Plants encouraged as CO2 levels reach 400 ppm

Guest Opinion: Dr. Tim Ball is writing on behalf of the plants.

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that global monthly CO2 levels reached 400 ppm. They present this as threatening news, but it is good news for plants and animals. I was involved in a brief to the US Supreme Court opposing the EPA actions on CO2. I proposed we seek Power of Attorney (POA) for the plants. We would vote on behalf of the plants against any attempts to reduce atmospheric CO2 from the current claimed 400 ppm and for any increase, at least to a level of 1200 ppm.

Seeking POA sounds like an environmental stunt for the Sierra Club, or all those who claim to care about plants and animals. Why aren’t they doing it? Why aren’t they proclaiming the good news for the plants and animals they say they care about? The answer is because the facts they have selected for their political agenda on the environment and climate puts them in a completely contradictory position. They know CO2 is critical for plant growth, but only promote planting more trees to reduce atmospheric levels because they have chosen to label CO2 a pollutant. It doesn’t occur to them that increasing the CO2 level enhances plant growth. It creates a moral and philosophical conflict, as they want plants to succeed, but want to reduce the input that makes them successful. They can’t see the forest for the trees.

All life on Earth exists because of CO2. It is essential to flora, which then produce oxygen essential to fauna. Gore and others claim current levels are the highest ever. Others modify that claim arguing it is the highest in 650,000 years. That figure is convenient because it sounds like a long time. The levels are based Antarctic ice core data, which are clearly created artificially low to achieve the slope necessary for the political agenda against post-industrial CO2.

The longer geologic record produced by Scotese and Bernier (Figure 1) shows that for most of Earth’s history the level was well above the current level. The only time when levels were commensurate with today was from 315 million years ago (mya) to 270 mya, yet for over half of that period temperature was similar to today.

Most plants, especially the complex vascular plants evolved in the last 300 million years. The average level of atmospheric CO2 over that period was approximately 1200 ppm.


Figure 12

This suggests that most plants evolved with an optimum level of 1200 ppm.

The work of Sherwood and Craig Idso supports this value as reported extensively in their research at their web site. Commercial greenhouse operators also use this information as they pump in CO2 to enhance yields. Figure 2 shows a commercial CO2 generator advertised as follows:

Normally there are approximately 300 parts per million (PPM) of CO2 in the atmosphere; when this level is increased to over 1000 PPM, it results in higher production and better plant quality. The Johnson Generator provides up to 1500 PPM per unit in a 4800 square foot (446 square meter) greenhouse. By adding CO2, especially during the winter months when greenhouse ventilators are closed and when low CO2 concentration becomes a limiting factor in growth, growers are obtaining yield and bloom quality similar to that which is normally associated with spring and summer conditions.


Commercial CO2 Generator

Figure 2


It’s possible the company is promoting a product merely to enhance sales but consider the benefits set out by the Ontario government

During particular times of the year in new greenhouses, and especially in double-glazed structures that have reduced air exchange rates, the carbon dioxide levels can easily drop below 340 ppm which has a significant negative effect on the crop. Ventilation during the day can raise the CO2 levels closer to ambient but never back to ambient levels of 340 ppm. Supplementation of CO2 is seen as the only method to overcome this deficiency and increasing the level above 340 ppm is beneficial for most crops. The level to which the CO2 concentration should be raised depends on the crop, light intensity, temperature, ventilation, stage of the crop growth and the economics of the crop. 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.


The irony is this comes from a government planning a carbon tax to reduce atmospheric CO2 levels. In their “climate change solution,” they introduced a cap and trade designed to

“set a limit on the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that can be emitted.”

The phrase “greenhouse gas pollution” is false. CO2 is not a pollutant. However, once that assumption is made emotion rather than facts produce policy that contradicts reality.

If someone had POA for the plants, they could speak against the insane claim of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that CO2 is a “harmful substance”. EPA even convinced the US Supreme Court, supposedly the wisest people in the land, of this falsity.

Plants are delighted that CO2 levels are now 400 ppm and rising. They would also vote, with numbers well in excess of the human vote of approximately 6.5 billion, to oppose any legislation or attempts to reduce those levels. They also hope you enjoy the oxygen they provide for a life, not just a better life.

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May 9, 2015 6:06 pm

Big “green” is anything but green.

Reply to  CodeTech
May 9, 2015 6:27 pm

What? It’s all about the green, $$$

Reply to  Paul
May 10, 2015 1:40 am

Paul @ 6.27 pm
I assume you are referring to the “Green $$”

Just an engineer
Reply to  CodeTech
May 12, 2015 12:08 pm

Gang Green is a better label for those groups.

Brian D Finch
Reply to  Just an engineer
May 15, 2015 6:08 am

‘Gang Green’ is Scots for ‘Go Green’.
This is not to be confused with ‘gangrene’ which is rot.

May 9, 2015 6:15 pm

A potential bonus of those CO2 generators is that they also produce heat. When plants get all the yummy CO2 they need, they also benefit from significantly warmer temperatures than they can tolerate when they are starving. So although the heat ouput of those generators can be a minus in hot regions, it is a big plus in cooler regions. It reminds plants of the good old days.

Bubba Cow
Reply to  Max Photon
May 9, 2015 6:17 pm

and they are more efficient in water metabolism: win – win

Reply to  Bubba Cow
May 9, 2015 7:43 pm

It would be if phony water crises weren’t the next thing on the agenda (since ocean assification (sic) quite possibly has died stillborn)

Reply to  Max Photon
May 10, 2015 12:26 am

“All life on Earth exists because of CO2. It is essential to flora, which then produce oxygen essential to fauna.”
Not to mention the fact that one way or another, all fauna depend on plants for food. The ENTIRE biosphere is more lush, and more energetic because of the increased CO2.

