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Global Warming / Climate Changes Pt. 20

Re: Global Warming / Climate Changes Pt. 20

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Wed 19 Dec 2018, 12:42:01

Tanada, those lands in Northern Canada, Alaska, and Siberia are largely muskeg, which is a form of bog. They form extensive vernal pools each late Spring when the snows melt. Within two months, they are dry enough to walk on, and caribou and other ruminants migrate across them in huge herds. They are then walking on dried sphagnum moss.

YES, you could pump them dry and cultivate the same way the Dutch did, but not without a LOT of grief from the environmental lobby. But understand that even though flat and free of trees, these places are very different from the Great Plains.
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Re: Global Warming / Climate Changes Pt. 20

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Wed 19 Dec 2018, 18:07:09

Back about 1913 or so my father and one of his brothers went on the Canadian wheat harvesters excursion. You got a cheap rate from the rail road, $0.02 per mile if I remember the story correctly, and if you worked enough days you got the same rate home and the wages were well above what was available in Vermont at the time ( often a dollar a day). Unfortunately the cops in Montreal and Quebec city took the opportunity to throw every vagrant and trouble maker in town onto the trains hoping they wouldn't make it back. My father ended up in Moose-jaw Saskatchewan working for two brothers named Black. The Blacks were so disgusted with the vagrants and their inability to work or know anything about horses that the fired all but three men including my father after the first day. ( I don't know if my uncle Chancy was still with him on this farm or had ended up on another ranch. )
Anyway the wheat was being reaped with horse drawn McCormick reapers bound into stooks and bunched together. My fathers job was to drive a hayrack pulled by a team from bunch to bunch where two laborers pitched on the stooks and then haul the load to the steam powered thresher which was being fired by burning the straw in the fire box.
One time one of the workmen speared a rattle snake hiding under a stook with his pitchfork and didn't notice it in his haste to get to the next bunch. with the pitchfork over his shoulder he felt the vibrations from the snake thrashing about and turned his head to find the rattler trying to bite him on the ear. He quit.
The Blacks were making enough money to buy a new car and drive south to Texas for the winter and leave a couple of older hands to winter the herd of about fifty draft horses. I doubt if they survived the price crashes after WW1 or the great depression but they still grow wheat in Moosejaw today only the equipment probably plants and harvests those same acres in hours not days or weeks.
Point being the wheat belt in Canada starts on it's southern boarder and fades off as you progress north with the northern half to one third of each province not profitable and thus not planted. Yields vary from close to 70 bushels per acre on the best land in the south to 17 per acre on the northern fringe of profitability.
Climate change may bring warmer temperatures and more growing degree days but may or may not bring sufficient rainfall etc. needed to move the profitability line north.
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Re: Global Warming / Climate Changes Pt. 20

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Wed 19 Dec 2018, 18:22:10

The problem with non-petroleum fuelled agriculture (versus the animal-powered described above) is productivity. In 1913 and up until the end of the Great Depression each farmer in the USA fed 28 people. With petroleum-powered machines, each farmer feeds on average 288 people in the US, plus however many are fed with food exports. That is at least a 10X enhancement due to farm machinery, etc.

This is why we can't feed the planet without cheap oil. This is why even if oil gets expensive, we still will use it to grow food. This is why after thhe oil peak, people begin to starve. Which should not surprise anyone, because our numbers have grown to where we cannot feed ourselves even today with cheap oil.
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Re: Global Warming / Climate Changes Pt. 20

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Wed 19 Dec 2018, 19:02:31

KaiserJeep wrote:This is why after the oil peak, people begin to starve. Which should not surprise anyone, because our numbers have grown to where we cannot feed ourselves even today with cheap oil.

Depends on where you are. North America ? No problem. Syria or Egypt? It's not looking good.
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Re: Global Warming / Climate Changes Pt. 20

Unread postby dohboi » Thu 20 Dec 2018, 06:49:59

"Climate change may bring warmer temperatures and more growing degree days but may or may not bring sufficient rainfall etc. needed to move the profitability line north."

Thanks for the story/family history, vt. And this, imho, is well put. There are few guarantees, going forward.

KJ, other people have thought about the very real problem you present. Here's one thoughtful piece. It may seem unrealistic, but the future (hell, even the present!) is looking pretty unrealistic, in a variety of ways...

https://centerforneweconomics.org/publi ... n-farmers/
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Re: Global Warming / Climate Changes Pt. 20

Unread postby Tanada » Thu 20 Dec 2018, 12:32:55

dohboi wrote:"Climate change may bring warmer temperatures and more growing degree days but may or may not bring sufficient rainfall etc. needed to move the profitability line north."

