Study: Earth is becoming GREENER, not BROWNER due to climate change

Guest essay by Dr. Patrick J. Michaels

It’s hard to say how many punny posts we came up with using those words when Carol Browner was Bill Clinton’s EPA Administrator, but here we use it in the context of a recent Science paper by J-F. Busteri and 30 named coauthors assisted by 239 volunteers. It found, looking at global drylands (about 40% of land areas fall into this category), that we had undercounted global forest cover by a whopping “at least 9%”.

239 people were required to examine over 210,000 0.5 hectare (1.2 acre) sample plots in GoogleEarth, and classify the cover as open or forested. Think of being condemned to looking at that many satellite views of real estate. Anyway, here’s the resultant cool map:


This has been the subject of a jillion recent stories, blog posts, tweets and whatever concerning Bastin et al. So let’s add a bit more value here.

Last year, Zaichin Zhu and 31 coauthors published a remarkable analysis of global vegetation change since satellite sensors became operational in the late 1970s. The vast majority of the globe’s vegetated area is greening, with 25-50% of that area showing a statistically significant change, while only 4% of the vegetated area is significantly browning. Here’s the mind-boggling map:


Trends in Leaf Area Index, 1978-2009. Positive tones are greening, negative are browning, and the dots delineate where the changes are statistically significant. There is approximately 9 times more area significantly greening up than browning down.

Hope your sitting down for the money quote:

We show a persistent and widespread increase of growing season integrated LAI (greening) over 25% to 50% of the global vegetated area, whereas less than 4% of the globe shows decreasing LAI (browning). Factorial simulations with multiple global ecosystem models show that CO2 fertilization effects explain 70% of the observed greening trend…

And the other greening driver that stood out from the statistical noise was—you guessed it—climate change.

Now, just for fun, toggle back and forth between the two maps. As you can see, virtually every place where there’s newly detected forest is greening, and a large number of these are doing it in a statistically significant fashion. This leads to a remarkable hypothesis—that one of the reasons the forested regions were undercounted in previous surveys (among other reasons) is that there wasn’t enough vegetation present to meet Bastin’s criterion for “forest”, which is greater than 10% tree cover, and carbon dioxide and global warming changed that.


Bastin, F-L., et al., 2017. The extent of forest in dryland biomes. Science 356, 635-638.

Zhu, Z., et al., 2016. Greening of the earth and its drivers. Nature Climate Change, DOI: 10.1038

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May 16, 2017 12:49 pm

No surprise to those who have been paying attention.
By “climate change”, do they mean warming, more rainfall, what?

Reply to  Chimp
May 16, 2017 5:16 pm

I submit the earth is getting greener because of additional CO2, not because of “climate change”–whatever that is.
Trees are growing from 30-70% faster than they did 50 years ago, and from 15-25% of foodstuff production is attributed to the additional atmospheric CO2.
The only thing “climate change” has caused to be greener is the pocket books or bank accounts of those getting climate-related grants; the corollary is that the pocket books and bank accounts of taxpayer’s have become less green because that particular green doesn’t grow on trees–it’s a transfer of wealth based on a silly political meme.

Joel Snider
Reply to  RockyRoad
May 17, 2017 12:11 pm

‘I submit the earth is getting greener because of additional CO2, not because of “climate change”–whatever that is. Trees are growing from 30-70% faster than they did 50 years ago, and from 15-25% of foodstuff production is attributed to the additional atmospheric CO2.
Yeah, that’s one of those things we’re ‘risking’.

Reply to  Chimp
May 17, 2017 12:59 am

Warmer and wetter are better. link People thrive in a warmer, wetter climate. A colder climate brings starvation and warfare. What ‘they’ ignore is that climate change cuts both ways.
The real deniers are the folks who try to deny natural variability.

Reply to  Chimp
May 18, 2017 7:32 am

I wonder if more CO2 is causing a longer growing season to manifest? We always hear talk of spring starting earlier etc. but I do wonder if the additional aerial CO2 isn’t just making the plants able to operate at lower temperatures.
Anyway, just a thought.

May 16, 2017 12:52 pm

Yabut children just won’t know what brown is anymore. Please! Think of the children!

Andrew Burnette
Reply to  cephus0
May 16, 2017 1:39 pm

Oh well, here’s a silver lining… At least all of those North African farmers who went to the big city due to global warming can un-radicalize now and go back to the farm.

Reply to  Andrew Burnette
May 16, 2017 3:44 pm

Woo-hoo! Do I get a tax credit, then, for driving my Tundra? 😉

Reply to  Andrew Burnette
May 17, 2017 7:55 am

If negative externalities must be taxed, then it makes sense that positive ones should be subsidized.

May 16, 2017 1:01 pm

Fortunately, plants are not controlled by the Clintons or Obamas or their message managers.

Reply to  Resourceguy
May 16, 2017 3:53 pm

Shush! don’t tell Obama he just got paid $3 million for this;
“Obama, who was speaking at the Seeds & Chips Global Food Innovation Summit in Milan, Italy, went on to add that the planet’s changing climate was already “making it more difficult to produce food” and said that shrinking yields and spiking food prices were in some cases leading to political instability.”
Too much vegetation and CO2 fertilizer makes life so tuff!!

