Dry China

Well, earlier we saw a broad sweep of history. 4000 years of it. In that posting, we saw that there is an oscillation of empires, with the Mediterranean (Egypt / Rome / EU) alternating with the Near East ( Assyria / Persia / Babylon / Byzantium & Greece – included as in ancient times it extended into Anatolia and Egypt during empire).

Along the way, there was a “sidebar” on China. We noticed that during “cold times” when Europe was having cold and wet (and often crop failures from too much wet, as in the Little Ice Age “Let them eat cake” moment…) China had a different problem. China would have a drought. One so large it was noted as “The Great Drought” on the history chart. Something has to be a pretty big event to be the most notable thing in a half century and the memory preserved for 2500 years. But there were other droughts after that, also often in cold periods. Even today there is a drought in China, started just as the weather cycles turned cold. (It would be interesting to see if it tracks the PDO, AO, AMO, … a little “dig here” that I’m sure folks in China will be looking into…)

Historically, drought in China led to famine and great deaths. To the extent it is cyclical with a 1400-1500 year cycle, we ought to be able to see that in the graveyards of China. There ought to be evidence in the bones. Yes, I’m going to say it: A big “Dig Here” for archaeologists! ;-) The bones ought to show the cause of death as starvation, and perhaps even some evidence in the isotopic ratios for the degree of drought. There are even some diseases from dust inhalation that ought to increase (if more of the body is intact to see it). China also has a long written history. A historian of China ought to have no difficulty matching up the timeline of detailed Chinese history against a timeline of cold periods (and the 1432-ish year planetary / solar motion cycle and the 1470 +/- 100 or so year Bond Event cycle).

I did a ‘first cut’ of a Cycle Timeline just for my own purposes. It’s not that hard. The basic pattern is a 1432 cycle for the series, with 716 years at the half cycle point and 358 at the 1/4 cycle point. 179 (ish) years being the basic cycle time. Yes, that could use a lot of “tuning”. The Bond Event cycle we’ve already seen, and marking 1/2 events on it is not hard. Much harder is answering the question: Is it ONLY 1/2 cycles that matter? Or harmonics of other scales? A minor third? A fifth? Oscillators uniformly put out “side lobes” and “harmonics” so it would be very bizarre to NOT have minor nodes, and they ought to have a pattern. An interesting place for an Electrical Engineer to use their signal enhancement and display skills (hint hint…)

But even with the discrepancy between a 1432 vs a 1470 year basic cycle (planetary-solar vs Bond Event sediments), the patterns show. The 40 year offset is not so great when compared to the 100 year duration of major events, and 3 cycles is almost ALL of recorded history (and then some, for many areas) 4300 years, give or take. That’s 2300 BC, just prior to Bond Event 3 at 2200 BC. So we have about 3 x 40 = 120 years of “error band” when many of the events of 2000 BC have hundreds of years of +/- on their believed dates. I’m not going to lose sleep over it. (But it does complicate finding minor power nodes of signal at things like a 179 or 358 period).

At any rate, on the assumption that “now” is the start of Bond Event Zero (c), though it ought to continue until at least 2040, I just backdated nodal points on the 1432 pattern from 2020 (as the presumed middle of this BE-0 period). This list starts at the “now” end of things at the top and works down to the BC end.

For reference, Bond Event 4 was roughly the moment in time when Egypt was formed as an empire near the Nile, as folks abandoned the center of the Sahara and headed to the river. 3708 BC This was followed by Intermediate Period 1, then Bond Event 3 comes along about 2200 BC and Egypt falls again. Intermediate period 2 happens. About 800-900 BC we have the Iron Age Cold Period and Bond Event 2. I note that 844 BC is one of the nodes on the chart. 588 AD is about the time of Bond Event 1, but the history of things during The Dark Ages is pretty messed up. It looks like it started getting colder a hundred years earlier, and in 535 AD or so there was an event that was likely a volcano blowing off that puts a spike in things.

At any rate, here’s the general timeline. 1/2 Bond Event times are noted with “1/2 BE”. The unmarked dates are at 1/4 Bond Event intervals (or 2 x the 179 year ‘alignment’ cycle). It would be very interesting to match a history chart against the actual plentary / solar motion calculated patterns, but I’m “not up for it” at the moment. A bit more work that I can take on. Perhaps a “Dig Here!” for the Barycenter folks? For me, I’ll be using this “first cut” as my basic timeline for mapping things in future cogitations (but knowing it may be off a solar cycle or three…)

2020	AD  - You Are Entering Now
1662	AD
1304	AD  - 1/2 BE
 946	AD
 588	AD  - Bond Event 1, The Dark Ages
 230	AD
 128	BC  - 1/2 BE - Alexander the Great
 486	BC
 844	BC  - Bond Event 2, Iron Age Cold Period
1202	BC
1560	BC  - 1/2 BE
1918	BC
2276	BC  - Bond Event 3
2634	BC
2992	BC  - 1/2 BE
3350	BC
3708	BC  - Bond Event 4
4066	BC
4424	BC - 1/2 BE

So now the question becomes: Are there any patterns in history that match that timeline?

Do remember that the historical record can be fuzzy, that Bond Events are based on physical changes seen in the dirt and sediments that may manifest at the end of a period rather than the start, and that this cycle is imposed on top of a long term 25,000 year precessional cycle and 120,000 year Milankovitch cycles, so things like the “out of Africa pump” theory have the Sahara being wet and green very early on, but those longer cycles slowly dry it out until it becomes a desert in “God Awful Early BC” and folks run to the Nile; and then begin the Egypt Empire. That happens sometime “way back” in that 4,000-5,000 BC time; but with dates in history only really clearing up a little in about 3700 BC (all dates approximate!)

So as you move over thousands of years, don’t expect a repeat, expect a rhyme…

Back To China

OK, so what does this have to do with China?


has an article about what China is doing now:

China to spend $1 billion to alleviate drought

TINI TRAN | February 10, 2011 01:59 AM EST |

BEIJING — China will spend $1 billion to alleviate its worst drought in six decades – a long dry spell in the world’s largest wheat-growing region that threatens further jumps in the commodity’s global price.

