Climate Craziness of the Week – AGW could trigger plants and soil in tipping point attack

Yes, somehow, more plants growing due to increased CO2 will cause more carbon dioxide in a vicious cycle. Notice three things about this study: 1. The word “could” 2. “modeling work”. 3. Lack of any paleo reference to such an event in Earth’s past during higher periods of CO2.

Attack_of_the_monster_plantsFrom Princeton: Dirty pool: Soil’s large carbon stores could be freed by increased CO2, plant growth

An increase in human-made carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could initiate a chain reaction between plants and microorganisms that would unsettle one of the largest carbon reservoirs on the planet — soil.

Researchers based at Princeton University report in the journal Nature Climate Change that the carbon in soil — which contains twice the amount of carbon in all plants and Earth’s atmosphere combined — could become increasingly volatile as people add more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, largely because of increased plant growth. The researchers developed the first computer model to show at a global scale the complex interaction between carbon, plants and soil, which includes numerous bacteria, fungi, minerals and carbon compounds that respond in complex ways to temperature, moisture and the carbon that plants contribute to soil.

Although a greenhouse gas and pollutant, carbon dioxide also supports plant growth. As trees and other vegetation flourish in a carbon dioxide-rich future, their roots could stimulate microbial activity in soil that in turn accelerates the decomposition of soil carbon and its release into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, the researchers found.

This effect counters current key projections regarding Earth’s future carbon cycle, particularly that greater plant growth could offset carbon dioxide emissions as flora take up more of the gas, said first author Benjamin Sulman, who conducted the modeling work as a postdoctoral researcher at the Princeton Environmental Institute.

“You should not count on getting more carbon storage in the soil just because tree growth is increasing,” said Sulman, who is now a postdoctoral researcher at Indiana University.

On the other hand, microbial activity initiated by root growth could lock carbon onto mineral particles and protect it from decomposition, which would increase long-term storage of carbon in soils, the researchers report.

Whether carbon emissions from soil rise or fall, the researchers’ model depicts an intricate soil-carbon system that contrasts starkly with existing models that portray soil as a simple carbon repository, Sulman said. An oversimplified perception of the soil carbon cycle has left scientists with a glaring uncertainty as to whether soil would help mitigate future carbon dioxide levels — or make them worse, Sulman said.

“The goal was to take that very simple model and add some of the most important missing processes,” Sulman said. “The main interactions between roots and soil are important and shouldn’t be ignored. Root growth and activity are such important drivers of what goes on in the soil, and knowing what the roots are doing could be an important part of understanding what the soil will be doing.”

The researchers’ soil-carbon cycle model has been integrated into the global land model used for climate simulations by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) located on Princeton’s Forrestal Campus.


Benjamin N. Sulman, Richard P. Phillips, A. Christopher Oishi, Elena Shevliakova, and Stephen W. Pacala. 2014. Microbe-driven turnover offsets mineral-mediated storage of soil carbon under elevated CO2. Nature Climate Change. Article published in December 2014 print edition. DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2436

The work was supported by grants from NOAA (grant no. NA08OAR4320752); the U.S. Department of Agriculture (grant no. 2011-67003-30373); and Princeton’s Carbon Mitigation Initiative sponsored by BP.


104 thoughts on “Climate Craziness of the Week – AGW could trigger plants and soil in tipping point attack

  1. I read this via Yahooey’s prominent announcement; rubbish in so many ways.

    I do hope that faux research claims follow these researchers throughout their careers.

  2. This is interesting-

    “The work was supported by grants from NOAA… and Princeton’s Carbon Mitigation Initiative sponsored by BP.”

    BP. As in British Petroleum.

    • Not only ‘Princeton’s Carbon Mitigation Initiative’ sponsored by British Petroleum it are also sponsored by Ford Motor Company. Fossil fuel sponsorship is not that unusual for carbon mitigation schemes.

      Big oil has been on the global warming bandwagon for some time now.

      Skeptical Science – 26 October 2012
      …..In the late 1990s, the oil industry’s response to the climate question started to change, when BP and Shell decided to abandon the GCC and instead embrace the scientific consensus….

      …..Perhaps surprisingly, many oil companies support a carbon tax. In some cases this may be companies seeking a way to favour gas production over more carbon-intensive coal, but some oil sands companies support a carbon tax as well. The reason for this is because corporations are very keen to reduce uncertainty, especially when it comes to long-term capital intensive projects. They would prefer to know the rules now and then decide what to invest in, rather than invest now and discover later that their project is no longer economic due to taxation changes….