Reply to  ColA
May 16, 2017 4:49 pm

The price spikes were/are due to cropland diverted to ethanol feedstock production.
Anyone familiar with what reconstructions of Earth during hothouse climate modes will not be surprised by the greening.

Roger Knights
Reply to  ColA
May 16, 2017 4:58 pm

It’s likely, I suspect, that Obama’s climate-related speeches and remarks are written for him (or at least edited for him) by Holdren types who insert such over-the-top claims.

Reply to  ColA
May 16, 2017 5:04 pm

My family and friends in the crop growing business would like to see some of these supposed spikes. Has been a long time since one of those.

Tom Halla
May 16, 2017 1:06 pm

This does violate the green blob’s disaster scenario. Crimethink!

Reply to  Tom Halla
May 16, 2017 1:19 pm

TH, gives a whole new meaning to Green Blob.

Reply to  ristvan
May 16, 2017 2:17 pm

Soon to be changed to Brown Blob. They cannot be associated, due to CO2, with Greening (and it matches their shirts better).

Bryan A
Reply to  ristvan
May 16, 2017 2:28 pm

To many “R”s in the second to the last word in your statement

Reply to  Tom Halla
May 16, 2017 3:45 pm

Trouble is, the Green Blob will take the credit.

May 16, 2017 1:13 pm

What a revolutionary concept in science. Actually checking the evidence rather than trusting computer models and programs.
If a forest grows and nobody is watching, does it exist?

Reply to  Javier
May 16, 2017 3:40 pm

No it’s true, seriously. Only the weeds and nettles and poison oak are proliferating. All the plants that are good for humanity are undergoing a collapse and creating more malaria, and stuff …

May 16, 2017 1:18 pm

All ‘trees’ (and bushes) are C3 plants. (C4 are mostly grasses or forbs, and comprise only about 15% of plant species.) Rising CO2 has been known for decades to improve C3 plant growth in two ways: (1) more efficient RuBisCo photosynthesis, and (2) because more efficient, less open stomata, therefore less evapotranspiration, therefore needing less water. Note the newly found ‘forest’ was all in drylands. QED.
Essay Carbon Pollution in my last ebook has many more details on CO2 fertilization effects.

Reply to  ristvan
May 16, 2017 3:25 pm

Thanks for pointing out one of the important benefits from rising CO2 that climate scientists and the media rarely mention. More CO2 in the atmosphere allows more plants to grow in dry climates. Plants can obtain the CO2 they need for photosynthesis without opening stomata as wide and therefore can conserve moisture. That sounds like a win-win to me. How do warmists spin that as a negative?

Reply to  Louis
May 16, 2017 3:46 pm

“The media,” at this point, is nothing more than a noise machine. Kind of like a Greek chorus that overdosed on mescaline. The Washington Post is all but completely discredited as of today . . .

Reply to  Louis
May 16, 2017 4:17 pm

Louis, why then is Australia with its dry, arid centre one of the few places to show a fall in LAI? I would have thought the effect would have been opposite?

Reply to  ristvan
May 16, 2017 3:54 pm

In my own uneducated way I have been following this assiduously. I watched a video of Matt Ridley when the NASA report of 14% greening came out. Matt said we should be celebrating this, in his usual understated way.
I thought, the greens should be leaping from foot to foot with glee and be out there in their sock filled sandals, short clad knobbly knees, badly painted banners and beards trumpeting ‘their’ triumph with glee.
Strangely, they’re not.
But it seems to me, it cut’s to the heart of the climate debate. Are there any credible, observable studies of CO2’s impact on global temperature rise over the last 40 years. As far as I can gather, there aren’t. If we are to base continental, never mind global policy on climate mitigation on evidence, we should be referring to hundreds, if not thousands of scientific papers over the last 40 years or so. But there aren’t any.
Are there any credible, observable studies of CO2’s impact on the climate in a negative way? Well no, not scientifically conclusively. A bit like smoking and lung cancer. We’re certain the statistics prove smoking causes lung cancer, but if we did actually know what caused lung cancer in non smokers, we might have the cure, but we don’t. Likewise, GW. There is some evidence from statisticians, but that’s all. Some climate statistics ‘prove’ CO2 causes global warming, but no one has observed it.
So now we have observable evidence which demonstrates that increased atmospheric CO2 is responsible for considerable greening of the planet.
As far as I can gather, it’s the only observable evidence we have so far. And to generate international policy on anything else is utter madness.

Reply to  HotScot
May 17, 2017 7:20 pm

We need to redefine “greenmail” from the corporate raiders of the 80s to these ecoterrorists looking for power and money.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  ristvan
May 17, 2017 11:43 am

ristvan and hotscot
Obviously the greens are not in favour of greening – as evidenced by the verbal attacks on the semi-nomadic tribe in SW Sahel that creates a forest wherever they plant themselves for 40 years. The complaint was that they are ruining the grasslands with forest cover. I think it was Greenpeace that objected. Someone can maybe confirm that.
I am bringing to your attention the claim that for every 1% rise in CO2 there is a 0.63% rise in soil moisture in dry lands, including the Sahel. Thus the growth is not only because of increased efficiency but the availability of more water to increase the total number of trees and shrubs. Benefit times benefit.
There is simply no visible downside to having more CO2 in the air, at least up to 2000 ppm. While it is extremely unlikely we will be able to get to these historical levels, there being too much CO2 locked away in limestone, we can probably get it up another 200 or 300 ppm within two centuries.

