EPA about to declare CO2 dangerous – ssshhh! – Don't tell the trees

I can’t find the words to describe the illogic behind the EPA with this ruling. Perhaps it is best to say that bureaucrats don’t understand anything but regulations and leave it at that.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will early next week, possibly as soon as Monday, officially declare carbon dioxide a public danger, a trigger that could mean regulation for emitters across the economy, according to several people close to the matter. Story here.

To celebrate, surfacestations.org volunteer Gary Boden sends along this poster:

But there’s an interesting twist, just two days ago, the University of Wisconsin says that CO2 is accelerating forest growth. Of course, bureaucrats wouldn’t understand this, because they can’t regulate tree growth. Oh, wait.

From the University of Wisconsin-Madison press release:

Greenhouse gas carbon dioxide ramps up aspen growth

Dec. 4, 2009

by Terry Devitt

The rising level of atmospheric carbon dioxide may be fueling more than climate change. It could also be making some trees grow like crazy.

That is the finding of a new study of natural stands of quaking aspen, one of North America’s most important and widespread deciduous trees. The study, by scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Minnesota at Morris (UMM) and published today (Dec. 4) in the journal Global Change Biology, shows that elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide during the past 50 years have boosted aspen growth rates by an astonishing 50 percent.

“Trees are already responding to a relatively nominal increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide over the past 50 years,” says Rick Lindroth, a UW-Madison professor of ecology and an expert on plant responses to climate change. Lindroth, UW-Madison colleague Don Waller, and professors Christopher Cole and Jon Anderson of UMM conducted the new study.

The study’s findings are important as the world’s forests, which cover about 30 percent of the Earth’s land surface, play an important role in regulating climate and sequestering greenhouses gases. The forests of the Northern Hemisphere, in particular, act as sinks for carbon dioxide, helping to offset the increase in levels of the greenhouse gas, widely viewed as a threat to global climate stability.

What’s more, according to the study’s authors, the accelerated growth rates of aspen could have widespread unknown ecological consequences. Aspen is a dominant tree in mountainous and northern forested regions of North America, including 42 million acres of Canadian forest and up to 6.5 million acres in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Aspen and their poplar cousins are considered “foundation species,” meaning they exert a strong influence on the plant and animal communities and dynamics of the forest ecosystems where they reside.

“We can’t forecast ecological change. It’s a complicated business,” explains Waller, a UW-Madison professor of botany. “For all we know, this could have very serious effects on slower growing plants and their ability to persist.”

Carbon dioxide, scientists know, is food for plants, which extract it from the air and through the process of photosynthesis convert it to sugar, plant food.

Previously, scientists have shown that plants and trees in growth chambers respond to levels of carbon dioxide well above levels in the atmosphere. The new study is the first to show that aspen in their native forest environments are already growing at accelerated rates due to rising ambient levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

“It’s a change hiding right in front of us,” says Cole, a biologist at UMM. “Aspens respond to all sorts of things we had to account for — water, genetics and other factors — but the strong response to carbon dioxide surprised all of us.”

The study measured the growth rates of 919 trees from Wisconsin forests dominated by aspen and birch. Trees ranging in age from 5 to 76 years old were sampled and subjected to tree-ring analysis. Comparing the tree-ring data, a measure of annual tree growth, with records of atmospheric carbon dioxide, the researchers were able to correlate increased rates of growth with changes in the chemistry of the air.

The surprising increase in growth rates for the trees sampled in the study is coupled, the authors note, with moist conditions. By contrast, aspen in the western United States do not seem to grow as fast as those in the American Midwest, most likely due to recent extended periods of drought. Also, while the researchers found that aspen grow much faster in response to elevated carbon dioxide, similar effects have not been observed in other trees species, notably oak and pine.

Findings from the new study, the authors note, could augur revisions of the estimates of how much carbon northern temperate northern forests can sequester.