  3. Aaahh, we now have two-handed soil researchers in addition to two handed economists: “One the other hand, microbial activity initiated by root growth could lock carbon onto mineral particles and protect it from decomposition, which would increase long-term storage of carbon in soils”.
    Which hand gets emphasized is a strong indication of the predisposition of the reporter/media organ.

  4. Might make things worse…might make things better. But what matters is that things COULD change. To paraphrase FDR; the only thing we have to fear is change itself.

  5. I got as far as “Although a greenhouse gas and pollutant” ans stopped reading, CO2 is not a fecking pollutant. And it is not fecking “carbon” either, these people ought to be thought the correct terms before publishing their tripe.

    • Didn’t we get news this year that global agricultural output is a record levels? Funny that.

      Here are some of the effects of co2 pollution. We must reduce these effects for the good of our greening biosphere. You know it makes sense so let’s act now!

      Abstract – 28 June 2013
      Randall J. Donohue et al
      Impact of CO2 fertilization on maximum foliage cover across the globe’s warm, arid environments

      Satellite observations reveal a greening of the globe over recent decades. The role in this greening of the “CO2 fertilization” effect—the enhancement of photosynthesis due to rising CO2 levels—is yet to be established. The direct CO2 effect on vegetation should be most clearly expressed in warm, arid environments where water is the dominant limit to vegetation growth. Using gas exchange theory, we predict that the 14% increase in atmospheric CO2 (1982–2010) led to a 5 to 10% increase in green foliage cover in warm, arid environments. Satellite observations, analyzed to remove the effect of variations in precipitation, show that cover across these environments has increased by 11%. Our results confirm that the anticipated CO2 fertilization effect is occurring alongside ongoing anthropogenic perturbations to the carbon cycle and that the fertilization effect is now a significant land surface process.
      Geophysical Research Letters – Volume 40, Issue 12, pages 3031–3035

      Abstract – May 2013
      A Global Assessment of Long-Term Greening and Browning Trends in Pasture Lands Using the GIMMS LAI3g Dataset

      Our results suggest that degradation of pasture lands is not a globally widespread phenomenon and, consistent with much of the terrestrial biosphere, there have been widespread increases in pasture productivity over the last 30 years.

      Abstract – 10 April 2013
      Analysis of trends in fused AVHRR and MODIS NDVI data for 1982–2006: Indication for a CO2 fertilization effect in global vegetation

      …..The effect of climate variations and CO2 fertilization on the land CO2 sink, as manifested in the RVI, is explored with the Carnegie Ames Stanford Assimilation (CASA) model. Climate (temperature and precipitation) and CO2 fertilization each explain approximately 40% of the observed global trend in NDVI for 1982–2006……

      Abstract – May 2013
      The causes, effects and challenges of Sahelian droughts: a critical review
      …….However, this study hypothesizes that the increase in CO2 might be responsible for the increase in greening and rainfall observed. This can be explained by an increased aerial fertilization effect of CO2 that triggers plant productivity and water management efficiency through reduced transpiration. Also, the increase greening can be attributed to rural–urban migration which reduces the pressure of the population on the land…….
      doi: 10.1007/s10113-013-0473-z


      Abstract – 19 March 2014
      Martin Brandt et al
      Local Vegetation Trends in the Sahel of Mali and Senegal Using Long Time Series FAPAR Satellite Products and Field Measurement (1982–2010)
      …..Significant greening trends from 1982 to 2010 are consistently observed in both GEOV1 and GIMMS3g FAPAR datasets. Annual rainfall increased significantly during the observed time period, explaining large parts of FAPAR variations at a regional scale. Locally, GEOV1 data reveals a heterogeneous pattern of vegetation change, which is confirmed by long-term ground data and site visits……
      Remote Sensing 6, pp. 2408-2434

      Abstract – 2014
      Forest stand growth dynamics in Central Europe have accelerated since 1870,
      Forest ecosystems have been exposed to climate change for more than 100 years, whereas the consequences on forest growth remain elusive. Based on the oldest existing experimental forest plots in Central Europe, we show that, currently, the dominant tree species Norway spruce and European beech exhibit significantly faster tree growth (+32 to 77%), stand volume growth (+10 to 30%) and standing stock accumulation (+6 to 7%) than in 1960. Stands still follow similar general allometric rules, but proceed more rapidly through usual trajectories. As forest stands develop faster, tree numbers are currently 17–20% lower than in past same-aged stands. Self-thinning lines remain constant, while growth rates increase indicating the stock of resources have not changed, while growth velocity and turnover have altered. Statistical analyses of the experimental plots, and application of an ecophysiological model, suggest that mainly the rise in temperature and extended growing seasons contribute to increased growth acceleration, particularly on fertile sites.
      Nat. Commun. 5:4967, DOI:10.1038/ncomms5967

