Climate Alarmists Keep Getting It Wrong on Crop Production

(AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
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One of the most ubiquitous and wrong claims made by the climate crisis obsessed mainstream media is that climate change is harming crop production.


Time and again, these claims turn out to be incredibly misleading or outright refuted by data, leaving me wondering whether journalists actually do any research outside of the narrative of their storyline?

Even a broken clock is right twice a day, but not the mainstream media on crop production.

How many times have we seen articles like this one, from Bloomberg: “Global Warming Making India Vulnerable to Extreme Weather Events,” where the author claims that climate change is “eroding farm productivity,” especially wheat crops, which suffered from recent drought.

Two conditions must exist for this claim to be true. First, weather events like droughts and monsoon rains must be more frequent and/or intense in India, or irregular. Second, wheat production and yields must show a decline. Both conditions are false.

So-called “weather whiplash” has not been proven anywhere it’s been asserted to have happened. Weather constantly changes. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has taken a moderate position on the last few years of relatively dry weather in India. The IMD explains that the monsoon season is in a dry epoch. The Pacific Ocean’s El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is currently emerging from a triple-dipped La Niña, which pushed the scales towards cooler, dryer weather in India.

Shifts in ENSO ocean patterns are natural, impacting weather around the world, but especially in Pacific-bordering nations, and Asia. A negative-phase Indian Ocean Dipole even brings heavy rain to parts of Australia. When combined with the monsoon season, the appearance of wild swings from drought to floods may be more prevalent. These conditions can be exacerbated or moderated, depending on the phase of ENSO.


Because there has been no long-term trend in drought or changing monsoon rain trends in India outside the natural range of variability, the first condition for Bloomberg’s article to be true is falsified.

Concerning the second condition, it takes two seconds to hop on the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) website and take a gander at the crop production and yield statistics for any crop in any country you want to see.

In the case of India’s wheat crop, the results are clear, convincing, and … well, unalarming.

Although not every year produces a bumper crop, wheat yield and production trends are sharply upwards in India since reporting began in the 1960s. Wheat production set new records five times in the past five years for which we have data, and three times for yield during the same period.

One of the key words in the Bloomberg piece is that India is “likely” to see worse weather and crop production, but when should that start, exactly? Last I checked, humans have been emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for more than a hundred years, and warming has been occurring for at least that long as well.

The media make these same, easily fact-checked and falsified claims over and over, from coffee production in Kenya, to tomatoes and rice around the world; any crop that suffers a bad season is immediately and breathlessly deemed a casualty of climate change.

In reality, there are nearly 200 different countries in the world, with all kinds of different crops that can and do suffer from bad years from time to time. In any year, one can always find some crop somewhere in the world that has been damaged by weather during its growing season, probably many. It always has been this way, we just didn’t always have a media hell-bent on attributing everything to the climate change boogeyman.


Show me a 30-year trend of declining crop production and yields and then I might believe climate change is harming crop production. Absent that, any year’s decline for any crop is more accurately attributed to temporarily uncooperative weather conditions, adverse political conditions like war or overregulation, and/or a downturn in agricultural markets.

Linnea Lueken ([email protected]is a research fellow with the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy at The Heartland Institute.


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