“Forests will continue to be important to soak up anthropogenic carbon dioxide,” says Waller. “But we can’t conclude that aspen forests are going to soak up excess carbon dioxide. This is going to plateau.”

“Aspens are already doing their best to mitigate our inputs,” agrees Cole. “The existing trees are going to max out in a couple of decades.”

The new study was funded by the National Science Foundation and UMM.

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Clive

RE: EPA ruling …
In 2002, over 400,000 people died from drowning worldwide. In the US, drowning claims nearly 3,600 lives annually and is the third leading cause of accidental death in the United States.
I guess water will be next. And Lordy, don’t even mention water vapor and clouds to your EPA.
The word has indeed gone mad.
The tree story is something positive in a sea of insanity.
Clive

Steve S.

I was laughing too hard at that poster to finish reading the piece but my first impression is this is a panicked CYA move by the EPA attemting to head off the total collapse of their justification and moral authority for continue defrauding the public with the AGW agenda.

Boulderfield

We are just a step away from identifying “second hand carbon dioxide” risks and proceeding with the necessary regulation and legislation. In the first, “soft” phase, businesses will have to provide rooms where customers who chose to exhale CO2 will be sequestered. In the second phase, exhaling CO2 will be outlawed altogether.

jorgekafkazar

“We can’t forecast ecological change. It’s a complicated business,” explains Waller, a UW-Madison professor of botany. “For all we know, this could have very serious effects on slower growing plants and their ability to persist.”
For all we know, there are fairies at the bottom of Dr. Waller’s garden. Ignoratio elenchi.
“…(T)he researchers were able to correlate increased rates of growth with changes in the chemistry of the air….”
Post hoc, ergo propter hoc. Association doesn’t prove causation.
Clive, you’re right, the world has indeed gone mad. But the tree story, however positive it may really be, is immediately being spun into just another alarmist wave in a sea of Climategate insanity. Logic is dead. Science is dead. Lunacy rules! Woo-woo science is King!

Back2Bat

But with C02
it is simple indeed;
no burning of carbon
and please do not breath.

The life and anti-life groups are defining themselves.

Advocatus Diaboli

Campbell Brown (CNN) has a upcoming episode on climategate.

John Silver

They can say that carbon dioxide is steroids for the trees and that’s illegal.
Water must be ruled out since it is the positive feedback of atmospheric water vapour, and not CO2, that will stew your children in their own juices.
Then EPA will have banned the two substances, H2O and CO2, that supports Life itself on this planet.
And everyone will live happily ever after.
The end.

Steve

Should the EPA go the way of the IPCC – since they are both corrupt or at least very ignorant?

Kath

Hmmm.. does that mean I can complain to the EPA about the high levels of CO2 and contaminants in aircraft cabins?

Purakanui

This work, if accurate, seems to tell me three things. One is that CO2 is beneficial for at least some significant plant growth – I think we might have expected that. But it also tells us that tree rings can be shown to vary with CO2 levels and with precipitation/moisture and not just with temperature. It also tells us that tree growth may vary according to different variables in different species.
I’m pretty much a layman in this, but doesn’t it tell us that tree ring variation depends on a lot of things, including those, but not only those, measured in this study. If that is so, how is temperature selected out for past centuries?

KBK

“Aspens are already doing their best to mitigate our inputs,” agrees Cole. “The existing trees are going to max out in a couple of decades.”
Well, we just need to have a talk with them about trying harder.

LarryOldtimer

Surprise? Well, perhaps to the “scientists”, but any greenhouse owner could have told them this would occur. And it isn’t only the aspens, but all green plants grow faster with higher levels of carbon dioxide.
But . . . oops, turns out that the forests getting greener will have bad consequences too . . . or perhaps not. Was “go green”. Now I guess it will have to change to “Stop the greening of planet Earth!”
Now what was that word the Irish use? Eejits. Yep, sure and they are that, they are.

