Happer on The Truth About Greenhouse Gases

The dubious science of the climate crusaders.

William Happer is the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics at Princeton University.

The object of the Author in the following pages has been to collect the most remarkable instances of those moral epidemics which have been excited, sometimes by one cause and sometimes by another, and to show how easily the masses have been led astray, and how imitative and gregarious men are, even in their infatuations and crimes,” wrote Charles Mackay in the preface to the first edition of his Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. I want to discuss a contemporary moral epidemic: the notion that increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide, will have disastrous consequences for mankind and for the planet. The “climate crusade” is one characterized by true believers, opportunists, cynics, money-hungry governments, manipulators of various types—even children’s crusades—all based on contested science and dubious claims.

I am a strong supporter of a clean environment. We need to be vigilant to keep our land, air, and waters free of real pollution, particulates, heavy metals, and pathogens, but carbon dioxide (CO2 ) is not one of these pollutants. Carbon is the stuff of life. Our bodies are made of carbon. A normal human exhales around 1 kg of CO2 (the simplest chemically stable molecule of carbon in the earth’s atmosphere) per day. Before the industrial period, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was 270 ppm. At the present time, the concentration is about 390 ppm, 0.039 percent of all atmospheric molecules and less than 1 percent of that in our breath. About fifty million years ago, a brief moment in the long history of life on earth, geological evidence indicates, CO2 levels were several thousand ppm, much higher than now. And life flourished abundantly.

Now the Environmental Protection Agency wants to regulate atmospheric CO2 as a “pollutant.” According to my Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, to pollute is “to make or render unclean, to defile, to desecrate, to profane.” By breathing are we rendering the air unclean, defiling or desecrating it? Efforts are underway to remedy the old-fashioned, restrictive definition of pollution. The current Wikipedia entry on air pollution, for example, now asserts that pollution includes: “carbon dioxide (CO2)—a colorless, odorless, non-toxic greenhouse gas associated with ocean acidification, emitted from sources such as combustion, cement production, and respiration.”

As far as green plants are concerned, CO2 is not a pollutant, but part of their daily bread—like water, sunlight, nitrogen, and other essential elements. Most green plants evolved at CO2 levels of several thousand ppm, many times higher than now. Plants grow better and have better flowers and fruit at higher levels. Commercial greenhouse operators recognize this when they artificially increase the concentrations inside their greenhouses to over 1000 ppm.

Wallis Simpson, the woman for whom King Edward VIII renounced the British throne, supposedly said, “A woman can’t be too rich or too thin.” But in reality, you can get too much or too little of a good thing. Whether we should be glad or worried about increasing levels of CO2 depends on quantitative numbers, not just qualitative considerations.

How close is the current atmosphere to the upper or lower limit for CO2? Did we have just the right concentration at the preindustrial level of 270 ppm? Reading breathless media reports about CO2 “pollution” and about minimizing our carbon footprints, one might think that the earth cannot have too little CO2, as Simpson thought one couldn’t be too thin—a view which was also overstated, as we have seen from the sad effects of anorexia in so many young women. Various geo-engineering schemes are being discussed for scrubbing CO2 from the air and cleansing the atmosphere of the “pollutant.” There is no lower limit for human beings, but there is for human life. We would be perfectly healthy in a world with little or no atmospheric CO2—except that we would have nothing to eat and a few other minor inconveniences, because most plants stop growing if the levels drop much below 150 ppm. If we want to continue to be fed and clothed by the products of green plants, we can have too little CO2.

The minimum acceptable value for plants is not that much below the 270 ppm preindustrial value. It is possible that this is not enough, that we are better off with our current level, and would be better off with more still. There is evidence that California orange groves are about 30 percent more productive today than they were 150 years ago because of the increase of atmospheric CO2.

Although human beings and many other animals would do well with no CO2 at all in the air, there is an upper limit that we can tolerate. Inhaling air with a concentration of a few percent, similar to the concentration of the air we exhale, hinders the diffusional exchange of CO2 between the blood and gas in the lung. Both the United States Navy (for submariners) and nasa (for astronauts) have performed extensive studies of human tolerance to CO2. As a result of these studies, the Navy recommends an upper limit of about 8000 ppm for cruises of ninety days, and nasa recommends an upper limit of 5000 ppm for missions of one thousand days, both assuming a total pressure of one atmosphere. Higher levels are acceptable for missions of only a few days.

We conclude that atmospheric CO2 levels should be above 150 ppm to avoid harming green plants and below about 5000 ppm to avoid harming people. That is a very wide range, and our atmosphere is much closer to the lower end than to the upper end. The current rate of burning fossil fuels adds about 2 ppm per year to the atmosphere, so that getting from the current level to 1000 ppm would take about 300 years—and 1000 ppm is still less than what most plants would prefer, and much less than either the nasa or the Navy limit for human beings.

Yet there are strident calls for immediately stopping further increases in CO2 levels and reducing the current level. As we have discussed, animals would not even notice a doubling of CO2 and plants would love it. The supposed reason for limiting it is to stop global warming—or, since the predicted warming has failed to be nearly as large as computer models forecast, to stop climate change. Climate change itself has been embarrassingly uneventful, so another rationale for reducing CO2 is now promoted: to stop the hypothetical increase of extreme climate events like hurricanes or tornados. But this does not necessarily follow. The frequency of extreme events has either not changed or has decreased in the 150 years that CO2 levels have increased from 270 to 390 ppm.

