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« HSI goes nuclear | Main | More Mother Jones »
Friday
Apr222011

Sir John B on climate change and food

Sir John Beddington says "the food system is failing". No doubt the answer is more funding.

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    We see that in every single instance of comparison, the Theory of the Greenhouse Effect appears to contradict what the Laws of Thermodynamics have to say about the exact same physical situation. The conclusion of this article is very simple: there is no such thing as a radiative Theory of the ...

Reader Comments (56)

Please resist the Nazi insults but isn't everything he says related to population levels?

We are in trouble alright...

Three dinners away from insurrection or something like that?.

Apr 22, 2011 at 7:27 AM | Unregistered Commenterjones

"Climate Smart Agriculture". There's a new buzz phrase to bandy around at conferences.

Apr 22, 2011 at 7:44 AM | Unregistered Commenterandyscrase

A gift of the gab, but without the brainpower? - but with the obligatory beard. Would you trust this man to sell you a second-hand car?

Apr 22, 2011 at 8:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterPFM

Is there a theme here. Beddington incompetent, silly, opens mouth and shoves in foot frequently (UK) then Flannery (aus) truely stupid, opens mouth and puts two feet in. Are governments setting up the situation deliberately to make AGW look stupid so they can back out and leave their jesters in the brown stuff.??

Apr 22, 2011 at 8:15 AM | Unregistered Commenterstephen richards

Chicken and egg.

Since Thatcher they have gone out of their way to ensure that all the "Scientific" advisors they appoint have been activist Hyperthermalist loons. Piddlington included.

They even use their influence to ensure that other favourite Pundits like the President of the Royal Society and the Chairman of the Board of the MET office are also True Believers.

Then guess what kind of advice they get from these "advisors"?

Errrrrrrrrrr???

Apr 22, 2011 at 8:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

But I guess he approves of land being used to produce bio-fuels!

Apr 22, 2011 at 8:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

A lesson in: 'If I talk quickly, look concerned, sound really intense, and ignore the obvious (bio fuels), then politicians will listen and the b*ll*cks I spout will be taken seriously..'

Apr 22, 2011 at 9:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

If I grow up I want to be a farmer

Apr 22, 2011 at 9:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

This wil all be sorted out once the earth and the flowers and the birds and the trees, have human rights. You know it is the smart thing to do, isn,t it.
Of course it will mean dismantling the wind turbines to protect the human rights of the birds.

Apr 22, 2011 at 9:13 AM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

pesadia,
Dr John Hadley, of the University of Western Sydney, believes farmers should be forced to negotiate with the legal guardians of Australia's native animals before clearing their land.
“‘Under an animal guardianship system, landholders who want to modify habitat on their land would have to negotiate with a guardian acting on behalf of a designated group of animals,’ Dr Hadley writes.

Who Represents Cock-Robin?


“Who will talk to men?”
“I must,” announced the Southern Emu-Wren,
“I’ll learn English, then swiftly deal with men.”

“Who’ll fight for each inch?”
“I shall,” yelled the threatened, Black-Throated Finch,
“It will be a cinch to fight for each inch.”

“Who’ll give humans hell?”
“I,” claimed the Christmas Island Pipistrelle,
“I’ll do very well at giving men hell.”

“Who’ll make this legal?”
“Well, I, of course,” drawled the Wedge-Tailed Eagle
“I am so regal, I’ll make this legal.”

“Who will bring a suit?”
“I,” declared the Eastern Barred Bandicoot,
“I shall prosecute any legal suit.” ...

Apr 22, 2011 at 9:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterDeadman

Did I hear Beddington say "we've had 20 or 30 years of declining real food prices" ?

A genuine cause for celebration which the likes of Beddington would cause to be undone even if it was not intended.

Apr 22, 2011 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

it cannot be due to plant fertiliser CO2 because that one is correlated to 20% more plant growth (food) globally.