Pofarmer

“This is going to plateau.””
Yeah, because the only thing sucking up CO2 is Aspen trees. Idiots. If you look at a graph of U.S. corn yields, nest to a Mauna loa CO2 graph, it looks pretty similar. The Biosphere is HUGE. If there is a top end to what the Biosphere could sequester, I don’t think we’ll be finding it anytime soon. Oh, and as a bonus, all that Carbon, taken in by plants, and then sequestered in the soil, makes the top soil more fertile, so we can grow even more, well, green stuff. Recent studies at American Universities, are also showing that, with increased CO2, plants are producing more on less water. This is just barely beginning to be studied, but, already, we’ve got the doomsayers out.

Methow Ken

While I THINK (at least I sure hope) there are some real-world upper limits on how far off the deep end the EPA can take this without Congressional action, consider for a moment this sobering and potentially very frightening thought:
Carried to its ultimate and bureaucratically insane conclusion, this absurd finding that CO2 is ”dangerous” has the potential to eventually lead to government regulating, monitoring, and controlling just about EVERY aspect and minute detail of the personal lives of all US citizens.
Never forgot: Freedom never was free; and it won’t continue to exist if a majority are content to leave the government on internal autopilot.

Leon Brozyna

It’s a crisis — accelerating flora growth rates change everything in the biosphere. How can people run things if everything keeps changing? Next thing you know, fauna will respond to increased flora growth and we’ll have more meat than we can eat. Then there will be more people to eat more of the available food. It’s enough to drive control freaks (aka bureaucrats) up the wall.

Richard111

The average human breathes out CO2 at about 40,000ppmv. Multiply that by 6.5 billion then double every 45 years. I guess there is a problem.

Jesper Berg

A desensitizing step closer to the public announcement of the bigger depopulation agenda?

Mikkel

“We can’t forecast ecological change. It’s a complicated business,”
Why not just use computer models? I can hardly be more complex than climatic systems.
I am sure the models will show that the Aspen tree will grow to more than 500 meters in 2100. Furthermore, the amount of drift wood from these trees will make the oceans rise another meter by 2100.
/Mikkel

Steve

@Purakanui
Grenhousemen routinely run the C02 level at 1,000PPM and as high as 2,000ppm – to benefit plant production.
EM Smith states that this level was as much as 1,000 times greater in the past without ending the world.
I think we should be able to stop the EPA once more… remember the MTBE additive they required – !

David

Richard111 (22:43:01) :
That made me wonder if there has ever been an honest accounting of the effect that population has on CO2. There were 1.6(ish) billion people in 1900, and there are now 6.1(ish) billion. That is four times as much CO2 being exhaled. Where does it all go?

Ed Scott

The action of the EPA is constitutional. The Supreme Court of the United States decided that Carbon Dioxide is a pollutant in the Massachusetts vs. EPA decision of 2007.
The government is legislatively making Nature subject the government’s rules and regulations.
We will live in a Utopian Camelot of government specified temperature, controlled sea level, a government standardized CO2 concentration and lots of Arctic ice for the Polar Bear playground.

Bulldust

The EPA is bringing a new meaning to the term “oxygen thieves.” Also reported in the WSJ:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126013960013179181.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
I see Barrie Harrop is hyperventilating there again… doesn’t he realise that will produce more CO2???

The museum of natural history of Helsinki features a note on the Devon (?) period: “Falling CO2 levels forced plants to develop more efficient methods of assimilating CO2 and they started sprouting LEAVES.”

Alick Dowling

As a retired GP in his 90th year I am astonished that the medical profession has swallowed the idea that CO2 is a poison. The BMJ and Lancet promote this nonsense. Less than 30 years ago we denied that peptic ulcer could be due to a bacillus. It took Australian doctors to prove us wrong, and ten or more years for us to accept that. They deserved their Nobel Prize in this century for their determination in the face of hostility.
Now Joanne Nova is leading the way in concentrating on the central ‘diagnosis’ that CO2 is the culprit. She deserves all the support she is now receiving.
Alick Dowling

Andy_

Barrie Harrop is a sanctimonious turd. He’s quite the ‘green energy exec’ ain’t he?
Apparently business is so good he has endless tracts of time to spend online spewing nonsense…..i wonder what the board of directors think of his online antics….