  6. It has occurred to me lately that one of the very strong potential drivers of the “climate” movement comes from nations and organizations that are trying to prop up national economies that are dependent on expensive oil. I think it’s entirely possible that money and pressure from Russia, Venezuela and other nations whose economic survival depend on $100/bbl oil have been pushing this AGW meme through their sycophants in the United Nations. Here at home our own progressive sympathizers picked up on the false narrative and became unwitting participants in the false narrative.

  7. The begonia’s gonna get me!

    For goodness sake, why not just admit CO2 is good for the planet and we humans. More food, more organisms, more life. What is there not to like?

    These people need to get real flaming jobs.

      • My thoughts exactly. The authors have stolen the idea from fiction to pretend it is reality on the assumption that truth is stranger than fiction. As for all the weasel words, I thought academic articles generally have a conclusion as part of normal scientific publication unless it is observations of some unusual medical case. Perhaps the sort of valuable research that should be undertaken is research on the climate researchers and their funders- investigate their personal ethics, look for underlying paranoid traits, look for patterns consistent with habitual liars, look for genuine leadership and ability to think independently.

      • Fraizer

        After Albert Gore and An Inconvenient Load of Crapola most CAGW devotees rank ‘The Day Of The Triffids’ as the second best documentary EVAH. I am pretty sure that there is exceptional and peer reviewed literature, just like this study has, to support my documentary theory.

        In the case of this earth shattering research it is not so much as “do not look at the green comet fireworks in the sky or go blind, as in the Triffids, but DO NOT LOOK AT THE SOIL It is VOLATILE and all the minerals,fungi, bacteria and carbon compounds are gonna unite, sorta like The Power Rangers Arch Enemies do, and they are gonna come get us and all our kids and their kids and their kids too. And the penguins and pandas and polar bears and parrots and parakeets and possums too.

        And the Puppies and The Pussycats. Thank you Naomi.

        So this really really terrible thing is sorta ..maybe.. might be.. likely.. you never know but it could.happen.. but then again it might not… let us repeat … then again it might not… so lets get out the grant forms and find the next …NGO or fossil fuel sucker …with deep concerns about the health of the planet and deeper pockets full of greenbacks and euros.

        Makes you proud to be a BP customer.


  8. The problem highlighted here seems to be the CO2 emissions not the AGW.
    I can’t make the conection, literally I do fail, as per this kind of study.
    You see AGW is not the cause of CO2 emissions, the other way around is what supposes to be the hypothesis.

    Can someone explain it to me, please, how this study or paper can be associated with the AGW hypothesis…really I do fail to make that conection….unless if AGW not disputed anymore and accepted by default as a fact or a 97% consensus amongst all concerned!!!


    • Seeing CO2 emissions as a problem is the problem! 18 years with no global warming and CO2 going up quite robustly (in percentage of the atmosphere terms – like from 0.030% to 0.04%) kind of blows the whole hypothesis out of the water, surely to ?

      The fact that the general population is brainwashed enough to believe all this BS is the problem. In my view it is an absolutely HUGE problem which will lead to MASSIVE problems down the road, when we will all wish all we had to worry about was “global warming”.

      Maybe I missed your /sarc tag but I’m british and I grew up on sarcasm…

      • I am not sure what exactly you mean or what the main point of your reply to me is.
        I was not sarcastic with my above comment.
        I was not criticizing the study in question, simply trying to understand how someone can associate it with AGW.
        In principle it seems like it can not be associated…….unless in the case when it must be evaluated and judged through the perception that it is as wrong as the AGW.

        I do not think that to be a fair and a good aproach, if that is the case.


  9. When environmental studies (Life Cycle Assessments or LCA) are done on Energy Crops such as mixed prairie grass, or switchgrass, one of the biggest benefits for carbon sequestration is addition of root matter to the soil which increases carbon storage. This storage of carbon in the soil is supposed to save us from climate change. But how can they now say that this a negative issue when the argument was that it was beneficial? It seems that this is another example of weather weirding. Increased CO2 causes both colder and warmer weather. That way, any outcome is explained by evil CO2.