Thanks for the story/family history, vt. And this, imho, is well put. There are few guarantees, going forward.

KJ, other people have thought about the very real problem you present. Here's one thoughtful piece. It may seem unrealistic, but the future (hell, even the present!) is looking pretty unrealistic, in a variety of ways...

https://centerforneweconomics.org/publi ... n-farmers/


First off, presumably you looked at the date before you posted it and see the article is from October 2006? I clued in when he started talking about how peak was predicted for 2010, scrolled back up and searched out the date.

Yes, this article is dead in line with what many of us believed in 2005-06, but a decade later I have had my nose rubbed in the fact that all of those predictions turned out to be inaccurate.

Sure as VT said TODAY the climate on the northern edge doesn't support wheat farming. But Wheat is not a particularly northern crop! Barley and Rye are grown in Alaska and Northern Europe for that very reason. does anyone really believe that given a choice between eating rye bread or starving people would starve? The whole reason multigrain wheat/rye bread became common in places like Germany and Poland is the two grains were traditionally sown in the same fields at the same time. In a perfect year half your yield would be from each grain, in hotter drier years you would get more wheat and in cooler wetter years you would get more rye. therefore by sowing the grains together you would get a mixed grain result that would be sufficient to keep your village alive for another year.

And we haven't even mentioned tubers yet! Potato are a truly hardy crop that grow significant food yields in subarctic Canadian zones TODAY.

I maintain that the reason we do not grow significant crops in northern North America is as I stated, the land has not undergone the 'sunk cost' of making it suitable for modern agricultural methods and installation of the infrastructure to move goods and crops in and out.
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Re: Global Warming / Climate Changes Pt. 20

Unread postby Revi » Thu 20 Dec 2018, 14:07:27

KaiserJeep wrote:The problem with non-petroleum fuelled agriculture (versus the animal-powered described above) is productivity. In 1913 and up until the end of the Great Depression each farmer in the USA fed 28 people. With petroleum-powered machines, each farmer feeds on average 288 people in the US, plus however many are fed with food exports. That is at least a 10X enhancement due to farm machinery, etc.

This is why we can't feed the planet without cheap oil. This is why even if oil gets expensive, we still will use it to grow food. This is why after thhe oil peak, people begin to starve. Which should not surprise anyone, because our numbers have grown to where we cannot feed ourselves even today with cheap oil.


I have read that 1/4 of the farm was used just to grow food for the animals and people that worked it. That's another advantage of fossil fuels. It's a hard way to make a living, and getting harder, but it may be the only viable job left!
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Re: Global Warming / Climate Changes Pt. 20

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Thu 20 Dec 2018, 14:49:55

Tanada wrote:............
And we haven't even mentioned tubers yet! Potato are a truly hardy crop that grow significant food yields in subarctic Canadian zones TODAY.

I maintain that the reason we do not grow significant crops in northern North America is as I stated, the land has not undergone the 'sunk cost' of making it suitable for modern agricultural methods and installation of the infrastructure to move goods and crops in and out.

As to the roads to and from the fields they will come as soon as a profitable crop can be grown on those fields. Not all land needs the same amount of sunk cost to put it into production. An acre of Vermont has more rocks then a square mile of Iowa.
You can drain wet ground but you can't make top soil or subsoil that isn't there.
Efforts to make the north more productive would probably always better spent on preserving the fertility of the ground in use in the mid latitudes.
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Re: Global Warming / Climate Changes Pt. 20

Unread postby onlooker » Thu 20 Dec 2018, 15:20:43

"I maintain that the reason we do not grow significant crops in northern North America is as I stated, the land has not undergone the 'sunk cost' of making it suitable for modern agricultural methods and installation of the infrastructure to move goods and crops in and out."
But, then one can quickly assess why. Staples like rice and other grains grow best in mid latitude regions and have been adopted as staple food in much of the world due to being non perishable type food and so ideal
for storage to ride out the non growing season and unforeseen disasters. Secondly, these crops have high yields and calorie content
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Re: Global Warming / Climate Changes Pt. 20

Unread postby dohboi » Thu 20 Dec 2018, 15:32:00

T, I know it was old. That was kind of the point. That KJ was bringing up a problem that people in these kinds of fora have been discussing for years. I would be greatly interested to know what the update of an article like this would look like, as your posts are always thoughtful, and generally well informed.

On the soils of northern parts of North America, though, I have always heard that they were mostly scraped away by glaciers and deposited in what are now the rich fields of Iowa, but also as far north as the southern strip of Canada.

