Local weather change has reworked India into an agricultural superpower – simply ask my grandparents – what number of watts with that?

From the CO2 Coalition

By Vijay Jayaraj

My grandparents survived a nationwide famine in the 1960s that plunged many Indians into abject poverty. Little did they know then that they would later become farmers who would produce some of the best rice and coconut in the world.

Beginning with the purchase of small paddy fields, my grandparents supplemented their income from commercial activities and other businesses with profits from rice and eventually invested in coconut farms. Their story is part of India’s agricultural revolution – a transformation made possible in part by the warmer temperatures and higher concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide in today’s climate.

According to researchers, poverty and a lack of food grains caused the famine of 1960-65, which was preceded by many similar disasters that have claimed tens of millions of lives over the centuries.

However, much changed in the 1970s when the Indian government invited American agronomist Norman Borlaug to work with Indian scientists to introduce genetically modified crop varieties that were more resistant to disease and produced higher yields.

Along with crops that were less frequent and yielded greater profits, the green revolution of the late 20th century was aided by modest increases in both temperatures and CO2 levels – the latter likely a result of emissions from human activity.

Contrary to the popular narrative that a changing climate is an “existential threat,” the earth’s green plants have recovered from the “tanning” of the Little Ice Age, which took place from the 14th to the 19th centuries. Modern heat and CO2 levels enable greening that can be seen in satellite photos and contributes to bumper harvests.

British meteorologist Hubert Lamb, founder of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, said the Little Ice Age devastated economies with crop losses. In a widely accepted article, he writes that between AD 1000 and 1200, a “remarkably warm climate” existed in many parts of the world, followed by a cooling that culminated with the coldest temperatures between AD 1500 and 1700 — “the coldest period since the last Ice Age took place.”

According to Lamb, these climate changes were “undoubtedly disturbing to the human economy of that time (and perhaps of all times)”.

The cold eventually gave way to rising temperatures in the 18th century, well before the modern industrial revolution in Europe and North America.

The positive effects of the modern climate can be found in arid climates like those in India. NASA reports: “For rain-fed wheat grown in drier climates such as southern Africa and India, the results show that a doubling of carbon dioxide levels and the associated impacts of climate change increase yield by eight percent, an increase driven by a lower harvest requires water of up to 50 percent. As with rain-fed corn crops in arid climates, without the carbon dioxide boost, these rain-fed wheat crops don’t do as well because they are subjected to greater water stress, resulting in a 29 percent yield drop.”

Although its population has doubled to 1.3 billion since the 1960s, India can now produce enough food for both domestic needs and exports. In fact, since 2017, the country has recorded consecutive bumper harvests of food crops.

For the 2021-22 crop year, “record production is estimated for rice, corn, chickpeas, dry cereals, canola and mustard, oilseeds and sugar cane”. At 315.72 million tons, it is 5 million tons above the previous year.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, “India is the world’s largest producer of milk, legumes and jute and the second largest producer of rice, wheat, sugar cane, peanuts, vegetables, fruit and cotton. It is also one of the leading producers of spices, livestock and plantation crops.”

A recent Australian study reports that “CO2 fertilization was correlated with an 11 percent increase in canopy cover from 1982 to 2010 in parts of the arid regions studied in Australia, North America, the Middle East and Africa.”

Today’s heat and CO2 levels are a boon to human civilization, not a curse. Just ask my grandparents.

Vijay Jayaraj is a Research Associate at the CO2 Coalition, Arlington, VA. He holds a Masters in Environmental Sciences from the University of East Anglia, UK and is based in India.

This comment was first published on Daily Caller on September 3, 2022.

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