Drought in China adds pressure to world food prices

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:49 AM GMT on February 23, 2011

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The soil lies cracked and broken in China's Shangdong Province, thirsting for rains that will not come. China's key wheat producing region, lying just south of Beijing, has received just 12 millimeters (1/2 inch) of rain since September, according to the Chinese news service Xinhua. If no rains come during the remainder of February, it could become the worst drought in 200 years. The latest precipitation forecast from the GFS ensemble model predicts the possibility of rains of around 1/2 inch for Shandong Province early next week, but these rains would help only a little. A longer-range 2-week forecast from the operational GFS model shows little or no rain for the region from late next week well into March. Columbia University's International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) projects that spring in Eastern China has an enhanced probability of being dry, with only a 20% - 25% chance that the region will see above average precipitation, and a 40% - 45% chance of below average precipitation. So the great drought will likely continue, and China's ability to feed itself may be greatly challenged this year.


Figure 1. A dried cornfield in a mountainous area of Jinan, capital of east China's Shandong Province, Jan. 18, 2011. Image credit: Xinhua/Zhu Zheng.


Figure 2. Drought conditions in China's Shandong Province this February have reached the "Severe" category. Image credit: Beijing Climate Center.

Impact on global food supplies and food prices
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the drought in north China seems to be putting pressure on wheat prices, which have been rising rapidly in the past few months. This has helped push global food prices to their highest levels since the FAO Food Price Index was created in 1990 (Figure 3.) China is the world's largest producer of wheat, and if they are forced to import large amounts of food due to continued drought, it could severely impact world food prices. However, the FAO's regional representative for Asia and the Pacific said in an interview with Reuters last month that the situation is not as severe as in 2008, when global food riots erupted. "In general, the supply/demand situation of food grains has become very tight at the moment but enough stocks means there is no cause for alarm," Konuma said. "We still maintain sufficient stocks, which is about 25 percent of annual production. As long as there are sufficient stocks, that means the world has enough food still to feed the people." However, he said that if food stocks continued to decline over the next few years, there would be cause for concern.

The record food global food prices have been partially driven by two other huge weather disasters, the Russian summer heat wave and drought of 2010, and the Australian floods of December - January 2011. Both Russia and Australia are major exporters of grain. Russia issued a ban last summer on grain exports because of their drought, which slashed the wheat harvest by 40% and damaged soils to such an extent that 10% of Russian wheat fields could not be planted this year. The Russian heat wave of 2010 is now estimated by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters to be the deadliest in human history, with 55,736 deaths. The Australian floods caused at least $1.7 billion in agricultural damage, reducing their wheat crop significantly. Fortunately, bumper crops were harvested in non-flooded areas of Australia, and the winter crop harvest in country was up 19% over the previous year's crop, and was the biggest since 2003 - 2004. Australia has been struggling with severe drought in recent years that caused more agricultural damage than the floods did.


Figure 3. The global price of food between 1990 - January 2011, as measured by the U.N.'s FAO Food Price Index. The FAO Food Price Index is a measure of the monthly change in international prices of a basket of food commodities. It consists of the average of price indices for Cereals, Oils and Fats, Sugar, Dairy, and Meat, weighted by the average export shares of each group. Food prices between 2002 - 2004 are given a benchmark value of "100". Global food prices in January 2011 were the highest since the FAO Index was established in 1990. Image credit: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Drought outlook for Northern Hemisphere summer of 2011
The spike in global food prices this winter raises the concern that a severe drought in a major grain producing region in North America, Europe, or Asia this summer could severely impact grain supplies and food prices. Fortunately, with La Niña conditions over the Eastern Pacific weakening, and possibly abating by summer, the chances for such a drought are lower than they would have been if La Niña were to stay strong into the summer. The latest precipitation forecast from Columbia University's International Research Institute for Climate and Society (Figure 4) shows few areas of drought concern for the coming Northern Hemisphere summer. However, our skill at predicting drought months in advance is limited. For example, IRI's February 2010 forecast of precipitation for the summer of 2010 did not highlight Russia as an area of possible concern for drought, and Russia ended up having one of its worst droughts in history. IRI did highlight the Amazon as a region likely to have below-average summer rains, though, and the Amazon ended up having a 100-year drought last summer.


Figure 4. Global precipitation forecast for June, July and August of 2011, made in February 2011. Only a few scattered regions of the globe are predicted to have above-average chances of drought (yellow colors.) These areas include the Northwest U.S., Southern Brazil, and Northwest China. Image credit: International Research Institute for Climate and Society

Commentary
The recent unrest in the Middle East, which has been attributed, in part, to high food prices, gives us a warning of the type of global unrest that might result in future years if the climate continues to warm as expected. A hotter climate means more severe droughts will occur. We can expect an increasing number of unprecedented heat waves and droughts like the 2010 Russian drought in coming decades. This will significantly increase the odds of a world food emergency far worse than the 2007 - 2008 global food crisis. When we also consider the world's expanding population and the possibility that peak oil will make fertilizers and agriculture much more expensive, we have the potential for a perfect storm of events aligning in the near future, with droughts made significantly worse by climate change contributing to events that will cause disruption of the global economy, intense political turmoil, and war.

