Claim: Planting trees cannot replace cutting CO2 emissions

From the “has anyone told Earth yet?” department and the wild alarmists of the Schellnhuber school of climate doom, comes this claim that’s just another headline grabber made up mostly of opinion. It’s really little more than a transparent attempt at keeping the Paris accord intact.

Meanwhile, ignoring these fools, the Earth is greening and deserts are increasing [their  greening] in size globally, and CO2 is the cause.

Climate stabilization: Planting trees cannot replace cutting CO2 emissions


Growing plants and then storing the CO2 they have taken up from the atmosphere is no viable option to counteract unmitigated emissions from fossil fuel burning, a new study shows. The plantations would need to be so large, they would eliminate most natural ecosystems or reduce food production if implemented as a late-regret option in the case of substantial failure to reduce emissions. However, growing biomass soon in well-selected places with increased irrigation or fertilization could support climate policies of rapid and strong emission cuts to achieve climate stabilization below 2 degrees Celsius.

“If we continue burning coal and oil the way we do today and regret our inaction later, the amounts of greenhouse gas we would need to take out of the atmosphere in order to stabilize the climate would be too huge to manage,” says Lena Boysen from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Germany, lead-author of the study to be published in a journal of the American Geophysical Union, Earth’s Future. Plants suck CO2 out of the atmosphere to build their woody roots, stems and leaves. This is low-tech terrestrial carbon dioxide removal that could be combined with high-tech carbon storage mechanisms, for example underground.

Three scenarios: Business as usual, Paris pledges, or ambitious CO2 reductions

“Even if we were able to use productive plants such as poplar trees or switchgrass and store 50 percent of the carbon contained in their biomass,” says Boysen, “in the business-as-usual scenario of continued, unconstrained fossil fuel use the sheer size of the plantations for staying at or below 2°C of warming would cause devastating environmental consequences.” The scientists calculate that the hypothetically required plantations would in fact replace natural ecosystems around the world almost completely.

If CO2 emissions reductions are moderately reduced in line with current national pledges under the Paris Climate Agreement, biomass plantations implemented by mid-century to extract remaining excess CO2 from the air still would have to be enormous. In this scenario, they would replace natural ecosystems on fertile land the size of more than one third of all forests we have today on our planet. Alternatively, more than a quarter of land used for agriculture at present would have to be converted into biomass plantations – putting at risk global food security.

Only ambitious emissions reductions and advancements in land management techniques between 2005-2100 could possibly avoid fierce competition for land. But even in this scenario of aggressive climate stabilization policy, only high inputs of water, fertilizers and a globally applied high-tech carbon-storage-machinery that captures more than 75 percent of extracted CO2 could likely limit warming to around 2°C by 2100. To this end, technologies minimizing carbon emissions from cultivation, harvest, transport and conversion of biomass and, especially, long-term Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) would need to improve worldwide.

Drawing upon all possible measures instead of waiting for first-best solutions

“As scientists we are looking at all possible futures, not just the positive ones,” says co-author Wolfgang Lucht from PIK. “What happens in the worst case, a widespread disruption and failure of mitigation policies? Would plants allow us to still stabilize climate in emergency mode? The answer is: no. There is no alternative for successful mitigation. In that scenario plants can potentially play a limited, but important role, if managed well.” The scientists investigated the feasibility of biomass plantations and CO2 removal from a biosphere point of view. To this end, they used global dynamic vegetation computer simulations.

So far, biomass plantations as a means for CO2 removal have often been considered as a comparatively safe, affordable and effective approach. “Our work shows that carbon removal via the biosphere cannot be used as a late-regret option to tackle climate change. Instead we have to act now using all possible measures instead of waiting for first-best solutions,” says co-author Tim Lenton of the University of Exeter, UK. “Reducing fossil fuel use is a precondition for stabilizing the climate, but we also need to make use of a range of options from reforestation on degraded land to low-till agriculture and from efficient irrigation systems to limiting food waste.”