Got that? Worst in 60 years? We’ve barely entered this long cycle event, and we’ve already exceeded everything seen in the 60 year PDO cycle. That tends to argue for this not being just your garden variety 60 year pattern. No, not a strong bit yet, but when coupled to the solar state and the reasonable prediction that it’s going to stay in a funk for 20 more years, and in the context of the timeline above… Well, lets just say I’d not bet on a large rebound in Chinese Wheat next season.

Note also that world wheat production largely stays INSIDE individual countries. Very little of it really enters global trade. So that point “world’s largest wheat-growing region” matters. China has $1 Trillion or so of US obligations. We’ve got wheat. AS this drought continues and Chinese wheat fails “who you gonna call?” especially if you hold their IOU? Shoving that much more demand on the global wheat markets will have a price impact…

The funding announced late Wednesday is part of a government plan to boost grain production, divert water, build emergency wells and take other steps in the affected areas in central and northern China.

All of which is fine. They will ‘mine the ground water’ with added wells, but that will not do much for thousands of hectare sized expanses of wheat. Good for small villages and gardens, though. I also hope that “boost grain production” includes “do it where the rain IS falling”… and “divert water” depends on the water falling somewhere. Somewhere not too far away. Given tha the “affected areas” include “central and northern China” that looks pretty big to me…

Snow fell Thursday in some of the driest areas, but it was minimal and has not eased worries about the winter wheat crop. The main wheat belt, including Shandong, Henan, Hebei, Anhui, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Gansu and Jiangsu provinces, has gotten virtually no precipitation since October.

The crisis prompted Premier Wen Jiabao to hold an executive meeting Wednesday of the State Council, China’s Cabinet, to discuss drought measures. At least 6.7 billion yuan ($1.02 billion) would be spent to boost grain production by raising minimum purchase prices of grain, subsidizing the purchase of anti-drought technologies and adding funding for farm irrigation.

Somehow I think raising minimum purchase prices will be the least of their worries…

The State Council warned that rainfall across northern China would remain “persistently below normal levels and major rivers will continue to be generally dry,” the official China Daily reported Thursday.

The first snowfall of the year to hit the capital and northern provinces brought 1 to 3 millimeters (less than a half inch) of precipitation, the National Meteorological Center said.

China has claimed success with cloud seeding techniques. Silver iodide fired from canons and missiles caused a light smattering of snow in Henan and Shandong provinces, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

A couple of millimeters of dry sky rain is not going to grow fields of wheat over whole provinces. Though you might watch for the price of silver to rise…

For me, I smell a crisis in the making. The Chinese are a very creative and resourceful people, but dry is dry. So I’d figure on about 20 years of generally rising grain prices and increasing sales to China. Given that North Africa (i.e. Egypt) tended to famine during these events too, expect them to be in the market “in size” (even more than they are now, they are net importers).

I’d also watch for failures of crops where it’s “too wet”. Historically the European grain crops were damaged by too much rain during these parts of the cycle. Similarly, Northern Australia has been drenched along with Sri Lanka. I also note that the northern half of South America is having floods and landslides (while Chile is having a bit of a drought… but doesn’t it always? ;-)

China History

I’m going to fill in a bit of the historical droughts in China after another cup of tea. I got side tracked into the below rant on search engine changes (Google is now broken, IMHO) and need to re-think my search method to find what I’m looking for. Similarly, I’ve a theory that the Hadley Cells being squashed is the cause, but want a pause before running down that path. So for now, this ‘marker text’ is here, but by this evening, it ought to be replaced. The idea being to match up China historical droughts and famines to the timeline above. But with my search engine method of finding that history “in doublt”, I need a pause before building this part of the posting.

Well, I don’t know if it’s just hard to find a simple history of droughts of significant size in China, or if the change of search engines now focuses so much on recent trendy news that historical searches are hampered. At any rate, I’ve had “no joy” in search engine land. There is a link in comments I need to look at, but for now, I’m putting the China History on the slow boat… to… later ;-)

Sidebar on Search Engines

Recently Google has changed something in their search engine. They have added a “quality” metric of some kind. There is some speculation that it collects data from Chrome users who can flag a result as ‘uninteresting’ and that this is used to bias the search results. One thing I’ve noticed is that “global warming” no longer returns WUWT in the top pages (as it almost universally did before) and even “Global Warming Skeptic” puts is way off in the dozens of pages. IMHO, Google is now a somewhat broken search engine that gives PC Weighted results.

In this case, the Google search for “China Drought” gave a Huffington Post article (quoted above) as very high ranking. Using Bing! gives

News: china drought
China Drought-Affected Area ‘Limited,’ Farm Adviser Chen Says

March 6 (Bloomberg) — The total area in China affected by drought is “limited” and grain prices will remain “basically stable,” said Chen Xiwen, the State Council’s deputy director of agricultural affairs. Winter wheat…BusinessWeek · 14 hours ago

Drought-hit China drills wells to save wheat crop msnbc.com

Rain and snow dispel worries of drought in China Reuters India

Today’s top stories · Related blogs · Related tweets

2010 China drought and dust storms – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Causes · Water shortages · Dust storms · Relief
The 2010 China drought and dust storms were a series of severe droughts during the spring of 2010 that affected Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi, Sichuan, Shanxi, Henan, Shaanxi, …

U.N. Food Agency Issues Warning on China Drought
Feb 08, 2011 · HONG KONG — The United Nations ’ food agency issued an alert on Tuesday warning that a severe drought was threatening the wheat crop in China, the …

China drought leaves millions short of water
Millions of people face drinking water shortages in southwestern China because of a once-a-century drought that has dried up rivers and threatens vast farmlands …

China’s Drought-Hit Wheat Has Widespread Rain; Prices Drop
Feb 28, 2011 · Feb. 28 (Bloomberg) — China, the biggest wheat grower, had widespread rain in drought-hit crop areas in the past three days, according to the weather …


China official says drought impact on grain limited …12 hours ago
BEIJING, March 6 (Xinhua) — Drought in China’s major winter wheat producing areas has limited impact on grain output and prices are expected to remain stable, a …

A less “politically” aligned set of links. Still has an overweight of New York Times and Businessweek (though the BizWeak article is just quoting a Bloombu\erg story), along with the Wiki (but that could just be as they are all very large circulation). Reuters has a link near the top. Rapidly you end up at things like “physorg.com” that look more balanced. (Their story even notes that “China is prone to extreme weather, and severe droughts are a regular occurrence throughout the country. However, the current water shortages reported in the southwest have been particularly acute.”) And after another BizWeak copy of a Boomberg report, we even get some local news that may have a clue what is really going on; and will at least give the “official” government spin.

