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#GettingWorse: Global food productivity edition

24 Apr 2024 | Science Notes

According to that renowned climate expert Greta Thunberg, because of climate change “people are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing.” There have been many times in history when there really was famine, if not entire ecosystem collapse, times when people were suffering and dying, such as during the Irish potato famine of 1845 to 1852, or the Finnish famine of 1866-1868 which killed an estimated 15% of the population, or the Persian famine of 1917-1919 that killed 2 million in today’s Iran, or the Great Chinese famine of 1959-1961 by which Mao Zedong relieved himself of some 20 million unwanted fellow citizens, or, well, there are far too many to list but you can see more at Wikipedia here. And you can’t help but notice that they are getting so much less common that outside of a handful of war-torn socialist dictatorships they never happen anymore. It almost seems as if, despite global warming and rising atmospheric CO2, or maybe because of them, there’s a lot more food in the world… because there is. Agricultural productivity started growing after 1961 and really took off around the turn of the century.

According to data from the US Department of Agriculture, the value of agricultural output per worker worldwide, in inflation-adjusted 2015 American dollars, grew like this:

From just $1,686 in 1961 it has grown to $5,076 in 2021, a 3-fold increase. Indeed it’s doubled just since 1996, during the period when climate change has supposedly been at its worst with far worse to come. So every worker in the agricultural industry around the world is now producing twice as much food as the same worker could have produced 30 years ago. If this keeps up we’ll be having an obesity epidemic not a famine. Oh wait. In many places we already are.

The change is probably due to technological and scientific improvements in agriculture, helped along by rising CO2 levels in the air. But whatever the cause, warming obviously didn’t stand in the way. In fact, it probably helped too; try turning down the thermostat in a greenhouse (or the amount of plant food in the air) and see what the plants have to say.

So you are not going to starve. Instead you have your pick of more food than ever before and the big problem is knowing how to say “when”. As with alarmist rhetoric.

3 comments on “#GettingWorse: Global food productivity edition”

  1. People won’t starve because of lack of food production. But they might starve due to lack of fuel to transport that food from where it is produced to where it should be consumed, or whacky government interventions. During Haldomor, hundreds of thousands perished…their crops confiscated by the government and sent elsewhere, with whole villages liquidated for “hiding food supplies”.

  2. Truth here.But to listen to media all you ever hear about is crop failures when they do occassionally occur.And of course it gets blamed on what else...
    man-made climate change.You'll never hear about the revolution in agricultural productivity,even since 1996,where it has doubled as stated above.

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