    • Bob
      They can say anything they like with a model. Nothing certain ok. Just a model.
      I can come up with a model that will show cooling with increased CO2, it is just that as there is no funding for that sort of modeling it stops me from doing it.
      Additional man made CO2 does not cause additional man made warming. End of story

  10. Craziness indeed. According to IPCC, about 30% of the anthropogenic CO2 emitted has been taken up by terrestrial sinks: soil, plant litter, and living plants. So does this model agree with that observation, with the opposite only occurring at higher CO2? I could not tell from the abstract and the article is pay-walled.

  11. “could become increasingly volatile as people add more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere”

    We are resposible for such small fraction of the annual CO2 budget, it’s a joke and it’s effects cannot be detected, let alone quantified.

    “The researchers developed the first computer model to show at a global scale the complex interaction between carbon, plants and soil, which includes numerous bacteria, fungi, minerals and carbon compounds, . . .”

    MODELS ARE NOT SCIENCE. And, yeah, like they know how to do this. Highly unlikely that they know even half the interactions, let alone cover all the variables. But, it does not a matter to them as long as they cobble it until it shows something bad will happen. Once they get there, they quit and publish.

    • Here is man’s co2 airborne fraction. It’s been decreasing for some unknown reason. Maybe their model will soon get to the bottom of the matter. 😊

    • You don’t even have to, they plant themselves, they’ve been doing it (apparently on the sly).
      Gotta watch out for those sneaky plants :)

      • “They plant themselves”. Not news to anyone having to deal with the problem of woody plant thickening in rangelands!

  12. “The researchers’ soil-carbon cycle model has been integrated into the global land model used for climate simulations” by NOAA et al.

    Ah. Now we know the study is taxpayer-funded animal droppings.

  13. “Although a greenhouse gas and pollutant, carbon dioxide also supports plant growth. As trees and other vegetation flourish in a carbon dioxide-rich future, their roots could stimulate microbial activity in soil that in turn accelerates the decomposition of soil carbon and its release into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, the researchers found.”

    “This effect counters current key projections regarding Earth’s future carbon cycle, particularly that greater plant growth could offset carbon dioxide emissions as flora take up more of the gas, said first author Benjamin Sulman….”

    More threats to life on earth from life on earth.

    • Here is what happened in tropical rain forests at a time of much higher co2. We are not even halfway there yet. Can you see the chain reaction?

      Carlos Jaramillo et. al – Science – 12 November 2010
      Effects of Rapid Global Warming at the Paleocene-Eocene Boundary on Neotropical Vegetation
      Temperatures in tropical regions are estimated to have increased by 3° to 5°C, compared with Late Paleocene values, during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM, 56.3 million years ago) event. We investigated the tropical forest response to this rapid warming by evaluating the palynological record of three stratigraphic sections in eastern Colombia and western Venezuela. We observed a rapid and distinct increase in plant diversity and origination rates, with a set of new taxa, mostly angiosperms, added to the existing stock of low-diversity Paleocene flora. There is no evidence for enhanced aridity in the northern Neotropics. The tropical rainforest was able to persist under elevated temperatures and high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, in contrast to speculations that tropical ecosystems were severely compromised by heat stress.
      doi: 10.1126/science.1193833


      Carlos Jaramillo & Andrés Cárdenas – Annual Reviews – May 2013
      Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
      Global Warming and Neotropical Rainforests: A Historical Perspective

      There is concern over the future of the tropical rainforest (TRF) in the face of global warming. Will TRFs collapse? The fossil record can inform us about that. Our compilation of 5,998 empirical estimates of temperature over the past 120 Ma indicates that tropics have warmed as much as 7°C during both the mid-Cretaceous and the Paleogene. We analyzed the paleobotanical record of South America during the Paleogene and found that the TRF did not expand toward temperate latitudes during global warm events, even though temperatures were appropriate for doing so, suggesting that solar insolation can be a constraint on the distribution of the tropical biome. Rather, a novel biome, adapted to temperate latitudes with warm winters, developed south of the tropical zone. The TRF did not collapse during past warmings; on the contrary, its diversity increased. The increase in temperature seems to be a major driver in promoting diversity.
      doi: 10.1146/annurev-earth-042711-105403

      I will not lose any sleep over the modelled study. Observations are king.

      • You know you are a national resource! (:

        AS for soil microbes and decomposers, since the sustainability paradigm requires eliminating N, K, and P in chemical forms, then fertilizing fields with decomposed matter would be generating a lot of co2. Of course, there would never ever be enough – plus it would have to be shipped in unbelievably large quantities in trucks, instead of in neat little tanks.