Michael

First news article I’ve found on the solar minimum in a long time.
Will astrophysicists be allowed in the climate debate now?
Can a lull in solar activity head off climate change?
http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2009/12/07/can_a_lull_in_solar_activity_head_off_climate_change/

Tenuc

I think the EPA is in big, big trouble.
It did not do enough of its own work to try and validate the IPCC ‘consensus’ science – the IPCC reports were based on data from UEA CRU/GISS – UEA CRU/GISS data can no longer be seen as reliable – I can see lots of court cases ensuing on this one :-))

Vote Quimby

Good lord, this is getting way out of hand! Let’s hope the EPA then set the trend by having their employees stop breathing like the poster suggests. What’s that? They won’t? Of course not, shows just how ridiculous this whole sham is getting!

PhilW

So if extra co2 makes trees grow faster, how come Phil Jones had to “hide the decline” in post 1960 tree ring widths measured by Keith Briffa?
By the way, this isn’t the first report on accelerated tree growth.
Back on the 18th Feb 2009, Pof Simon Lewis of Leeds Uni had this published in Nature.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-02/uol-oof021609.php

Ron de Haan
Doug in Seattle

Ken from the beautiful Methow Valley. You’d better lock yourself in your cabin and not come until next November. It’ll be a rough ride til then. Maybe afterward too, it might last another three years. Hope you’ve stocked up.

2SoonOld2LateSmart

What about oxygen?
Doesn’t it oxidize everything it touches?
Surely that is grounds for banning.
/sarc

Allan

Maybe the EPA would like an all oxygen atmosphere.
Then we could wait for events like the immolation of Apollo 1 occurring on a wider scale.
The EPA appears not to appreciate the subtleties of nature.
What do you expect from bureaucrats.

Particular Individual

Individual Humans produce 1000-3000lbs of CO2 / Year….. hmmm
Thats like half our allowance.

Boudu

Trees benefit from CO2 ?! Who knew ?

More people, more demand for meat products (cow, sheep, chicken, etc.) which also exhale CO2, plus more industrialization, ever more CO2 emission. But more CO2 means more plant growth, taking away from the atmosphere the excess CO2. There should be self-regulation and self-regeneration of the gas there. We end up with CO2 hardly reaching 500 ppm even a century from now.

Purakanui (22:32:30) :
I’m pretty much a layman in this, but doesn’t it tell us that tree ring variation depends on a lot of things, including those, but not only those, measured in this study.

Whatever factor is in short supply is the growth limiting factor. For any given tree, at any given time, it might be water, warmth, CO2, bear poo, phosporus (bird poo), etc. All of them together will determine the ulitmate growth and thus the ultimate tree ring size.
If that is so, how is temperature selected out for past centuries?
Poorly. Very poorly.

nominal

c02 for the energy infrastructure and all that entails and implies, and it looks like food and water are next. i can’t remember which country it was that had their water privatized via predatory lending by the world bank, but they even made it illegal to use rainwater… monsanto or betchel or some company was involved…

Geoff C

There is a bright side, as an Australian producing exports and competing with the USA in the world market, such a pronouncement is beneficial to me, by reducing the competitiveness of the USA. This is because the costs of doing business and energy usage may well go up in the USA.

Oh, and per the EPA declaring CO2 a polutant:
Well, folks pushing too hard breaks things, and breaking things makes crowds grumpy. And cold hungry grumpy crowds shout things:
“Hey Hey, Ho Ho, EPA Has Got To GO!”
Repeat in the millions until free…
Tyrants of all sorts always push too far, and then they are taken down by the mob. But the mob is a lazy beast, so it takes a long time to get motivated. The problem for EPA is that it is hard to sell folks on the notion that being cold, hungry, and poor is “improving their lives”.