Apr 22, 2011 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered Commenterphinniethewoo

I'm not sure I get this. We've had 20 or 30 years of declining real food prices, which happen to have coincided with rising temperatures. Now we are apparently being faced with rising food prices, which if we believe some scientists are likely to coincide with falling temperatures ... and this is being caused by climate change?

Apr 22, 2011 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

Deadman at 9:37 AM |

Chorus :-

All the birds of the air dropped their feathers and said f*** it
When they heard that Cock Robin had kicked the bucket
When they heard ......

Apr 22, 2011 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterPFM
Apr 22, 2011 at 10:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

Climate Smart Agriculture - isn't that what farmers used to practise before the politicians got involved?

And to put this useful fool's remarks into perspective, we have a rich history in food alarmism. For example:

“By the year 2000…the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America and Australia, will be in famine.”
Peter Gunter, North Texas State University, The Living Wilderness, Spring 1970.

Apr 22, 2011 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterTime Traveller

My reading of history tells me that food production trends in the same general direction as temperatures and the trend for the past decade and the present is flat. Regional droughts and floods are factors that are always with us and have little effect on trends. The only factor currently disturbing food supply is the madness of growing food crops on a large scale to convert to automotive fuel. Sir John has obviously never had even the briefest experience with agriculture or is in need of a big red indiarubber ball to play with in his rubber room. (Apologies to AA Milne.)

Apr 22, 2011 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

http://royalsociety.org/events/nitrous-oxide/

Nitrogen fertiliser- the next bugbear.

Apr 22, 2011 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

He says that food supply is failing!? I've never heard the man speak before and thought there must be at least some sense in him, but it seems clear there is not, he is an idiot of the first order.

Why choose the word "fail" and use it again and again?

In his stream of consciousness drivel, at about a minute in, he says "we have seen 20 or 30 years of declining food prices", is that supposed to be bad? Was that a mistake?

Epic fail.

Apr 22, 2011 at 11:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

The man is a walking bundle of cliches - all of them doom-laden - a perfect choice for the job really!

How about 'climate smart agriculture' (CSA) - just trips off the tongue doesn't it?

I'm expecting to hear a lot more of that one. I wonder which bureaucrat got a huge bonus for dreaming it up?

Apr 22, 2011 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterDougS

".....and the way that climate change is predicted to happen"

Is this confirmation that nothing significant has yet happened to the climate?

Apr 22, 2011 at 12:03 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

I live in the UK and grow a rew veggies in my garden. Last year, after a little bit of spring, the latter part of spring and the early summer was unseasonably cold. As a result quite a few crops that had been planted out either withered and died or fared very poorly. It really was quite a dismal year. So I for one would prefer it to be a little warmer.

Apologies for being OT but there seems to be a trickle of stories emerging here and at WUWT about doomsday predictions that were made over twenty years ago reaching their use-by date. Many of these predictions don't have a specific time frame and so are harder to disprove. Others, however, have given us a definite year when a specific mishap would befall us. A prediction of my own would be that this trickle will eventually become a torrent because as the years tick by, more and more deadlines will pass. Presumably gathering all of them together in one place on the web would make the point rather well that the doomsayers might be wrong.

Apr 22, 2011 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterStonyground

Does he walk on his hands. I mean what bs - never has agriculture been more productive! And should get more fecund, what with that good old CO2 fertilzer!

Apr 22, 2011 at 12:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterLewis Deane

Fascinating - he says we need 40% more food by 2030. The Americans have just used 41% of their corn crop for biofuel. Heaven knows how much the EU is using.

Just stop making biofuel - problem solved!

Apr 22, 2011 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterDizzy Ringo

And just an economic aside, the rise in food prices, as with current rise in all commodity prices, has everything to with the purely monetary policies of the fed and nothing to do with productivity or arability. Compare agricultural products with their exchange with gold.

Apr 22, 2011 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterLewis Deane

There are times when the only appropriate comments are one-word terms of personal abuse directed at the speaker, but out of respect to his grace I'll refrain.