I will be doing another post on Thursday or Friday.

The New York Times' Andy Revkin in his Dot Earth Blog has a more in-depth look at the food and climate change issue that I recommend.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting an MSNBC article on the NewZealand Earthquake: JP Morgan analyst Michael Huttner conservatively estimated the insurance losses at $12 billion. That would be the most from a natural disaster since Hurricane Ike hit Texas and Louisiana in 2008, costing insurers $19 billion, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
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Def my,...Fav last Month.

Bill introduced to block global warming regulations

Published: Monday, January 31, 2011


From staff reports

In a move aimed at blocking the Obama administration’s global warming regulations, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, today introduced a bill to prohibit federal agencies from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

“The American people have spoken and cap-and-trade legislation is dead, but unfortunately President Obama and his band of regulators haven’t gotten the message,” said Myron Ebell, president of Freedom Action, a conservative group opposed to regulations aimed at addressing climate change.

“Sen. Barrasso’s bill clears the deck and puts Congress back in charge of our energy and global warming policies,” said Ebell. “Our hope is that a similar bill will be introduced in the House and moved rapidly out of committee to a floor vote.”

“Regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, using the Clean Air Act and other laws not designed for the purpose, is strangling investment in the economy and destroying jobs,” Ebell explained. “Enactment of Sen. Barrasso’s bill is the largest single step the Congress could take to restore the American economy to a path of robust long-term growth. Freedom Action supports enactment of Sen. Barrasso’s bill.”

The measure would overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and safety and that the EPA should regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and industrial facilities using the Clean Air Act.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129844
Liquification after the earthquake.

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The banks get your home, get compensated by the government for "losses" on their books; have bilked their investors, and still get to keep the real estate. Deregulation at work.
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Selling your home??? Better sell now, for whatever you get... And if you're in the S/E coast, before Hurricane season....


Home prices fall 4.1%, near 2009 lows - cnnmoney

Les Christie, staff writer, On Tuesday February 22, 2011, 2:02 pm

Home prices took a big hit at the end of 2010, even as the rest of the economy gained steam.
National home prices fell 4.1% during the last three months of 2010, compared with 12 months earlier, according to the latest report from the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index, a closely watched indicator of market trends. They were down 1.9% compared with three months earlier.
"Despite improvements in the overall economy, housing continues to drift lower and weaker," said David Blitzer, spokesman for S&P.

And things may get a lot worse, said Robert Shiller, a Yale economist and half of the Case-Shiller team, in a web conference after the report's release.

"There's a substantial risk of home prices falling another 15%, 20% or 25% more," he said.

More.... Link
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Hi Sunlinepr,
Yes, and the middle-class-to-poor American Republican is still adamant that we need to continue to give tax breaks to the rich so they'll stimulate the economy. If we take away their breaks we'll all go down the tubes. They've gotten away with selling that bill of goods for at least the past 25 years.
Meanwhile, we are firing teachers because they cost too much.
Not everyone gets health care because it costs too much.
If you counted up the tax breaks, there would be enough to pay for those teachers and the affordable medical care that everyone needs. Maybe there would be enough left to create some training programs. And how about incentives for paying a living wage rather than sending the jobs overseas where you pay third world wages? What a mess.
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Quoting Patrap:
Fair and Balanced confirms.

Indiana Deputy AG Fired Over Wisconsin Tweet

Updated: Wednesday, 23 Feb 2011, 5:30 PM CST
Published : Wednesday, 23 Feb 2011, 5:30 PM CST

(NewsCore) - A deputy attorney general in Indiana was fired Wednesday after he tweeted that police should "use live ammunition" against labor union protesters in Wisconsin, The Indianapolis Star reported.

The controversy first erupted Saturday, after staffers at the liberal magazine Mother Jones tweeted a report that riot police might clear protesters out of the Wisconsin Capitol building. In response, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Cox -- using the Twitter account JCCentCom -- tweeted, "Use live ammunition."

That guy's nuts--but perhaps no nuttier than Rep. Bobby Franklin of Georgia.

Out of control...
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91W

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129844
Quoting Patrap:
Lordy,,..

Sheesh

Today 3:07 PM Indiana Official Loses Job Over 'Live Ammunition' Comments

The Indiana Deputy Attorney General who tweeted in favor of using "live ammunition" on the Wisconsin protesters has since lost his job, TPM reports:

"We respect individuals' First Amendment right to express their personal views on private online forums, but as public servants we are held by the public to a higher standard, and we should strive for civility," the Attorney General's office said in a statement.
What an idiot. About the only worse thing he could have said was "I hate teachers."
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Quoting Patrap:
Going to California..with the Koch Brothers, in my Heart



great song
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Phunny,the Caller had 20 Minutes of the Gub's time.