Mr. Anon

“Ed Scott (22:53:32) :
The action of the EPA is constitutional. The Supreme Court of the United States decided that Carbon Dioxide is a pollutant in the Massachusetts vs. EPA decision of 2007.”
The Supreme Court ruled in favor – that’s not the same as being constitutional. The Court has issued many blatantly unconstitutional rulings (Kelo, for instance). The Supreme Court has no more authority to rule CO2 a pollutant than I have to annoint Ruth Bader Ginsburg the Queen of Romania.

Dr. Kasivishvanathan Sundar

One of my earlier comments in this same site would be more appropriate in these discussions… (I hope that copying it here again doesn’t create space problems)
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/09/27/quote-of-the-week-20-ding-dong-the-stick-is-dead/#comment-228192
Dr. Kasivishvanathan Sundar (09:00:25) :
Even when I read blogs, I generally do not comment or participate in discussions – well, may be you could say that it is a retired attitude… But, I thought that this does invite a comment, even if late in making it.
The total carbon content of the world (when you include the core and the mantle of our earth) doesn’t change much as there aren’t many carbon rich meteorites striking our world…
Given this, it is only the atmospheric content of carbon that is of concern. I would like, being a person not in the community, how much of carbon (as dioxide) a volcano gives out to what is given out by us mining these out and burning these.
There may be fluctuation in climate that would encourage multiplication of carbon-fixing organisms to carbon-releasing organisms like us. Again another indicator would be the quantity of carbon-releasing organisms that exits compared to the carbon-fixing ones.
Whichever way you go the release of carbon to atmosphere cannot be slowed down whether we mine it or whether it is because of a natural causes like a volcano, or because of organisms like us.
The increase in temperature due to higher CO2 will be compensated as there will be more water that will evaporate and cause a cloud cover that will decrease the temperatures over significant areas so as to lower the overall surface temperatures…
So, it would be a cycle – what is causing harm is deforestation to fix back the carbon that WE are emitting (not only through supposedly fossil fuels, but more by our own biological mechanisms – I would really like to have a figure as to the amount of CO2 that we as humans are releasing to the atmosphere). Fortunately we can not control the algae that grows in the Oceans which will/may revert back the equilibrium – but with epsilon deviation as time goes on, more carbon is released from our core and mantle, which cannot be stopped…
So, we need to accept that the average carbon content of the surface of earth will keep increasing (only if our Earth’s core and mantle has not captured in their formative years those fragments with more carbon)
Two solutions…
One – take tones of carbon lump formed by our life forms in space ships and throw it out in space.
Two, accept the climatic change, and increase the carbon-fixing organism and reduce the carbon-emitting organisms (this would mean that in the next million years, tentatively more that 80% of life here should be carbon fixing organisms)…!!!
I request all to understand the overall dynamics at a planet-level and think accordingly – people who cannot take a pike and do the ground work to contribute to the society by planting more plants, will talk anything to keep their bread/funds coming their way…
Smokey (09:18:35) :
Dr. Kasivishvanathan Sundar,
To answer a couple of your questions…
Human CO2 emissions versus natural emissions:
http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/eia_co2_contributions_table3.png
We know too little about volcanoes. Those on land we can measure. But hundreds of thousands of new undersea volcanoes were recently discovered:
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn12218
Dr. Kasivishvanathan Sundar (11:26:35) :
Great data…
But, I do not understand the classification of human CO2 emissions – when I meant human, I did not mean the human activity but we as biological organisms (and other higher organisms that give out CO2) that contribute to the atmospheric carbon (as dioxide) – each of us probably (do check this) exhale 1 kg of CO2 every day; with population of 6 billion for humans alone, this would be 6 million tons a day – what about the other species that are around…?
And out of volcanoes on land that we can measure what is the ratio of the CO2 emitted by them to us burning the fossil (if it is really fossil – it could be from carbon compounds from even earlier in formation of our planet or is being formed right now under us) fuels – any data there?
But, wouldn’t you think that the total carbon content of this planet as a whole that includes its crust would not change much and the atmospheric carbon would increase with time (whether man/life-form made or not)…?
And, are we really so much advanced to have understood all the processes that are involved – aren’t we making tall claims one-way or other…?
My suggestion (what ever it is worthy of) is to follow the path of minimalism for a coming few centuries by every individual who has the conscious power to alter the surroundings – it is, maybe a distant hope…
I hope that these doesn’t offend anyone established in this field and it is just that I would like to highlight an alternative way of looking at things – do apologize my ignorance, if any…