  14. When all this nonsense about CO2 being a pollutant finally comes to an end (hopefully in the next year or so), what will become of all of these useless and stupid studies? I do hope that a repository is created where all of the junk science of global warming is housed, so that future real scientists can go look at these papers and laugh at the ‘climate scientists’ of the time. Hopefully the current batch of ‘climate scientists will not be let off the hook and for as long as they live, they can be held up as an example of what goofiness they wrote.

    Here is another stupid study I came across recently: (more modeling)

    “Maximum warming occurs about one decade after a carbon dioxide emission” by Katharine L Ricke and Ken Caldeira.

  15. I hypothesize that AGW will bring about Peace on Earth. Think I could get a nice cushy grant to study this?

  16. I don’t find research like this a waste of time or taxpayer money unless we allow it to become the careers, the reason for existence, of a perpetual research group. One often finds that things are a bit more complicated than the first cut or simplified models suggest. However, the telling point here is that these suggested outcomes have never before been observed. Why do so many researchers ignore the enormous ensemble of natural experiments? They provide a sanity check to ideas that are credible as opposed to merely possible.

  17. The division between science and science fiction has finally been breached, and it took public funding to achieve the goal.

  18. More nonsense from those in the flock . Desperation ?
    The flockers can’t see how stupid their claims have become.
    Maybe they need new shepherds ? ….

  19. “Whether carbon emissions from soil rise or fall, the researchers’ model depicts an intricate soil-carbon system that contrasts starkly with existing models that portray soil as a simple carbon repository, Sulman said.”

    So their model is right, the others are wrong. Surely they’ve done extensive, decades-long calibration (real-time, not model-time) of their model, right?

  20. The Princeton/Indiana climate computer models failed to account for the most important effect of their “greenhouse gas and pollutant” on the processes deep within the soil, that of angering the Mole People:

    For some real science, here is a reference describing commercial greenhouses adding CO2 to their atmospheres. For the conditions in the reference, the beneficial effect saturates at about 1,200 ppm:
    Not one word about those pesky Mole People.

    • Neil Jordan

      “Angering The Mole People”

      This response to this “Soil ‘study is so classic that it goes beyond classic and requires something like Beyonderererer Classicerererererest to fully express our appreciation and I recommend you patent the phrase now as I intend to work it into every conversation I have with the alarmist population.

      “yes I know we are fatally damaging the galaxy and the soil but even worse we are raising the ire of the Mole People and the repercussions will .be enormous. (CAMP).

      Catastrophic Anger Mole People.

      That should get their attention Hey!

      Do not not count your chickens yet but I am reliably informed that a certain MA’AM from a certain PALACE is shining a sword and your presence and bowing is required..

      Australia and the World salute you Sir.

      Any other good responses using “Angering The Mole People” to annoy the living daylights of the alarmaramas’ would go down well..

      With the permission of Sir Neil of course.

  21. It’s my understanding that organic carbon is neither created nor destroyed and that all organic carbon on Earth, in whatever form, has been part of the ecosystem at one time or another. Is this correct?

    • The term “organic”, as applied to chemistry, means “containing carbon”, but the term has the widespread meaning of being derived from life- an organism. While your understanding that C cycles through the ecosystem is correct, there is a growing body of evidence which indicates that the deep mantle of earth may contain quantities of C which have never entered the cycle of life. From the building block of the Hydrogen atom, has Nature produced all matter.

    • Brian,

      The statement “organic carbon is neither created nor destroyed” is not correct. The food you eat consists largely of organic carbon. When you metabolize that food, it gets oxidized to CO2 – a form of inorganic carbon. Plants take CO2 from the air and turn it back into organic carbon. CO2 dissolves in water to form bicarbonate and carbonate. Organisms use that to make their hard parts (bones teeth, shells, …) which are also a form of inorganic carbon. Some of that forms sediments and, eventually, carbonate rocks such as limestone. Geological processes can recycle that into CO2, emitted from volcanoes.

      Almost all carbon in the crust, atmosphere, and oceans has been part of the ecosystem at some point and will again be part of the ecosystem in the future. Probably all organic carbon has been part of the ecosystem at some point.

  22. The soil seems ambivalent to warm and cold states. It has no stake in climate variability. There is, however, a consensus among plants, that warm states are preferable. 1 in 10 plants support increased CO2 in the atmosphere and global warming.