“In the climate drama currently unfolding on that big stage we call Earth, CO2 removal is not the hero who finally saves the day after everything else has failed. It is rather a supporting actor that has to come into play right from the beginning, while the major part is up to the mitigation protagonist,” says co-author Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of PIK. “So this is a positive message: We know what to do – rapidly ending fossil fuel use complemented by a great variety of CO2 removal techniques. We know when to do it – now. And if we do it, we find it is still possible to avoid the bulk of climate risks by limiting temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius.”


Article: Lena R. Boysen, Wolfgang Lucht, Dieter Gerten, Vera Heck, Timothy M. Lenton, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber (2017): The limits to global-warming mitigation by terrestrial carbon removal. Earth’s Future (open access AGU journal). [DOI: 10.1002/2016EF000469]

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May 18, 2017 11:16 am

I don’ t get that SI Dimensions.
I read 0.01 per year….say what?
Somebody help me again?

Rick C PE
Reply to  henryp
May 18, 2017 11:28 am

Yes, looks odd when presented this way. It means the tend is increasing by 0.01 square meters per square meter per year. It would have been simpler to say it is increasing by 1% per year

Rick C PE
Reply to  Rick C PE
May 18, 2017 11:37 am

Sorry, that is the scale is in %/year. So dark green areas are increasing in LAI by 9-12%/year.

george e. smith
Reply to  Rick C PE
May 19, 2017 1:08 am

Well I believe that the USA has far more trees than were here when the Mayflower crashed into Plymouth Rock, and also more intensive agricultural growth than what preceded it. Just imagine what all that fertilizer is growing.
As a result the USA is the only large land mass that is a carbon sink rather than a carbon source.
So we aren’t the problem anyway.
New Zealand has he largest man made forests on the planet I believe, so it is a carbon sink, but when it comes to Zealandia, we have carbon sinking up the wazoo.
So Nyet on trees bad for carbon. In any case old growth forests are carbon neutral . If they weren’t they would either become one solid block of wood, or they would simply evaporate, as what wood is there rots away.
So forest farming is the way to get carbon sequestration.

Rick C PE
May 18, 2017 11:18 am

“Meanwhile, ignoring these fools, the Earth is greening and deserts are increasing in size globally, and CO2 is the cause.”
Typo – deserts are ‘decreasing’ in size I think

Reply to  Rick C PE
May 18, 2017 11:54 am

Yes. I did not get that either, about the deserts. Thinking of Las Vegas deserts must be decreasing. That greening is causing some entrapment.
LAI is….?

Rick C PE
Reply to  henryp
May 18, 2017 12:02 pm

Leaf Area Index.

Reply to  henryp
May 18, 2017 4:06 pm

“Thinking of Las Vegas deserts must be decreasing.”
My impression has been that Las Vegas deserts are decreasing at an astonishing rate while desserts are increasing. The spread between decreasing desert and increasing dessert appears a good indicator of profit margin.

Bryan A
Reply to  Rick C PE
May 18, 2017 12:33 pm

I believe they meant that the deserts are increasing their Greening Area due to CO2 fertilization

Reply to  Rick C PE
May 18, 2017 2:18 pm

I think it’s hysterical they keep admitting CO2 is a good thing…..
Just the other day they used satellites to find ~10% more trees than anyone knew….
If CO2 wasn’t limiting…..why is everything greening up so fast?….and it is fast

Reply to  Latitude
May 18, 2017 9:26 pm

“Greening” really is the only thing that’s going up like a hockey stick.
Temperature?…. Not so much!

May 18, 2017 11:19 am

“We know what to do – rapidly ending fossil fuel use complemented by a great variety of CO2 removal techniques. We know when to do it – now.”
Please, feel free to show the way. Cease every and all use of every and all petrochemical and coal based products you currently use, including power generation.

Reply to  AleaJactaEst
May 18, 2017 2:27 pm

Excellent – I give + lots and lots.

