Earth Day 2012: Top 10 Positive Climate Developments

by Chip Knappenberger on Master Resource

The scientific findings of the human influence on the climate system have been, and perhaps will always be, a mixed bag. Assuming strong positive feedback effects, and thus a high climate sensitivity, it certainly can be argued that the bad outweighs the good. But if feedback effects are more neutral, the sign of the externality flips from negative to positive given that, on net, a moderately warmer, wetter, and CO2-fertilized world is quite arguably a better one.

Earth Day 2012 yesterday brought forth predictable cries of doom-and-gloom. But there are plenty of positives on closer inspection on the climate front, developments which have undoubtedly spilled over into making the earth a better place for humanity at large.

Here is my Top 10 list of positive climate developments based on the recent empirical data and the latest scientific literature:

10) The growing season across the Northern Hemisphere is expanding;

9) Precipitation has increased across the mid-to-high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere (where most of the world’s crops are grown);

8 ) Higher CO2 levels are leading to more productive plants, including crops such as corn, wheat, and rice …

7) … and contributing to an increasing global output of food products;

6) The combination of the above is leading to a true “greening” of the environment;

See the last five on Master Resource

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April 23, 2012 4:23 pm

Co2 both warms and greens the planet? What is there not to like?

April 23, 2012 6:26 pm

#8 Corn is a C4 crop and as such it is relatively insensitive to higher levels of CO2. In fact, higher levels of CO2 put C4 crops (sugar cane, surghum, etc) at a relative disadvantage compared to the C3 crops like wheat and rice (and potatoes, etc).

Paul Westhaver
April 23, 2012 7:00 pm

Except… there has been no statistical warming in 12 years. so….

Wondreing Aloud
April 23, 2012 8:00 pm

bacullen is it your contention that somehow wheat will move in and strangle the corn out of the fields? If not that of course your statement there really isn’t relevant is it? Isn’t all you really can say is that corn won’t be helped as much as wheat? It appears you are trying to imply that it will hurt C4 crops but that is clearly not the case.

April 23, 2012 8:04 pm

Dear ba,
Maize is a tropical plant. There are some northern varieties but the mother genes come from the tropic, where it is warm. Maize likes it warmer. The same is true of wheat, soghum, millet, rice, sugar cane, etc. Potatoes come from the Equator.
As to relative disadvantages, when did agriculture become a cage match? Does your corn fight with your wheat? Or are you in fact not a farmer at all?

Bob Diaz
April 23, 2012 8:49 pm

As I recall the ideal range for plant growth is around 1,000 –> 2,000 PPM of CO2. Beyond that there’s no real gain in plant growth. So we have a ways to go before that point. Indoor air can reach 10,000 PPM before people start to feel a bit off.

April 23, 2012 10:51 pm

The climate fluctations in the past are natural, normal, and uncontrable and have led to nearly ideal conditions for man. Increasing CO2 is probably one of those fluctuations and we should enjoy its manifest benefits while we can. Alarmist climate modelers have proved that future climates cannot be predicted with any degree of reasonableness. Our rational action is to fund scientifically-based research on physical atmospheric processes and scale way back from the current level of funding by eliminating public funded alarmist climate science. This pseudo-science of global warming is conducted in secret, defended by dishonesty, and pushed by press releases rather than knowledge or data.

richard verney
April 24, 2012 3:47 am

Paul Westhaver says:
April 23, 2012 at 7:00 pm
Except… there has been no statistical warming in 12 years. so….
Yes, but CO2 is a benefit in itself to plants: it is plant food.
Accordingly, the increase in CO2 together with the plateaued warm temperature is what is causing the beneficial growing conditions. If there has in addition been an increase in precipitation so much the better.
In general terms, as far as life is concerned, cold and dry equals bad, warm and wet equals good.
There has not been enough emphasis on the benefits of global warming. History tells us that warmth is generally beneficial. If one looks at the rise of civilizations one will see that these tend to bloom in warm conditions. There has been no great Northern civilization until the industrial revolution powered the British empire. The only possible earlier contender is the Vikings and surprise surprise these came to the fore during the MWP.
Look at the pyramids and temples in Egypt and compare this with Stonehenge. See what can be achieved when one is not struggling to survive.
One can see similar trends in the pattern of the global spread of the bronze age, iron age etc. In general terms warmer areas reached this technology sooner than colder areas.

April 24, 2012 3:54 am

“As environmental science has advanced, it has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future: deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease.” Worldwatch Institute, “Is Meat Sustainable?”
“The livestock sector emerges as one of the top contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. The findings of this report suggest that it should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity. Livestock’s contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale and its potential contribution to their solution is equally large. The impact is so significant that it needs to be addressed with urgency.” UN Food and Agricultural Organization’s report “Livestock’s Long Shadow”
“If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetables and grains… the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.” Environmental Defense Fund
Why would someone choose to be vegan? To slow global warming for one! Here are two uplifting videos to help everyone understand why so many people are making this life affirming choice: and

Chuck Nolan
April 24, 2012 6:20 am

I spent one day as a vegan. Then I smelled bacon cooking………………..
What’s going on? Does the UN need to reinstate the “oil for food” program?

April 24, 2012 6:30 am

JC says:
April 24, 2012 at 3:54 am
Why would someone choose to be vegan? To slow global warming for one! . . .

Assuming that more atmospheric CO2 causes ‘global warming’ (a speculation for which there is absolutely no evidence), why would we want to “slow global warming”?
/Mr Lynn

April 24, 2012 9:50 am

“Why would someone choose to be vegan? To slow global warming for one! “
Stand in front of a mirror. Open your mouth and examine your teeth. If they are all incisors and grinders, you’re a herbivore, like a sheep. Eat vegan. If you have all canine teeth, you’re a carnivore, like a tyrannosaur. Eat vegans. But if you have a mixture of all three, you’re an omnivore by nature. A vegan diet will turn you into tyrannosaur food and stress your body. Vegetable proteins aren’t the same as meat proteins. Eat a little of everything. If you take the 7:55 a.m. Number 33 crosstown bus in the morning, eat everything that doesn’t give you gas. Please.

April 24, 2012 2:26 pm

Dear JC,
Hominids have been eating meat for at least 2.8 million years. We have been cooking meat for probably 1.8 million years, confirmed at 1.0 million years:
The Neolithic agricultural revolution was when we started eating more vegetables, probably around 28,000 years ago. If anything, it is vegetarian diets that have done more to alter the environment:

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