A much more diverse set of information and much more usable (as “compare and contrast” yields more understanding than “echo echo echo ech…” )

I’ve not done a survey of Ask.com or Yahoo! or… but clearly there is a major opportunity here. My bias is clear: I Despise Microsoft for most things. They are in many ways an Evil Monopoly Empire (even the EU found them guilty). So here I am endorsing their Bing! product as a superior and less Evil search engine than Google. What can I say? “The Facts just ARE. – E.M.Smith” and I go where they lead.

So, through gritted teeth, I’m swapping over to using Bing! until I can find something that gives better results. For now at least, Google is being (deliberately or as an accident of method) PC Muzzled on the results it gives, IMHO.

The Google results, for comparison, start with the lefty New York Times, then does have a decent Businessweek article, but I have to note that Businessweek has been “in line” on the whole Global Warming End OF THE WORLD!!! thing… We move on to the BBC (need I say more? As hard core AGW as you can get with a smidge of left lean to it too) and then we get a repeat of more BBC and Businessweek. OK, next up is Straights Times (whose reputation I don’t know) but then “Treehugger”? THEY qualify as “Page One Above The Fold”? ReallY? followed by “Climateprogress” and the Washington Post? Hello?

Only after that do you start to get to folks like Reuters and THEY are immediately followed by a Nature article that highlights global risk from “climate threats”…

China Drought Prompts U.N. to Issue Warning – NYTimes.com
Feb 8, 2011 … China’s wheat crop is threatened, and some people face shortages of drinking water, the agency warned.
www.nytimes.com/2011/02/09/business/…/09food.html – Add to iGoogle
China Wheat Drought May Last to Spring, Minister Says – Businessweek

Feb 10, 2011 … China, the largest wheat consumer, says the drought in the country’s main growing region may be prolonged, said Minister of Agriculture Han …
www.businessweek.com/…/china-wheat-drought-may-last-to-spring-minister- says.html – Cached

BBC News – Crop warning over China drought
Jan 24, 2011 … A prolonged dry spell in parts of northern, central and eastern China is threatening both crops and water supplies, Chinese state media …
www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12266435 – Cached – Add to iGoogle

BBC News – China drought worsens in parched north
Mar 1, 2011 … Parts of northern China are experiencing their most serious …
www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12606326 – Cached

Show more results from bbc.co.uk

News for china drought China Drought-Affected Area ‘Limited,’ Farm Adviser Chen Says‎ – 14 hours ago
By Bloomberg News March 6 (Bloomberg) — The total area in China affected by drought is “limited” and grain prices will remain “basically stable,” said Chen …
BusinessWeek – 16 related articles

China says drought eased after snow, rain‎ – Straits Times – 34 related articles

China’s Wheat Shortage Could Affect World Prices‎ – Treehugger – 21 related articles – Shared by 20+

China’s droughts nears worst in 200 years, adding pressure to …
Feb 24, 2011 … I reported two weeks ago that if China’s drought continued through the month it would be the worst in 200 years (see “UN food agency warns …
http://climateprogress.org/2011/02/24/china-drought-worst-in-200-years-food-prices/ – Cached

China drought could pressure wheat prices
Feb 8, 2011 … A record drought in China’s major wheat-producing areas threatens to push world food prices beyond their current high level, the United …
www.washingtonpost.com › Business

China drought likely to last, threatening winter wheat | Reuters
Feb 17, 2011 … BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s ongoing drought in northern wheat areas is likely to continue, threatening the winter crop, the Ministry of …
www.reuters.com/…/us-china-wheat-idUSTRE71G20U20110217 – Cached

China drought highlights future climate threats : Nature News
May 11, 2010 … Throughout southwestern China, where 2000 drought-relief workers are drilling wells around the clock, the location of groundwater remains …

So I don’t know what’s broken at Google, but something is.

It could just be an artifact of creating a feedback loop from the subset of folks who use Chrome or of the inherent bias of their sample group of those folks Rabid enough on the topic to click “I hate you” on anything that drifts from the catechism of Global Warming Doom. I don’t know, and I don’t care. One drop down / click and my browser uses Bing! instead. I’ll give them a few months and see what changes.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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22 Responses to Dry China

  1. George says:

    China has $1 Trillion or so of US obligations. We’ve got wheat. AS this drought continues and Chinese wheat fails “who you gonna call?”

    That isn't really true anymore. Due to demand of high-fructose corn sweetener and ethanol, a huge amount of land has been switched out of wheat production into corn. We don't have as much wheat anymore. In fact, we have been importing a lot of wheat products, such as gluten, from China.

    We just don't have the wheat production we once had. US wheat production in 2009 was down 20% from 2008. People are not fully appreciating this fact but they aren't being fully informed by our news organizations, either.

    In 2004 China was the world's #1 wheat growing nation producing 87,000 thousand metric tons. The US was third at 63,590 metric tons and we have declined since.

    China is currently producing more than twice the wheat we are in the US.

    Average 2007‐08 to 2009‐10 Marketing Years (1,000 metric tons)
    European Union, 138,143
    China, 114,500
    India, 80,680
    United States, 60,314

    We are currently fourth in world wheat production and in decline.

    While we exported 28,514 thousand metric tons, North America also imported 6,732 thousand metric tons.

    As for ending stocks, it looks like this:

    China, 49,211 thousand metric tons
    United States, 17,345 thousand metric tons
    India, 12,257

    So basically, we don't have enough wheat to make much of a difference for China unless we switched out of corn and back to wheat in many parts of the country. If China were to take all of our ending stocks of wheat, it would amount to 15% of Chinese production. Or put another way, anything that would cause a 20% drop in Chinese production could not be made up even if China confiscated our entire supply (after exports we already would have made).