Ree G. Brewster
May 16, 2017 1:18 pm

I keep trying to post this on facebook, claims the URL is bad.

Reply to  Ree G. Brewster
May 16, 2017 2:59 pm

Is now an https:// WordPress change. Might check that url. Else, you prove again Facbook bias.

Thomas Homer
May 16, 2017 1:20 pm

Acknowledging that Carbon Dioxide is the only singular throttle in the Carbon Cycle of Life, quickly leads to:
More atmospheric Carbon Dioxide = more potential life
I’m not certain of the upper bound to this statement.

Gordon Ford
May 16, 2017 1:22 pm

No – it’s imaginary

Reply to  Gordon Ford
May 16, 2017 2:01 pm

square root of minus one is imaginary.

Reply to  MarkW
May 16, 2017 2:42 pm

Not in the complex number system used to calculate electrical engineering for alternating current. And grok my favorite re-arrangement of Euler’s theorem, which gets in all five ‘magic numbers’:
e^i*pi +1 = 0. All mathematically proven. So i MUST be ‘real’. There are wonderful laymen math books written on each of those five core math symbol ideas (ok, plus 1 is the just the idea of whole number arithmetic). My personal favorite amongst the five is Zero, the history of nothing. Harvard professor. Starts with Babylonian cuneiform as an entire chapter including many clay tablets.

Tsk Tsk
Reply to  MarkW
May 16, 2017 3:26 pm

Yes, even in EE. Complex numbers are composed of real and imaginary components.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  MarkW
May 16, 2017 3:49 pm

ristvan at 2:42
If I were starting over, History of Science would be the road. I have the math books you are thinking of and a couple of chemistry ones. The Golden Ratio (phi) by Mario Livio is nice, also. People like to write about phi for popular press articles — and get it wrong in many instances. The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean, about the elements, is interesting and entertaining.

Reply to  MarkW
May 16, 2017 4:24 pm

JH, was going originally to mention both Phi and Spoons. Both are part of my treasured ‘science’ library (which includes much more than just math), Have however learened by experience to keep comments simple and to single topics.
Btw, you want a mind blower (unfortunately not available except in print, get Caidns-Smith slim paperback Seven Clues to the Origin of Life. Cambridge University Press. Summarizes his 1600 hundred page academic tome for laymen like me on this subject.
Highest regards.

Reply to  MarkW
May 16, 2017 4:56 pm

Both Cairns-Smith and Dyson are now out of date, but still worth reading as background.
It’s possible that minerals helped catalyze biochemical reactions before the origin of chemical enzymes, but it’s now looking more likely that protein synthesis and RNA replication developed together. The two processes aren’t mutually exclusive, and concentrating the reactants in water pockets in ice may well also have played a part.
Another RNA “synthase” was probably PAH, ubiquitous organic compounds:comment image
From Nick Platts:
The ‘PAH World’ is a novel chemical structural model for the plausible formation of oligomeric proto-informational templating materials on the early Earth; presumably progenitors of the widely expected RNA World in chemical evolution theory. The model is based on the self-assembling discotic mesogenic behaviors of polynuclear aromatic compounds, their photochemical edge-derivatizations, and the selectivity of such stacked supramolecular ‘aromatic core’ scaffolds for the edge-on binding and ~ 0.34 nm plane-parallel spacing of essentially random collections of small prebiotic heterocycles, taken up and concentrated directly from the presumed and surrounding ‘dilute primordial soup.’ The constrained inter-base separation distance would select for oligomerizing ‘linkers’ of fairly specific size, such as small methanal oligomers, which would also be taken up from the prebiotic chemical environment, condensing with the small heterocycles and also with each other to form the flexible structural backbone of a first generation of proto-informational oligomeric material, stabilized against both hydrolytic and photolytic degradations by its association with the parent discotic mesophase. A transient local pH decrease (e.g.,volcanic SO2(aq.)) would disrupt the hydrogen bond interactions anchoring the oligomer to the discotic scaffold, thereby releasing segments or portions of oligomeric material to explore intramolecular degrees of motional freedom out in solution, perhaps folding back on themselves to match up fortuitous base residue pairings via familiar Watson-Crick-like complementarities. Segments rich in such chance complementarities would likely persist by virtue of the combined cooperative strength deriving from (i.) the multiple intramolecular hydrogen bond interactions between paired bases, and (ii.) the attractive pi-pi stacking van der Waals interactions occurring between neighboring and stacked basepairs. This combination of interactions establishing the domains of essentially hydrophobic quasi-discotic mesophases in the secondary and tertiary structures of these oligomeric proto-informational materials; base mismatchings within such domains naturally leading to point replacements selecting to minimize conformational potential energies. The new ‘PAH World’ model is pleasing to chemical intuition, and provides the first satisfying structural answer to the problem of a likely origin for the phenomenon of life.

Reply to  MarkW
May 16, 2017 5:03 pm

Chimp, many thanks. A whole new ‘life’ avenue to explore. True science is questions, not answers.

