Tags: Climate Change | Global Warming | freeman dyson | thomas malthus | malthusian

Climate, Eco Hysterics Underestimate Our Ability to Adapt, Survive

Climate, Eco Hysterics Underestimate Our Ability to Adapt, Survive
Gathered protesters outside of the White House in Washington, D.C., just over two months ago, protesting President Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Change Accord. (Susan Walsh/AP)

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Tuesday, 15 August 2017 01:30 PM Current | Bio | Archive

One of the age-old delusions of humanity is an obsession with its own impending destruction. There have been countless episodes in history when people have been beckoned to the mountaintops and advised to prepare for the end. During the 20th century alone the apocalypse was supposed to have arrived owing to Haley’s Comet’s tail, the population bomb, the coming ice age, the end of oil, the Y2K meltdown — and, of course, "climate change."

An enduring stock in this panic-mongering trade is one that is actually based in reality. First promulgated by Thomas Malthus in 1798, there is the genuine concern for how a constantly expanding population should fare living on a planet with finite resources.

Certainly, common sense says there should come a time when the former outstrips the latter with disaster as the result. What Malthusian doomsayers neglect to plug into their calculations though is something that can’t be foreseen with any crystal ball — the ingenuity of the human race. Indeed, there should be no way, as now, to support 7 billion people on Earth.

It should have been impossible to feed even a fraction of that number beginning centuries ago. Mankind’s exploration and adaptability however brought the potato, for example, into the world’s larder at a crucial juncture in history. It’s estimated that one out of every four people alive today wouldn’t exist but for this lowly yet indispensible staple. Hybrids, strains and botanical inventiveness with corn and many other foodstuffs also have beaten back the scourge of starvation.

One of the greatest single advances against famine was accomplished only recently. There is only enough fixed nitrogen produced on Earth (by lightning, certain micro-organisms, etc.) to support roughly half the world’s population. There are 37 trillion cells in the human body, and each of them possesses 23 pairs of chromosomes, the DNA of which can’t be constructed without fixed nitrogen.

Fritz Haber, working to aid the German arms industry just prior to World War I, devised the epoch-changing Haber process to pull seemingly limitless nitrogen out of the air and convert it to ammonia in factories for explosives or — fertilizers. Half of the fixed nitrogen in the average person’s chromosomes was cooked up artificially. Without the Haber process Earth’s population could never have tipped 3.5 billion.

The hysterics merchants currently foretelling global warming end-days don’t seem much interested in what it takes to feed billions though. Hardly a word is heard about how famine should be kept at bay, while there is a constant cacophony of handwringing about the mythical 60 million "climate-change refugees" that should be wandering the Earth in 2050.

We should indeed be looking forward to 2050, when the world’s agricultural output will need almost double if it is going to satisfy the population increase that will be upon us in only 33 years. It is certainly reasonable to worry about what new wonder staple like the potato or miracle development such as Herr Haber’s is going to step forward and save the day once again.

One of the greatest living physicists on the planet has pointed to a dynamic which he believes can help avert a real food shortage in the near-future, and by an astonishing coincidence it’s the very process we’ve been harangued into believing to be the means of our supposed demise: the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. Freeman Dyson (of Dyson spheres fame, colleague of Einstein at Princeton) has noted that a "great blooming" is occurring presently.

The average middle school student is aware that all crops are the result of photosynthesis, and that every mouthful of sustenance, one way or the other, depends on the science of combining sunlight, carbon dioxide and water to create foodstuffs. Decrease any of those components and there is less food; increase them and the result is more.

Dr. Dyson explains that crops growing in an environment suffused with increased CO2 produce more abundant harvests due to stronger photosynthetic effects. The carbon emissions mankind has built up in the atmosphere over the last two centuries can be converted into a profusion of agricultural yields never seen before. In effect, higher carbon dioxide levels facilitates greater food production.

Of course, Freeman Dyson may be wrong. That is certainly the opinion of those who propose that climate deniers be jailed for even daring to attempt debating their indisputable point of view. Yet if and when eco-activists turn out to be mistaken, it’s the poorest on Earth and not well-fed savants who will pay the price for the world’s attention being diverted for decades toward yet another end-days chimera — just the next in line after hundreds before — and away from the real and present specter of potential approaching malnutrition on an epic scale.

David Nabhan is a science writer, the author of "Earthquake Prediction: Dawn of the New Seismology" (2017) and three previous books on earthquakes. Nabhan is also a science fiction writer ("Pilots of Borealis," 2015) and the author of many scores of newspaper and magazine op-eds. Nabhan has been featured on television and talk radio all over the world. His website is www.earthquakepredictors.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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DavidNabhan
When eco-activists turn out to be mistaken, it’s the poorest on Earth and not the well-fed who will pay the price for the world’s attention being diverted toward yet another end-days chimera, and away from the real specter of potential approaching malnutrition.
freeman dyson, thomas malthus, malthusian
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2017-30-15
Tuesday, 15 August 2017 01:30 PM
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