  2. George says:

    My reference for most of the above is:

    Click to access GRAIN-OUTLOOK_04-28-10.pdf

  3. George says:

    Oh, also, Huffington Post’s entire business model is based on optimizing their articles to get the highest search result in Google. That is their bread and butter and they spend much more effort on search engine optimization (SEO) for Google than they do on actually producing the content.


    Many news sources intentionally optimize their articles, often with keywords that are undisplayed to the user, to get higher Google ranking while they might not be so highly ranked on other search engines.


  4. Sandy Rham says:

    Maybe you need a “Dig here” page where you note the questions you kick up.
    Then any that your readers were interested in they could start investigating and report back??

  5. Malaga View says:

    Google is now a somewhat broken search engine that gives PC Weighted results.

    He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.”
    George Orwell

    He who controls the search engine, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.”
    Malaga View

  6. R. de Haan says:

    In regard to google.
    I am located in Germany and found that using
    or google.com
    have different search results.

    I use google.co.uk standard for the best results.

    Give it a try.

  7. kuhnkat says:

    I think we see why so much interest in rainmaking machines on large scale may be of enough interest to carry research dollars!!

    George, not arguing with you, just suggesting that when China calls in the IOU’s American Farmers can stop growing corn for ethanol and HFC’s and start growing wheat for a guaranteed export market that dwarves the rest of the world!!

    Of course, there are probably other areas in the southern hemisphere that may have better weather and also profit from northern hemisphere woes.

  8. R. de Haan says:

    Maybe this publication provides you with some more information:

    Historical drought and water disasters in the Weihe Plain

    Click to access 050112.Pdf

  9. E.M.Smith says:


    Hadn’t realized our ending stocks of wheat where so low. As I expect this to be a 2 decade long “event”, though, any given year position is not as important as “who gets the rain”…

    But yeah, this year, we’re “no joy”. But in a few more years of this, as wheat prices rise…

    @Sandy Rham:

    Nice idea, though I’d have to take something else out of the tabs up top… or squash them. But they do need a review.

    At any rate, anyone really interested can just put “dig here” in the search box (to the right of “racing stocks”) and get a list of all articles with a Dig Here in them.

    @R. de Haan:

    Veerrry Intereshtinc…

    (I know, bad pun based on coloquial old TV show humor…)

    But still, one has to wonder why?….


    Except that I’m expecting the major wheat area of Argentina to have “water issues” too (if my thesis about movement of rain more equatorward is valid…) but havn’t had time to dig into it…

    They were having a bit of a drought in 2009, but I don’t know what’s happened since. Brazil is more Soy Beans and Sugar, but changing fast, so who knows…

    Well, one quick google Bing! and we find:


    Wheat production is Argentina down, and booming in Brazil

    Helped by the Argentine administrations of the Kirchner couple, Brazil is catching up with Argentina as Latinamerica’s main producer of wheat. This year Brazil will be planting only 200.000 hectares less than its Mercosur partner which this winter crop is down to 2.75 million hectares.

    Brazil has been committed to an aggressive wheat planting policy in the last few years: from 1.81 million hectares in the 2007/08 agricultural year it jumped to 2.42 million hectares this season, according to the country’s Agriculture ministry. However the US Department of Agriculture estimate is 2.6 million hectares. The gap therefore is even tighter.

    Argentina under the Kirchners has been doing exactly the opposite. From an area of 6 million hectares in 2007/08 it dropped to 4.5 million hectares in the last season and this winter has been even worse. The 2.75 million hectares will the lowest wheat area in 110 years for Argentina. A serious drought in central Argentina plus the tax policy on exports imposed by the Kirchners have generated the massive contraction.

    Market analysts believe the 2009/2010 wheat crop will be just enough to cover home consumption, and don’t discard the possibility of having to import wheat. Something similar is happening with milk and beef.

    Brazil has a domestic consumption of 10 million tons of wheat and has historically been supplied by Argentina. During the last fifteen years Argentina has supplied most of Brazil’s imports with a maximum of 7.2 million tons in 2000.

    But given the current Argentine administration farm policies, exports from the 2008/09 season so far have only totalled 1.7 million tons.

    “Brazil whose dependency on Argentine wheat has always been significant, has seen the volumes reduced considerably lately and has been looking for alternative markets, plus promoting its own crop”, said Eduardo Anchubidart from the Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange.

    The Brazilian Agriculture ministry has pointed out that the wheat area for this winter crop is showing an important expansion in several states with limited wheat tradition.

    So Brazil is adding wheat, but is not yet in the “exporter” size / role.

  10. George says:

    Also, China gets about 33% more yield per hectare planted than the US does. Our yield is good but not wonderful. But China has bigger problems. Much if that infrastructure being installed there won’t last very long. Within 10 to 20 years we are going to start seeing horror stories of gas explosions, building collapses, dam failures, etc. I have a friend who has actually witnessed some of that infrastructure being built. She is a civic engineer. She said it was enough to make the hair stand up on the back of her neck.

    Famine is going to be the least of China’s problems. The next large earthquake is going to be a monster problem and even without one, spectacular infrastructure failures are extremely likely unless they start replacing NOW some of the infrastructure that is only 5-10 years old.

  11. George says:

    “So Brazil is adding wheat, but is not yet in the “exporter” size / role.”

    Brazil exports wheat but may do so only once there is enough stored to meet domestic needs. Last year, for example, they were curtailed somewhat because weather killed a substantial portion of their crop.


    Brazil exported 1,162 thousand metric tons in 2009 and 1,100 thousand metric tons in 2010. A small amount compared to our 28,000 thousand metric tons, but not insignificant.

  12. E.M.Smith says:


    I try not to think about that…

    Once, while in Jamaca some 30? 35? years ago I watched a public stairs being built on a hotel. semi-random STICKS of an inch or two in diameter were the ‘reinforcing” for cement slathered on.

    This was at a “decent” hotel…

    I asked. I was told, basically, “sure it eventually breaks, but we just rebuild it, like now. Iron cost too much anyway.”

