By Vijay Jayaraj
Many of us living in cities of advanced economies are ignorant of environmental factors critical to producing crops that maintain global food security. The mainstream media have not helped either. Instead of informing people about realities of the agricultural sector, the media function as climate catastrophists.
However, contrary to popular notions about environmental degradation, countries are producing record harvests because of favorable conditions and technological development.
Among those countries is India, a nation with 1.3 billion people — 650 million of whom depend on farming for a livelihood. These farmers have benefited from moderately warmer temperatures and higher levels of carbon dioxide in the recent two decades. One of the world’s biggest agricultural regions, India produces enough crops to feed its people and export high quality cereals, rice, wheat, millets, maize, ginger, turmeric, quinoa, fresh vegetables, fruits and other coarse grains.
In fact, the country’s export revenue from food crops is estimated to be $41.25 billion USD during the pandemic year 2020-21. Not surprisingly, the largest export market was the U.S.
The country is also seeing an increase in exports to regular markets such as China, Bangladesh, the UAE, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Nepal, Iran, and Malaysia. 2021 witnessed a number of first-time importers like Timor-Leste, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Yemen, Indonesia, Sudan, Poland, and Bolivia.
How is a developing country, with around 200 million still in poverty, able to produce such record amounts of food? Enter monsoon rainfall and carbon dioxide.
An Indian farmer’s fate is literally decided by July monsoon rains, which determine the availability of water for crop cultivation. This year the Monsoon was late but is forecasted to provide sufficient rainfall for crop success. On July 15, the monsoon drenched most of India with copious amounts of water.
India’s monsoon has shown no signs of fatigue from the supposed impact of climate change. An analysis of the country’s historical rainfall data suggests that monsoons show no specific trend.
Further, it is evident from data that both extremes in rainfall and droughts have occurred only randomly during the last 100 years. There is no significant correlation between rainfall pattern and the marginal increase in global average temperatures, a reason why India’s agricultural body does not base its rainfall forecast on climate change.
Besides the large amount of rain from the Monsoon, Indian farmers have also benefited from increased atmospheric carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide, which is made out to be the villain in the global climate circus, is actually a hero as a plant food.
A study revealed that global food crops have increased with higher levels of CO2. An increase of 300 parts per million in the air’s CO2 concentration “enhances plant biomass by as much as 25 to 55%.” It is estimated that greater CO2 availability for food crops globally contributed to a monetary benefit of around “$3.2 trillion over the 50-year period 1961-2011.”
India’s food crops are no different and have immensely benefited from increases in carbon dioxide levels during the last five decades. For the farmers in India, who represent the largest percentage of the country’s poor, the excess CO2 in the atmosphere has been nothing but a lifeline.
CO2 added to the atmosphere since the industrial era has had no observable impact on rainfall patterns whilst directly helping plants to grow better. In the big climate conferences no reference is made to the role of CO2 in plant growth and its relevance to global food security. Instead, CO2 is wrongly branded as a toxin.
The climate bandwagon has managed to brainwash the global community about simple biology and chemistry taught to school children. The very CO2 that has been responsible for providing life and enabling rapid greening of the world is vilified.
The global farming community can help dispel these myths by speaking out. Meanwhile, the world should observe an “International Day of Gratitude to Carbon Dioxide” for the gas’s continued role in feeding us.