Let me turn to some of the problems the non-pollutant CO2 is supposed to cause. More CO2 is supposed to cause flooded cities, parched agriculture, tropical diseases in Alaska, etc., and even an epidemic of kidney stones. It does indeed cause some warming of our planet, and we should thank Providence for that, because without the greenhouse warming of CO2 and its more potent partners, water vapor and clouds, the earth would be too cold to sustain its current abundance of life.

Other things being equal, more CO2 will cause more warming. The question is how much warming, and whether the increased CO2 and the warming it causes will be good or bad for the planet.

The argument starts something like this. CO2 levels have increased from about 280 ppm to 390 ppm over the past 150 years or so, and the earth has warmed by about 0.8 degree Celsius during that time. Therefore the warming is due to CO2. But correlation is not causation. Roosters crow every morning at sunrise, but that does not mean the rooster caused the sun to rise. The sun will still rise on Monday if you decide to have the rooster for Sunday dinner.

There have been many warmings and coolings in the past when the CO2 levels did not change. A well-known example is the medieval warming, about the year 1000, when the Vikings settled Greenland (when it was green) and wine was exported from England. This warm period was followed by the “little ice age” when the Thames would frequently freeze over during the winter. There is no evidence for significant increase of CO2 in the medieval warm period, nor for a significant decrease at the time of the subsequent little ice age. Documented famines with millions of deaths occurred during the little ice age because the cold weather killed the crops. Since the end of the little ice age, the earth has been warming in fits and starts, and humanity’s quality of life has improved accordingly.

A rare case of good correlation between CO2 levels and temperature is provided by ice-core records of the cycles of glacial and interglacial periods of the last million years of so. But these records show that changes in temperature preceded changes in CO2 levels, so that the levels were an effect of temperature changes. This was probably due to outgassing of CO2 from the warming oceans and the reverse effect when they cooled.

The most recent continental ice sheets began to melt some twenty thousand years ago. During the “Younger Dryas” some 12,000 years ago, the earth very dramatically cooled and warmed by as much as 10 degrees Celsius in fifty years.

The earth’s climate has always been changing. Our present global warming is not at all unusual by the standards of geological history, and it is probably benefiting the biosphere. Indeed, there is very little correlation between the estimates of CO2 and of the earth’s temperature over the past 550 million years (the “Phanerozoic” period). The message is clear that several factors must influence the earth’s temperature, and that while CO2 is one of these factors, it is seldom the dominant one. The other factors are not well understood. Plausible candidates are spontaneous variations of the complicated fluid flow patterns in the oceans and atmosphere of the earth—perhaps influenced by continental drift, volcanoes, variations of the earth’s orbital parameters (ellipticity, spin-axis orientation, etc.), asteroid and comet impacts, variations in the sun’s output (not only the visible radiation but the amount of ultraviolet light, and the solar wind with its magnetic field), variations in cosmic rays leading to variations in cloud cover, and other causes.

The existence of the little ice age and the medieval warm period were an embarrassment to the global-warming establishment, because they showed that the current warming is almost indistinguishable from previous warmings and coolings that had nothing to do with burning fossil fuel. The organization charged with producing scientific support for the climate change crusade, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), finally found a solution. They rewrote the climate history of the past 1000 years with the celebrated “hockey stick” temperature record.

The first IPCC report, issued in 1990, showed both the medieval warm period and the little ice age very clearly. In the IPCC’s 2001 report was a graph that purported to show the earth’s mean temperature since the year 1000. A yet more extreme version of the hockey stick graph made the cover of the Fiftieth Anniversary Report of the United Nation’s World Meteorological Organization. To the surprise of everyone who knew about the strong evidence for the little ice age and the medieval climate optimum, the graph showed a nearly constant temperature from the year 1000 until about 150 years ago, when the temperature began to rise abruptly like the blade of a hockey stick. The inference was that this was due to the anthropogenic “pollutant” CO2.

This damnatia memoriae of inconvenient facts was simply expunged from the 2001 IPCC report, much as Trotsky and Yezhov were removed from Stalin’s photographs by dark-room specialists in the later years of the dictator’s reign. There was no explanation of why both the medieval warm period and the little ice age, very clearly shown in the 1990 report, had simply disappeared eleven years later.

The rest of the article is here

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spangled drongo

Great wisdom. These words should be set in stone.

Ian H

Please check formatting – I’m seeing two copies.
… must be a side effect of the rapture … 😉
[Fixed. ~dbs]

John Marshall

Prof Happer’s article is excellent and 95% correct. We disagree on the fact about the GHG theory which other physicists conclude does not happen due to thermodynamic law violations. There are other mechanisms that explain the temperature at the surface.
I disagree that the pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 content was 270 ppmv. We do not know what it was 300 years ago and it is certain that CO2 would not remain at one level given the earths chaotic energetic systems that are deeply involved with CO2. Proxy data for CO2 is poor and those given for Victorian England are still 270 ppmv whereas the actual measured values are up to 500 ppmv using the same methods as are still used today.
Much of the myth and so called fact that surrounds CO2 is political and shrouded in political correctness both of which must be peeled away to get to the truth.

you appear to have duplicated text – this appears twice:
Wallis Simpson, the woman for whom King Edward VIII renounced the British throne, supposedly said, “A woman can’t be too rich or too thin.” But in reality, you can get too much or too little of a good thing. Whether we should be glad or worried about increasing levels of CO2 depends on quantitative numbers, not just qualitative considerations.
thanks
JK
[Duplicate posting deleted. ~dbs, mod.]

well….,
all that is exactly what I have been saying
http://www.letterdash.com/HenryP/more-carbon-dioxide-is-ok-ok
Great minds think alike.