Reply to  TYoke
May 15, 2015 11:05 am

Here’s a ideer: find some sequestered old carbon deposits and burn them, thereby re-introducing them to the bio-carbon cycle. Anyone know where to find some?

May 9, 2015 6:16 pm

Reblogged this on Starvin Larry and commented:
Outstanding !
Rivals anything the Sierra Club,NRDC,Earthfirst,Earthjustice,Greenpeace,or any of the other environmental zealots have come up with-too bad it doesn’t fit their agenda.
This must be spread far&wide,reprinted in the NY Times, HUffPo and WaPO !
Lawsuits must be filed to stop the efforts to reduce CO2 levels so we can save the plants!
Protests must be organized !
Parade floats made
Posters and signage printed up
Catchy slogans must be thought up
More experiments must be done to show that low CO2 levels harm plants
Pictures of dying plants must be taken
A polar bear on an ice floe equivalent must be thought of
The possibilities are endless…

Dale Baranowski,
Reply to  gamegetterII
May 9, 2015 10:53 pm


Ted G
May 9, 2015 6:20 pm

Trust Dr. Ball to give the straight goods every time, Rock on CO2.

May 9, 2015 6:24 pm

I pump CO2 into my aquarium and the plants are as lush as they could possibly be, not to mention the happy fish that have a nice environment to swim around in.

Eustace Cranch
Reply to  SteveB
May 10, 2015 6:25 am

But… but… you’re acidifying the water!!! Call the SPCA! Call PETA!

Reply to  Eustace Cranch
May 10, 2015 6:28 am

🙂 It turns off when the PH gets too low.

Reply to  SteveB
May 15, 2015 11:16 am

Don’t they get dizzy from all the added oxygen those lush plants release by breaking down the CO2? Shows you can’t trust lushes, I guess.

Reply to  SteveB
May 15, 2015 11:38 am

They DO drink a lot! 🙂

Bubba Cow
May 9, 2015 6:36 pm

notice, as well, that there is no (zippo) correlation at all historically between CO2 and T from the Figure also shown here:

Reply to  Bubba Cow
May 9, 2015 6:46 pm

You should put that above the Mayor’s office door.

Bubba Cow
Reply to  Max Photon
May 9, 2015 6:56 pm

excellent idea – will do

Reply to  Max Photon
May 10, 2015 1:58 am

Here’a another good one [click in image to embiggen]:
CO2 has been up to 20X higher in the past, without triggering any runaway global warming. How is going from 3 parts in 10,000, to only 4 parts in 10,000 over a century going to do that?
CO2 is a tiny trace gas. Without sensitive instruments to detect it, we wouldn’t even know about it. Only the plants know.

Reply to  Max Photon
May 11, 2015 10:53 am

One really good things would be to show the Geocarb III error margins. The Geocarb model provides these and stands in contrast to many AGW-motivated plots. Geocarb also goes into excellent detail about methods, assumptions and other aspects of real scientific work.

Reply to  Max Photon
May 15, 2015 11:23 am

CO2 by 2100 – IPCC Absolute BEST CASE Scenario (790 ppm)

Reply to  Bubba Cow
May 9, 2015 7:27 pm

The sun’s output over the billions of years is increasing as it ages, according to astrophysics theory that has not changed since a time before manmade increase of atmospheric CO2 became a significant issue.
Also, some of the lack of correlation in the past 570 million years is due to temperature being largely constant at an upper clipping level caused by the lapse rate feedback, while CO2 levels varied. Another factor was the position of continents, which has not been constant. The world has been cooler, even for a given CO2 level, when Antarctica has been where it is ice covered, than when when it was not.

Reply to  Donald L. Klipstein
May 9, 2015 8:51 pm

A great mystery of tectonics is that there has nearly always been a continent at the south pole, ice covered or not, and never one at the north pole.

Reply to  Donald L. Klipstein
May 10, 2015 6:44 pm

gymnosperm said on May 9, 2015 at 8:51 pm
“A great mystery of tectonics is that there has nearly always been a continent at the south pole, ice covered or not, and never one at the north pole.”
I think James Hansen explained this mystery quite well – or was it Piltdown Mann?
“Well duuh! It’s because the South Pole is on the bottom, like I mean, like, gravity, y’ know?”

Reply to  Donald L. Klipstein
May 11, 2015 3:22 pm

Mr. MacRae,
Best laugh of the week.
It is only Monday, but still…good one!

george e. smith
Reply to  Bubba Cow
May 9, 2015 7:30 pm

We see that plot a lot, as well as that tootie fruity colored one up higher in the thread.
Does anybody know how credible they are. The colored one seems to show there is a temperature limit above which the earth temperature cannot go, and it doesn’t seem that high
I’m just not that impressed by some of those way back proxies for this and that.

Bubba Cow
Reply to  george e. smith
May 9, 2015 7:38 pm

credible? – don’t know – what I have read, but not exactly my area
have always respected your input – here’s the source:

George Devries Klein, PhD, PG, FGSA
Reply to  george e. smith
May 9, 2015 8:24 pm

The upper diagram by Scotese and Berner has high credibillity by two highly respected geoscientists. I know both and can vouch for them.

John M. Ware
Reply to  george e. smith
May 10, 2015 2:51 am

As I recall, Mr. Eschenbach has hypothesized quite persuasively that there are mechanisms in nature that limit how high temperatures can go; I think thunderstorms figured strongly in that view. I share your skepticism concerning proxies: Look at how much mileage the pine tree proxy gave to the East Anglia “team” and Michael Mann in deriving the “hockey stick” graph–now long since shown to be nonsense and fakery. Properly read, and appropriately balanced against other, conflicting proxies, doubtless proxies can tell us something, at least in terms of probability; but one would be foolish to trust them too far.

Reply to  george e. smith
May 10, 2015 9:02 am

George E, …. they are basically the same graph …. except for the earliest temperature proxy.
How is this for impressive ……………..