Has that theory been overturned? Can you site some soil science about your claims that land in the north is as fertile as the current grain belt is? And don't you bump up against increasing problems with season length for many crops?
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Re: Global Warming / Climate Changes Pt. 20

Unread postby yellowcanoe » Thu 20 Dec 2018, 16:20:12

Tanada wrote:
When modern economists talk about how 'useless' Canadian and Alaskan and Siberian lands are for agriculture in the warming world of the 21st century they are mostly talking about the fact that because the land was never under cultivation in the past none of the prepratory work needed for modern agriculture has been done yet. Yet all of that potential is right there, for anyone who looks at the whole picture instead of the 6 months to 12 month modern agricultural industrial cycle.


Sorry, I am not buying the suggestion that there is large amounts of land in Canada that could be developed for agriculture. Land to the north of existing farmland in Quebec, Ontario and Prairie provinces is generally the Canadian Shield which is characterized by shallow, nutrient poor soils. Areas within the Canadian Shield that are suitable for agriculture, such as the clay belt in Northern Ontario, have already been developed. One of the tragedies of the development of central Ontario is that 150 years people did not understand that country underlain by Precambrian igneous rock was a poor place to farm despite the fact that the land was then covered by mature forest. The provincial government developed a number of colonization roads into the highlands north of Toronto and west of Ottawa with the intention of opening up the area to agriculture. Those who attempted to farm this land had to contend with an enormous amount of work to clear the land of trees and rocks only to find that the productivity of the land was poor and deteriorated quickly as the few nutrients were used up. Farms were abandoned, especially after the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885 which provided easy access to the vastly superior farmland on the prairies.
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Re: Global Warming / Climate Changes Pt. 20

Unread postby jawagord » Thu 20 Dec 2018, 16:50:41

yellowcanoe wrote:
Tanada wrote:
When modern economists talk about how 'useless' Canadian and Alaskan and Siberian lands are for agriculture in the warming world of the 21st century they are mostly talking about the fact that because the land was never under cultivation in the past none of the prepratory work needed for modern agriculture has been done yet. Yet all of that potential is right there, for anyone who looks at the whole picture instead of the 6 months to 12 month modern agricultural industrial cycle.


Sorry, I am not buying the suggestion that there is large amounts of land in Canada that could be developed for agriculture. Land to the north of existing farmland in Quebec, Ontario and Prairie provinces is generally the Canadian Shield which is characterized by shallow, nutrient poor soils. Areas within the Canadian Shield that are suitable for agriculture, such as the clay belt in Northern Ontario, have already been developed. One of the tragedies of the development of central Ontario is that 150 years people did not understand that country underlain by Precambrian igneous rock was a poor place to farm despite the fact that the land was then covered by mature forest. The provincial government developed a number of colonization roads into the highlands north of Toronto and west of Ottawa with the intention of opening up the area to agriculture. Those who attempted to farm this land had to contend with an enormous amount of work to clear the land of trees and rocks only to find that the productivity of the land was poor and deteriorated quickly as the few nutrients were used up. Farms were abandoned, especially after the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885 which provided easy access to the vastly superior farmland on the prairies.


It won't be new land that goes into production it will be existing land becoming much more productive. Longer growing seasons, warmer night time temperatures (that's 2/3 of global warming), more CO2 in the atmosphere all promote plant growth, higher yielding crops, and multiple crops per growing season. Similar to the way American corn growers have taken advantage of some minor climate shifts, Canadian farmers stand to benefit greatly from global warming if the vast Canadian prairies develop a growing season like southern Ontario.

https://www.insidescience.org/news/how- ... ate-change
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Re: Global Warming / Climate Changes Pt. 20

Unread postby onlooker » Thu 20 Dec 2018, 17:08:46

Actually, several factors work negatively for crops with higher CO2 levels
https://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-plant-food.htm
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Re: Global Warming / Climate Changes Pt. 20

Unread postby Tanada » Thu 20 Dec 2018, 17:33:46

dohboi wrote:T, I know it was old. That was kind of the point. That KJ was bringing up a problem that people in these kinds of fora have been discussing for years. I would be greatly interested to know what the update of an article like this would look like, as your posts are always thoughtful, and generally well informed.

On the soils of northern parts of North America, though, I have always heard that they were mostly scraped away by glaciers and deposited in what are now the rich fields of Iowa, but also as far north as the southern strip of Canada.

Has that theory been overturned? Can you site some soil science about your claims that land in the north is as fertile as the current grain belt is? And don't you bump up against increasing problems with season length for many crops?