I cannot understand how the American Physical Society, and the Royal Society can continue to support the idea of CAGW, when it is now clear that there is solid scientific evidence that Henrik Svensmark may well be right. The case made in the TAR that there are no extraterrestrial forcings, other than a minor change in the solar constant, is simply not supported by the scientific facts. There is, obvioulsy, a very real possibility that changes in the sun’s magnetic field change the earth’s climate.

Bruce Cobb

A well-reasoned, truthful expose of the climate crusade. As such, both it and Happer will be attacked viciously by the crusaders themselves, as befits their modus operandi. They just can’t handle the truth.

richard telford

One might hope that a specialist in spectroscopy would have some more original input, since the interaction between matter and radiated energy is central to the greenhouse effect. I assume the lack of critique means that you are unable to find any flaws in the science.
Instead we find the usual blathering about CO2 being plant food, as if that were a novel observation, or of any relevance to either climate change or ocean acidification. On the latter issue you are remarkably quiet, perhaps you know enough chemistry not to make a fool of yourself twice over.
And then the Medieval Warm Period, so embarrassing to climate scientists that you will never find any papers that mention it, unless you read some. It was more likely caused by a conflagration of straw men than CO2, so I doubt any palaeoclimate scientists will loose sleep over your observation that it was not CO2 driven. They are not foolish enough to think that all climate change has to be driven by the same forcing. The MWP demonstrates that the earth’s climate is sensitive to changes in forcing, and would caution rational folk that perhaps we shouldn’t twist the dials too far.

Richard111

“”It does indeed cause some warming of our planet, and we should thank Providence for that, because without the greenhouse warming of CO2 and its more potent partners, water vapor and clouds, the earth would be too cold to sustain its current abundance of life.””
That statement needs support. According to Wien’s Law radiation at 15 microns (CO2 favourite) equates to a temperature of 193.2K or -79.95C. Most of the earth’s surface is way above this temperature. So how much warming and where please.

liza

Thank you for this article Anthony. I’ve been a long time reader here but haven’t ever commented before. It is nice to be in the same opinion as a professor of physics at Princeton University when I’ve been blocked for days from replying to lucia and mosher (and others) on the Blackboard for trying to say these same things. I’ve been in a long standing argument over there over geological evidence that tell us the story of climate on this planet verses their modern thermometer data. This week they’ve called my opinion boring and tiring. I wonder who else is being censored.

LazyTeenager

About fifty million years ago, a brief moment in the long history of life on earth, geological evidence indicates, CO2 levels were several thousand ppm, much higher than now. And life flourished abundantly.
————-
Here is something to have a good debate about,
1. What were land and sea conditions like 50Myr ago?
2. Could our agricultural systems evolve to handle this?
3. Could human civilization exist in these conditions?
4. Can the USA as a nation cope with the transition to such a high CO2 regime?
This is all a bit SciFi but it’s worth considering.
I get the impression when climate skeptics try variations on this debating point that they imagine that will have no effect on their lives or maybe it’s just a matter of turning up the AirCon a bit. This looks like a failure of imagination to me.
So let’s run with this a little. If it offends you just imagine that the change was brought about by some natural cycle and not by CO2 and that the climate scientists just had a lucky guess.
Have fun.

Tom in Florida

R Gates is one who should stop sipping the kool aid long enough to read the article, the entire article.

stephen richards

Telford, you can be such a bore. Nothing you have said provides the other side of the scientific discussion. Put up or shut up, please

Bruce Cobb

richard telford says:
May 21, 2011 at 5:08 am
The MWP demonstrates that the earth’s climate is sensitive to changes in forcing, and would caution rational folk that perhaps we shouldn’t twist the dials too far.
Ah, the good old Precautionary Principle. Haven’t seen that CAGW “argument” used in a while. Always good for a laugh. Please do tell us more about these “dials”, though, and how we’re “twisting” them.

The rest of the article is well worth reading. I hope the CAGW crowd tries to refute it, and bring more attention to it. “But it wasn’t published in Nature.” isn’t going to fly.

Marion

A really excellent article – many thanks for posting it, Anthony. William Happer is spot on in his assessment. There are so many excellent observations it’s difficult to know which to highlight but I think this paragraph is a contender –
“A major problem has been the co-opting of climate science by politics, ambition, greed, and what seems to be a hereditary human need for a righteous cause. What better cause than saving the planet? Especially if one can get ample, secure funding at the same time? Huge amounts of money are available from governments and wealthy foundations for climate institutes and for climate-related research.”
For those of you who think politicians have been duped by scientists – no, this is not the case. Senior politicians have directed the ‘science’ into naming CO2 as the ‘enemy’ that has to be taxed out of existence. This is not scientifically driven but politically driven with the ‘scientists’ as useful tools! The same with the scientific associations – their boards are riddled with political cronies who are intent on slanting the science for their own benefit.

Roger Carr

William Happer: “There is no lower limit for human beings, but there is for human life. We would be perfectly healthy in a world with little or no atmospheric CO2…”
AND
“Although human beings and many other animals would do well with no CO2 at all in the air, there is an upper limit that we can tolerate.”
I thought humans needed CO2 to trigger breathing?
(I post this with only a couple of paragraphs read, hoping that by the time I have finished reading an answer will be waiting for me in a comment.)

