Climate Change and its Effect on World Food
by Walter Orr Roberts Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, and National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
In February of 1972 earth-orbiting artificial satellites revealed the existence of a greatly increased area of the snow and ice cover of the north polar cap as compared to all previous years of space age observations. Some scientists believe that this may have presaged the onset of the dramatic climate anomalies of 1972 that brought far-reaching adversities to the world’s peoples. Moreover, there is mounting evidence that the bad climate of 1972 may be the forerunner of a long series of less favorable agricultural crop years that lie ahead for most world societies. Thus widespread food shortages threaten just at the same time that world populations are growing to new highs. Indeed, less favorable climate may be the new global norm. The Earth may have entered a new “little ice age”
There are strong signs that these recent climate disasters were not random deviations from the usual weather, but instead signals of the emergence of a new normal for world climates.
If we are, indeed, experiencing a worsening of world climates it is, perhaps, equal in severity to any within the last millenium. The arguments for this view were developed by several of the climatologists who attended an international workshop on climate and its effects on human life convened in May 1974 in Bonn, Germany.
At this meeting Profs. H. Flohn of Germany, H.H. Lamb of the United Kingdom and Reid Bryson of the United States developed a highly persuasive demonstration that there has been a steady cooling of northern hemisphere temperatures during the last 30 years, with the strongest cooling at the higher latitudes.
John Cook reminds us that 97% of scientists now say this cooling never happened.