Stanford claims farmers “dodged impacts of global warming” in the USA, but you have to find it first.

Stanford claims farmers “dodged impacts of global warming” in the USA, but you have to find it first. (May 6, 2011). When Anthony Watts does his own posting you can be sure that it will be short and dishonest. Here Anthony disputes a Stanford University report on the impact of global warming on US crop production, which states:

Global warming is likely already taking a toll on world wheat and corn production, according to a new study led by Stanford University researchers. But the United States, Canada and northern Mexico have largely escaped the trend.

Anthony rebuttal is to slap together charts of US corn yield and US temperature to “prove” that noisy regional weather data shows no global warming. He also alludes to the comical “CO2 is essential for life” argument.

Yep, US corn yields are going up. It’s gotta mean something! Anthony grudgingly allows that “some of the gains seen below are likely the result of improved seed lines”, but the honest first approximation is that all of corn yield gains are “likely the result of improved seed lines”. After-all he’s pretty sure that there hasn’t been any change in the climate, isn’t he? Sez Anthony:

What global warming? The last two years of annual mean temperature for the USA (2009, 2010) is about the same as it was in 1980 and 1981, and lower than many years since.

So Anthony’s entire argument is to compare two years of the US annual mean temperature, 1980 and 1981, against the two most recent years and declare that since they are “about the same” this proves that there’s no global warming? Dude, you’re a frickin’ cherry-pickin’ idiot.

Anthony’s lame “we’ve seen exactly this before” deception is only faintly plausible if he deliberately removes the default trend line from his chart. We can fix that though (replicate it here, but ignore Anthony’s advice to exclude the trend line):

Anthony Watts took care to remove the trend from his version of this chart.

As usual Anthony’s also using several levels of cherry-picking to gin-up his “What global warming?” climate claim aside from the two-year comparison windows. The US Corn Belt is not the same geographic area as the continental US, so he’s not demonstrating anything at all about the Corn Belt climate. Likewise, the continental US represents only a fraction of the global record.

The Stanford article also mentions an US trend towards anomalously cooler summers, which coupled with the unequivocal rise in annual average temperature implies warmer winters. US agriculture has been partly insulated from global warming by keeping the growing season temperatures within the crop’s tolerance zone. Why didn’t Anthony address that? Hmmm.

One thought on “Stanford claims farmers “dodged impacts of global warming” in the USA, but you have to find it first.

  1. This is a popular paper over there. Even Fox News likes it. See:

    Cost of Energy – Surprise! Fox News lies again about climate science

    [From the study author’s response to the article below. – Ben]

    Fox News is at it again, and it’s hard to believe how diligent they are at getting things not just wrong, but willfully incorrect.

    Stanford Scientist Criticizes Fox Distortion Of His Climate Study:

    What’s more is that the study Fox Nation refers to doesn’t actually contend that there have been no global warming effects in North America. Here, Fox is echoing an Ottawa Citizen headline which stated: “Climate change hardly visible in North America: Canada U.S. buck trend, scientists say.” This too is a misrepresentation of the research.

    In fact, the study examined only crop-producing regions and only during the growing seasons of corn, rice, maize, and wheat.The research indicated that those specific regions in the U.S. have not seen the same warming trend evident in global average temperatures over the past 30 years. (Indeed, no climate scientist would say the planet is expected to warm uniformly).

    Stanford’s David Lobell, one of the authors of the study, explained in an email that he was “disappointed” in both the Fox Nation and Ottawa Citizen coverage, which “do not accurately portray our findings.” He added:

    The study was only focusing on one aspect of climate change (impacts on agriculture) and looked only in the parts of the countries where and times of year when certain crops are grown. for example, if one looks at winter temperatures in these regions, it would paint a different picture. also, the lack of trend in any one region has very little bearing on whether global warming is happening.


    Indeed, Lobell’s study concludes that communities across the globe are encountering the very real consequences of climate change on the production of vital crops. The very research that Fox Nation uses to sow doubt about global warming found that “Climate trends were large enough in some countries to offset a significant portion of the increases in average yields that arose from technology, CO2 fertilization, and other factors.”

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