Apr 22, 2011 at 1:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid C

Seems the landed gentry have discovered another revenue teet, get paid to sequester carbon, spread muck, where's there's muck there's money!

Apr 22, 2011 at 1:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrosty

A recent post on WUWT was about the planet greening up due to the increased levels of CO2...so the answer is simple.
Create more Carbon Dioxide and we give ourselves a fighting chance...or am I off message?

Apr 22, 2011 at 3:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterholbrook

What is " food system"?

Apr 22, 2011 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Steiner

It seemed obvious to me that ethanol from food would increase starvation, but a farmer has pretty much convinced me that this is overblown.

1 tonne of corn produces ~350 litres of ethanol, but it also creates about 300 kg of dried distillers grain.
I'm assured by said farmer that feeding DDG to livestock makes them put on twice as much weight as an equal amount of corn feed would.
So making ethanol from corn only uses up about half the food value plus you have extra fuel that reduces the price of fertiliser. The farmer I spoke with blames only high energy costs for food price rises.

Also, another glowing HSI review here.

Apr 22, 2011 at 3:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterFergalR

I'd love to hear Beddington explain how "Climate Smart Agriculture" can square biofuel's intensive use of water, land, chemical fertilizers, deforestation, displacement of small farmers and inflationary pressures on food prices in the developing world, with the issues about which he seems so concerned -- and so self-righteously ignorant. Corn ethanol is a classic example of how eco-government creates more problems than it attempts to solve.

Apr 22, 2011 at 5:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Maloney

I'm not sure I'm following the farmer's point, Fergal...
I appreciate learning about DDG, of which I had been unaware. So the diversion of cornfields into ethanol production is not a total loss from the food chain, but still it's a reduction of 40%. [1 tonne corn producing 300 kg DDG, equivalent to 600 kg corn feed.]

I don't doubt that increasing energy costs are a factor in food price rises, but surely a 40% reduction for the fields which have been converted, must be significant? In that other fields which had previously been devoted to producing crops for humans, must have been diverted to producing animal feed, thereby reducing the supply of corn for people.

Apr 22, 2011 at 5:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

The video was a series of bits edited together. I imagine somebody has edited out the really bad bits and just left in the awful bits. With the country run by brain-dead eco-politicians advised by brain-dead eco-nuts, it is no wonder the country is in an eco-mess.

Apr 22, 2011 at 6:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Time was the idiot offspring joined a regiment or the church. With the decline in both, science now provides the answer, the title and the lifetime support network.

Apr 22, 2011 at 6:29 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

SSAT

Perhaps 'branches of the environmental sciences' might be fairer?

'Science' is, well, a bit sweeping, isn't it?

Apr 22, 2011 at 7:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

My neighbouring farmers come from generations of farmers who have been practising "climate smart agriculture". If they hadn't practised "climate smart agriculture", they would probably have become an endangered species of farmer. I suppose the problem is they never had a good education like Beddington and so never realised what "climate smart agriculture" was all about. Oh the wonders of a good education. I wonder if Beddington has ever seen a farm or met a farmer.

Apr 22, 2011 at 7:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Good lord!.................. Bedo is at it again, sigh... .

Even the graun' gets it:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/mar/20/food-farming

Apr 22, 2011 at 8:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan

Could be he's swallowed this cr*p too..............anyone remember agenda 21?

http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.Print.asp?DocumentID=52&ArticleID=62

Apr 22, 2011 at 8:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan

Sir John is completely committed to sustainability and lives in a daub and wattle cottage in Hyde park. He rowed to Belgium for this interview, commencing his voyage on the Serpentine in 1976.

Apr 22, 2011 at 9:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Ugh. Keep Sir John the hell away from food production, and anything else. What utter hubris from that man. He is the planner's planner. He will fail for the same reason planners have always failed, however well meaning: he cannot know enough to do better than markets. People will die if that man is allowed to dictate how food is grown and where.