Dr. Tim Ball
Most plants, especially the complex vascular plants evolved in the last 300 million years. The average level of atmospheric CO2 over that period was approximately 1200 ppm.

And an even more impressive fact is that between 542 million and 500 million years ago, during the Cambrian Explosion, was when most major animal phyla evolved, …. as well as major diversification of other organisms ….. and the atmospheric CO2 levels over that period ranged between 5,000 and 7,000 ppm.

Reply to  george e. smith
May 11, 2015 11:12 am

The plots in the OP and comments are a lazy man’s reproduction of the Geocarb III model means. They leave out the error envelopes which increase in magnitude toward the past. What you want to look at – for atmospheric carbon – is this:
The real Geocarb III model is well worth studying. Among other facts, Geocarb is the gold standard for long-term geological studies that involve estimates of real paleoclimatic atmospheric chemistry. Methods, assumptions, proxies used and modeling approaches are explicit. One truly outstanding aspect is the strong comparison between the Permian and the present. Geocarb indicates that over the truly long term, biological draw-down of carbon reserves outpaces carbon release. The only conclusion that can be drawn from the Geocarb model is that over geological spans of time, the living system can trigger its own extinction events as atmospheric CO2 becomes too dilute to support primary production.
Looking at the Permian extinction, it is commonly placed at about 252 MYA. The Siberian Trap formation, commonly blamed for the extinction by those looking for correlated events, is dated to 251 to 250 MYA, which means that the extinction would have preceded the eruptions that created the Siberian traps. So, far from triggering the extinction, the Siberian trap eruptions may have helped the planet recover from the extinction, pumping free carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and giving primary productivity a serious boost.

Reply to  Bubba Cow
May 10, 2015 12:35 am

Interesting to follow the decline in CO2 during the Cretaceous period , when what we now see as the massive chalk deposits were being deposited by organisms that clearly enjoyed the warmth, and presumably had adapted to the oceanic pH corresponding to this comparatively high CO2 concentration and temperature. In one of Berner’s papers he talks of high oceanic temperature down to abyss depths . Yet we know that early forms of fish: sharks , rays , coelacanths survived these temperatures and are still with us in much cooler waters .

Paul Marko
Reply to  Bubba Cow
May 10, 2015 11:51 am

Always wondered if the cause of the pronounced CO2 decline following the Devonian through the Carboniferous was due to the proliferation of land plants of that period as evidenced by the world’s prolific coal seams? That was followed by an increase through the Triassic possibly related to the vast volcanic flood of the Siberian Trapps?
The western coal seams are Cretaceous in age and may have caused that period’s CO2 decline with help from marine limestone sequestration? Don’t recall any discussion of this relationship.

Reply to  Paul Marko
May 15, 2015 11:31 am

Ya, the Carbon Disaster, that Gaia created us to reverse.

Mark from the Midwest
May 9, 2015 7:09 pm

My red-buds, lyndons and lilacs have never looked better, and just yesterday I was thinking that the lawn looked pretty good. The peat-pots that we use to start our vegetables need to go in the ground right now, the plants are outgrowing them at a unprecedented rate. Wait, this is it, it’s the tipping point for CO2, the plants are taking over …. quick everyone, arm yourself with Roundup.

May 9, 2015 7:11 pm

Yeah but plants are composed of Carbon therefore are inherently pollutants. Right?

Stephen Richards
Reply to  DAV
May 10, 2015 1:24 am

So are humans. Though mostly water we are carbon based life

michael hart
May 9, 2015 7:27 pm

This’ll get them stoked:

Reply to  michael hart
May 10, 2015 3:27 pm

Got some hillbilly buddies that can attest to the outdoor crops growing better and bigger with only natural watering the last few years. Excellent flowers, too

May 9, 2015 7:30 pm

Will Mr. McGuinty’s reputation for bookish policy-wonkery survive Mr. Coyle’s revelation — I do not exaggerate — that he unilaterally decided to close every coal-fired power plant in the province because he read an article in Time magazine one day?

Reply to  clipe
May 9, 2015 7:51 pm

I don’t think TIME magazine was the inspiration. I think it was CO2-fortified pot while listening to this …
by Pink Floyd

Reply to  Max Photon
May 10, 2015 3:31 pm

Thanks Max, I needed that.

May 9, 2015 8:21 pm

I love the Johnson, the concept of a device which burns natural gas and discards the heat really bugs the greens 🙂

May 9, 2015 8:26 pm

CO2, the life-giving gas, not “Carbon Pollution”. A Limerick – and explanation.
What then is this “Carbon Pollution”?
A sinister, evil collusion?
CO2, it is clean,
Makes for growth, makes it green,
A transfer of wealth, a solution.

masInt branch 4 C3I in is
May 9, 2015 8:49 pm

Simple. The Gods of Global Humana Warming, Barak Obama — Pope Holiness — Little Jimmy Hansen — Gavin Der Schmidt — Jonesy Jones at UAE and chief God Al Gore and the New God Figueres at UNFCC do not accept or recognize the evidence that Earth is older than 150 years.
Otherwise their Nazi plans for murdering humanity for their amusement are … kaput.
Ja ja

May 9, 2015 9:31 pm

Higher CO2 levels also shrink leaf stoma (breathing holes), which reduces water loss from inside plants, thus making them more drought resistant and requiring less irrigation.
Especially for arid regions around the world, this added benefit of higher CO2 levels has huge economic, social, nutritional and health benefits.

Reply to  SAMURAI
May 11, 2015 7:21 am

There has been speculation that this is the reason why the deserts have been greening over the last few decades.

May 9, 2015 10:08 pm

Scientific American called anthropogenic carbon dioxide “the precious air fertilizer,” back when their standards for scientific rigor were higher.