Jeff Mitchell

I’ve been puzzled about all the commentary about what is “good” or “bad” to the planet. What exactly do they mean by it? Mother nature, bless her heart, doesn’t care. The vast majority of the universe is lifeless because it is either too hot or too cold. At some point, the sun will expand and destroy the earth. Carbon dioxide won’t be the culprit. Is that good or bad?
What these people are saying, and rather indirectly at that, is that WE are going to get hurt by the extra CO2. We like the arrangement of the world as it is and don’t want it changed. We care. Nature does not. If nature cared, it wouldn’t blast the landscape with asteroids or volcanoes. If it cared about human population, it would tune down the reproductive urges. Yet it does not. Nature has let us get to where we are and has shown no signs of stopping us. The characterization of nature as an entity that cares about the planet is religious in nature, not scientific. It is worship of yet another god under pseudo-scientific claims.
We are the ones that care. But I don’t see warming as a threat. We adapt. If the oceans rise, people move away from the lower elevations. That does not happen all of a sudden with a tsunami, it happens millimeters at a time over years. There is plenty of time to adapt. And there may not be much we can do about it. There weren’t industrial processes responsible for CO2 during the previous warming periods, and nobody tried to take CO2 out of the air to cause the little ice age. This post reminds me of a story told in a church sermon. A monkey in a zoo is content. He is distracted by the noise of a passing airplane, and disturbed, the monkey shakes his fist at it. The plane goes away. Monkey thereafter thinks that his shaking his fist at it made it go away. In the future, he shakes his fist at all planes flying overhead, and they all go away. He is content. The warmists remind me of that monkey.

William

In reply to:
“richard telford says:
May 21, 2011 at 5:08 am
And then the Medieval Warm Period, so embarrassing to climate scientists that you will never find any papers that mention it, unless you read some. It was more likely caused by a conflagration of straw men than CO2, so I doubt any palaeoclimate scientists will lose sleep over your observation that it was not CO2 driven. They are not foolish enough to think that all climate change has to be driven by the same forcing. The MWP demonstrates that the earth’s climate is sensitive to changes in forcing, and would caution rational folk that perhaps we shouldn’t twist the dials too far.”
Richard, the issue is the clear manipulation of the paleoclimatic record by the IPCC to hide the Medieval warm period and to smooth out the Little Ice age.
The Climate Gate emails showed there is a cabal of “Climate Scientists” that are overtly working to manipulate the climate data and to block scientific papers that do not support the extreme AGW position.
Current observations support the assertion that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 will result in warming of less than 1 C.
Happer on The Truth About Greenhouse Gases
“The first IPCC report, issued in 1990, showed both the medieval warm period and the little ice age very clearly. In the IPCC’s 2001 report was a graph that purported to show the earth’s mean temperature since the year 1000. A yet more extreme version of the hockey stick graph made the cover of the Fiftieth Anniversary Report of the United Nation’s World Meteorological Organization. To the surprise of everyone who knew about the strong evidence for the little ice age and the medieval climate optimum, the graph showed a nearly constant temperature from the year 1000 until about 150 years ago, when the temperature began to rise abruptly like the blade of a hockey stick. The inference was that this was due to the anthropogenic “pollutant” CO2.”
Richard why are there no comments in the general press and the IPCC reports about the benefits of increasing atmospheric CO2?
Plants eat CO2.
Commercial greenhouses inject CO2 to increase yield and reduce growing times. C3 plants loss roughly 50% of their absorbed water due to low CO2 levels. The optimum CO2 level for plants is around 2000 ppm. As CO2 levels rise plants produce less stomata on their leaves enables them to make effective use of water.
http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/00-077.htm#f1
For most crops the saturation point will be reached at about 1,000–1,300 ppm under ideal circumstances. A lower level (800–1,000 ppm) is recommended for raising seedlings (tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers) as well as for lettuce production. Even lower levels (500–800 ppm) are recommended for African violets and some Gerbera varieties. Increased CO2 levels will shorten the growing period (5%–10%), improve crop quality and yield, as well as, increase leaf size and leaf thickness. The increase in yield of tomato, cucumber and pepper crops is a result of increased numbers and faster flowering per plant.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T3Y-4N6FNPR-1&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1133437266&_rerunOrigin=google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=602850a304857db4767613a021735d61
Impact of elevated CO2 and temperature on rice yield and methods of adaptation as evaluated by crop simulation studies
But increases in the CO2 concentration up to 700 ppm led to the average yield increases of about 30.73% by ORYZA1 and 56.37% by INFOCROP rice.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T3Y-4N6FNPR-1&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1133437266&_rerunOrigin=google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=602850a304857db4767613a021735d61
Impact of elevated CO2 and temperature on rice yield and methods of adaptation as evaluated by crop simulation studies
But increases in the CO2 concentration up to 700 ppm led to the average yield increases of about 30.73% by ORYZA1 and 56.37% by INFOCROP rice.
Check out figure 1.
http://www.ncasi.org/publications/Detail.aspx?id=3025
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/05/030509084556.htm
Greenhouse Gas Might Green Up The Desert; Weizmann Institute Study Suggests That Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels Might Cause Forests To Spread Into Dry Environments
The Weizmann team found, to its surprise, that the Yatir forest is a substantial “sink” (CO2-absorbing site): its absorbing efficiency is similar to that of many of its counterparts in more fertile lands. These results were unexpected since forests in dry regions are considered to develop very slowly, if at all, and thus are not expected to soak up much carbon dioxide (the more rapidly the forest develops the more carbon dioxide it needs, since carbon dioxide drives the production of sugars). However, the Yatir forest is growing at a relatively quick pace, and is even expanding further into the desert.
Plants need carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, which leads to the production of sugars. But to obtain it, they must open pores in their leaves and consequently lose large quantities of water to evaporation. The plant must decide which it needs more: water or carbon dioxide. Yakir suggests that the 30 percent increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide since the start of the industrial revolution eases the plant’s dilemma. Under such conditions, the plant doesn’t have to fully open the pores for carbon dioxide to seep in – a relatively small opening is sufficient. Consequently, less water escapes the plant’s pores. This efficient water preservation technique keeps moisture in the ground, allowing forests to grow in areas that previously were too dry.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/07/090731-green-sahara.html
The green shoots of recovery are showing up on satellite images of regions including the Sahel, a semi-desert zone bordering the Sahara to the south that stretches some 2,400 miles (3,860 kilometers).
Images taken between 1982 and 2002 revealed extensive regreening throughout the Sahel, according to a new study in the journal Biogeosciences.
The study suggests huge increases in vegetation in areas including central Chad and western Sudan. In the eastern Sahara area of southwestern Egypt and northern Sudan, new trees—such as acacias—are flourishing, according to Stefan Kröpelin, a climate scientist at the University of Cologne’s Africa Research Unit in Germany.
“Shrubs are coming up and growing into big shrubs. This is completely different from having a bit more tiny grass,” said Kröpelin, who has studied the region for two decades…

