There is no animal or plant in the natural world that cannot be used to promote climate Armageddon and its collectivist Net Zero political solution. On Sunday, the WWF, also known as the World Wildlife Fund, started running a series of Wild Isles co-produced propaganda films narrated by Sir David Attenborough on the BBC. These include finely-crafted messages of improbable extinctions culled from computer models.
From the absurd to the ridiculous, we had National Margarita Day recently hijacked by CNN running a story about the ‘climate crisis’ affecting tequila production – a story easily debunked by the news that since 1995, tequila production had increased six-fold, and in four years it had doubled. Now the increasingly unhinged Guardian is giving us its ‘Net Zero, or else the coffee gets it’ story.
According to the newspaper, new research suggests that climate conditions that reduce coffee yields have become more frequent over the past four decades, with rising temperatures from “global heating” likely to lead to ongoing systemic shocks to coffee production globally.
Note the use of the phrase “climate conditions” for what in effect is weather, and the suggestion that it reduces coffee yields. These climate conditions are said to have become more frequent over the last four decades. But one can only read the Guardian for so long. Let us look at actual coffee yields over the last four decades.
Far from declining due to all this weather, yields have show dramatic improvement since at least 1960. Over this period, particularly between 1980-98, temperatures have risen, but there is no sign of “ongoing systemic shocks” to coffee production globally.
Global coffee yields have been a great agricultural success story, along with actual bean production. Like yields, tonnes produced have soared in the last 40 years.
The key Guardian get-out phrase of course is “new research suggests”. The Guardian story was taken from an academic study led by Dr. Doug Richardson, published in PLOS Climate. He told the newspaper that a shift from cool and wet to hot and dry conditions “we’re pretty confident is a result of climate change”.
In fact if the Richardson paper is read, a more nuanced view on coffee and weather over the last 40 years is discovered.
Our results suggest that ENSO [El Niño Southern Oscillation] is the primary mode in explaining annual compound event variability, both globally and regionally. El Niño-like sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean are associated with decreased precipitation and increased temperatures in most coffee regions, and with spatially compounding warm and dry events. This relationship is reversed for La Niña-like signatures.
As it happens, the last 40 years saw three very powerful El Niños occurring in 1982, 1998 and 2016. These pushed temperatures up around the planet, a natural weather oscillation that had nothing to do with any human-caused increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. The current eight-year pause in the satellite temperature record is partly explained by three recent La Niña events.
The vast majority of the world’s coffee is grown with just two species – Arabica and Robusta. Arabica is more sensitive to growing conditions, and requires temperatures around 18-22°C. In the tropics, these are more common in higher elevations. Robusta is less highly prized, has a wider geographical spread and grows between 22°C and 28°C. Richardson claims that human-caused climate change is “expected” to alter the geographical suitability for growing coffee. The area of land suitable for coffee cultivation “may” be reduced by up to 50%.
This is unlikely. For a start, it assumes temperatures will rise significantly, but with global warming running out of steam over the last two decades, this seems unlikely. This is particularly so in the tropics. Historical records show that during periods of global warming, the tropics warm less and temperatures are more stable. In addition, coffee is a versatile crop, and selective breeding has produced varieties that can adapt to lowland conditions with temperatures outside normal growing ranges. If climate should change in any significant way, new coffee farming could switch to more propitious areas.
But where is the fun in explaining all that when Net Zero propagandising is afoot. MIT Emeritus Professor Richard Lindzen is fond of noting that the current climate narrative is absurd, but trillions of dollars paid to many, including “grant-dependent” academics, says it is not absurd. This money pays for a constant drip, drip, nudge, nudge wave of climate scaremongering eagerly promoted by controlling elites seeking to take away personal and economic freedoms under cover of saving the planet.
Chris Morrison is the Daily Sceptic’s Environment Editor.