NYT’s Fake Climate Migration

NYT’s Fake Climate Migration

By Paul Homewood

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Early in 2019a year before the world shut its borders completely, Jorge A. knew he had to get out of Guatemala. The land was turning against him. For five years, it almost never rained. Then it did rain, and Jorge rushed his last seeds into the ground. The corn sprouted into healthy green stalks, and there was hope — until, without warning, the river flooded. Jorge waded chest-deep into his fields searching in vain for cobs he could still eat. Soon he made a last desperate bet, signing away the tin-roof hut where he lived with his wife and three children against a $1,500 advance in okra seed. But after the flood, the rain stopped again, and everything died. Jorge knew then that if he didn’t get out of Guatemala, his family might die, too.

Even as hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans fled north toward the United States in recent years, in Jorge’s region — a state called Alta Verapaz, where precipitous mountains covered in coffee plantations and dense, dry forest give way to broader gentle valleys — the residents have largely stayed. Now, though, under a relentless confluence of drought, flood, bankruptcy and starvation, they, too, have begun to leave. Almost everyone here experiences some degree of uncertainty about where their next meal will come from. Half the children are chronically hungry, and many are short for their age, with weak bones and bloated bellies. Their families are all facing the same excruciating decision that confronted Jorge.

The odd weather phenomenon that many blame for the suffering here — the drought and sudden storm pattern known as El Niño — is expected to become more frequent as the planet warms. Many semiarid parts of Guatemala will soon be more like a desert. Rainfall is expected to decrease by 60 percent in some parts of the country, and the amount of water replenishing streams and keeping soil moist will drop by as much as 83 percent. Researchers project that by 2070, yields of some staple crops in the state where Jorge lives will decline by nearly a third.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/07/23/magazine/climate-migration.html

In fact, for whatever reason, cereal crop yields have not been declining in recent years. Indeed the opposite is the case, so clearly the NYT’s claims about extreme weather and climate change are not true.

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http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#compare

But what about that spike in 2006? This actually goes to the heart of the story, which begins with the next graph:

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  As we can see, the spike in yields was mirrored by a decline in area harvested. In 2007 and 2008, the area harvested rose sharply, with yields dropping back, since when things have stabilised.

This expansion of farmed land is explained by the World Bank’s Climate Risk report in 2011:

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https://climateknowledgeportal.worldbank.org/country-profiles

In short, there has been a huge amount of slash and burn in the last two decades. But the land cleared typically has low productivity. Hence the drop in yields, particularly between 2006 and 2010.

The reason for this slash and burn is simple – the massive pressures put on the land by a rapidly rising population:

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Population of Guatemala

As the World Bank notes, Guatemala is extremely poor, even by Latin American standards, and most live in rural areas:

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https://climateknowledgeportal.worldbank.org/country-profiles

As the population rises, so those living in rural areas are forced to farm ever more unproductive land.

As for the drought reported, the region where Jorge A lives, Alta Verapaz, lies in the eastern part of the country, which is usually suffers severe droughts as a result of El Ninos:

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https://climateknowledgeportal.worldbank.org/country-profiles

The Great Migration has nothing to do with climate change, as the New York Times would like you to think.

The sole reason is the ever increasing population in Guatemala, along with the associated poverty. But you won’t hear that from the NYT.

— NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

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