New Model Finds Sea Level Rise by 2100 Could Be Triple That Predicted by IPCC
smart Showing Next-Generation fortwo electric drive at Detroit

Summer Temperatures for Second Half Of Century Projected to Exceed Current Records, Contribute to Food Insecurity

by Jack Rosebro

Likelihood, in percentage, that regional average summer  temperatures during (a) 2040—2060 and (b) 2080—2100 will exceed the  highest average summer temperatures on record for those regions from  1900 to 2006. Source: David S. Battisti, Department of Atmospheric  Sciences, University of Washington and Rosamond L. Naylor, Program on  Food Security and the Environment, Stanford University. Click to enlarge.

A report published this week in Science[1] compares the effects of two significant heat-induced disruptions of food production from recent history with projected effects of temperature increases up to and including the latter half of this century. The study finds that there is a greater than 90% likelihood that by 2080-2100, growing season temperatures will exceed even the most extreme seasonal temperatures recorded in the last century for the majority of the world’s tropics and subtropics, exposing an area with a current population of more than three billion people to food insecurity.

David Battisti of the University of Washington and Rosamond Naylor of Stanford University compared two historically significant examples of severe heat-induced crop decline—France in 2003 and the Ukraine in 1972—to average temperatures for more than a century. They found that climatological daily high temperatures from June to August were approximately 2-4 ºC higher in France and 3-5 ºC higher in the Ukraine than each region’s 1900-2006 average for those months. They then extrapolated the historical effects of the two events onto 23 climate models for the remainder of the 21st century.

European Grain Production and the Heat Wave of 2003

Record daytime and nighttime temperatures throughout the 2003 summer growing season in parts of Western Europe caused many crops to develop prematurely, entering into grain filling stages during insufficient soil moisture conditions. EU-15 maize and fodder production fell by 20%, with fodder production reduced by 60% in France alone.[2] Fruit harvests were reduced by a quarter, and wheat harvests in France declined by more than 20% even though wheat had almost completely matured prior to the upswing in temperatures. Agricultural water consumption also rose significantly. Approximately 35,000 Europeans died from heat stress in 2003, with just under 15,000 dying in France during a three-week period.[3]

The extreme temperatures of 2003 also disrupted energy systems in France. In some regions, river water levels dropped so low that nuclear reactors, which use river flows for cooling, had to be shut down, while six others-Saint-Alban (Isère), Golfech (Tarn-et-Garonne), Cruas (Ardèche), Nogent-sur-Seine (Aube), Tricastin (Drôme), and Bugey (Ain)-were unable to maintain cooling water discharge temperatures below legal limits.[4]

Glaciers in the European Alps lost an average of about 3 meters water equivalent, which was almost twice as much as during the previous record year of 1998 and roughly five times more than the average loss of 0.65 meters per year recorded during the exceptionally warm period of 1980 to 2000. The global financial impact of summer 2003 heat, drought, and forest fires in France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Hungary, Estonia and Slovakia has been estimated at €13.1 billion (US$17.6 billion).

Ukrainian Wheat Production and the Drought of 1972

The Ukraine wheat crisis of 1972, a product of low winter snow levels and temperatures coupled with summer drought and high temperatures, triggered disruptions in the world cereal market and a tripling of wheat prices during an otherwise steady half-century decline in prices following the Second World War. A 1976 review of the Ukranian food crisis noted that “it is also noteworthy that, on occasion, poor conditions for food production occur concomitantly at several places over the globe.[5] Drought in the Sahel and El Niño conditions off Peru impacted food production in those regions in 1972.

High temperatures and low precipitation also cut Ukrainian wheat production by 70% in 2003 and effectively cancelled most of its wheat exports for the year. According to the USDA, weather continues to be the “chief determinant” in Ukraine wheat yields, which recently declined for three years running before rebounding in 2008.

In both cases studied by Battisti and Naylor, observed heat-induced declines in food production were found to be consistent with crop model results reviewed in last year’s US Department of Agriculture (USDA) report The Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture, Land Resources, Water Resources, and Biodiversity.[6] (Earlier post.) That report, which drew on research from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) as well as USDA, concluded that even under the most optimistic CO2 emission scenarios, North American ecosystems “are likely to be pushed increasingly into alternate states with the possible breakdown of traditional species relationships, such as pollinator/plant and predator/prey interactions, adding additional stresses and potential for system failures.”

The USDA report further noted that while some agricultural and forest systems may experience short-term increases in productivity, “many such systems are likely to experience overall decreases in productivity that could result in economic losses, diminished ecosystem services, and the need for new, and in many cases significant, changes to management regimes” over the long term.

