unique to the USA:


    But orange man bad.

  14. PJF,

    You’re right about orange man bad but that doesn’t account for optics. In my predominately Republican neighborhood black man much worse despite being out of office for over four years now. As such, do a shot of your favorite 80 proof or higher because whatever we’re talking about it is somehow all Obummer’s fault and you’d be remiss not to play the Obummer drinking game.

    I don’t care about your bigger government socialism statistics. I know what is available at the stores I shop at. If you don’t like the truth then F U commie. Take your commie statistics and shove them where the sun don’t shine cause that is the only way anyone is getting pleasure out of the BS you’re trying to peddle.

  15. My average shopping run costs ~70% more than it did in 2019, or nearly thrice as much what I was paying when Obummer was president.

    Still April 1 where you are?

    Or are you drinking 3 x as much as you used to?

  16. The basic analysis relies on regressing changes in country level agricultural TFP on changes in temperature and precipitation using a panel of 172 countries back to 1961. The paper correctly identified one problem – which is the TFP statistics are horribly inaccurate – especially pre the end of the cold war. Their defence is that the yearly TFP estimates vary and as long as the errors in TFP are not correlated with the weather, their estimates are simply imprecise. I don’t know enough about how the USDA data is put together, but I would want to dig further in.

    The other major problem is that the regression is equal weighted, it thus gives the same weight to TFP changes in China, as it does to changes in Micronesia. In reality four of their countries (US, China, USSR, India – note they reaggregate all constituent parts of USSR to keep the data series going back to 1961) account for 50% of global agricultural production. The estimates of TFP changes are thus dependent on observations about temperature and precipitation in the US as a whole for any given year and give these the same weight as observations in Luxembourg. This is going to give rise to some horrible inaccuracies since trying to guess weather impacts on TFP in the US as a whole is a bit silly. The counter argument might be that giving weight to smaller countries will allow us to work out the effect of weather on TFP in aggregate given that smaller countries might reflect TFP reactions to weather in a more representative fashion.

    Having dug through the tables I cannot match their baseline estimates to the figures they provide. It looks like higher temperatures lead to more TFP (supplementary table 1). And their R squared is horribly low.

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