Reply to  AleaJactaEst
May 18, 2017 2:34 pm

Isn’t ‘Muppets’ a little kind and ‘caring’?
“Hypocritical Stalinist anthropophobes, seeking to kill most people alive today, and live high on the hog on the efforts of the enslaved remnants, having made Hundred-Million-Death Mao look like a vicarage-tea-party piker”
may be a bit closer.
It is a mouthful, I admit.
“Genocidal Watermelon” may be a decent-ish short-hand.

Bryan A
Reply to  Auto
May 18, 2017 10:40 pm

Naw that would be Care Bears instead of Muppets

Bryan A
Reply to  AleaJactaEst
May 18, 2017 10:49 pm

If everyone who honesty believe that human emissions of CO2 is truly dangerous actually decided to live as they preach without forcing their believed perceptions on the few who don’t share their beliefs, it might put an end to what is the actual source of CO2 forcing

Robert of Ottawa
Reply to  AleaJactaEst
May 19, 2017 2:56 am

Anyone who talks of CO2 removal should be asked how much?

May 18, 2017 11:23 am

Potsdam’s fundraising down a bit? We need more concern!

Reply to  Tom Halla
May 18, 2017 3:43 pm

Just a proof of employment.

Bill Illis
May 18, 2017 11:24 am

Trees plant themselves. We don’t need to do it.
And vegetation is already soaking up 25% of our emissions each year. The 25% rate could rise to 50% or 75% if we start slowing the growth in emissions which we are already doing since the last three years have been essentially flat.

Reply to  Bill Illis
May 18, 2017 11:47 am

Why are you concerned about CO2 emissions? Prove that CO2 is having any adverse effect on Climate.

Another Ian
Reply to  Bill Illis
May 18, 2017 1:38 pm

“Trees plant themselves. We don’t need to do it.”
Tioo true and here it is at the expense of the ground layer. And management is not allowed by regulations

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Bill Illis
May 19, 2017 4:50 am

Bill Illis
Re the absorption number: I read, more than once, that the regrowth of the Eastern Forests in N America are absorbing about 80% of the CO2 emitted by the USA. The objection by anti-CO2 activists to counting this rather obvious drawdown is that the original forest was cut down, mostly for charcoal production to make steel.
My point is to wonder if the figure is as low as 25% globally, and what about the uneven distribution?
It seems that if we are treating coal as a non-renewable that will be gone, one day, why not treat the sink – a standing forest – similarly? It seems to me a bit disingenuous to count the coal’s potential emissions and not count the potential of a regrown forest, whatever the baseline, which should be ‘now’.

May 18, 2017 11:24 am

That CACA advocates also pooh-pooh iron fertilization of the deep oceans shows that they’re not really interested in reducing CO2, but only in shutting down industrial society and transferring wealth to themselves and the developing world.

Reply to  Chimp
May 18, 2017 11:46 am

That CACA advocates also pooh-pooh

I saw what you did there.

Ron Williams
Reply to  Chimp
May 18, 2017 12:04 pm

I recall reading somewhere, “give me a ship full of iron oxide and I will deliver you the next ice age.” Probably a bit farfetched as well, but still a known natural process with winds blowing iron rich sands off the Sahara or the outback of Oz to the southern ocean. If it ever came down to having to reduce CO2, this would probably be the most cost effective.

Keith J
Reply to  Chimp
May 18, 2017 1:06 pm

Dr Ironseeding would be proud…that would be the late Dr John Martin. “Give me a supertanker of iron and I will give you an ice age” scared the merde out of the CACA acolytes. The hypothesis was right, just the scale wrong. Iron is everywhere, it just isn’t available. Throw some sulfate emissions up from a pyroclastic eruption and then aerosol iron becomes bioavailable. Talking about Pinatubo here and the natural iron fertilization.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Chimp
May 19, 2017 5:00 am