May 9, 2015 10:19 pm

“…So when they talk about carbon, do they mean CO2 gas?
Its two parts oxygen, I learnt that in my class.
Oxygen we breathe in, CO2 we breathe out,
And that makes the plants grow, of that there’s no doubt.
And when they talk about climate do they really mean weather?
But we can’t predict either; we’re just not that clever.
Confused and bewildered we just accept new restrictions,
As politicians frighten us with their false predictions…..”
Read more:

A Crooks
May 9, 2015 11:36 pm

I dont understand why anyone with even the slightest background in Geology would be anything but heartened by increasing levels of atmospheric CO2. The Biosphere is all about the photosynthesisers – everything else is parasitic. Anything which advatages photosynthesisers is a boon to the biosphere. The crisis which faces the biosphere is its efficiency at sequestering carbon from the atmosphere into the ground as coal oil gas and limestone. Anything that reverses that trend is good news.

Reply to  A Crooks
May 10, 2015 1:12 am

“…everything else is parasitic.”
There is indeed something to say for that.
Thank you for the smile.

A Crooks
Reply to  Brute
May 10, 2015 4:53 am

As carbon-based life forms, people should take a deep breath, and just remember what that actually means. People need to take a bit of a wider (Geological) perspective than the climate alarmists do.
Have a look at the above graph and note that over 500 million years ( I would argue 3.5 billion years) of geological time the global temperature has been locked between 12 and 22 degrees – anyone who thinks we are going to see a “tipping point” out of that range in the near future can pretty well forget it.
Also at the crash in atmospheric CO2 during the Carboniferous while huge coal beds were being laid down. And the recovery during the Permian.
Note also that there appears to be a non-zero base to the atmospheric CO2 – which I imagine is related to the 150ppm point where photosynthesis becomes too inefficient. Plants are no longer able to strip CO2 out of the atmosphere because there just isnt enough there. At the moment we are recovering from the last collapse in atmospheric CO2 – and a jolly good thing too.

Reply to  A Crooks
May 10, 2015 2:13 am

Beautifully put.

Reply to  A Crooks
May 11, 2015 7:22 am

Gaia created mankind to fix the problem with too much CO2 being sequestered.

Mayor of Venus
May 10, 2015 12:40 am

Dr. Ball writes this post on behalf of the plants. Was he deputized by The Lorax (Dr. Suess character), who speaks for the trees? Surely The Lorax knows and appreciates the benefits to the trees etc. of 400 ppm carbon dioxide? The Lorax should communicate these benefits to the children.

Mark from the Midwest
Reply to  Mayor of Venus
May 10, 2015 7:19 am

I kinda recall, from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, or some other equally authoritative piece, that the toon characters have a union. Doesn’t hedging in on the Lorax responsibility trigger some kind of civil infraction from the NLRB? After all, big government doesn’t stay big without the support and votes of those Toon characters, or for that matter the votes of the Residents of Shady Lawn Cemetery.

May 10, 2015 1:03 am

Does somebody know, what values the new NASA CO2-satellite shows?

Reply to  HelmutU
May 10, 2015 4:31 am

Preliminary data: same as at Mauna Lua and at China observatory. Very little deviations around the world.
Data currently no longer available. Some repair underway. Expect working again by July.

May 10, 2015 1:10 am

400 ppm? We’re all going to die!!

Mayor of Venus
Reply to  Admad
May 10, 2015 9:36 am

Agreed; we’re all going to die. But the death rate is independent of the carbon dioxide level, and remains the same at one death per person, with very small uncertainty.

May 10, 2015 1:13 am

At first I thought this post was a joke, but since it’s not I’m going to speak my mind. You’re talking about the benefits of CO2 levels increasing, but you’re clearly not thinking about the million negatives that come with that. CO2 makes the greenhouse effect become more intense, which leads to global temperature rising, wich leads to melting of the ice caps, which not only means that the animals in the Artic will die, but it also means that the sea level will increase, flooding lands and killing millions of people and species. Not to mention that, with temperature rising, there will be plagues of mosquitos and the ecosystems will be unbalanced, since there will also be shortage of water. Yeah, that thing you drink, that you’re made of, and that you can’t live without. Gone.

Reply to  KickassBlogger
May 10, 2015 2:10 am

You forgot to add the sarcasm tag. [“/sarc”].
That, or the evidence-free ‘carbon’ scare has colonized your mind.

Reply to  KickassBlogger
May 10, 2015 3:47 am

Well, Kickassblogger, it’s always nice to see new kids come to the debate. And you must be new, as your lengthy chain of arguments comes fresh from the propaganda mills.
Unfortunately it breaks down right at the start:
“CO2 makes the greenhouse effect become more intense, which leads to global temperature rising,”
CO2 does rise, but temperatures do not:

Reply to  DirkH
May 10, 2015 7:22 am

Not wanting to sound rude, but… everything we learn at school is wrong?

Reply to  DirkH
May 10, 2015 11:01 am

Pretty much. This site does not censor comments, so you will see both sides of the debate. Then you can make up your own mind.
If you try to keep an open mind and follow the pro and con arguments, you will begin to see that, yes, they do feed you a lot of misinformation. Global warming stopped almost twenty years ago. You won’t hear about that in school.
This site won the internet’s Best Science & Technology blog award for the past 3 years running. There is plenty of information here. Anthony Watts runs the best climate site on the internet. The knowledge is yours for the taking.

Reply to  DirkH
May 10, 2015 12:45 pm

May 10, 2015 at 7:22 am
“Not wanting to sound rude, but… everything we learn at school is wrong?”
Well let’s just called it… streamlined a little, ok? Slightly resembling reality. Welcome to the learning process!

Reply to  DirkH
May 11, 2015 7:26 am

KAB, is everything you learned at school wrong?
If you went to public school, that’s pretty much a given.