  23. “Pollutant”?
    It’s a real human crisis to have such blatant stupidity and dishonesty becoming so rampant.
    Mostly because of the massive mis-allocation of minds and means this mission of deceit is causing.
    The lost potential, opportunities and advancement which otherwise would be realized is an unforgiveable crime against modern humanity.
    Too bad it will only be prosecuted by historical memories sometime in the future.

    • The people who wrote this study, would never have contributed anything to society no matter what subject they studied.

      So in a way, this study has safely kept them off the streets, and made their intelectual powers obvious for the rest of us to see. No harm was done, and noone was confused (except them).

  24. “Whether carbon emissions from soil rise or fall, the researchers’ model depicts an intricate soil-carbon system that contrasts starkly with existing models that portray soil as a simple carbon repository, Sulman said.”

    IOW, the science wasn’t as settled as we were told.

  25. Here in Hooterville the ‘monster plants’ are those aggressive, non-indigenous Asian Bush Honeysuckle, Locals claim it was introduced by a Christian Science college nearby about a century ago and it has proliferated over nearby counties, endangering the life cycles of indigenous flora. I understand other parts of the country also experience this problem.

    Can someone link it to climate change so we can get help eliminating it?

  26. /sarc/

    We’re drowning in carbon pollution …

    it’s everywhere
    it’s everywhere

    it’s in the ground
    it’s in the air
    it’s in the ocean

    we must be worried
    Bishop Gore tells us so

    for when the ground and ocean exhale their carbon
    running away will the warming be

    yes, be worried
    be very scared
    for one New Year’s Day
    instead of a fahrenheit high of 25
    it’ll be a blistering hot 27

    wondering am I
    why scientists are no longer to be found
    instead there are nothing but
    high priests and clowns
    [there’s a difference?]
    and real folk listen to such pronouncements
    with combination giggles and frowns.


    • You really don’t need a /sarc/ tag. When climate scientists like this are discussed most comments are sarcastic. Maybe a /notsarc/ tag is required.

  27. This is a good example of the total epistemological collapse of modern “climate science”. Just as the children have forgotten what snow is, they have forgotten what logic is.

    • I have a dimmer view of the modern system which created the paper, subject of this thread. In light of the fact that all information which overturns and refutes the standard rote from the climate fearosphere is assailed by propagandists armed with thin and puerile logic, this paper seems to have been “directed”. In other words, it was ordered to have been produced, in order to fight against the growing awareness among the masses that increased CO2 in the atmosphere is a boon to all life on earth.
      This paper will give the propagandists a counter claim to the fact that CO2 is necessary for life, ridiculous as their claim may be. It’s just another skirmish in the battle between a comparatively small handful of elites with totalitarian bent and the rest of humanity.

  28. Hmmm; when one comes up with a hypothesis the correct course of action is to test it before shouting it out to the masses. You know, devise an experiment where the predicted outcome would support the hypothesis and then see if the predicted outcome actually occurs. Obviously that’s far too much trouble for these “researchers” spinning theories is easy but actually testing them is hard work. So maybe I can suggest 3 simple tests they could apply

    1 They suggest the rapidity of plant growth is what triggers this effect. Well plants grow much more rapidly and strongly in the tropics compared to temperate latitudes so according to their hypothesis the soil carbon in the tropics should be much lower than the soil carbon in more temperature latitudes. Is it?

    2 If I extrapolate their hypothesis, more virulent plant growth should equal less soil carbon and vice versa so that would mean soil carbon was highest in areas where the plant growth was slowest. So soil carbon should be highest in arid/cold/desert areas. Absurd extrapolation? Then are they postulating that soil carbon peaks at some level of plant growth and is lower each side of this peak? If so, what is the peak – clearly that’s an important thing to know.

    3 Following on from point 2, the data I have seen suggests that plant growth during the cretaceous period (the dinosaurs) was far greater than today (and it was warmer) so according to their theory soil carbon should be much lower. Yet this was the period when soil carbon was so high it laid down all the fossil fuel reserves we rely on today! Dead plant material accumulated far faster than it could decay! How is that possible, again are they suggesting that the sign of the relationship reverses if one goes too far from the current conditions. So that would mean much more plant growth = more soil carbon, much less plant growth = less soil carbon but just around our current conditions the sign of the feedback reverses and more plant growth mysteriously = less soil carbon. Put that way the hypothesis seems rather extraordinary and as has been said extraordinary claims need extraordinary proof and a model with made up coefficients is hardly any sort of proof at all.

    These are valid questions which are so basic any competent researcher should have thought of them. Are these people not thinking, so wrapped up in their narrow world that they are blind to the rest of the world or are they simply generating propaganda with a “science flavour”.