kramer

This is an excellent article because it has so much factual information in it. As such, I bet the pro-AGW crowd will attack the messenger (ad hom) as the way to discredit the article.

RockyRoad

Just one word about the article: Exactly!

Jeff Mitchell

One other question I have, is that to get to 1000 ppm of CO2, how much oil would we have to burn? Is there that much in reserve?

Will Gray

Instinct says its the sun and ocean currents, yes? An old bloke said to me once and it stuck ‘Carbon dioxide is a self regulating gas.’ http://www.biomind.de/realCO2/realCO2-1.htm

William

Richard why are there no comments in the general press and the IPCC reports about the benefits of increasing atmospheric CO2?
Plants eat CO2.
Commercial greenhouses inject CO2 to increase yield and reduce growing times. C3 plants loss roughly 50% of their absorbed water due to low CO2 levels. The optimum CO2 level for plants is around 2000 ppm. As CO2 levels rise plants produce less stomata on their leaves enables them to make effective use of water.
http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/00-077.htm#f1
For most crops the saturation point will be reached at about 1,000–1,300 ppm under ideal circumstances. A lower level (800–1,000 ppm) is recommended for raising seedlings (tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers) as well as for lettuce production. Even lower levels (500–800 ppm) are recommended for African violets and some Gerbera varieties. Increased CO2 levels will shorten the growing period (5%–10%), improve crop quality and yield, as well as, increase leaf size and leaf thickness. The increase in yield of tomato, cucumber and pepper crops is a result of increased numbers and faster flowering per plant.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T3Y-4N6FNPR-1&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1133437266&_rerunOrigin=google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=602850a304857db4767613a021735d61
Impact of elevated CO2 and temperature on rice yield and methods of adaptation as evaluated by crop simulation studies
But increases in the CO2 concentration up to 700 ppm led to the average yield increases of about 30.73% by ORYZA1 and 56.37% by INFOCROP rice.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T3Y-4N6FNPR-1&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1133437266&_rerunOrigin=google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=602850a304857db4767613a021735d61
Impact of elevated CO2 and temperature on rice yield and methods of adaptation as evaluated by crop simulation studies
But increases in the CO2 concentration up to 700 ppm led to the average yield increases of about 30.73% by ORYZA1 and 56.37% by INFOCROP rice.
Check out figure 1.
http://www.ncasi.org/publications/Detail.aspx?id=3025
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/05/030509084556.htm
Greenhouse Gas Might Green Up The Desert; Weizmann Institute Study Suggests That Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels Might Cause Forests To Spread Into Dry Environments
The Weizmann team found, to its surprise, that the Yatir forest is a substantial “sink” (CO2-absorbing site): its absorbing efficiency is similar to that of many of its counterparts in more fertile lands. These results were unexpected since forests in dry regions are considered to develop very slowly, if at all, and thus are not expected to soak up much carbon dioxide (the more rapidly the forest develops the more carbon dioxide it needs, since carbon dioxide drives the production of sugars). However, the Yatir forest is growing at a relatively quick pace, and is even expanding further into the desert.
Plants need carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, which leads to the production of sugars. But to obtain it, they must open pores in their leaves and consequently lose large quantities of water to evaporation. The plant must decide which it needs more: water or carbon dioxide. Yakir suggests that the 30 percent increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide since the start of the industrial revolution eases the plant’s dilemma. Under such conditions, the plant doesn’t have to fully open the pores for carbon dioxide to seep in – a relatively small opening is sufficient. Consequently, less water escapes the plant’s pores. This efficient water preservation technique keeps moisture in the ground, allowing forests to grow in areas that previously were too dry.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/07/090731-green-sahara.html
The green shoots of recovery are showing up on satellite images of regions including the Sahel, a semi-desert zone bordering the Sahara to the south that stretches some 2,400 miles (3,860 kilometers).
Images taken between 1982 and 2002 revealed extensive regreening throughout the Sahel, according to a new study in the journal Biogeosciences.
The study suggests huge increases in vegetation in areas including central Chad and western Sudan. In the eastern Sahara area of southwestern Egypt and northern Sudan, new trees—such as acacias—are flourishing, according to Stefan Kröpelin, a climate scientist at the University of Cologne’s Africa Research Unit in Germany.
“Shrubs are coming up and growing into big shrubs. This is completely different from having a bit more tiny grass,” said Kröpelin, who has studied the region for two decades…

Lonnie E. Schubert

Follow the link Anthony provided and read the rest of the article. It is worth it.
Also, http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2009/01/12/22506/