Reply to  MarkW
May 16, 2017 5:12 pm

Yup. The more we find out, the more new questions, in real science, as opposed to consensus “settled science”, which isn’t settled and isn’t science.
Here are three labs on the cutting edge of OoL research, in the UK, Massachusetts and Georgia:
Harvard’s Szostak won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Others making major breakthroughs lately, to include in California and at Yale.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  MarkW
May 17, 2017 7:21 pm

Chimp & ristvan,
So much to learn — so little time.
Thanks for the leads.

Matthew Drabik
May 16, 2017 1:30 pm

There was also this article from 2015, “Mapping tree density a a global scale”, which found that the previous global estimate for the number of trees had undercounted by a factor of ten. The authors tried to also claim that humanity had reduced the overall number of tress around the global by 46%, but didn’t back up this claim with data.

Reply to  Matthew Drabik
May 16, 2017 2:24 pm

May. 11, 2017
Earth’s forests grew 9% in a new satellite survey
…say 10%……..that’s a lot of lost trees….If they can’t even count trees……….LOL

Bryan A
Reply to  Latitude
May 16, 2017 2:29 pm

probably spend to much time looking at that single tree YAD61??

Reply to  Latitude
May 16, 2017 2:46 pm

Plus many. You are on top of your game.

Reply to  Latitude
May 16, 2017 4:03 pm

Hang on a minute.
Are we now seeing three recent studies of global greening and not just the two I have seen? NASA, Zaichin Zhu AND Patrick Monahan’s?
Or am I just confusing them?

May 16, 2017 1:35 pm

There was also another study out late last month regarding tropical forests and that their future isn’t as bad as originally believed.

Mark Lee
May 16, 2017 1:35 pm

I’d like to ask a question of those more knowledgeable about these things. Please correct me where I’m wrong.
1. With respect to rising temperature and rising CO2, absent human CO2 production, first temperatures rise, then CO2 is released, mostly from the oceans.
2. There has been a natural rise in temperature as the earth warmed from the little ice age.
3. That temperature rise appears to have plateaued since the El Nino high in 1998.
4. CO2 has continued to rise, and there is general consensus regarding the amount of CO2 contribution as a result of human activity.
5. There has been a significant increase in plant growth and the accepted cause is more plant food, i.e. CO2.
6. Growing plants absorb C and expire O2.
My conclusion is that anthropogenic contribution of atmospheric CO2 is a net benefit as it has essentially fertilized plant growth sooner than would have occurred naturally since the increase in CO2 wouldn’t have occurred until after warming had occurred. Did I get that right? Also, has anyone calculated how much carbon is tied up in all that new forestation?

Ross King
Reply to  Mark Lee
May 16, 2017 1:56 pm

I find your argument persuasive, Sir, and look fwd very much to the experts on the very worth panel (WUWT) to subject it to expert analysis.

Bryan A
Reply to  Ross King
May 16, 2017 2:39 pm

Realistically, CO2 would have plateaued at 280 – 300 ppm without human influence and temperatures would have plateaued at 1850’s level (without some event to have occured i.e volcanism to drive temps back down again). Modern agriculture would have faltered such that we would be in the midst of another famine. WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam would never have happened mainly because we wouldn’t have been able to transport troops in the numbers we did at the time. So Germany would have total control of Europe and likely Russia while the masses would be starving and cold because we burnt up the last of the wood for heating and cooking 50 years ago.

Reply to  Ross King
May 16, 2017 4:47 pm

HS, simple. Am trying not to promote it too much on WUWT, as AW gets warmunist complaints. Basically just saying you want more facts than the comment, here they are.
Author Rud Istvan, title Blowing Smoke, available iBooks, Kindle, Knobo, etc. Cheapest price is on Amazon Kindle at present. They discounted to $7.99 from $9.99 because of sales volume. The downloadable Kindle reader app is free to any computer. I am Mac centric, and still have Kindle on my iPad because a lot of technical books I need to read appear only as ebooks on Kindle but not on iBooks. About a hundred Kindle books on my iPad, as of now. Ebooks are amazingly more useful than paper books. Hot links, enotes…

Reply to  Ross King
May 16, 2017 5:01 pm

Bryan A May 16, 2017 at 2:39 pm
Temperature would be right about where it is now with or without a fourth molecule of plant food per 10,000 dry air molecules.
The LIA ended around AD 1850, so the world warmed naturally, as it had been doing since the depths of the Maunder Minimum c. 1690.
Attributing any warming since 1850 to CO2 lacks evidence, let alone supposing that all of whatever warming has occurred since then owes to the beneficial increase in this essential trace gas.

Bryan A
Reply to  Ross King
May 16, 2017 6:20 pm

Blaming CO2 is the warmunist ideal. I was simply employing “their” preferred interpretation of climate forcing

Reply to  Mark Lee
May 16, 2017 2:12 pm

I too have a question, stupid as it might be. The benefits of increasing CO2 are amply demonstrated as in the above article. However, I can not recall seeing a list of negative effects from the CO2 increase. Sure, there are all sorts of “predictions” all beginning with possibly,,potential,maybe,could etc, but has any ill effect actually been demonstrated experimentally, or observationally, and if so, what might they be???