Battisti and Naylor also make mention of the Sahel, a semiarid and agriculturally precarious belt of land spanning Africa between the Sahara and the savannah belt below it, noting that “new bounds of heat stress will make the region’s population far more vulnerable to poverty and hunger-related deaths, and will likely drive many people out of agriculture altogether, thus expanding migrant and refugee populations.” A report last year by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana Madariaga[7] (earlier post) found that climate change could become a “threat multiplier” to European security and migration policy, with increasing drought, water scarcity and land overuse in North Africa and the Sahel leading to a loss of three-quarters of arable, rain-fed land, and resulting in significant migration.

Historical regional food shortages in France, the Ukraine, and the Sahel were offset by the availability of food from surrounding regions as well as the eventual subsiding of unusual temperatures. “The future, however, could be entirely different,” write the researchers.

If growing season temperatures by the end of the twenty-first century remain chronically high and greatly exceed the hottest temperature on record throughout the much of the world, not just for these three examples, then global food security will be severely jeopardized unless large adaptation investments are made.

History provides some guide to the magnitude and effects of high seasonal averaged temperature projected for the future. Ignoring climate projections at this stage will only result in the worst form of triage.

—Battisti and Naylor (2009)

[1] David S. Battisti and Rosamond L. Naylor, Historical warnings of future food insecurity with unprecedented seasonal heat. In Science,volume 323, number 5911, 9 January 2009
[2] COPA-COGECA: Assessment of the impact of the heat wave and drought of the summer 2003 on agriculture and forestry. September 2003
[3] P. Pirard et al.: Summary of the mortality impact assessment of the 2003 heat wave in France. Eurosurveillance, 1 July 2005
[4] A. De Bono, et al.: Impacts of summer 2003 heat wave in Europe. United Nations Environment Programme, March 2004
[5] Reginald E. Newell, Minoru Tanaka, and Bijoy Misra, Department of Meteorology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Climate and Food Workshop: A Report. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Volume 57, No. 2, February 1976
[6] Peter Backlund et al.: The effects of climate change on agriculture, land resources, water resources, and biodiversity in the United States. US Department of Agriculture, May 2008
[7] Javier Solana: Climate change and international security. Council of the European Union, 3 March 2008.


Stan Peterson

More blather, goo, and drivel.

Your Global Warming scares only insult the minds of any rational being now. The qualitative thesis from the 19th century, has been made, over-hyped for political reasons, tested, and is now throughly and totally dis-proven, by 21st Century quantitative Science.

Why do you publish such tripe?


Why do you write such tripe, Stan? You appear to live in some surreal fantasy land. Thoroughly and totally disproven? By who?


"By who?"

By dead Presidents of course.
All the oil companies have to do is throw some money around and sure enough some guy with a PHD in electrical engineering or metallurgy will show up with 'proof' AGW was never a problem.


Well I was curious if that's the kind of thing stan takes as proof but all he does is make sweeping statements without backing anything up so you can't really tell.

I should ignore him I guess but people who are so fervently anti science and who willfully and persistently spread disinformation as much he does puzzle me.


My personal belief is that Mrs Stan Peterson is a Texan member of the Bush administration who has stake in the oil industry. In clear too many hopeless retardations in a single and same person.

Anyway this paper look strange to me, their map shows most increase of temperature near the equador when my understanding was that the global warming should lead to more temperature elevation near the poles. But maybe I am missing something



You are missing something. The maps don't show an "increase in temperature."

Read the caption. It shows a 'likelihood' [in percentages] that the 'regional' average summer temperature will the current records for those regions.

Plus these maps only show colour change on LAND [the Arctic is an ocean], and don't even show Antarctica. Why not? Well, this article IS about "heat-induced disruptions of food production" so...

R52525 We5sbr5ch

>Scatter barain

I personally liked the Y2k hype better... I programmed computers at the time and had endless chuckles listening to countless bamboozled panickers.

Stan is, in my opinion, right about his questioning why this piece is on this forum. I have questioned the selection of topics in the past. I would really like to know more about the new administration's outlook on diesel and biodiesel, ethanol and tariffs, Jatroba,..... etc. etc...



PRAVDA is reporting that we're actually on the verge of a global ice age!


If I may offer another comment made on a well-filled belly, but without such boldness that comes from beverages made from fermented grain, I would observe that the nature of some of the above comments may reflect how foreboding such a forecast is. It certainly does not bode well for the future, to include Future Farmers of America and the COB (Cruise On Booze) crowd.

Keep the tripe coming, Jack, we can use it in the anaerobic digesters.


@ R52525 We5sbr5ch
WTF does Y2K have to do anything here?

you're quoting PRAVDA and expect to be taken seriously. Nigga Puleeeze.

by all means keeping pushing the methane between your cheeks.

Andrey Levin

It is not hot weather produces drought. It is drought produces abnormally hot weather. This fact is well known to any first-year student in meteorology. Ever wondered why temperature drops precipitously after rain?