William

In reply to:
“richard telford says:
May 21, 2011 at 5:08 am
And then the Medieval Warm Period, so embarrassing to climate scientists that you will never find any papers that mention it, unless you read some. It was more likely caused by a conflagration of straw men than CO2, so I doubt any palaeoclimate scientists will lose sleep over your observation that it was not CO2 driven. They are not foolish enough to think that all climate change has to be driven by the same forcing. The MWP demonstrates that the earth’s climate is sensitive to changes in forcing, and would caution rational folk that perhaps we shouldn’t twist the dials too far.”
Richard, the issue is the clear manipulation of the paleoclimatic record by the IPCC to hide the Medieval warm period and to smooth out the Little Ice age.
The Climate Gate emails showed there is a cabal of “Climate Scientists” that are overtly working to manipulate the climate data and to block scientific papers that do not support the extreme AGW position.
Current observations support the assertion that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 will result in warming of less than 1 C with most of the warming occurring at high latitudes which is beneficial for the biosphere.
Happer on The Truth About Greenhouse Gases
“The first IPCC report, issued in 1990, showed both the medieval warm period and the little ice age very clearly. In the IPCC’s 2001 report was a graph that purported to show the earth’s mean temperature since the year 1000. A yet more extreme version of the hockey stick graph made the cover of the Fiftieth Anniversary Report of the United Nation’s World Meteorological Organization. To the surprise of everyone who knew about the strong evidence for the little ice age and the medieval climate optimum, the graph showed a nearly constant temperature from the year 1000 until about 150 years ago, when the temperature began to rise abruptly like the blade of a hockey stick. The inference was that this was due to the anthropogenic “pollutant” CO2.”

richard telford says:
May 21, 2011 at 5:08 am
The MWP demonstrates that the earth’s climate is sensitive to changes in forcing, and would caution rational folk that perhaps we shouldn’t twist the dials too far.

Richard, the MWP demonstrates nothing of the sort. The MWP merely demonstrates that temperature fluctuations over the past century are not unusual compared to those observed in the millennial historical record.
Such observed temperature fluctuations do not require high climate sensitivity per se. They merely require forcings that are by themselves strong enough to move the global average temperature in the manner we have seen.
For example, take the recent spate of evidence supporting Svenmark’s hypothesis. These findings point to stronger natural forcings, making it less> likely that we have a sensitive climate.
In other words, the temperature swings by themselves are not indicative of high climate sensitivity.

Nicely done. Twice! Rapture. Maybe Mr. Telford should repost, just for balance sake! The salient points, that this is a Crusade in Charade’s Clothing, are amply demonstrated. Hockey sticks are for Canuckistan’s National Sport, not for disguising the Crusade’s climate (1090-1290). The UN has made a botch-job of many of its missions, and the IPCC should come as no surprise as one of its champion bonehead accomplishments. Its dissolution will be a service to mankind.
I applaud you, Dr. Happer. More voices of reason, please!

Dr. Happer is just as wrong as the climate alarmists, on the greenhouse effect. As I have also posted at “climaterealists”:
“Scientists critical of the alarmist climate “consensus” are now trying to present a common front on the science, with for example Prof. Claes Johnson today (5/21) referencing this article by William Happer on his own blog, even though Johnson does not accept a CO2 climate sensitivity of “about 1°C” for a doubling of atmospheric CO2, but less than 0.3°C. But there is a more fundamental difference among consensus critics, and that is whether there is a “greenhouse effect” at all, as claimed by the mass of scientists. Mr. Happer readily avows there is such an effect, but I (and supposedly Johnson, who has written a book against it, and others) know better. I encourage you to read the definitive evidence against it at
Venus: No Greenhouse Effect
The comparison of Venus/Earth atmospheric temperatures shows that Venus (with 96.5% atmospheric CO2) is not made any warmer than the Earth (with only 0.04% CO2) by its much greater concentration of CO2. The Venus atmosphere at a given pressure is 17% hotter than the Earth atmosphere at the same pressure level, over the entire range of Earth tropospheric pressures, and that is entirely, precisely, due to Venus being closer to the Sun. Their temperature versus pressure profiles, corrected for their different distances from the Sun, are essentially the same, although by current (Happer’s) thinking the Venus profile should be higher than the Earth’s by more than 11°C (96.5% is more than 11 “doublings” of 0.04%). There simply is no sign of a greenhouse effect at all. That is therefore an established physical fact, and it is the DEFINITIVE physical fact for science.
What is wrong with current science, that so many refuse to heed this definitive evidence? Because they are tied to a dogma that they will not question, and will not allow to be openly questioned: That the atmosphere can only be warmed from the ground, that the surface must first be warmed by the Sun and the atmosphere then warmed by the surface. But the Venus/Earth comparison indicates this common belief among scientists is simply wrong; as I have explained at the above link, both planetary atmospheres must be warmed by absorption of the same portion of the incident solar radiation, and that portion must be in the infrared. You don’t have to be a world-famous scientist to understand this. Incident heat from the Sun is taken up directly by the atmosphere and by the surface, independently of one another.
Scientists are right that absorption of infrared radiation heats the atmosphere, but the source of that heat is incident solar, not the surface. And adding more CO2 does not add more heat to the atmosphere, as the Venus/Earth comparison proves. There is enough infrared absorption, even with no CO2, to heat the atmosphere to the limit of its ability to hold the heat. The heat content of the atmosphere is a function only of its distance from the Sun and its density (which varies with its depth), and is constrained by the observed temperature lapse rate, as long recognized in the precise quantitative definition of the Standard Atmosphere. Venus’s surface temperature is far higher than Earth’s, because its atmosphere is far deeper, and far denser at the bottom, than Earth’s.
My simple comparison of the Venus/Earth temperatures is thus a revolutionary finding, and one that physicists and climate scientists like James Hansen, who has championed the “runaway” greenhouse effect from the very beginning of his career (and continues to make fearful, apocalyptic claims to the public about it), should have done long ago, and rejected the greenhouse effect then. (The Venus data was collected in late 1991). And scientists who reject the current climate consensus, but still claim the greenhouse effect is real, are not getting to the bad science at the heart of the controversy. There is NO greenhouse effect at all, as they believe they understand it. They understand a falsehood, and continue to mislead the world on the basic science of the atmosphere. That almost everyone still believes in the greenhouse effect, after so many years of study, and after the definitive Venus/Earth evidence against it, tells us the problem is one of runaway, religiously-held dogma, among scientists (of all people!), not runaway climate. “