    If the stuff China sends to us is any indication, their stuff will be even worse (with zero effective inspection). Saw a story a while back of a casino? hotel? collapse in China. Someone just decided to add an extra story or two to the height without any attention to the foundation…. and some parking garage that collapsed due to not very good (any?) reinfocement…

    Putting “china building collapse” into google Bing! gave 4.6 million hits. A few:



    This one has an interesting picture of a building that fell over but stayed almost intact as it hit the ground:


    Yeah, I’d call that a problem…

  13. George says:

    Another thing that is under-reported is the extent to which China is building farms in Africa. See, China is fairly corrupt themselves. They have no problems dealing with corrupt local governments. China has some rather large farms across Africa. As China has how surpassed the US as the largest trading partner of Africa, you might look at China’s trade with the region as barter. The exchange of food for other goods seems to be what is, in effect, going on.

    China is exporting its landless farmers to Africa at an increasing pace.

    The difference between China and America is that if we were to build farms in African countries, we would come under extreme criticism for practically anything we did there and the media would have a story per day. China can do whatever it wants and their media isn’t going to cover it and our media isn’t going to care. If one of their farmers is kidnapped or killed, we never hear a word about it and China simply sends another to take their place.

  14. E.M.Smith says:


    I was rather surprised that China had the largest headcount on evacuees from Lybia (as reported on the nightly news)… then again, the Egyptians and others who were there left by land under their own power or were stranded with the Bangladeshies, so who knows how many of them there were…

    Yes, it will be interesting to see if China ends up being the new Colonial Power in Africa (or just emigrating wholesale) or if the Africans decide to try Chinese Stew (ala Idi Amin in Uganda…) when they get cranky…

    FWIW, I’m expecting the next major “world war” to be on an axis from North Korea through the middle east. Perhaps I need to extend that line on down toward Nigeria…

    I don’t know if it will start as China-Russia, China-India, India-Pakistan, Iran-[everyoneelse}, Syria-Israel, Israel-Egypt,… and now one must also start thinking of NorthAfrica-theirCitizens… and perhaps Africa-China….

    But once it gets rolling, and especially if food is disrupted and/or folks in Africa are looking at food leaving for China and have little to eat themselves, well, I don’t think it will stay on that line.

    My #1 and #2 flash spots had been Israel-Islam and India-Pakistan with Korea-Korea third (followed by China on the pull in and then India in later…) But thats looking a bit too unimaginative at present. With all of the “Islamic world” hotting up, and China having the start of a long slow food problem, the center of mass of “issues” is just a lot more hard to point toward.

    If it weren’t for the rampant socialist tendencies I’d be looking to head down into South America… it takes a bit longer for the fallout to cross the equator…

    Not to be all maudlin about it, and especially given that I’m generally “Mr. Sunshine” on things like ‘resource contraints’ (where there aren’t any, really, long term) but the pattern developing is not a good one for long term stability and peace.

    We’ve got nearly NONE of the essential ‘safety nets’ needed for a return of the more variable and cyclical weather of even just 50 years ago (never mind if it’s a one in a 179 year, or God Forbid a one in 1500 year event).

    The USA used to carry about a year worth of grain in silos. Yeah, not the biblical 7 years, but in a pinch, you could stretch it. Now we’ve gone to basically “just in time” food, globally. The whole notion is that crop failures are ONLY small and local with a random distribution and without longer term trend. Yet we know that’s not true. There are very definite global patterns of “issues” and there can be 10 , 20, even 100 year long droughts and / or failures. They have happened in the past, they will happen again.

    And WHEN it happens, we’re going to have several very large hungry groups of people with nukes.

    Right now, Russia has stopped wheat exports and China is looking at a failed wheat crop, while Argentina is having crop failures from a mixture of drought and political stupidity. You’ve pointed out that the USA doesn’t have enough stocks to cover them anymore (and while I think we could talk them into taking corn instead… you never know…) So who’s got the extra 50 Million Metric Tons of Wheat? Canada? Australia?


    Drop in Acreage Impacting Canada Wheat Production-Global Output also Down

    USDA forecasts Canadian wheat production to reach 20.5 million metric tons, down 6 million metric tons from last month. This 16 percent drop is due to a lower seeded area and higher than normal abandonment rate in the main wheat producing areas of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta.

    From May until mid June, the western provinces were cold and wet. Flooding and water logging in fields hindered planting. An estimated 83 percent of the wheat crop was planted or 17 percent was left unseeded because of excessive precipitation and below normal temperatures across the western Provinces. Because of this excessive moisture and below normal temperatures, provincial governments are reporting that crops which were planted are behind schedule and some are experiencing stress.

    I don’t think Canada is going to be the answer…

    And so it goes.

    IMHO, the more ‘loopy jet stream’ (that I remember from TV weather reports of my youth long long ago… and that seemed to fade away in the 1970’s) is back for a few decades. What it brings with it is a more volatile weather pattern. Sometimes too wet, sometimes too dry, sometimes too cold. But what you don’t get are the long steady “just right year after year” that we’ve had for the decade or three prior.

    If I have predictably cold and wet, I can adapt and grow cold / wet crops. If I have predictably hot / dry I can adapt. If I’ve no real idea what’s going to happen this time, well, it’s kind of hard to fix that.

    At any rate, the die is cast. We’re committed to this path, whatever it is. I expect grain prices to be “volatile upwards” but with occasional good years bringing a glut; just like it was 50 years ago. I just hope the stories of famine and starvation in India and China don’t return too…

    From 2009 when Australia had a drought too:


    This year’s southwest monsoon is running at 29% below normal, according to the Indian Meteorological Department. Although a late surge is anticipated, especially in central India, it is already too late to save depleted rice, sugar and pulse crops. Some 209 of India’s 645 districts have declared official droughts or part-droughts, with the north affected the worst. In spite of wider deflationary pressures, food prices have begun to rise, with a basket of foodstuffs monitored by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) now 10.5% more costly than a year ago.