Same logical fallacy as increase in CO2 warms the climate: it is warmer climate produces more CO2 in the air.

Rather primitive lies, unfortunately believed by many.


Actually it is both: warmer climate produces more CO2 in the air and the increase in CO2 farther warms the climate. The climate doesn't need us adding to the first step by burning fossil fuels.


Jack Rosebro should not be "blamed" for these articles as he is a qualified creative writer trained in the arts.

Jack Rosebro is the founder of Perfect Sky, a company that helps public and private-sector transportation industry clients explore the adoption of innovative, low-emission technologies. He is also a writer and technical advisor to Green Car Congress, a leading news source on sustainable mobility. Jack is interested in accelerating the adoption of science-based principles of sustainability at community, corporate, and individual levels. He graduated from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.


The fascinating thing about issues of climate change is that:
it does not matter whether or not society is disrupted by any of the 'symptoms' of the factors said to be part of the climate change discussion, the assumed costs are already being entered into the Underwriter tables and that, in general, insurance premiums are going to require higher payments in the coming 5 - 10 years. At that point, the risk factors will be reassessed. Insurance premiums affect all sectors of society and influence how investments, purchases, and valuations are undertaken. Whether you believe that society needs to change to meet our future, it is financially 'happening' anyway - the question is: can you afford to maintain your current lifestyle with the increasing costs?


I often wonder whether people are just to jaded to care about the predicted physical outcomes of any long-term changes in climate. What would one in the first world consider a large enough disaster 'hypothetically' to start being proactive in their choice of lifestyle.
If a person could be convinced that a 3m rise in water over a 10 year period (for example) would produce an increase in all life costs (food, shelter, etc.) of 50% due to shortages and other disruptions, is that a scary enough scenario (hypothetically)? Perhaps the most worrying thing is that some people feel that unless they wake up and they're practically flooded out of their home, they refuse to acknowledge any disruption as being sufficient to undertake lifestyle change - a naive and worrying bunch to be sure. Perhaps they are so sure of their own survival (or welcome the change) in a post-apocalyptic world. Perhaps people believe that we can engineer the world faster than it can change? It would be interesting, rather than asking who believes that climate change is happening, what level of adversity (in the form of a worldwide calamity) would cause people to significantly adjust their lifestyles? Imminent death to themselves and family only? Long term loss of use of their land? Mass and panicked movement of populations around the country? Considering the apathy during Katrina, it would be interesting to metric people's values.



you walk down a very crooked road in expecting behavioral change to come from catastrophe alone. Some of human's greatest change has come by silent revolution. Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King for example. Change is merely a sensationalized word (today) for adaptation. People and societies adapt to environment and external influences all the time without need for catastrophic upheaval.

Try as some have to intimidate people into altering their "lifestyle" to meet their criterion - they stand on wobbly legs today. The damage to credibility may be irreversible.

Prudent, sober people recognize that the threat of armed conflict financed by petroleum addiction is a far greater motivator than the melting of Greenland's glaciers. And great strides have been and are being taken to address that addiction.

Sometimes we pick the wrong horse to back. The mark of those of humanitarian "lifestyle" is to admit the mistakes... and move on.


>Perhaps the most worrying thing is that some people feel that unless they wake up and they're practically flooded out of their home, they refuse to acknowledge any disruption as being sufficient to undertake lifestyle change - a naive and worrying bunch to be sure.<

What I find worrying is that for some people not even disaster is enough for them to change. Heavy rains and melting snow in and around my local has caused flooding and landslides over the last few days; the news is full of stories about victims. And yet none of them are talking about change, its all 'we will rebuild' and 'I've been flooded out before.'


@ sulleny:

I make no personal opinion on the climate change debate/discussion. I try only to put out possibly ideas of what goes on in people's minds when confronted with 'notions' that are being put out by the media, government, scientists, and members of the public. What else makes people choose one side over the other? I find the psychological aspects of it fascinating and this seems to be one of the more interesting forums occasionally debating the subject.

If my questions make you uncomfortable, you need to asses your own values for I make no judgments and you are assuming biases in me that do not exist. Politics, science, and proactive attitudes are all put forth as arguments, some more compelling than others. Asking hypothetical questions does not indicate opinions either way.
Saying: "... Prudent, sober people recognize...", as you did, itself indicates an emotional bias on your part - its okay. Its only human.

If my personal opinions are to be known (which i try to avoid): i believe that there is a potential world-altering, long-term environmental problem and that the shear overwhelming engineering ingenuity of humanity will overcome it, if allowed to, without any significant need for lifestyle change (conservation) that is typically advocated. The only unknown (though crucial, of course) is the timing. Otherwise, I care not for armed conflict nor energy security nor gas prices.