Apr 22, 2011 at 9:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterben

I cannot stand the sight of the 'blinder' 'drinks on me' pontificator myself, but to give him his due, here's his slightly more measured Economist Youtube interview on the same topic, but I can only recommend it on a 'send to sleep' rather than 'must watch' rating.-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnhcmWiyWGQ&feature=related

Apr 22, 2011 at 9:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

BBD,

I was not suggesting that all clergy or officers were dim but both institutions needed lifetime recruits that (primarily) did not frighten the horses. What is so different about science in general nowadays?

Apr 22, 2011 at 11:25 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

I don't mind that Sir John is promoting science and seeking more funding for it. I'd be a bit worried if the UK chief scientific advisor didn't do that.

What bothers me more is the astonishingly unscientific way he demands it, and how little he seems to understand about science, and the real problems of political policy and advocacy.

My biggest bugbear is the use of the word "sustainable". This is an unscientific word used by political advocates. It is used by all manner of people to mean all manner of things that they want to get across. The idea that we must not use a resource for fear of using it all up is the stupidest concept on earth. If that happened, we would never use any resource or do anything. Better stop using the sun folks, it might run out of hydrogen.

But his complaints about farming are just ignorant. For example, he wants more investment in science because he is worried about water use and resources. Guess what Sir John? The best recent advance in science to reduce pressure on water use is GM food tech. GM can significantly increase the efficiency of water use by plants, reducing their consumption. This is a scientific advance already made, but we are told we cannot use it because the EU kowtows to unscientific fearmongering by the environmentalists.

So when science produces a solution to the problem that policy advocates like Sir John are pushing down our throats, policy people immediately ban that solution, and then Sir John bleats that we still have a problem.

The answer to his view is simple: Sir John, you are a part of the problem, not a part of the solution.

Apr 23, 2011 at 12:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterSpence

Learning curves can be wondrous once committed upon.

May I suggest that our Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA) break out his PPE and investigate the sewers in and around Leicester Square, then come and talk about food and our ability to feed our fellow man.

Apr 23, 2011 at 2:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

Oh dear, the sainted David Attenborough is at it as well. He told the Daily Mail (here) that "population growth must be stopped", warning of "a perfect storm of population growth, climate change and peak oil production", leading to "insecurity in the supply of food, water and energy".

We're all doomed, I tell you ... doomed.

Apr 23, 2011 at 8:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobin Guenier

So many problems, so little tenure.

Apr 23, 2011 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered Commenterdread0

Sir J*** B***** is a C***

as he clearly has not the foggiest grasp that a necessary condition for increasing food supply is increasing atmospheric CO2.

But he is in good company, as there is not a single British academic in receipt of government research grants who will ever admit that is the case.

Apr 23, 2011 at 12:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterMashed potato

This man is a chump ...a real chump and an embarrasment to the UK scientific community

Apr 23, 2011 at 2:00 PM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

HaroldW,

Regarding corn to ethanol, I only believe that the problem is exaggerated, not that it is non-existent. 40% of the crop is converted, but half of the food value is conserved. Moreover high-protein soya bean - a far less productive crop than corn - does not need to be used to efficiently fatten cattle.

It's far too simplistic when people say that 40% of US corn is burned as fuel. When the knock-on benefits to agriculture are considered it's a much smaller impact.

I'm open to having my mind changed on the subject again :)

Apr 23, 2011 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterFergalR

@ Stonyground, the idea of a website listing upcoming eco-doomsday deadlines is a great one; ideally it would also include missed deadlines from the past (many - most? - of Paul Ehrlich's predictions, for example.) There are some good ones coming up this decade, like Andrew Simms/Prince Charles's "100 months", and probably quite a few that will fall earlier than that. It would be nice to see them all in one place, so that when each dire prediction fails to come to pass, it can be properly commemorated and celebrated.

Apr 23, 2011 at 5:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

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