    Water problems. India’s vulnerability to monsoon failure reflects the fact that 45% of its cultivated acreage remains directly rain-fed, with at least one-third of the rest relying on regular rainfall to fill aquifers. Yet on average, 50% of annual precipitation takes place on just 13 days of the year. The country’s rains are unpredictable and erratic. With inadequate water storage facilities and intensive farming requiring increased pumping of ground water, agricultural practices look increasingly unsustainable.

    so to me it looks like we’re already setting up for that ‘roving drought’ and ‘roving flood’ pattern of oh so long ago to make a return… and with it the stresses that then lead to wars.

    Ah, well. This time at least we have a lot larger technical skill set to draw upon. We can always hope that with some luck and skill, and a dash of effort, we can avert the worst of it. But….

    “Hope is not a strategy. -E.M.Smith”…


  15. E.M.Smith says:

    FWIW, found an interesting map of where in China which crops are grown:

    from this web page:


    Rather tightly focused center of production, but spread over more of the country than I’d expected for minor percentages.

  16. H.R. says:

    “Hope is not a strategy. -E.M.Smith”…

    E.M., sometimes “Hope is not an option. -H.R.” Many times individuals and/or nations find themselves in the position where action must be taken or you die.

    You always have choices, but sometimes hope isn’t one of them.

  17. George says:

    “He that lives upon hope will die fasting.”

    — Benjamin Franklin

  18. Paul Hanlon says:

    Very interesting. I recall just a few years ago that China were building a huge pipeline from the South where they get more rain to the North where a lot of the industrial activity/migration is happening. Now it seems to be country-wide.

    FWIW, I believe that if China does experience a drought of famine-inducing proportions, they will invade Kazakhstan. This is a country that’s almost as big as Europe, with very few people there to offer up much resistance and a nice fat border with China. I doubt that Russia will wage a full scale war over it, and America’s silence can probably be coerced. Europe are a joke.

    Re Google:
    Ever since they got onto the Nasdaq, they started jumping the shark on their original intentions, i.e. “Don’t be Evil”, in my view.
    For me, it started with the Google Update process that comes with any software you download from Google, i.e. Google Earth, Chrome, and I think Sketchpad.

    There’s no reason for this program to persist the way it does, they could just do the update check when you open the program, like the way Firefox does. Yet as part of the EULA, you must allow this program to run at all times on your PC, and they use some sneaky tricks to make sure it does. Why, I asked myself? And as a result I do not have any of these programs on my PC

    I have some Google ads on my website, across the top bar and down the two sides. They look awful, they slow down page loading, yet I’ve made about $70 after three years of hosting them. Believe me, that’s the first thing that’s going to go on my next major update to the site.

    The final straw was when they introduced their major update to their search engine a few months ago. It used to be that you could set it up so that you got 50 hits on a page. Now you can only get 10, which means almost a guaranteed re-click to get the pages that you actually want, because the paid for hits are on the first page. So after two days of this, I swallowed my pride and went over to Bing. Yes, their search engine isn’t as good as Google used to be, but it’s usable.

    Microsoft are in their classic embrace and extend mode on the internet. They’ve embraced giving out programs for free, like Visual Studio and others, they’ve embraced web standards. They’ve realised that they’re not the standard bearers on the internet like they are on the Desktop, so they’re playing nice. Which is good for us users as long as they’re the underdogs.

  19. E.M.Smith says:


    I always like old Ben… I wonder if in some long away time as a wee lad I had someone tell me that quote… and it percolated in the subconcious… Or are we just fellow travelers of the road of logic and reason? Questions that can never be answered…

    @Paul Hanlon:

    Your timeline matches my experience. Also note that it coincides (the move to Nasdaq and onset of minor evils) with the loss / dilution of control that comes from more stock in more hands and more board of directors members who are not of the founding group. (It’s always that way… notice how Apple evolved to the point where the board forced him out; then took a decade to realize their profound error…)

    So you end up with “founders values” like the Apple Pirate Flag, hire The Best, and the willingness to upset their own product line via self canibalization (you do it, or someone else will…) being replaced with things like “Spindlers List” (Spindler was a German “Jobs Lite Wannabe” who annouced that we ought to run Apple like a Chemical Company and with reduced pay and staffing, i.e. layoffs. I left shortly after discovering the HR department had moved from a 90th percentile staff quality goal to a 70th percentile, with pay at that level, AND had a stock split where they dit NOT split existing options, effectively cutting your stock options in half; but only AFTER doing all the layoffs and getting things settled – i.e. department closed.)

    IMHO, Google is in that phase. The founders are still there, and still speaking the party line. But increasingly they will take ideas to the BOD and be told “Well, we need this feature” or “Leave that out, do this instead”. It is also the case that for dominant players, they can expect a visit from a DOD guy saying “You WILL install this.” Part of why I’m a Linux fan… On Cray supercomputers there is a machine level instruction called “population count”. It makes decryption attacks much much much faster…. It was not in the original instruction set of the machines, but was added after DOD sales picked up…. (at least, that’s what the guys from Cray told me).

    Oh, and one other thing, this is also why all my “interesting stuff” tends to live on a machine with “air gap security” and why when I’m not using the internet I push that little button labled “power” on the router box…

    Not a major impediment to someone with a ‘backdoor’ but it does a couple of things. For one, you can watch the blinky lights at start up. If the pattern changes, something new is happening (i.e. someone is fishing data out…). Further, you can watch the “time to settle” and then the blinky lights ought to stop blinking. Crude, but effective. (I’ve got some spyware and some other network issues that way …. I was working at a company and they thought it “odd” that I had my own router on my desktop plugged into the wall, but I was the I.T. guy and they accepted my saying “It’s to help me with security and network tuning”… )

    So I ALWAYS live behind at least one layer of NAT, usually two. I ALWAYS have ‘blinky lights’ on the network connection where I can see and monitory them. I install ONLY the minimal software needed and turn off every single auto updater I can find. And anything that I really care to keep secret lives behind “air gap security”.

    No, I’m not paranoid, I was just the Director Of I.T.; and before that was sysadmin for a decade or two. There was ALWAYS someone out to “get me”.