    • 1. Yes, as a rule there is rather little soil carbon in tropical rain forest. However it dependes mostly on the quality of the soil, there is much more soil carbon in SE Asia and New Guinea than in the Amazon.

      2. Soil carbon is highest in cool, wet areas (peat!).

      3. There wasn’t that much coal accumulated in the Cretaceous. A lot of oil, yes, but that accumulated in deep oxygen-free oceans, not in soils. Most coal accumulated during the Carboniferous, which was cool and wet (with large scale glaciation in the Southern Hemisphere).

      • A lot of oil, yes, but that accumulated in deep oxygen-free oceans, not in soils

        1) There is always plenty of oxygen at depth:

        Oxygen on CLIVAR A10 section along 30°S in 2010 – NOAA

        2) “In the geologic past, conditions have periodically recurred in which vast amounts of organic matter were preserved within the sediment of shallow, inland seas. Over time and with deep burial, these organic-rich source beds are literally pressure-cooked with the output being the production of large quantities of oil and natural gas.”
        – U.S. Dept. of Energy (archive copy)

        It seems that everyone who believes in the fossil fable has their own personal version of it.

      • There is always oxygen at depth today, it wasn’t in the past (and there isn’t even today in e. g. the Black Sea).
        Ever wondered why the deep ocean is so cold? It’s rather odd really since it is surrounded by warm water on top and hot rocks underneath. It is because, in the icehouse climate we are living in, the water in the deep sea is very cold, salty and well oxygenated since it is derived from stormy arctic seas.
        In former warmer climates the heaviest available water was instead warm, briny and oxygen-poor waters originating at low latitudes, so the deep sea was usually oxygen-poor, and during some intervals many basins were completely oxygen-free. That was where the black Cretaceous shales, that much of our oil derives from, accumulated. In the US most oil is from relatively shallow marine basins. This is emphatically not true e. g. in Brazil, Nigeria or Angola where the source-rock was emplaced as the South Atlantic opened, or the Middle East where the source-rocks were deposited at the bottom of the now defunct Tethys Ocean. It isn’t even true in e. g., the Permian Basin of West Texas. Go and have a look at El Capitan in the Guadelupe mountains sometime. You are then actually standing on the deep sea-bottom looking up at one of the largest barrier reefs in the history of the Earth.
        And, yes, oil is organic

    • Exactly my thoughts too. This hypothesis of theirs could be easily tested in a laboratory under controlled conditions to see if adding more CO2 to the atmosphere of a variety of plant environments would change the soil composition and percentage of carbon present thereof. Instead they make a computer model that is not falsifiable and proclaim it as gospel. Richard Feinman would be laughing his head off at his lecture podium!
      These model results look a lot like bad 50’s horror movie plots – The Blob, Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes, etc.

      PS, there are many ‘experimental’ sites for this – called plant conservatories. Couldn’t they just have asked the conservators what they found out after years of higher CO2 concentration? We have a lovely one here in Vancouver, BC – The Bloedel Conservatory, its been running since the 1950s – must be some real data there!

  29. Did I understand this correctly:

    1. If plants live, they will increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the air and we are all doomed.

    2. If plants die, they will rot and release carbon dioxide into the air and we are all doomed.

    Whatever happens, we are buggered.

  30. Reblogged this on Public Secrets and commented:
    So now a “greening” of the Earth, leading possibly to higher food production as more areas become arable and plants get more plant food (that nasty CO2) is a bad thing. The climate alarmists are getting desperate, I tell ya.

  31. You mean, a greenhouse gas will make the Earth like a greenhouse and in greenhouses plants grow really well? …I am shocked.

    What is the Green party to do? Suddenly announce they are for greenhouse gases?

    No. that would not do. Clearly the Green party needs to announce that more green plants will destroy civilization as we know it. That they, the Green party, are against green plants (as they are against cows, meat, electricity and most humans),

    because they want to – in some bizzarro Rousseauian way, go back to Nature.

    They are so convincing. It’s incredible.

    No seriously, their minds have passed the point of cognitive dissonance. You and I might have thought that would stop them but no, it was no hindrance, their have simply converted their thinking into metaphorical Möbius strips.

    Not physically possible, but pure intellect, a new beginning. The great future of pure nonsense awaits.

  32. Oh good!

    Now we can stop all those carbon credits for planting forests on top of villages after driving the people out… Clearly forest sequestration is a failed idea and is only setting up a soil crisis…

    (I’d put a /sarc on it, but that’s one of the logical conclusions from their Magical Thinking Paper…)

  33. Well, they’ve discovered `the answer lies in the soil.’ The plants should love it.

    Come back T-Rex, all is forgiven!