I think it is iron powder on the ocean surface. The growth limitation at the surface is iron.
Interestingly, resistance to this idea started in about 1982 when it was first tried successfully. Greenpeace went nuts. Now this is wa-a-ay before there was any proof one way or the other if wild-eyed claims of ‘terrible things’ would happen if places like the E Pacific Ocean were fertilized. Think about that. Why was the resistance to a cheap easy solution so immediate when there was no evidence it was a bad idea (there is still no evidence it is bad)? The answer is of course that the agenda was the ending of oil consumption, not worrying about CO2. CO2 is the ‘excuse’.
We can quickly and easily draw down the CO2 level by outfitting ships with iron powder spreaders that remove twice as much CO2 as a the ship produces. But drawing down the CO2 is such a bad idea I don’t recommend it. Without CO2 we are all doomed.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
May 19, 2017 6:35 am

If iron fertilization is being done to increase the productivity of fisheries, it might be worth considering.

Phil R
May 18, 2017 11:26 am

Whenever I see Schellnhuber’s name in a post, I always like to remind people where the dreaded and dangerous 2°C limit comes from (hint: it’s pulled from a place of darkness).

Clearly a Political Goal
Rarely has a scientific idea had such a strong impact on world politics. Most countries have now recognized the two-degree target. If the two-degree limit were exceeded, German Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen announced ahead of the failed Copenhagen summit, “life on our planet, as we know it today, would no longer be possible.”
But this is scientific nonsense. “Two degrees is not a magical limit — it’s clearly a political goal,” says Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). “The world will not come to an end right away in the event of stronger warming, nor are we definitely saved if warming is not as significant. The reality, of course, is much more complicated.”
Schellnhuber ought to know. He is the father of the two-degree target.
“Yes, I plead guilty,” he says, smiling. The idea didn’t hurt his career. In fact, it made him Germany’s most influential climatologist. Schellnhuber, a theoretical physicist, became Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief scientific adviser — a position any researcher would envy.

Please read the whole thing at:

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Phil R
May 20, 2017 6:52 pm

I also should mention that the Potsdam Putz is also famous for inventing the concept of ‘a climate tipping point’. It there is not the slightest proof that such a ‘point’ exists in the history of the climate, and a considerable body of evidence in the proxy records that it does not. It has been far warmer and colder, CO2 much higher but never lower.
He is Mr Two Degree Tipping Point. Now it has been 25% discounted in Paris to 1.5 degrees. I guess they realized that there is no chance of reaching 2 degrees ‘up’ in the coming century. Notice how no one asked why the discount? Was Climate Alarm 2.0 wrong? How is Climate 1.5 a better model?

Bruce Cobb
May 18, 2017 11:28 am

I’m sorry, which planet do these “researchers” live on again?

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
May 18, 2017 11:32 am

Planet GIGO.

Rick C PE
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
May 18, 2017 11:38 am

Planet B?

James Harlock
Reply to  Rick C PE
May 18, 2017 1:40 pm

Planet P would be better, except they’d need nuclear power plants to run their bug zappers.

Reply to  Rick C PE
May 18, 2017 2:36 pm

Planet pee?
Just asking.
Auto – no friend of genocidal watermelons, oddly enough.

May 18, 2017 11:29 am

The longer this farce drags on for the more the lunacy of the claims becomes apparent. What is biomass growth able to do that tree and plant growth cannot do? Trees plants and sea creatures that later became sedimentary rock seem to have done a good job over the years by removing 95% of primordial atmospheric CO2. As time passes it is becoming clearer that this is not about science it is about politics.

Reply to  andrewmharding
May 18, 2017 12:02 pm

There appears to be a self regulating process for atmospheric CO2. Based on ice core data …

One way out of this conundrum is a well-known but relatively untested concept that suggests “that on timescales longer than a few hundred thousand years, atmospheric carbon dioxide and Earth’s temperature are regulated via a ‘silicate weathering thermostat,'” Higgins said.
Basically, increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels will boost the rates at which volcanic rocks wear down and their components wash into the seas, which can then go on to trap atmospheric carbon dioxide in ocean minerals. This means that “one can have a change in atmospheric oxygen with no observable change in average carbon dioxide,” Higgins said. “Importantly, this silicate weathering thermostat is one reason why Earth is thought to have remained habitable for billions of years despite changes in solar luminosity.”