old construction worker

richard telford says:
May 21, 2011 at 5:08 am
‘One might hope that a specialist in spectroscopy would have some more original input, since the interaction between matter and radiated energy is central to the greenhouse effect. I assume the lack of critique means that you are unable to find any flaws in the science.’
‘………radiated energy is central to the greenhouse effect. ‘
Would you buy stock in a Space Blanket Company? If not, why not?

Don K

I agree with almost everything. One exception – The maximum permissible level of CO2 should not be the level that healthy adults can tolerate with no obvious affect for a few months or years. It should be the level that can be tolerated continuously for the entire lifespan from infancy to old age by the most genetically unfortunate members of the human race. Or lower if there are non-human lifeforms that can’t tolerate CO2 as well as humans can. We don’t have the slightest idea what that level is. We really ought to find out.
It is claimed that some individuals show immediate symptoms — confusion, sleepiness — at levels of 10000 ppm of CO2. http://www.inspectapedia.com/hazmat/CO2gashaz.htm If that’s true, it’s a little hard to believe that 8000 or 5000 ppm continuous is “safe” for everyone. On the other hand it seems likely that there is considerable headroom above the current 370 ppm.
Personally, I think that we’re spending too much money on “climate science”. I’d like to see some (not all) of the money diverted into research on CO2 toxicity and other things that have more real urgency than dubious modeling of stuff we don’t understand well enough to model accurately.

Richard M

richard telford says:
May 21, 2011 at 5:08 am
One might hope that a specialist in spectroscopy would have some more original input, since the interaction between matter and radiated energy is central to the greenhouse effect. I assume the lack of critique means that you are unable to find any flaws in the science.

Well, this appeared to be a general thesis and the intended audience consists of people without a scientific background.
However, since you brought up “spectroscopy”, why do you and other alarmist scientists continue to ignore the cooling effect of GHGs? By my back of the envelope calculations the cooling effect should be about 1/2 the warming effect.
That means the often quoted 1.2C increase per doubling of CO2 is really about .6C. Interestingly, this matches the estimates of Spencer and Lindzen using other techniques.

Thanks William Happer, Anthony,
Very interesting, well-written article. Deserves wide exposure.

stephen richards says:
May 21, 2011 at 5:38 am
Telford, you can be such a bore.
This might be true Stephen Richards but these statements are, in the least, missleading:

The first IPCC report, issued in 1990, showed both the medieval warm period and the little ice age very clearly.

and

There was no explanation of why both the medieval warm period and the little ice age, very clearly shown in the 1990 report, had simply disappeared eleven years later.

The sketch graph in the 1st IPCC report that ‘shows clearly’ a global medieval climate optimum is not based on global evidence but on a graph based on evidence gathered by HH Lamb from Central England only. Other evidence does often suggest a generalisation to surrounding regions. However, whereas this optimum peaks in the the 12 century, other evidence from other proxies and from elsewhere around the globe gives peaks anywhere from the 9th to the 14th century.
A global Medieval Warm Period is no better supported by science in the First report, than the hockey stick is in the Third. Moreover, there are explanations in subsequent IPCC reports (at least in the SAR as I recall) for the disappearance of the MWP, which say that, in fact, the evidence does not suggest a unified global temperature peak at this time.
The existence of the little ice age and the medieval warm period was not well established by the FAR, and so it is we, ourselves, who should be careful to avoid any future embarrassment by supporting it for mere rhetorical reasons.
The IPCC 1st report graph:
http://enthusiasmscepticismscience.wordpress.com/global-temperature-graphs/1990-ipcc-first-report-working-gp-1-section-7-2-1/
Lamb’s original Central England graph:
http://enthusiasmscepticismscience.wordpress.com/global-temperature-graphs/1964_1966_britiansclimateinthepast-unpub-lecture-pub-inchangingclimate/

higley7

Unfortunately, the author here has also fallen for some of the junk science.
“Before the industrial period, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was 270 ppm.”
CO2 goes up and down and was never the consistently low level before industrialization as propounded by the IPCC. They created the 270 ppm value by cherry-picking the data. Ernst Beck, using 80,000 direct chemical readings, showed quite clearly that CO2 has been much higher than now during three periods of the last 200 years, 440-550 ppm even in the 1940s during which temperatures began to fall.
The IPCC chose the values they used as the available data was too “variable,” neglecting the fact that when put on a time line the values shows clear upward and downward trends. Of course, they “knew” that CO2 had been low as they had to show that it is unusually high now.

L Nettles

I dub this “the Epitaph of Global Warming Hysteria I predict that history will prove it.

Joel Shore

John Marshall says:

Prof Happer’s article is excellent and 95% correct. We disagree on the fact about the GHG theory which other physicists conclude does not happen due to thermodynamic law violations.