Shame the Opposition or the People cant get 5-10.

Go fig'ya?
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Link





member max. est. net worth
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) $451.1 million
Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) $435.4 million
Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) $366.2 million
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) $294.9 million
Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) $285.1 million
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) $283.1 million
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) $231.2 million
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) $201.5 million
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) $136.2 million
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) $108.1 million
combined net worth: $2.8 billion
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TC Carlos

Rainbow Image


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129844
Quoting scott39:
Politicians on both sides are corrupt. What the prankster did was not honorable! If it would have been a Democrat, I would have felt the same way. Im a moderate Democrat/Independent, although I called that conversation like I see it. He thought it was a private conversation with someone he thought he knew. I would not have wanted to hear President Bush's coversation no more than I would want to hear President Obama's or anybody elses for that matter.
The most adult comment on here in quite a while...
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DOOM!!
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Going to California..with the Koch Brothers, in my Heart
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129844
Quoting weatherboy1992:

Walker didn't pick up on it because he's a corrupt idiot.

And it's fair to do this. Walker is a public official. He's the governor of Wisconsin for God's sake. It was Walker's choice to accept the call. Walker's choice to ramble on for 20 minutes. Walker's choice to laugh about accepting a Koch-Brothers-paid junket to California. Walker's choice to brag and laugh about laying off "5000-6000, maybe more" workers. Workers in the middle class. Breadwinners for families.

Yes, sending thousands of middle Maybe funny to some people. Sick people. But not to me.

If conservatism is really an honorably philosophy then conservatives should call for Walker's impeachment. If conservatives do not call for his impeachment it is proof that conservatism at it's core is a corrupt philosophy.

Politicians on both sides are corrupt. What the prankster did was not honorable! If it would have been a Democrat, I would have felt the same way. Im a moderate Democrat/Independent, although I called that conversation like I see it. He thought it was a private conversation with someone he thought he knew. I would not have wanted to hear President Bush's coversation no more than I would want to hear President Obama's or anybody elses for that matter.
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Jeffrey Cox -- using the Twitter account JCCentCom -- tweeted, "Use live ammunition."


JCCentcom ?

LOL

No ego there,

"Joint Chief Central Command"

or "Jesus Christ Central Command"

You DECIDE

LOL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129844
Fair and Balanced confirms.

Indiana Deputy AG Fired Over Wisconsin Tweet

Updated: Wednesday, 23 Feb 2011, 5:30 PM CST
Published : Wednesday, 23 Feb 2011, 5:30 PM CST

(NewsCore) - A deputy attorney general in Indiana was fired Wednesday after he tweeted that police should "use live ammunition" against labor union protesters in Wisconsin, The Indianapolis Star reported.

The controversy first erupted Saturday, after staffers at the liberal magazine Mother Jones tweeted a report that riot police might clear protesters out of the Wisconsin Capitol building. In response, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Cox -- using the Twitter account JCCentCom -- tweeted, "Use live ammunition."
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129844
Lordy,,..

Sheesh

Today 3:07 PM Indiana Official Loses Job Over 'Live Ammunition' Comments

The Indiana Deputy Attorney General who tweeted in favor of using "live ammunition" on the Wisconsin protesters has since lost his job, TPM reports:

"We respect individuals' First Amendment right to express their personal views on private online forums, but as public servants we are held by the public to a higher standard, and we should strive for civility," the Attorney General's office said in a statement.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129844
Quoting weatherboy1992:

Walker didn't pick up on it because he's a corrupt idiot.

And it's fair to do this. Walker is a public official. He's the governor of Wisconsin for God's sake. It was Walker's choice to accept the call. Walker's choice to ramble on for 20 minutes. Walker's choice to laugh about accepting a Koch-Brothers-paid junket to California. Walker's choice to brag and laugh about laying off "5000-6000, maybe more" workers. Workers in the middle class. Breadwinners for families.

Yes, sending thousands of middle Maybe funny to some people. Sick people. But not to me.

If conservatism is really an honorably philosophy then conservatives should call for Walker's impeachment. If conservatives do not call for his impeachment it is proof that conservatism at it's core is a corrupt philosophy.

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Other graphs in that article...

Link





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Separate but unequal: Charts show growing rich-poor gap
By Zachary Roth zachary Roth 1 hr 23 mins ago

The Great Recession and the slump that followed have triggered a jobs crisis that's been making headlines since before President Obama was in office, and that will likely be with us for years. But the American economy is also plagued by a less-noted, but just as serious, problem: Simply put, over the last 30 years, the gap between rich and poor has widened into a chasm.
Gradual developments like this don't typically lend themselves to news coverage. But Mother Jones magazine has crunched the data on inequality, and put together a group of stunning new charts. Taken together, they offer a dramatic visual illustration of who's doing well and who's doing badly in modern America.
Link

A huge share of the nation's economic growth over the past 30 years has gone to the top one-hundredth of one percent, who now make an average of $27 million per household. The average income for the bottom 90 percent of us? $31,244.

Link

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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