I am further interested to know how people believe that they can 'affect' change most effectively? Insisting that government regulate lifestyle through penalties and incentives? Becoming a scientist and finding a technical solution? Personal change without advocating change from others (quiet, behind-the-scenes activism)?

What outcome do people believe is minimally acceptable (and advocate to, i assume, based on the passion they exhibit): pre-industrial emission and land-use levels? Just enough adaption so as to preserve a reasonable facsimile to the lifestyle we live now? None whatsoever (status quo)? Do many use the climate change issue as a means to advance other environmental issues that they otherwise not be able to push for - limits on land use and development, consumption levels, vehicle and energy restrictions, etc.

Do people believe that hard and fast action now is the 'only' way? Is it more important to act now rather than spend years planning and increasing knowledge (if we had to favor one over the other)?

I suppose one could argue that 'is there any real downside' to a conservation and change agenda? So we raise taxes, limit some property rights, impose restrictions on vehicle use, cause some employment transfer. Is that really a big deal? How does that balance with the long-term vision of how we want the world (most likely the first world) to be?

Interesting times. I would be surprised if the 2006-2009 period in human history isn't one of the big influences of what our world will look like in 2050.

Andrey Levin

Life and the way we use things are changing much faster than most of us can comprehend. Asbestos is virtually phased out, coal power plants capture close to 99% of pollutants, gasoline cars are virtually clean, diesel cars and trucks fast approach acceptable level of clean. Recycling rate of most metals are amazing: steel about 80%, lead close to 95%, over 90% of car’s weight is recycled, so most of demolition waste, garden waste, etc. (in developed countries, of course). Sewage is treated to become cleaner than water in rivers. Israel is spreading worldwide its technology which recycles and eliminates 90% of municipal waste:

China began cleaning-up its industrial mess. New genetically modifies crops could be grown in most inhospitable soils and climates. Hybrid cars are already mainstream.

And I am told that I should dry my socks on the rack, conserve toilet paper, and go shopping with canvas bag to save the planet.



Hey Andrey, I want what you're smoking.



I can do an equal list to show that things are getting worse overwhole.

- species are deasapearing at an unprecedented pace
- mountain glacier are being merely washed out
- coral are regressing at an alarming pace
- sol erosion is unsustainable
- tropical forest are being sacrificed
- the pacific ocean as floating garbage twice the size of texas.

and the list goes on, but we can feel confortable because of all the good things that are going on and we don't have to sacrifice anything from or confort or feel guilty (by the way I don't understand what you are doing on this site)

toilet paper is bad for your AH use simple water instead you will feel cleaner, and that's what it is all about right?

Andrey Levin


Species extinction is arguably the biggest bul ever, bigger even than AGW. Documented rate of species extinctions is about 1 per year, and it is from 1.7 million described species, from estimated 100 million species on Earth. Total number of documented species extinct in last 500 years is 844. Google “documented species extinction”.

From 160 000 mountain glaciers only 79 have data for mass balance for more than 1 year. Nobody on Earth knows what is going on with glaciers:

Soils erode in one place, and eroded material is contributed on another place. Total balance of soil/humus creation/loss in developed countries is positive, thanks to composting and artificial fertilization.

Tropical forests and coral reefs destruction are worrying trend, but it is far from catastrophic or irreversible. As measured by satellites and actual forestry data, Earth becoming greener (even in China), thanks to conservation efforts, carbon aerial fertilization, and warmer climate in 20 century.

Oceans become much cleaner in last 50 years, thanks to strict rules of IMO prohibiting oil tank purging, discharge of untreated sewage, and ocean MSW damping. Worst ocean pollution occurred during WW2, and it did not lead to catastrophe. Current level of ocean pollution is about 200 times less than during WW2 and 10 times lesws than in 1950s.

Blatant catastrophism is loser’s game in the age of Internet, and makes great disservice to any legitimate environmental cause.


@ Andrey:

Interesting. So, you think the world is fine just the way it is and that showing any interest in optimizing efficiency and consumption, helping natural ecosystems, and monitoring the world ecological balance is just so much wasted time and effort. What do you think we should be using our time and effort on? What goals and dreams do you think we should undertake? How do you see the world in 2050?

Fascinating to see people that have absolutely no interest in contributing to the advancement of society around them. What makes people turn out that way? How does such a person use their time and energy? How does one feel when so many others act toward a common goal? I suppose it must be like having your country invaded and then not really caring at all - just watching - because, hey, they can't get at you. You're safe and sound. What does it matter to you what happens to the world around you. It would be interesting to see what a psychologist would make of such an individual. Fascinating.


This article supports the need for large over capacity of world agriculture, with exceess to be used for biofuel production except in years of poor crop yield.

Such a strategy will provide great food security for the world.

The comments to this entry are closed.