Reply to  jvcstone
May 16, 2017 2:21 pm

None whatsoever in all the literature I have read. There are a few papers claiming such. All fatally flawed. For two hysterically funny obvious examples (to anybody, no science required), see essays Burning NonScience and Greenhouse Effects in my most recent ebook on climate and energy.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  jvcstone
May 16, 2017 4:02 pm

However, I can not recall seeing a list of negative effects from the CO2 increase.
Here is “The List”, but seems to be only a partial list and maybe experience hiatus. Just now it stopped loading with the Cs. Please read every article and report back.
A complete list of things caused by global warming

Reply to  jvcstone
May 16, 2017 4:09 pm

Can you give us a link to your ebook please?

Reply to  jvcstone
May 16, 2017 6:20 pm

quite a list John. Don’t believe I have enough years left to read it all. Had no idea CO2 was such a powerful molecule / sarc.

Reply to  jvcstone
May 17, 2017 6:33 am

It’s plausible that the decreased transpiration of C3 plants could reduce humidity and rainfall to the detriment of C4 plants. We would need a lot of observations to either support or undermine this conjecture.

Reply to  Mark Lee
May 16, 2017 2:17 pm

ML, probably not much more knowledgable than you, but have spent several years researching and writing about this. So an affirmation:
1. Yes, with an ice core determined lag of ~800 years agreeing with a thermohaline circulation round trip.. Essay Cause and Effect in my most recent ebook.
2. Most definitely. Essay cAGw.
3. Yes. Essays An Awkward Pause and Hiding the Hiatus.
4. Yes. Provable several ways including declining d13C. See recent guest post ‘Is Salby Right’ for a ‘Feynman’ proof plus evidence that De***** unfortunately still live amongst skeptics here.
5. Yup. This head post cites only two of many such studies. Also true for ocean biological sinks.
6. Yup. Basic biology 101. Land plants about half of biological sinks, and NH has most land, so this is observed in the seasonal Keeling Curve swings. Essay Carbon Pollution explains more detail.
As for the delta carbon tie up calculations, see first essay Bugs, Roots, and Biofuels. The general answer based on the recent NASA paper is plus ~14% for land only. Oceans could be more than that based on ~10x increase in coccolithophorid calcifiers in Northern Atlantic past 30 years. Google the last part of last sentence will take you to those primary research papers.

Reply to  ristvan
May 16, 2017 3:16 pm

I have been wondering something of late. We are roughly 800 years beyond the height of the MWP (depends on one’s definition of the boundaries of that event), and given the estimated lag time between temps and CO2 in the ice cores wouldn’t at least a small portion of the CO2 being released today be accounted for by the ocean out gassing lag from the MWP? Now that I think of it, this might also account for that “immaculate convection” theory that many greens keep mentioning about the water depths warming faster than the surface.

Reply to  ristvan
May 16, 2017 3:25 pm

We don’t have enough data to be conclusive. What we do have is Keeling Curve, which strongly suggests the post 1950 upsplike on atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic from fossil fuels. One indicator is declining d13C.
But that says nothing about whether the change is good, bad, or meh.

Richard Bell
Reply to  Mark Lee
May 17, 2017 12:31 pm

Barring the verification of oil being created by geologic forces, instead of organic matter being subjected to geologic forces, because it could not be scavenged by the biosphere, the burning of fossil fuels is, on geologic timescales, literally carbon neutral.
While the gap in time between the evolution of lignin for woody plants and the evolution of an enzyme that broke it down did pose an existential threat to life on Earth, if it lasted longer, the current, longer termed existential threat to life on earth is the formation of calcium carbonate (Life is not in balance and hellbent on extinguishing itself).
If humanity is so lucky, tens of millions of years from now, our descendants will laugh at us as they try to find the least inefficient way to liberate CO2 from rock, to save life from itself.

May 16, 2017 1:47 pm

I dumped my AAAS membership a number of years back when Science turned into Seance.

Lucius von Steinkaninchen
May 16, 2017 2:01 pm

This has been known since the late 00s with reports of the Sahara greening, Siberia greening and so on. Once in a while I have to show all those links to people who come with the reflex panic of “muh desertification” when “global warming” is mentioned.
Good to know anyway that the truth is finally reaching levels high enough to redpill the general population.

May 16, 2017 2:22 pm

” Thing of being condemned to looking at that many satellite views of real estate.” ?? Should that be “THINK” Dr. Michaels ?

patrick michaels
Reply to  Butch
May 16, 2017 8:13 pm


Bruce of Newcastle
May 16, 2017 2:35 pm

Ironically much of the loss of vegetation in places like Indonesia is due to clearing forests for oil palm plantations.
A lot of which is intended to feed the biofuel market.
The cleared vegetation is usually burned off. I’d be surprised if more CO2 is saved in the use of palm oil in vehicles than was emitted when the forest went up in flames. But that is the climate industry for you.
So “climate change” IS causing forest loss…sort of.