I will take the soil depth issue first. Look at this map,
Image
Then compare it with this map,
Image
In theory both maps show exactly the same thing, the regional boundaries of the Canadian Shield with its thinner soils. However anyone looking can clearly discern a vast difference in those boundaries amounting to millions or even tens of millions of acres of land.

Now go back to the first map and notice the broad orangish yellow stripe labeled 'interior plains'. That entire region has the same deep rich soils that stretch from Missouri in the south all the way to the coast of the Arctic Ocean in the north. Today there is very limited infrastructure in that vast region, though Canada has from time to time gone on infrastructure improvement sprees the last one was around World War II when the Alaska Highway was built.

In addition to the 'interior plain' note the green and medium blue regions labeled 'Hudson bay lowlands' and 'arctic lowlands'. These regions tend to have deep but wet soils that in many cases will be below sea level once Greenland melts. However the parts that don't become submerged will be excellent if drained.

As for your question on season length the real answer is that depends on how you define season. If you mean days between March 21 and September 21 that are frost free in a warmer world then you get one answer, but if you mean number of hours of sunlight you get while temperatures are 10C/50F between March and September you get a totally different answer. Because of the curvature of the Earth the day length on any particular date is completely dependent on latitude. The northern end of the broad stripe of 'interior plains' gets nearly continuous sunlight for close to eight weeks every summer, and in a warmer world those eight weeks will be above the threshold temperature for growing many crops like Potato or Barley that have served as food staples for different cultures for thousands of years.

These are in part the reasons I have been stressing the need to get our act together to adapt rather than constantly ringing the bell saying we are all doomed and doing nothing to prepare for a future that will be very different from the present. Much like the issue of the Canadian Shield soil depth, a fact that has been repeated so often that most people accept it as applying to the entirety of Canada without ever pausing to ask just how much land is NOT over the Canadian Shield?

One last thing, the area marked 'Cordillera' are the many mountains and valleys of the Canadian Rockies. These sorts of climate areas are typically used for hunting/fishing/herding livestock rather than raising row crops. Vegan or not it is a fact that most people eat meat, and meat comes from places where row crops are less able to grow for the most part. Sure CAFO operations stink and pollute, but for most of the planet most of the time they are not how meat is produced. They are popular in the USA today because the excess corn and soy production makes feeding cattle grains and beans cheap, but that situation is nothing like permanent. As world population continues to grow demand for corn and beans as human food will keep growing and that will ripple through as increased costs for using those products as cattle feed in CAFO operations.
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Re: Global Warming / Climate Changes Pt. 20

Unread postby jawagord » Thu 20 Dec 2018, 17:53:41

onlooker wrote:Actually, several factors work negatively for crops with higher CO2 levels
https://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-plant-food.htm


You can choose to believe 30 years of crop data assembled in a study published by a reputable science organization or you can get you contrary opinion from a website blog that uses homely analogies like:

However, this "more is better" philosophy is not the way things work in the real world. There is an old saying, "Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing." For example, if a doctor tells you to take one pill of a certain medicine, it does not follow that taking four is likely to heal you four times faster or make you four times better. It's more likely to make you sick.

Every study I have read shows increased plant growth for plants exposed to higher levels of CO2, some studies show a drop in nutrient value, I not disputing that could be the case for some plants, however this problem is solvable by applying fertilizers to get the correct balance for optimal growth and nutrient uptake, which is exactly what most farmers do now.
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Re: Global Warming / Climate Changes Pt. 20

Unread postby onlooker » Thu 20 Dec 2018, 18:45:21

We can talk just about fertile areas in the US or CO2 levels but the Science is pretty clear that warming will have an overall devastating impact on global agriculture. Beyond, the negative effects of destructive weather we have "The World Bank issued an unprecedented warning about the threat to global food supplies in a 2012 report, “Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided.” The Bank noted that the latest science was “much less optimistic” than what had been reported in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 Fourth Assessment report:

These results suggest instead a rapidly rising risk of crop yield reductions as the world warms. Large negative effects have been observed at high and extreme temperatures in several regions including India, Africa, the United States, and Australia. For example, significant nonlinear effects have been observed in the United States for local daily temperatures increasing to 29°C for corn and 30°C for soybeans. These new results and observations indicate a significant risk of high-temperature thresholds being crossed that could substantially undermine food security globally in a 4°C world."
And of course limitations of heat tolerance among many crops



https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/a ... 7207000871

 http://theyearsproject.com/ask-joe/will-climate-change-affect-agriculture-ability-feed-worlds-growing-population/
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Re: Global Warming / Climate Changes Pt. 20

Unread postby GHung » Thu 20 Dec 2018, 19:14:11

Farming in northern Canada currently isn't a big thing.