Reply to  KickassBlogger
May 10, 2015 8:39 am

CO2 makes the greenhouse effect become more intense, which leads to global temperature rising …

The basic physics predicts that, all other things being equal, more atmospheric CO2 will result in a temperature rise. The issues are:
1 – How much temperature rise?
2 – “All other things being equal” – almost nobody believes that.
IIRC, the basic physics predicts that doubling the atmospheric CO2 should result in a temperature rise of about a degree and a half.
To get more warming, the catastrophists rely on positive ‘feedbacks’. The CO2 induced warming causes more evaporation, increasing the water vapor in the atmosphere. That causes even more warming. It is pure hypothesis.
What is the evidence of positive feedbacks? That, my dear KickassBlogger, is where the discussion is. If you wish to engage the skeptic community you have to get with the program. You can’t simply assert runaway global warming. You have to bring some evidence or at least a defensible hypothesis.

Reply to  KickassBlogger
May 10, 2015 11:17 am

It is not surprising that you have had such blunt rejections when you assert such erroneous information.
I write to introduce you to the scientific method so you can start to determine things for yourself instead of feeding on what you have been fed by those giving you the ‘mushroom treatment’ at school.
The Null Hypothesis is a fundamental scientific principle and forms the basis of all scientific understanding, investigation and interpretation. Indeed, it is the basic principle of experimental procedure where an input to a system is altered to discern a change: if the system is not observed to respond to the alteration then it has to be assumed the system did not respond to the alteration.
The Null Hypothesis says it must be assumed a system has not experienced a change unless there is evidence of a change.
In the case of climate science there is a hypothesis that increased greenhouse gases (GHGs, notably CO2) in the air will increase global temperature. There are good reasons to suppose this hypothesis may be true, but the Null Hypothesis says it must be assumed the GHG changes have no effect unless and until increased GHGs are observed to increase global temperature. That is what the scientific method decrees. It does not matter how certain some people may be that the hypothesis is right because observation of reality (i.e. empiricism) trumps all opinions.
Please note that the Null Hypothesis is a hypothesis which exists to be refuted by empirical observation. It is a rejection of the scientific method to assert that one can “choose” any subjective Null Hypothesis one likes. There is only one Null Hypothesis: i.e. it has to be assumed a system has not changed unless it is observed that the system has changed.
However, deciding a method which would discern a change may require a detailed statistical specification.
In the case of global climate in the Holocene, no recent climate behaviours are observed to be unprecedented so the Null Hypothesis decrees that the climate system has not changed.
Importantly, an effect may be real but not overcome the Null Hypothesis because it is too trivial for the effect to be observable. Human activities have some effect on global temperature for several reasons. An example of an anthropogenic effect on global temperature is the urban heat island (UHI): cities are warmer than the land around them, so cities cause some warming. But the temperature rise from cities is too small to be detected when averaged over the entire surface of the planet, although this global warming from cities can be estimated by measuring the warming of all cities and their areas.
Clearly, the Null Hypothesis decrees that UHI is not affecting global temperature although there are good reasons to think UHI has some effect. Similarly, it is very probable that AGW from GHG emissions are too trivial to have observable effects.
The feedbacks in the climate system are negative and, therefore, any effect of increased CO2 will be probably too small to discern because natural climate variability is much, much larger. This concurs with the empirically determined values of low climate sensitivity.
Empirical – n.b. not model-derived – determinations indicate climate sensitivity is less than 1.0°C for a doubling of atmospheric CO2 equivalent. This is indicated by the studies of
Idso from surface measurements
and Lindzen & Choi from ERBE satellite data
and Gregory from balloon radiosonde data
Indeed, because climate sensitivity is less than 1.0°C for a doubling of CO2 equivalent, it is physically impossible for the man-made global warming to be large enough to be detected (just as the global warming from UHI is too small to be detected). If something exists but is too small to be detected then it only has an abstract existence; it does not have a discernible existence that has effects (observation of the effects would be its detection).
To date there are no discernible effects of AGW. Hence, the Null Hypothesis decrees that AGW does not affect global climate to a discernible degree. That is the ONLY scientific conclusion possible at present.

Chris Edwards
Reply to  KickassBlogger
May 10, 2015 12:37 pm

Dear Mr Ass, look up the theory of CO2 being a greenhouse gas (except when it in a greenhouse see the article) there seems to be one theory and two experiments both with more holes than swiss cheese, then there are facts that dont comply with wonky theory! or you could follow the money either way IF your mind is open you will see!

Reply to  KickassBlogger
May 10, 2015 2:58 pm

Where is that much talked about Positive feedbacks located?

Reply to  KickassBlogger
May 11, 2015 11:29 am

KB, read geology first, then paleontology, then climatology, THEN climate science. In the interstices read some chemistry and physics. Also take some time and read Kurt Goedel’s incompleteness theorem’s and consider the implications for mathematical models. There is quite literally no empirical evidence to support the dire predictions of runaway global warming. If such events were possible in the real world, they would already have occurred, hundreds of millions of years ago. As it is, they are only known to occur in computer models.
There are plenty of genuine pollutants and toxins that really are worth being concerned about, especially ones that get into drinking water. CO2 is not on that list.

Village idiot
May 10, 2015 1:37 am

“They present this as threatening news…”
Brother dr Tim, on your link I could only find a series of facts……

Reply to  Village idiot
May 10, 2015 10:29 am

Most of the public can only understand one variable and not how multiple variables affect an issue/situation.
So just use the one CO2 variable and harp on that. Don’t mention any other variables affecting climate?

Reply to  Barbara
May 11, 2015 11:34 am

Barbara, that’s true even in science. Laboratory experiments offer clues to how two variables, e.g. LWIR and CO2 interact, but the behaviour of that simple system within a larger system becomes unpredictably complex quite rapidly as new elements are added to the system. In many sciences this problem of complexity has lead to a reliance on mathematics and mathematical models – not necessarily a bad thing – but it is not often clearly stated that the models are limited to mathematical behaviours and do not necessarily parallel real-world phenomena perfectly.