Reply to  Bruce of Newcastle
May 16, 2017 4:39 pm

Bruce of Newcastle
My late father in law was a senior UN forester. He quite literally spent years in jungles across the globe in the 50’s to 90’s.
The palm oil thing is a trendy green distraction.
In the old man’s observations, frequently officially reported to the UN, the problem of deforestation was caused by communities (and I mean cities) being forced to rely on unregulated (illegal) loggers to supply wood for cooking and heating. They tore down rainforest thanks to demand, not greed, to feed these cities.
The land they denuded and didn’t replant was taken over by farmers who cultivated the land for around three years before it was barren. They abandoned it and followed the loggers. Buildings were occasionally built on the abandoned land, but it was usually left to turn to dust.
However, the creeping of humanity eventually consumed the land left, naturally following the fuel, timber. And so the Amazon is being slowly consumed, along with many equatorial forests the old man worked in.
A tragic story of man’s natural desire to survive despite their families being suffocated by open wood fired in unregulated housing, including mud huts.
What could have, and can stop the unregulated destruction of equatorial forest’s?
Fossil fuel (or even bio fuel) energy from a centralised source providing energy, clean pumped water and sanitation is the answer. It eliminates the need for wood fires, and represents employment; it eliminates the need for nomadic farming as fertilisers can be produces with sufficient energy, the farming, and fertiliser production both represent more employment, it offers irrigation, and a community stabilises.
What do we get? Oxfam begging bowls at every western street corner seeking money to build wells women still have to walk to with containers on their heads to carry water; to heat on wood fires that kills them and their offspring.
Palm oil is a western trend employing labour at rates barely above slavery, and the greens criticise it, but not the embedded problem, because they are on trend and historically, culturally and intellectually ignorant.

Keith J
May 16, 2017 2:43 pm

I ask the experts here.. With majority focus on temperature, what about precipitation rates? And annual integrals. If these data indicate increasing precipitation..

Reply to  Keith J
May 16, 2017 2:55 pm

Not an expert per se, but a close scene follower. There is no reliable precip data. Problem: ~71% of earths surface is ocean, which precip counts for the water vapor feedback, and we have no data.
For land, globally we also have no data. For CONUS, Tony Heller posts US gov data; slightly increasing. For winter NH snow cover ( hardly all NH precip or even winter precip, as snow cover is temp related), NSIDC and ofher sources (Peinceton) say slightly increasing.
So the answer to your good question is, dunno. Nobody does.

Keith J
Reply to  ristvan
May 17, 2017 10:07 am

A real “ah HA” moment. Increasing rates, however slight, show increasing latent energy flux bypassing half the atmospheric carbon dioxide. A real negative feedback loop tending towards stability.

May 16, 2017 2:52 pm

O.T. but nice interview by Proffessor William Happer on FOX News..
“Is science too ‘politicized?’ Trump administration tackles issue”

John Ham
May 16, 2017 2:52 pm

Full text pdfs:
Bastin, F-L., et al., 2017. The extent of forest in dryland biomes. Science 356, 635-638. DOI: 10.1126/science.aam6527
Zhu, Z., et al., 2016. Greening of the earth and its drivers. Nature Climate Change, DOI: 10.1038

Dario from Turin
Reply to  John Ham
May 22, 2017 12:12 am

God bless the Russian hackers… 😉

Steve Oregon
May 16, 2017 3:27 pm

It won’t be long (or a surprise to anyone) before the mendacious crazies start claiming humans are causing an excess of atmospheric oxygen.

Reply to  Steve Oregon
May 17, 2017 5:04 pm

But Hydrogen is explosive and Oxygen is highly corrosive. STOP Hydrogen and Oxygen pollution NOW¡

Clyde Spencer
May 16, 2017 3:41 pm

“…30 named coauthors assisted by 239 volunteers.”
BIG science!

David Chappell
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
May 17, 2017 12:58 am

239 volunteers OK – somebody has to do the boring grunt work, but 30 authors? It is an eternal mystery to me how ever anything can be written by 30 people.

charles nelson
May 16, 2017 4:33 pm

I personally am growing ever more concerned about ‘irrigation’.
Every day giga tonnes of water are pumped to otherwise arid zones and used in sprinkler and trench systems to irrigate agriculture. Within minutes much of this water has entered the the atmosphere as Water Vapour.
Surely the wanton release of this potent ‘greenhouse gas’ is having a massive effect on our climate?
Stop irrigation now…before it’s too late!

Reply to  charles nelson
May 17, 2017 8:29 pm

California dreaming, or screaming – especially if Brown etc manage to f/u Oroville…

May 16, 2017 4:35 pm

The warmest continue to talk about the ‘true’ environment cost of emitting CO2, and want to impose large taxes, to meet this imaginary cost, on everyone. All of their imaginary costs, however, are completely cancelled out by this one real benefit! This benefit needs to be quantified using the same ‘liberal’ methods that the warmest use to calculate costs. We can easily proclaim a billion people saved from starvation, and a net boon of trillions of dollars to the global economy before the end of this Century.
I have no hope for a tax rebate from my large CO2 footprint, but at least we can put an end to this carbon tax nonsense!
What? It doesn’t work that way?

Reply to  jclarke341
May 16, 2017 4:49 pm

I’ll happily pay a carbon tax.
As it represents around 0.04% of all atmospheric gases, (I stand to be corrected) I think that’s a fair tax.
Then our governments can dispense with the stealth taxes they impose on us that amount to £9Bn a year today in the UK, rising to £14Bn by 2020, wasted on climate change.