    We were under constant and daily attack at Apple. Every kid with a new PC wanted to hack us. One of the “fun bits” we did was to put up a custom cut shell on the accounts “Jobs”, “Steve”, and “Woz” on the “Honeypot” machine that greated the person with a screen that said, basically, “Go away, tiny fish; come back when you grow up and get some decent skills.” then hung and shut the connection. Didn’t even bother logging times per day it got hit. We survived “The Internet Worm” too (back when the entire internet, more or less, got screwed.. we ‘caught it at the door’ on the Honeypot and went to “air gap” to keep it out of the interior while we figured out what it was. One of the few places with internet direct connection that did NOT go down). At other times, especially as a security contractor, I found some inside folks poking at my box…

    So no, I’m not paranoid, I know they are out to get me and I’ve got the perserved log files to show it ;-)

    And folks wonder why I have a USB drive that only gets plugged into the box long enough to drag / drop a folder or two… Trust me, you WILL notice the blinky lights if something starts trying to suck down 1/2 TB of storage … and you CAN use “air gap security” even with an internet connected machine. It just takes a bit of switching from time to time…

    Oh, FWIW, AT&T now works for my DSL, but only after going with “their box” that “they control”. Now my box was properly configged (verfied against their box config too) and it worked FINE for about a month, then they started jiggering the connection. I suspect an “auto-update and if it doesn’t take, bounce them”. At any rate, I now have MY router between me and “their router” on my network… I’m pretty sure AT&T is on the DOD “friends” page… But at least it has a blinky light on the front for traffic volume detection. (and yes, I’ve checked the blink rate against my box blink rate…)

    This is also, BTW, why I have about 5 or 6 computers I use at any one time. 2 Macs, 2 Windoz, and a couple of Lilnux/Unix. Typically only one or 2 turned on at a time. If any truely horrid thing happens, most of the boxes are secure via being off. Data duplicated onto backup media too. So I can “lose” about 3 months of internet downloads (as I’m lazy about how often I back up such stuff) and someone can hack into a box full of things public on the internet, and that’s about it. As I never put in email anything I’d not expect to see in the newspaper, or would be willing to put in a newspaper, it lives on someone elses server. Biggest risk I have is that a power pulse will fry the hardware just as I’ve plugged in the backup box (my UPS battery died a couple of years back and I’ve not replaced it) but I’m just not feeling the need to prep for that given what I do with the boxes these days (i.e. pretty much everything in public on blogs).

    The only thing I really care about are my digital photos, and they are on 2 disks (one a USB plug in) and 2 CDs for each photo. If anyone wants to look at the photos, I’d be happy to show them (as you see them here, you can see that I take a lot of pictures of landscapes and textures, not exactly the stuff security hackers care about…)

    Well, I’m starting to ramble. I’m “into it” with computer security stuff. Guess that’s why I did it professionally for so long. It’s easy to get ranting about the stupidity of the present crop of software vendors…

  20. Malaga View says:

    FYI: an interesting drought collapse

    The Akkadian collapse (Mesopotamia, 4200 calendar yr B.P.)

    Under the rule of Sargon of Akkad, the first empire was established between about 4300 and 4200 calendar years before present (B.P). on the broad, flat alluvial plain between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers (Weiss et al., 1993). Akkadian imperialization of the region linked the productive but remote rain-fed agricultural lands of northern Mesopotamia with the irrigation agriculture tracts of southern Mesopotamian cities. After about a hundred years of prosperity, however, the Akkadian empire collapsed abruptly at 4170 ± 150 calendar yr B.P.
    It has been recently proposed (Cullen et al. 2000) that the demise of this complex civilization is due to a prolonged period of drought starting at 4025 ±150 years).
    The onset of sudden aridification in Mesopotamia near 4100 calendar yr B.P. coincided with a widespread cooling in the North Atlantic (Bond et al., 1997; deMenocal et al., 2000). During this event, termed Holocene Event 3 (Fig. 5, below), Atlantic subpolar and subtropical surface waters cooled by 1° to 2°C.


  21. E.M.Smith says:

    @Malaga View:

    What I’d love to do, but dought I’ll have anywhere near the time available to do it, would be to wander through the history of anyplace with a long record and find just such stories, then lay them on the Bond Event Chart.

    Also dig through the histories of “mega droughts” and “great famine” and plot those on a time chart too.

    Finally, a survey of sedimentation rate of the outflow points of key river systems of the world (Amazon, Mississippi, Sacramento, Columbia, St. Lawrence, Parana, Yellow, Volga, Danube, Nile, etc. etc.) and plot the implied flow rates / water basins.

    I suspect it would be VERY useful and very informative.

    With luck, someone has already done the ‘river thing’, but I’ve not seen it anywhere. (Dig Here! Or perhaps “Paddle Here!” ;-)

    At any rate, I think it is also of note that the events of 1840 were a bit on the cold side, famine side, and land on a “node” of the 179 year cycle just one ahead of a B.E. point (assuming 2020 is middle of one). So I’m wondering if we’ve got a ‘slow approach and departure” from the exact B.E. configuration and that you get very cold events in both the “just preceding” and / or the “just following” B.E. marker points.

    FWIW, the 4200 BC event looks like one of the best defined, historically. In 800-900 BC (Iron Age Cold Period) there was already a load of social disorder going on, so records are kind of crummy; while in The Dark Ages all hell broke loose so it’s just hard to know what happened. Most information was in Rome and Rome didn’t do so well. What wasn’t in Rome was in Constantinople and when they fell, a lot of their information went with them (like substantial chunks of Greek literature). Makes you fond of Clay Tablets ;-)

    ( I’ve actually thought of having a device made to “print” from a computer onto clay blanks that could be fired… not enough market for it and too much work for a personal toy; but it would be ‘way cool’ to have and it would be a fun way to ‘retile the bath’ with things like Gilgamesh and Plato. Of course, putting anything as large as the Encylopedia Brittanica on it would take very large outbuilding to hold…)

    FWIW, it was stories like that Akkadian Collapse that first got me looking in this direction. For me it was the Hittites. I’ve got this interesting little book on the Hittites…. They had a great empire, spoke an Indo-European language (though with only 4 cases IIRC, not the Sanskrit 7 or 8) and were a PITA to Egypt. Then at almost exactly the same time Egypt and the Hittite empires fall. That, for me, was (best Ed Sullivan accent!) “Really Big Cluuue”.