May 10, 2015 1:52 am

I learned in a prior thread that there are some here who may well not believe in evolution. But, for those that do believe in evolution, let us consider the fact that plant life has evolved to want CO2 in much higher concentrations than the current 400 ppm. Think on that for a moment.
Dr. Ball states, “Most plants, especially the complex vascular plants evolved in the last 300 million years. The average level of atmospheric CO2 over that period was approximately 1200 ppm.” And we know that commercial greenhouse operations (the real kind) pump in CO2 to 1200 – 1500 ppm to get their greenery to grow better.
This is an argument that even the scientifically uneducated (most of today’s graduates) can understand. Plants evolved in an atmosphere where CO2 was much higher and yet there was no “runaway global heating”. Add that to the fact that the present interglacial is nearly to its sell-by date. (we are near the end of the interglacial according to the length of past interglacials)
For those of us educated two generations ago, the thoughts of the alarmists and even most of the luke-warmers are hard to fathom. The basic laws of physics and of biology tell us that CO2 is our friend. Why do people buy the activist’s claptrap?

May 10, 2015 2:08 am

Now I know why my tomato plants look fantastic – when I get them from the store.

Reply to  4TimesAYear
May 10, 2015 10:48 am

CO2 is used to make green tomatoes turn red.
Talk about irony.

Just an engineer
Reply to  RobRoy
May 12, 2015 12:52 pm

4Times said “plants”, “ethylene” is what should be used to ripen “fruit”

May 10, 2015 2:25 am

i listened to a radio program yesterday on how climate change was affecting plants in new england. They said the changing climate was affecting plants negatively and plants were moving north but they didn’t give any specifics besides invasive species. It sounded very concerning and alarming.
I was wondering if the temps haven’t changed much at all in 18 years than how would the temps be changing the plants? I understand the co2 can change them but she didn’t even mention that. She said that the warmer nights were doing this. Are the nights really that much warmer now on average in New England in that time frame? Is that a stretch to say they ar affecting plants negatively there?
I love public radio

Reply to  Charlie
May 10, 2015 2:36 am

Next up: Little House of Horrors.

Reply to  dbstealey
May 10, 2015 3:23 am

You mean Little Shop of Horrors? “Feed me, Seymor!”

Reply to  dbstealey
May 10, 2015 11:05 am

Yes, of course. You’re right.
Good movie, eh? Excellent entertainment.

Reply to  Charlie
May 11, 2015 3:39 pm

I have grown plants and trees for a living, and done it quite well.
I have grown food crops for personal consumption since being grade school.
I have studied each of the relevant disciplines (Duster has a nice little starter list here: both formally and on an ongoing and informal basis.
The notion that higher temps are somehow bad for plants is utter nonsense.
It is the opposite of the truth, for the vast majority of food crops and ornamentals.
If given enough water, more heat, especially higher overnight lows, will cause faster growth in plants.
And given higher CO2, the need for water is decreased.
Add it all up, and plants love a hot CO2 rich world.
Hogwash to argue otherwise.

William Astley
May 10, 2015 2:35 am

Increased atmospheric CO2 in addition to reducing growing time and increasing yield reduces water loss in plants.
C3 plants (trees, cereal crops, and shrubs) lose roughly 50% of the water they absorb due to transrespiration (loss of water from the plant’s stomata.) When CO2 rises C3 plants produce less stomata which reduces water loss in the plant.. This results in more water at the root of the plant which enables synergistic bacteria on the roots to produce more nitrogen byproducts which increases plant growth.
A higher level of atmospheric CO2 enables plants to make more effective use of water and enables the plant to survive in regions of low water such as deserts. Higher levels of atmospheric CO2 are beneficial to biosphere.

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.

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

Taylor Pohlman
Reply to  William Astley
May 10, 2015 8:21 am

It’s worth noting that the earlier (2003) article (Weizmann) attributes the effect to CO2, but the later (2009) Nat Geo one only cites increased rainfall with no mention of CO2, although over those intervening 6 years temps were relatively flat and CO2 went up. Looks like Nat Geo got the “CO2 bad, must be something else” message…

Reply to  Taylor Pohlman
May 10, 2015 10:38 pm

Nat Geo got the “CO2 bad, must be something else” message… Indeed, they have been plagued by the same disease of biased journalism as SA, Discover and other magazines.
They’ve all been corrupted by agenda-driven progressive politics.

Bruce Cobb
May 10, 2015 3:49 am

Prince Chuckles “talks” to plants, but I doubt they listen. They know he’s a bone-head, wanting to deprive them of food.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
May 10, 2015 10:49 am

Ears like the FA cup. Mind like a sieve.

May 10, 2015 6:44 am

“They present this as threatening news…”

Without a climate theory that has predicted individual climate catastrophes or trends of climate catastrophes, the term “threatening” is meaningless and becomes a non-scientific value judgment.
In that sense it appears NOAAs and other activists strive to create a perception that increased CO2, specifically human CO2 is due to human failure of biblical proportions.

chris riley
May 10, 2015 6:50 am

Practically everything written by the alarmists is fundamentally flawed by neglecting the positive component of marginal CO2 concentration. The only thing that matters is the NET externality. Failure to do the subtraction is an error that the utilization of all the advanced math in existence cannot rectify. Subtraction is taught in kindergarten. Perhaps Universities should offer a refresher course.