Roger Knights
Reply to  jclarke341
May 16, 2017 5:10 pm

That’s what Freeman Dyson thinks.

May 16, 2017 4:57 pm

But but but … its all wotten!
Wotten twees, wotton leaves!
Wotten gwass, wotten klowofiw!

Reply to  ptolemy2
May 17, 2017 3:45 am

Don’t forget the rotten ice in the Arctic.

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
May 16, 2017 5:18 pm

Such reports in isolation lead nowhere. These must be linked to rainfall trend. Rainfall presents a natural cyclic pattern. During wet periods of the cycles greenery improves and during dry periods of the cycles the greenery comes down. In this fires [human caused] further reduces.
Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

Walter Sobchak
May 16, 2017 6:13 pm

A warmer world with more CO2 in the air is a greener, happier, healthier world.

May 16, 2017 7:52 pm

I think it is poetic justice that CO2 gives a boost to the color green on Earth, when those associated with the “green” movement demonize CO2.
Could you ASK for a better slam dunk ?

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
May 16, 2017 8:18 pm

The original title of the piece was simply “Greener, not Browner”

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
May 17, 2017 5:11 pm

Trouble is, there hasn’t been any mainstream reporting that I have seen.

Pamela Gray
May 16, 2017 7:59 pm

CO2 is a lagging outcome of an increased hydrologic cycle, meaning more and more heat is rising to the ocean surface, resulting in more favorable growing conditions each year that turns into more CO2 being released by the just completed growing season now in annual decay. It will continue till stored ocean heat is depleted.

May 16, 2017 8:04 pm

Awesome news. Carbon Dioxide is exponentially increasing Bio-Mass that exponentially increases Carbon Dioxide in the environment. This has been happening since the Last Ice Age Ended. At some point I hope the rest of the scientific community catches up to that simple fact.

Thomas Homer
Reply to  johchi7
May 17, 2017 8:25 am

johci7 – ‘Bio-Mass that exponentially increases Carbon Dioxide”?
When considered as a whole, Carbon Based life forms (includes all Bio-Mass) consume CO2. So, how does Bio-Mass increase CO2?
Three sister planets:
Venus 95% CO2 atmosphere
Earth 0.04% CO2 atmosphere
Mars 95% CO2 atmosphere
Earth is the only one of the three that currently supports Bio-Mass. From this I conclude that Bio-Mass does not exponentially increase Carbon Dioxide.

Reply to  Thomas Homer
May 17, 2017 8:42 am

Biomass (including the cliffs of Dover and all its similar trillions of tons white and black minerals worldwide (includes coal, peat, soil, and ALL of the silicon and calcium and sulfurous carbonates) consumed free carbon dioxide, and stored it for our potential use. This removed it from the atmosphere.
Today, as we release CO2 from its storage, the increase in free CO2 in the atmosphere allows an ever-greater capture of that free CO2 back into an ever-increasing biomass. But, even though the amount that it is removing is increasing, the modern biomass stowage is less than our release rate.

Reply to  Thomas Homer
May 17, 2017 8:11 pm

It seems that people forget that in biology Biomass includes every living organism in the habitat-environment living or dead.
Biomass has the second definition that is where it is used as energy/fuels.
Where Flora are direct Sinks of Carbon Dioxide. All Fauna organisms are second stage Sinks that ingest Flora and/or Fauna to make up Carbon Chains that form their bodies/structures. Where Flora by way of photosynthesis uses the Carbon from Carbon Dioxide to form the Carbon Chains to form its genesis/species that make up the majority of its mass. Fauna by ingestion of Flora and/or Fauna uses its digestive process to break those Carbon Chains down to make up the Carbon Chains of Proteins, Fats, bones, hair, teeth…etc. Therefore Fauna are Biomass and therefore Sinks. Where Flora sheds leaves, limbs, bark…etc that decomposes or is burned into Carbon Dioxide and Monoxide that goes back into the environment. Fauna urinate and defecate, loose hair and skin cells, and they exhale more Carbon Dioxide than they inhale, during cremation or decay most of that Carbon is returned back into the environment by natural processes.
The Carbon Dioxide Cycle most people are taught ignores that Fauna are part of that process and only indoctrinates that they contribute to the Carbon Dioxide in the environment. It ignores that “you are what you eat.” When cases studies show that from the Last Ice Age it created a Mass Extinction of Flora and Fauna. Earth has Warmed and Previously Existing Flora and Fauna has contributed to the Carbon Dioxide today by decay and decomposing and what was trapped in the Glaciers has been releasing, as well as what was stored in the Cold parts of the Oceans. Where the Last Ice Age killed the majority of live, it has been Repopulating both Flora and Fauna because of the increase of Carbon Dioxide from Biomass exponentially increasing Biomass. By ignoring or excluding Fauna in the equation from the Carbon Cycle, it only accounts for Flora as a Sink.

May 16, 2017 10:10 pm

First it’s trees. Then it’s triffids.
We’re doomed.

Leo Smith
May 17, 2017 1:29 am

Perhaps the widespread use of fossil fuel for fuel, and metal for structural purposes has simply allowed forest cover to regenerate?