David

Well, if carbon dioxide is to be deemed a pollutant by the EPA because of its global warming potential, for consistency the EPA should damn water vapour as well -after all it is the main greenhouse gas by far. But on second thoughts, where does the money lead?
Where will this madness end?

John Trigge

As our exhalations are 4% CO2, does this mean that Expired Air Resuscitation (EAR) is to be banned? Does the EPA have any guidance on what will replace the long-established EAR?

“Aspens are already doing their best to mitigate our inputs,” agrees Cole. “The existing trees are going to max out in a couple of decades.”
And it’s not like they’re gonna produce any *seedlings* in those decades, which are then going to mature into *additional* trees. Nature is really static in that regard, ya know.
[/sarc]
Note to EPA: “seedlings” = “baby trees”…

vg

NH ice now normal
http://arctic-roos.org/observations/satellite-data/sea-ice/ice-area-and-extent-in-arctic
probably higher because of unreliability since Oct 1 (ie error is “under”, not “over”)

jorgekafkazar

Meanwhile, the US Chamber of Commerce has waffled and is now bowing Obama-style to Kerry and Graham:
“The Chamber commends Senators Kerry and Graham for their recent New York Times editorial on the need for comprehensive climate legislation.” The comments on this editorial are (with the exception of one resident warmist weasel) very angry. Take a look for yourself:
http://www.chamberpost.com/2009/11/climate-change—a-different-approach.html
My Pearl Harbor Day response:
I have bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering, including physics and chemistry courses, radiation into gases, astrophysics, and mathematics. I’ve spent over 500 hours in the past year looking into AGW science. My conclusion? It’s drivel.
The statement that added CO² will cause disastrous global warming is on a par with the bumblebees- can’t-fly canard: all theory, and much evidence to the contrary.
Climategate has revealed that skeptics have been right all along: pro-AGW scientists were cooking the books since early days. Those implicated by the leaked memos include IPCC science insiders at the highest levels, those responsible for virtually all “global temperature records” relied upon by the IPCC and for the IPCC summary reports themselves.
If AGW science were valid, why did Climategate scientists find it necessary to manipulate data, evade FOI requests, plan to destroy data, threaten boycotts of neutral journals, prevent publication of dissenting views, and then, for the cherry on top of this insidious farrago, proclaim a fictitious consensus?
AGW has been exposed as the greatest hoax in history, driven by a propaganda machine funded by billions of our tax dollars in the service of global socialism and tyranny. It’s time for the Chamber to make a stand, take an unequivocal position against this treasonous destruction of American industry.
“If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.” –Winston Churchill

B E Brill

“the current and projected concentrations of … key greenhouse gases ….in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations”.
Could some of you lawyers please elaborate? What does “threaten” mean in this context – 50/50 chance of bad outcomes, clear & present danger, more bad than good (cost/benefit), higher risk than other dangers, etc?
I like the use of AND rather than OR throughout. The EPA will need to defend its finding in respect to both now and the future, and both welfare (including economic circumstances) and health.

PhilW

lord Christopher Monckton. Russia Today UK Sky channel 512. See video here;
http://rt.com/Top_News/2009-12-01/its-end-climate-change.html
Would be nice to see this on BBC………..