Yukon and the Northwest Territories agricultural trends

https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/95- ... 10-eng.htm
................................

Oats are the leading crop

Just over one-quarter (25.9%) of all farms in Yukon and the Northwest Territories reported growing field crops. Field crop area increased by 5.4% from 2011 to 1,405 acres in 2016. Although the area seeded with oats declined 36.8% from 2011, it remained the largest field crop (647 acres) in Yukon and the Northwest Territories. Dried field peas increased from no acres in 2011 to 73 acres in 2016.
Total area of land in fruits, berries, and nuts doubles

The total area of land in fruits, berries and nuts increased 104.4% from 2011 to 64 acres in 2016. This area included 9 acres of Saskatoon berries and 7 acres of raspberries.

The greenhouse flower and vegetable production area declined 40.4% from 2011 to 42,043 square feet in 2016. The largest area under glass was dedicated to vegetables, followed by flowers.
Turkey inventory and turkey production increase

Turkey inventory in Yukon and the Northwest Territories increased by 43.1% from 2011 to 289 birds in 2016, with the number of farms reporting turkey inventory doubling to 12 farms.

Turkey production in Yukon and the Northwest Territories increased by 124.2% from 2010 to 5,174 kilograms in 2015. The number of farms reporting turkey production more than tripled to 16.

In terms of livestock, farms reporting cattle accounted for 8.9% of all farms in Yukon and the Northwest Territories, down from 9.4% in 2011. Farms reporting pigs accounted for 18.4% of all farms in Yukon and the Northwest Territories, up from 5.7% in 2011. The number of farms reporting some livestock increased 5.8% to 91.
Poultry and egg farms account for over two-fifths of gross farm receipts in Yukon and the Northwest Territories

Poultry and egg type farms in Yukon and the Northwest Territories generated $4.4 million in gross farm receipts in 2015, accounting for 44.2% of all gross farm receipts.

Overall, the agricultural sector in Yukon and the Northwest Territories generated $10.0 million in gross farm receipts while incurring $8.8 million in operating expenses. On average, for every dollar in sales, farms had 88 cents in expenses in 2015 for an expense-to-receipt ratio of 0.88. This ratio was 0.86 in 2010.

Statistics Canada would like to thank the farming community of Yukon and the Northwest Territories for their participation and assistance in the 2016 Census of Agriculture.
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Re: Global Warming / Climate Changes Pt. 20

Unread postby pstarr » Thu 20 Dec 2018, 19:49:49

GHung wrote:Farming in northern Canada currently isn't a big thing.

I beg to differ :x Alaska has some big (however butt-ugly) cabbages.
Image
"The work of Cabbage Fairies may have helped Steve Hubacek grow the giant cabbage winner at the 2014 Alaska State Fair."
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Re: Global Warming / Climate Changes Pt. 20

Unread postby pstarr » Thu 20 Dec 2018, 19:49:49

GHung wrote:Farming in northern Canada currently isn't a big thing.

I beg to differ :x Alaska has some big (however butt-ugly) cabbages.
Image
"The work of Cabbage Fairies may have helped Steve Hubacek grow the giant cabbage winner at the 2014 Alaska State Fair."

It is a well-known, and oft-repeated fact that 24-hour sunlight can grow a very serious cabbage, known the world-over for it's incredible kraut.
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Re: Global Warming / Climate Changes Pt. 20

Unread postby dissident » Thu 20 Dec 2018, 20:05:18

The soil discussion is detached from reality. Soils in the Arctic and sub-Arctic are more closely related to peat than to prime chernozems. Prime soils form in the correct climactic zones where there is enough rain and warmth for substantial accumulation of carbon in the form of degraded and refractory organic molecules. As noted above, it is also essential to have a clay fraction with diverse mineral make-up (that would entail accumulation from rock erosion over very long periods of time). A few inches of loam and sand over bedrock is not equivalent to a chernozem belt.

Warming and thawing of permafrost will lead to rapid oxidation of the peat-like soils. The carbon will come out as CO2 and CH4 and will not form high quality soils. The notion that agricultural belts will move north is absurd. The soil will not get up and start walking. Perhaps in several thousand years increased biotic activity will leave better soil deposits, but some things will never happen. The repeated glaciation events over Canada have scoured the land of its original soil and deposited it in the USA. This is one of the reasons that the soil in substantial regions is a thin layer of loam and sand over bedrock. The lighter carbon and silt-clay fractions have been plowed away.
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