G. Karst
Reply to  chris riley
May 10, 2015 8:24 am

Math is of no use when one is pursuing an agenda of supreme importance. When the means is justified by the end, math must conform or be discarded. It is a brave new world, after all. GK

Bill Illis
May 10, 2015 7:15 am

The best example is the last glacial maximum.
With lower CO2 and reduced precipitation, the planet only had a few places where trees and bushes were growing. Our ice age ancestors lived in the deserts and the C4 grasslands. The planet looked nothing like today. There were NO vegetarians at the time because they was no vegetables, fruit, nuts or berries. The human diet was the animals which ate grass, of which there was a lot.
Look for light blue, or green in this map to see where the trees and vegetables grew. With CO2 at 185 ppm, the planet sustains 500,000 people.

Vince Causey
Reply to  Bill Illis
May 10, 2015 10:18 am

Very true. The decline in CO2 from the Mesozoic onwards eventually led to the demise of forest in large areas of Africa where they were replaced by savannah. I wonder if this would reverse if CO2 did reach 1200 ppm. I suspect not because in the pre savannah era, grass had not yet evolved but now it would probably out compete the trees.

Reply to  Vince Causey
May 10, 2015 10:40 pm

Land-based biosphere is soaking up 4 PgC of carbon a year.

May 10, 2015 7:30 am

Thanks, Dr. Ball, for your advocacy in favor of us carbon-based beings.
CO2 is not a pollutant, it is the gas of life. Nitrogen is indifferent.

Reply to  Andres Valencia
May 10, 2015 11:09 am

An Angel cries every time a Co2 generator is sold. It must piss off the alarmists that such a product exists. And while they extol GMO food manufacturers, who likely account for the lions share of these devices…hang on, I’m using logic.

May 10, 2015 10:18 am

If not for nitrogen we couldn’t breathe. Plants as well. It’s also plant food…

May 10, 2015 10:50 am

Dr Tim, You deserve thanks from everything that photosynthesizes..

May 10, 2015 12:57 pm

The entire atmosphere (except Argon) is a product of biology.
The global biogeochemical carbon cycle controls the flow and amounts of CO2 and hydrocarbons in the various biological and abiotic pools.
The global biogeochemical nitrogen cycle controls the flow and amounts of nitrogen in the various biological and abiotic pools.

May 10, 2015 1:39 pm

There are several points I’ve started to emphasize in my own discussion of this topic, two in particular. One is that plants can and have been shown in greenhouse studies to grow between 10 and 15% more in a season at 400 ppm CO_2 than the do at the pre-industrial levels of <300 ppm. That means that roughly 1 billion people are fed every day on the surplus agricultural production resulting from the increase. Somehow WHO is omitting these people when they allege that some tiny fraction of this number are being killed by global warming in spite of the fact that one cannot possibly attribute a single death to carbon dioxide, whether or not it caused some fraction of the < 0.8 C of planetary warming observed over the last 165 or so years. All of their attributions are via enormously weak chains of evidence and extrapolation of statistics with no direct evidence whatsoever. There is really no question about the billion people who didn't starve because of it.
The second is that carbon dioxide fertilization is a confounding factor in "dendroclimatology" that seems not to have been considered at all in the various tree-ring proxy reconstructions of past climates. I first noted that when reading a study of tree rings in the Phillipines where temperatures and rainfall basically had been unaltered but tree rings showed a pattern of steady increase (as if the temperatures were "increasing" too). Somehow, nobody thought to correct for the 10 to 15% expected increase in growth rates due to the CO_2 alone, even in a climate that was known to have experienced no statistically significant variation over the period in question.
In fact, CO_2 alone has produced a “hockey stick” in plant growth nearly everywhere. Plant stoma are actively shrinking (as happens when CO_2 is abundant enough as partial pressure increases diffusion rates to where smaller stoma suffice). Smaller stoma means plants are more drought tolerant and generally healthier and more robust. If CO_2 continues to increase, it may or may not cause a dramatic uptick in planetary temperatures, but we can be nearly certain that there will be a dramatic uptick in the overall productivity of the biosphere.

Reply to  rgbatduke
May 10, 2015 1:58 pm


The second is that carbon dioxide fertilization is a confounding factor in “dendroclimatology” that seems not to have been considered at all in the various tree-ring proxy reconstructions of past climates. I first noted that when reading a study of tree rings in the Phillipines where temperatures and rainfall basically had been unaltered but tree rings showed a pattern of steady increase (as if the temperatures were “increasing” too). Somehow, nobody thought to correct for the 10 to 15% expected increase in growth rates due to the CO_2 alone, even in a climate that was known to have experienced no statistically significant variation over the period in question.

I have been asking that for a while – specifically, about the re-calibration for tree growth against CO2 increase since the mid 1950s . And we have heard nothing from Mann about what he does to even recognize that factor.
Perhaps we should ask warrenlb – after all, if it is not peer-reviewed published, it doesn’t exist, right? 8<)

Reply to  RACookPE1978
May 10, 2015 6:59 pm

It would require extra effort to be negative about this subject. Warrenlb might not comment, due to lack of proper programming.

Adam from Kansas
May 10, 2015 2:06 pm

I wonder if it’s possible that, as CO2 levels rise, there will be cases where plants see a major step upward in total productivity as genes that are usually turned off due to low levels start activating (especially when combined with rain and other growth boosting conditions).
It’s being seen everywhere you look, trees growing faster than normal and with leaves bigger than usual, pollen counts for the record books, garden plants that have suddenly become jumbo-sized compared to previous years and decades (this just happened to the flowering plants at my grandmother’s house), lawn grass that needs mowing more often as the yard starts developing faster growing patches with more brilliant shades of green ect…
Why would plant lovers want to see CO2 levels drop now?

May 10, 2015 2:35 pm

Good article. When will the demonization of CO2 cease? A rhetorical question, and I guess the answer is when it becomes politically expedient. Dissemination of this sort of information should help.

Just an engineer
Reply to  nzpete
May 12, 2015 12:58 pm

When? When “climate activism” is banished from science.

May 10, 2015 2:42 pm

This is a really good idea.