And, by the same token, it could be said in an article about the age of the earth that other geologists conclude that the Earth is only 6000 years old. The fact that you could find a few trained scientists who, for whatever reason, have decided to peddle pseudo-science doesn’t make it correct. The reason that people like Happer don’t embrace such nonsense is that they actually want to maintain a reasonable scientific reputation by not saying things that are scientifically ridiculous.

I disagree that the pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 content was 270 ppmv.

Again, this just shows what total nonsense you are willing to believe.

Best blog entry, ever, on the whole issue.

Latimer Alder

@berniel

A global Medieval Warm Period is no better supported by science in the First report, than the hockey stick is in the Third.

Umm
But there is plenty of historical evidence that such a period existed. Written records and buried things and archaeology and stuff
Disregarding these just because it doesn’t suit your argument is no better than saying that Stonehenge doesn’t exist because we can’t find the original architect’s drawings. And probably about as useful as relying on a hokey hockey stick.

Anton

If the plants died off because of low CO2, wouldn’t the planet’s oxygen levels plummet or disappear altogether? And as human population increases, don’t we need a corresponding increase in CO2 to make plants more effective oxygen-producers? It seems to me that attempting to artificially lower and manipulate atmospheric CO2 levels could be far more damaging than anything predicted by the Warmists.

Pamela Gray

On a personal level, those that must breath tanked oxygen (Navy seals, etc), O2 toxicity is a far greater concern than CO2 toxicity. An increase in the concentration of oxygen can lead to convulsions and lung damage (and those that are O2 sensitive are kicked out of training schools toot sweet). No so with CO2.
Technical advances in dealing with too much O2 have been the main research endeavor regarding scuba gear. Hardly any attention has been paid dealing with CO2. Why? Relative changes in O2 lead to more toxic affects than relative changes in CO2.
Yet we still see oxygen bars and deep breathing gurus, heralding the benefits of ridding ourselves of CO2 and enriching our supply of oxygen in our bodies. Where does this silly notion come from? The idea of CO2 being a toxic waste gas goes back to the days of puritanical notions of evil human excrement. And is echoed in early versions of colon cleansing rituals practiced by vegan commune groups. The old aged hippie, now turned scientist, is likely imbued with this unconscious (or very conscious) bias, leading to all kinds of silly statements backed by silly science.

Henry Galt

Well said.
Telford trolls by, as early as he can in the thread, and doesn’t respond well to … anything.
We have to fight the crusade with their metrics so they cannot dismiss the entire argument on the basis of spelling mistakes (Telford’s loose, as opposed to lose, for example) and other trivial s(tuff)
berniel says:
May 21, 2011 at 7:26 am
Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week- http://www.co2science.org/data/mwp/mwpp.php

Kate

I am frightened when I read blog posts at other places that express deep anger against attempts to constrain the EPA. The coming presidential election will be impacted by this. How can we make this issue clear to the general public? And soon.
To Harry Dale – How can we build a clear message and then get it out there?
To Happer – What is the best way for scientists to get this message out before the fall of 2012? Can you reconcile Harry Dale’s conclusions?

Theo Goodwin

Bruce Cobb says:
May 21, 2011 at 4:21 am
“A well-reasoned, truthful expose of the climate crusade. As such, both it and Happer will be attacked viciously by the crusaders themselves, as befits their modus operandi. They just can’t handle the truth.”
As a professor at a liberal university, he is used to it. However, the personal mistreatment of the good professor is likely to increase because of this article.
Actually, the crusaders do not even compute truth. They cannot handle dissent. I am not exaggerating. The climate of PC is such that raising a topic can be as harmful to one’s health or career as taking a strong anti-PC position. The “Madness of Crowds” needs to be updated to include the madness of institutions though, come to think, Vaclav Havel in his plays has been doing that for a while. And we must give credit to Orwell for identifying Semantic Warfare before the communists had taken over entire institutions of Western civilization.

Will Gray

Years ago a thought bubble exploded. (Having read many popular climate blogs.) Society must flourish however the regressive element of back to eden greenies will need to be dealt with. Simple- let them use C02 as the evil gas- doomed to fail.
Case closed.
Now we can move on to an enormously positive future.
There got that one off my mind.
And just for the record Co2 does not and never will cause CAGW.
With this link i am waiting still for someone to REALLY take this guy on.
http://jennifermarohasy.com/blog/author/nasif-s-nahle/

Doug in Seattle

“A major problem has been the co-opting of climate science by politics, ambition, greed, and what seems to be a hereditary human need for a righteous cause. “.

Countering the first three might be easier if not the last. Since the 1960’s the “righteous cause” of environmentalism has led us down the path where we find ourselves. It has morphed beyond a cause and become one of the dominant religious movements of our time.

Will Gray

I read alot, 4% Co2/96 O2 is the mix to pump air down for minning. Safety standards go to 15% C02 for workers. WTF. Referances tomorrow.

Latitude

richard telford says:
May 21, 2011 at 5:08 am
The MWP demonstrates that the earth’s climate is sensitive to changes in forcing, and would caution rational folk that perhaps we shouldn’t twist the dials too far.
==============================================
Let’s assume you are correct, and there was a MWP.
Do you have any idea what caused it?
….because no one else does

Will Gray

Homes and bussiness environs, that have central heating, breath up to 1000 ppm.
Now do/have you lived/ worked in an environ with CH?
Co2 is an essential component of life, below 170 ppm nothing will grow.
The economic damage of CAGW is catastrophic and the really sad part is people believe C02 is EVIL.
More wind farms, how about lots more. Its insane.
http://www.jmt.org/assets/pdf/wind-report.pdf