Michael Berendt's blog

Driving across the rolling farming country of northern and central France, as my wife and I have just done, you might think that French arable farmers have never had it so good. Grain prices are high and the landscape as far as the eye can see is bright yellow with rapeseed and brilliant green with wheat, barley or potatoes, the very picture of a healthy agriculture.

It’s not really healthy, of course. Unless rain falls within the next week or so those rolling hectares will lose their bloom. Drought has hit the cereal regions of the UK, France, Germany and Poland, which together account for two-thirds of European grain production. Already forecast yields for wheat, barley and rape are down by 10-20 per cent, while the prospect of a dry summer threatens a greater shortfall and a further escalation in food prices, which have already gone up by 30 per cent since March.

This is bad news for Europe. High grain prices mean rising costs for milk, meat and egg production, as well as bread, beer and other cereal-based foods, putting more strain on shoppers. Food price inflation has a direct political impact which will put additional pressure on EU governments at a time when household spending is already squeezed and unemployment levels remain high.

In France 42 départements have declared water control restrictions . The Polish government has been pressing the European Commission to raise the support level for wheat in support of its arable farmers – a plea which was rejected in the recent farm ministers council.

There are unexpected consequences. As rivers levels fall or even run dry I see that French nuclear power stations, which rely on river water for cooling, may have to cut back on generation capacity.

The global picture is no more comforting. With the US also suffering from drought there is little prospect of recovery in world supplies, let alone the building of stocks, during 2011. China is also affected. Russia and the Ukraine are the only northern hemisphere producers which have decent prospects for grain production this year.

The political implications are far-reaching. All those countries which depend on grain imports to feed their people, which include most of the Maghreb and much of the Middle East, will face a further food price crisis at a time when their political systems and their economies are undergoing revolution.

A succession of climatic disasters in the US may lead to recognition in the United States that climate change is happening and that something must be done, although it is a big step to acknowledge that human activity is the driver. As for Europe, after the driest and warmest April in parts of our continent since records began the argument that our climate is undergoing fundamental change seems incontrovertible.

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  1. Europe’s drought is a symptom of excess run off of rain water from the earth’s surface. By draining the earth’s surface via urbanization and agricultural practices that do not take into account the functions of rainwater on land, we are de-hydrating the earths surface and causing climate change. It is because of the drastic reduction of H20 greenhouse gases on continental surfaces which then heats up our atmosphere and causes climate change. When solar energy shines onto a water rich surface, much of the energy is absorbed and released as latent heat, but when solar energy shines on a dry and dehydrated surface such as much of the agricultural and urban centres across Europe, then the suns energy is released as sensible heat, and thus contributing to a rise in temperature. Furthermore, the rise in the ocean level has very little to do with melting glaciers and plenty with the drainage of rainwater from the earth surface into oceans via rivers and streams shaped largely by human activity.The carbon reduction regime completely ignores the essential functions of water on earth because it assumes that the hydrological cycle operates in a closed system and cannot be altered. Such ignorance by climate ‘experts’ is resulting in the ground beneath our feet to dry up. Conventional Climate change approaches and resultant low grain yields are the perfect mix for unleashing the greatest weapon of mass destruction that is continually released up the world’s population: inflation.

    1. An interesting perspective on climate change Peter! While I am certainly not an “expert” (as you put it), and am not qualified to comment on the scientific basis for your argument, I thought mankind was using up fresh water before it could reach the sea. What is certain is that the supply of fresh water is becoming a huge challenge world wide, which as you say has massive implications.

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