May 10, 2015 2:57 pm

I wonder what liberals would think of a “plant rights” campaign to mimic the “animal rights” activism some engage in. We could forgive the vegetarians among the populace for the diet, but suggest that perhaps some people are now going a bit too far in their anti-plant attitudes in their war against CO2. They should consider being more compassionate and tolerant of the desire of many to support healthy plant growth in a more sustainable fashion than the years of CO2 deprivation they’ve had to suffer in the past. Long live the plants! 🙂

Paul Courtney
May 10, 2015 4:00 pm

What a fine post, top to bottom. Veritable scientists chime in with comments even a lawyer can understand. Can CO2 also promote the growth of hope?

May 10, 2015 4:56 pm

Reblogged this on Public Secrets and commented:
Something else climate alarmists don’t like to consider, because the truth is an abomination in their cult: rising levels of CO2 are generally good for plant life, as CO2 is plant food, and more plants means more food for humans. Maybe that’s why they don’t like it, since climate alarmists also tend to be Malthusians at heart.

john robertson
May 10, 2015 5:29 pm

I get the impression that plants evolved to be too efficient at sequestering CO2.
Their success is evident in all that lovely coal,peat bog and permafrost.
Their success at removing CO2 from the atmosphere seems to have almost been fatal for the C3 series of plants, as the CO2 levels almost reached starvation levels.
Only a handful of species of plant seem to have adapted to modern CO2 levels.
Save the food chain, save life as we know it… Burn Baby Burn.
Now all sarcasm aside, the insanity of condemning carbon-dioxide, and all carbon based life with it is beyond parody.
But as the body of knowledge has grown, it is down right astounding that we, by choosing to release the energy bound up in ancient biomass, have done exactly the right thing to allow the plants to prosper.
Seems plants were too efficient at storing both carbon and sunlight.
I guess we could help them out… or starve.
Or in Team UN IPCC ™ logic, we must kill all the plants cause its “carbon neutral” or something.

Mike Moodie
May 10, 2015 6:11 pm

Regarding greenhouse gases:
Maybe we should listen to the guys who design greenhouses, and who will have to deal with the consequences, no matter what happens to the climate.
ASABE 1st Climate Change Symposium – Adaptation and Mitigation
Date: May 3-5, 2015
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Disclosure: I am a member of asabe, and have a MS in Agricultural Engineering, Irrigation.

Reply to  Mike Moodie
May 10, 2015 6:27 pm

Really???? Let’s count how many of the BS talking points are false…
“Global Climate Change has been related to increases in temperature, prolonged wet and dry hydroperiods, and an increase in climatic extremes. In the US, the recent 2014 US National Climate Assessment report ( recognizes that effects of human-induced climate change are being felt in every corner of the United States, with water growing scarcer in dry regions, torrential rains increasing in wet regions, heat waves becoming more common and more severe, wildfires growing worse, and forests dying under assault from heat-loving insects. Such extreme events are already impacting our ecosystems (e.g., agricultural, urban/suburban, aquatic, wetlands, forests, coastal, etc.). Melting of glaciers, sea level rise, and salt water intrusion in coastal areas are stressing our water resources.”

May 10, 2015 6:49 pm

I wrote the following on this subject, posted on
On Climate Science, Global Cooling, Ice Ages and Geo-Engineering:
Furthermore, increased atmospheric CO2 from whatever cause is clearly beneficial to humanity and the environment. Earth’s atmosphere is clearly CO2 deficient and continues to decline over geological time. In fact, atmospheric CO2 at this time is too low, dangerously low for the longer term survival of carbon-based life on Earth.
More Ice Ages, which are inevitable unless geo-engineering can prevent them, will cause atmospheric CO2 concentrations on Earth to decline to the point where photosynthesis slows and ultimately ceases. This would devastate the descendants of most current [terrestrial] life on Earth, which is carbon-based and to which, I suggest, we have a significant moral obligation.
Atmospheric and dissolved oceanic CO2 is the feedstock for all carbon-based life on Earth. More CO2 is better. Within reasonable limits, a lot more CO2 is a lot better.
As a devoted fan of carbon-based life on Earth, I feel it is my duty to advocate on our behalf. To be clear, I am not prejudiced against non-carbon-based life forms, but I really do not know any of them well enough to form an opinion. They could be very nice. 🙂
Best, Allan

May 10, 2015 7:30 pm

We used to understand this – then science when backwards for several decades,
Circa the 1960’s, comedian Shelley Berman said:
“No matter how mean, or cruel, or sinful you have been, every time you breathe out, you make a little flower happy.”

May 10, 2015 7:45 pm

What’s next for the neo-Malthusians, neo-Luddites, and OGI’s (other green imbeciles)?
Next they’ll be insisting that their food is grown at CO2 concentrations of less than 400ppm.
“I mean, y’know, it’s like, ah, natural,”
In addition to “Trans Fat-free”, “non-GMO”, “Organic”, “Lactose-free”, and “Gluten-free” we will soon see food labelled “Carbon-free”?
You heard it here first folks – it’s like, ah, the Next Big Thing!

May 10, 2015 8:15 pm

Because vegetables.

James at 48
May 11, 2015 10:24 am

It’s a false spring. There is no way that a level above 400PPM can last more than a few thousand years. Assuming the CO2 level is mostly due to human activities, it will peak very early and drop like a rock. Assuming CO2 level is mostly due to being in an interglacial, at most, this level will persist a few tens of thousands of years. When it drops, Katie bar the door.

Reply to  James at 48
May 11, 2015 3:47 pm


Reply to  James at 48
May 13, 2015 3:49 am

Agree (in general) James – see my comment above at
and this :
I see two problems for humanity and the environment in the next very few thousand years:
1. Another Ice Age
2. CO2-deficiency (if not in this next Ice Age, then in the following ones).

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