  34. At least there is no runaway of anything involved. Twice as much CO₂ in the soil and if all comes out yield at most 3 times the plants matter as we have now. Without roots, of course. </sarc>

  35. Dear Anthony
    Please could you or one of your colleagues do an article on Scarier Law setting out the Ten Commandments staring with
    1 Thou shalt not question.

  36. Each cAGW solution to a basic dilemma creates at least three new ones. Who has caused the Amazonian high CO2 emissions*, explosive plant growth and poor soil? When? And how?


  37. “..researchers found.” “knowing what the roots are doing could be an important part of understanding what the soil will be doing.”

    Reasearchers were not researching and so they found nothing. Knowing what the roots are doing – ask a botanist, don’t look to a mathematical model to learn anything! I’m very concerned that we are losing real knowledge and the goofy stuff gets hard wired in. Children’s and adults’ text books are full of bull now. How and who is going to straighten all this up?

  38. ” although a greenhouse gas and pollutant”

    I think they forgot, “and necessary for life as we know to exist.”

    ”Whether carbon emissions from soil rise or fall, the researchers’ model depicts…”

    This is strange, it suggests observations are irrelevant, since the models have it all figured out. Cool, lets just keep piling unverified models on top of unverified models until there is not doubt to their veracity. It’s the new scientific method.

  39. Oops how could I miss this.

    On the other hand, microbial activity initiated by root growth could lock carbon onto mineral particles and protect it from decomposition, which would increase long-term storage of carbon in soils, the researchers report.

    This is even a better reason to use the soil model, it can forecast that the soil could hold more CO2 or it could hold less. Put simply, the forecast can vary depending on who provides the grant money.

  40. Attention Global leaders and UNFCCC: To conserve about 40% of fuel & thereby reduce carbon emissions, to control climate change and global warming, to prevent road crash deaths and save millions of people from pollution related diseases and to reduce 80% of traffic jams, to uplift the downtrodden and reduce economic inequalities etc. for the first time in the world, I possess a WIPO approved miracle invention. So, is there anybody in the world who can help me to dedicate this PANACEA to humankind? Please Mail to: * *

  41. So the CAGW doctrine is:

    People going “green” = Good
    The planet going green = Bad

    (Sigh) The fall of Man.

  42. We’ve brought this on ourselves by stating the fact that CO2 is plant food, and that plants sequester carbon. They are attacking that information because anthropogenic CO2 must never be seen in a positive light. If it is a plant food, then plants are evil. If we use evil plants to sequester CO2, the ground is evil. As they tell us, “Their roots could stimulate microbial activity in soil that in turn accelerates the decomposition of soil carbon and its release into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.” Duh, like we didn’t know that. But by all means, Mr. Scientist, spend our taxpayer money to prove the carbon cycle again. And please use your computer model to prove the devastation that vegetation and microbes cause, because nature and history tell us nothing.

    Heaven forbid we should leave our grandchildren a legacy of lush forests.

  43. lool? The plants absorbing more co2 causes more co2. What happens when plants absorb less co2? More co2 of course! Damned if you do damned if you don’t. How can people with half a brain buy into this?

  44. Just like the oceans and atmosphere, soil is not a closed system. They are not taking into account denudation of the underlying bed rock which requires the reaction of carbonic acid, consuming CO2 in the process to release various metals and salts, aka nutrients.

  45. The way this works . . the birth of such studies.

    Warmists sense certain realities, such as:

    1.) Plants grow better with higher CO2 levels, specifically larger more productive crops with stronger deeper root structure.

    2.) These healthier/hardier plants [crops] will perform/survive droughts better.

    Warmist’s concerns:


    Warmist’s solution:

    Fabricate a study which will show something bizarre; perhaps like:

    — As trees and other vegetation flourish in a carbon dioxide-rich future, their roots could stimulate microbial activity in soil that in turn accelerates the decomposition of soil carbon and its release into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

    Problem is – that is good. Even stronger healthier plants more capable of surviving intense drought.

  46. Having participated in many years of soil organic matter research related to cropping systems and balanced fertility management my only comment is that this is yet another doomsday scenario. There are many areas where organic matter levels are increasiing, erosion eliminated, water use efficiency dramatically improved, nutrient use dramatically improved, crop production increasing every year with ongoing environmental enhancement. Of course there continues to be areas of concern but the sky is not falling. Balance please.

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