Peta from Cumbria, now Newark
May 17, 2017 2:40 am

Sorry peeps, I see a crock in this thing…..
1. Take Willis’ sniff test, how many authors. Dozens. Not a good start.
2. These extra trees. They haven’t grown because of CO2. There were there all the time but not counted. They are reclassifying desert as now ‘not desert’ This is what’s called Data Adjustment. Are we in favour of that now?
3. It is a modelling exercise – Good Grief! They mention the output of 10 different models Wake up people!!
4. They put dots on that endlessly recycled and grubby map to say Statistically Significant’ wtf is that? Its either greener or not. Their model has just painted big blobs of green next to small places where there was some extra green. This is what they do to fill in Arctic temperature and how we jump on them for doing that.
5. How many times has this grotty little map been re-used/seen around here, always to raptures?
5.1 Why is it such poor resolution and how old is it?
5.2 Locate your place on the planet and then check out of your window and maybe use whatever is left of a sugar ravaged brain. Does it stack up? For my part of the World, England it totally does not. England has always been green and good growing place, that’s why it was constantly being invaded.
Where changes have occurred is with plantations of conifers replacing deciduous and not least, farmers planting autumn sown crops rather than spring sown. That gives at least 6 months of green on the ground where previously it was brown stubble. Nothing directly to do with CO2 fertilation.
See where most greening is, next to large populations. Nothing to do with farmers then?
6. I linked recently to an article saying city trees grew twice as fast as rural trees because of NOx fertilation but how much extra CO2 is there in a city. What’s their figure for the fertilation effect?
7. Rud in his cleverness tells us about how it makes sense as trees are (low water requirement) C3 and its to be expected that more C3 trees will grow in deserts. But that’s what’s there already. If there was a CO2 fertilation there would be more C4 plants surely. Muddled minds get Cause & Effect mangled yet again and – just that one point shoots down this entire thing.
8. Raving about CO2 fertilation is giving ammo to warmists. We’re saying that there actually is a CO2 problem, saying CO2 is bad but hey look, its got all these pros to outweigh the cons
9. They further destroy there argument by saying the Tibet Plateau has greened because of Climate Change
Its a complete and total crock

Reply to  Peta from Cumbria, now Newark
May 17, 2017 7:08 am

So unimportant I would not dismiss this greening:
1. Is greening also observed in subaride zones and this is good news. There are studies that show that CO2 plants help to cope with less rainfall, which means that they even better grow in dry areas.
2. This Greening is hidden by the alarmists. This is also a good sign. Because Otto Normal citizen will ask himself the following:
A) more heat, more water vapor in the air. Consequently, according to Adam Riese, more precipitation. And on the other hand less droughts.
(B) more CO2 also helps the plants in sub- and fully arid areas and thus expands the precipitation areas into the desert zones. Which, as a result of the precipitation on the plant cover, leads to further developments. A life spiral. In contrast to a death spiral.
(C) helps to increase the rate of plant growth in almost every part of the world following store carbon in natural form, so that it is integrated into the natural CO2 cycle.
What follows, in my view, there is no reason at all for play down the greening. At least, not at all if one thinks of the strongly growing world population.

Reply to  Peta from Cumbria, now Newark
May 17, 2017 5:16 pm

This was my initial thought as well. Mostly due to my skeptical nature.

May 17, 2017 10:55 am

I have one question: Are deserts expanding or not — and is that due to climate change, and does it matter?
The map for last year’s Zhu article shows greening generally but severe browning right at the edge of some deserts — including the southern fringe of the Sahara (around Ouagadougou, for example) and east of a central Asian desert. That map as shown here does not have sufficiently high resolution to show this, but it is what the original map shows.
I appreciate that most of the Sahel is greening, but that’s not the whole story. Could an expanding Sahara become a problem?

Reply to  Dr. Doug
May 17, 2017 2:53 pm

Well, the map of NASA is raw data, but the scientists mentioned by you in this paper have made more precise thoughts.

michael hart
May 17, 2017 4:13 pm

I have a dream that one day I will see a BBC interviewer ask a Greenpeace spokesperson if they believe that the earth getting greener is a actually a good thing or a bad thing. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

D P Laurable
May 17, 2017 5:06 pm

I am old enough to remember when deforestation was the environmental ‘crise du jour’. That was after the coming ice age and before CO2. I guess it wasn’t such a big deal.
BTW, planting is delayed 3 weeks+ on Canadian prairies due to cold, late spring. Welcome to the other side of the AMO.

May 18, 2017 3:11 am

Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
“[Since] the late 1970s. The vast majority of the globe’s vegetated area is greening, with 25-50% of that area showing a statistically significant change, while only 4% of the vegetated area is significantly browning…”
“Carbon Pollution” (aka Carbon Dioxide) not so “dirty” after all!

May 18, 2017 12:44 pm

I had a look at the Zhu paper you mention at
Zhu’s doctoral supervisor, co-author, and inventor of the method used for establishing the greening of the planet, Professor Myneni of Boston University was quick to announce that more green didn’t mean CO2 was a good thing. Many of his students are Chinese, some of them working on development of the Tibetan plateau, a desperately poor region where a bit more green would be welcome.
Professor Myneni’s students are younger than he is. Time is on our side, and on the side of China.

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