Our planet seems to be in a growing crisis in terms of agriculture and crop production related to unusual weather shifts. Many reports in recent months use the term “extreme weather” to describe record heat across Europe this summer, record flooding in US Midwest farm states, or record drought across India and major parts of Africa and China. Parts of the USA Midwest are undergoing the worst growing conditions since at least the 1980s. In the UK the weather has been ruinous to the grain harvest there. The crucial question to ask is whether we can assume, as many do, that this is all part of man-made global warming, today renamed climate change, or whether it can be caused by something quite different: The periodic cycles of solar activity that in the past months have entered what astro-scientists call a “solar minimum.” If it is due to the latter, we are spending huge sums on addressing a wrong problem, in fact trillions of dollars.
Until this July large parts of India were suffering record drought. Chennai reservoirs were down to 0.2% of capacity over the past two years as a severe heat wave saw 99% less water than a year ago. Acute water shortages have forced thousands to flee their villages. Though in early August above-average monsoon seasonal rains relieved the situation in some parts, so far the rainfall is far from adequate to restore empty reservoirs across India. In China severe drought has left about 800,000 hectares of crops affected in northern China’s Hebei Province with rainfall some 55% below normal. That comes as a devastation of China’s pig population from the deadly African Swine Fever spreads and crops across the country are being destroyed by a plague of Army Fallworm infestation that is resistant to most weed-killers.
At the same time record rains have devastated agriculture in key growing regions. In the UK excessive rainfall in August has brought the wheat harvest to a halt according to the National Farmers’ Union. Across the major US Midwest record snowfall in winter, coupled with record rains this spring, have severely delayed plantings for corn and soybeans. The twelve months through July have been the wettest on record in the Midwest grain belt resulting in millions of acres going unplanted.