    They are the “lime green” stripe just to the right of the “Egyptian Blue” on the chart here:


    and you can see them ‘fading out’ along with the Egyptians between about 1000 BC and 800 BC.

    By the planet cycle count, BE 2 ought to be 844 BC and the Iron Age Cold Period is often given as 900 BC, but the “one planet 179 year cycle before” lands on 1023 BC. Is it really just a coincidence that the two greatest empires of their time start to decline on THAT marker and finish on the next? (Though Egypt gets a bit earlier start on the 1200 BC marker just before that one. Almost like it starts getting a bit colder, then over a wobbling 358 years it drops ever worse in a couple of cycles until things collapse).

    The “usual explanation’ is that the Sea People and Assyrians attacked and caused the collapse. But that just raises the question of WHY were those folks trying so hard to move in?


    IMHO it’s the usual “bad weather in Europe when cold” causing the Sea Peope to head down the Mediterranean cost to warmer places while we have the typical Assyrian / West Asian influx too.

    FWIW, the Hittites first arrived in Anatolia in about 2200 – 2000 BC or just about BE 3… from up in the Steps of Asia or Ukrain (it is believed). That lands on B.E. 3 and the cycle just after it. Perhaps a bit of “Cold! Run Away!!” and head south to warmer? Or perhaps an “invade after drought emptied the place in BE 3” ? Another “Dig Here!”…

    As an aside, it is also worth note that the Hittite Empire extended down into what is now sourthern Greece and that with their origination up near the radiation point positited for the peoples of central Europe (along with the language affiliation) they were likely very European type folks. Don’t know if any were redheads, though ;-)

    At any rate, the Hittites are a very interesting group that is ignored by most of history (being mostly seen as a footnote to Egyptian wars with them) and “deserve more respect”. If their cycle is indicative, then we ought to see some kinds of historical repeats of folks running away from the “cold end” in Europe and West Asia and running away from the droughts in Egypt and Babylon… Perhaps part of why there has been such consistent fighting over the “middle ground” of the levant and Anatolia over the millenia…

    FWIW my opinion is that the Sea People were indo-european speakers, probably of Greek origin (though with some Hittite admixture and perhaps a bit of the Celts tossed in… they seem to have been a mixed group with loads of sea skills and that fits the Greeks & Celts) and that their invasion lands close to a B.E. point and is usually dated to just one 179 year cycle prior ( 1200 BC) makes me wonder if they were having a bit of cold and wet up in Europe (rather like our Little Ice Age one cycle prior to now…) and were looking for warmer places with more food…


    The Usual explanation is that they were The Usual folks seen in history. Italians, Greeks, Phoenicians, etc. Then later we have a Europe just filled with Celts that came from nowhere? (later overrun by Rome so reduced to the British Islands and Brittany, so easy to forget that they dominated Rome at one point…)

    So I just ask: What were THESE folks doing then? Might not a few of them have joined in the group “headed south” for a bit of warmth?

    On this map:

    notice the “isolated’ green patch in the middle of Anatolia?

    notice the domination of the center of Europe where it tends to get a ‘bit of cold’ during cold excursions?

    notice they share a long border with the Phonecian areas along the southern coast of Iberia and eastward?

    So the Phonecians and Greeks joined the “Sea People” to head south and these folks didn’t? I see…

    (though I do have to say that the dating on the map implies all the celts were in the yellow area at the time of the Sea People or just after. But their early history is just lost. We don’t really know where or when prior to someone else writing it down. That whole “oral history” thing…)

    The earliest archaeological culture commonly accepted as Celtic, or rather Proto-Celtic, was the central European Hallstatt culture (c. 800-450 BC), named for the rich grave finds in Hallstatt, Austria. By the later La Tène period (c. 450 BC up to the Roman conquest), this Celtic culture had expanded over a wide range of regions, whether by diffusion or migration: to the British Isles (Insular Celts), the Iberian Peninsula (Celtiberians, Celtici and Gallaeci), much of Central Europe, (Gauls) and following the Gallic invasion of the Balkans in 279 BC as far east as central Anatolia (Galatians).

    Note that first date, just at the Iron Age Cold Period for the start of it. So before that there was nobody around? Or we just have not found anything in the dirt?

    Either they were already around (and joined the Sea People?) or they spread out into lands emptied by whom or what?

    At any rate, I think there is a “loose end” with the Celts to be tied up. Yeah, it could go either way (missing data but folks actually there; or radiated out displacing what?) and it may be just that it is known and I don’t know that history. But something just doesn’t “fit” right here…

    At any rate, the Phoenican / Greek thing is pretty well attested as the Philistines are known to be Greek in origin now. Then we’ve got the consistent bit of groups showing up and “radiating out” on B.E. nodes and / or “one off” from B.E. nodes. So I’m pretty sure that applying the “time chart” approach to history and the solar cycles would yield interesting results…

    And the water history of the globe ought to be written in the river muds of the coastal plains of the world… a litteral “Dig Here!”…

  22. Malaga View says:

    @ E.M. Smith
    At the moment I am randomly scratching around in the dirt while I wait for my copy of the World History Timechart to arrive on the next camel train from Amazon UK… then I will do some reading… but its a loonnngggg road… and I am wayyyyy behind… plus being magnetically and tidally distracted at the moment…

    the 179 year cycle just one ahead of a B.E. point (assuming 2020 is middle of one).

    The 179 cycle is a precise period when it comes to history, archaeology and paleo-anything… dates include errors, ranges, gaps, guesswork and often get rounded to the nearest 10, 100 or 1000 years depending upon the time of the month… so its not reverse engineering… more like stick the tail on the donkey :-)

    So I’m wondering if we’ve got a ‘slow approach and departure” from the exact B.E. configuration and that you get very cold events in both the “just preceding” and / or the “just following” B.E. marker points.

    That has the right feel to it… there is usually a warm-up artist and stage setting before the main event

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