Reply to  andrewmharding
May 18, 2017 12:10 pm

It stopped being about science when the UN formed the IPCC nearly 3 decades ago. It’s hard to believe that they were allowed to define what is and what is not climate science by what they publish in their reports while their charter requires impossible amounts of CO2 related warming in order to justify their existence. This conflict of interest has biased climate science for nearly 3 decades and is precisely why the scientific method no longer matters as long as the results conform to the political narrative dictated by the UN, its many subservient money grubbing agencies and far left political ideologies where all are ‘scientifically’ supported by the self serving consensus built around IPCC reports. This is a better example of a closed feedback loop with large positive feedback and high gain which is destined for a runaway effect leading to something that will be fun to watch.

Reply to  co2isnotevil
May 18, 2017 10:11 pm

I am not sure if I made it past my twentieth birthday before I realized how corrupt the UN was. I don’t even trust the programs I “sort of” like (in that I think that the theory/purpose is good). I would throw money in the street before I donated to UNICEF. Any organization that uses barely fifty percent of donations for direct aid is a fraud. And if you are willing to screw over malnourished children, why in the world would you bother treating adults any better?
Don’t even get me started about the uselessness (by design) of many (most) of their programs/entities. Or the wastefulness (also by design). Or the virtue-signaling through funding distribution. Or…
Even if nothing else had made me suspicious of AGW, the fact that the UN is heading the ad campaign would have been a major red flag.

Old England
Reply to  andrewmharding
May 18, 2017 2:05 pm

It always nothing other than politics – and a particularly unpleasant left-wing Marxist brand of politics overlaid and supported by rapacious ‘multinationals’ .

Phil R
May 18, 2017 11:31 am

A little more from the article.

The story of the two-degree target began in the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). Administration politicians had asked the council for climate protection guidelines, and the scientists under Schellnhuber’s leadership came up with a strikingly simple idea. “We looked at the history of the climate since the rise of homo sapiens,” Schellnhuber recalls. “This showed us that average global temperatures in the last 130,000 years were no more than two degrees higher than before the beginning of the industrial revolution. To be on the safe side, we came up with a rule of thumb stating that it would be better not to depart from this field of experience in human evolution. Otherwise we would be treading on terra incognita.”
As tempting as it sounds, on closer inspection this approach proves to be nothing but a sleight of hand. That’s because humans are children of an ice age. For many thousands of years, they struggled to survive in a climate that was as least four degrees colder than it is today, and at times even more than eight degrees colder.
This means that, on balance, mankind has already survived far more severe temperature fluctuations than two degrees. And the cold periods were always the worst periods. Besides, modern civilizations have far more technical means of adapting to climate change than earlier societies had.

Ron Williams
May 18, 2017 11:43 am

Isn’t it ironic that a well known fact that trees lock up a lot CO2 is disputed by an academic think tank that says it would do no good anyway. Probably the one thing that everyone could get behind, is just shot down willy nilly as being absurd. I think this just proves the arrogance of academia and why they should not only be ignored, but shamed and ridiculed. And to think their whole movement is so brazen as to think they can hold the temperature increase of earth to 2 degrees C, well, that is really absurd. And how do they know that the natural variation is not turning to a cooling trend making their entire claim just insane? We will be so lucky that the little bit (.85 C) of warming we have had since 1880 is able to stay on the warm side because if temps were to drop 2 C for any reason, like some chaos event (i.e. vulcanism) then human kind is in for really big trouble.
After planting millions of trees in my lifetime, this just makes me want to go cut them all down and spend the money on fossil fuels just to try and ensure that the global temperature doesn’t go down 2 degrees C. But I already know that CO2 has very limited effect on global temperatures, so I won’t bother doing that, or trying to convince anybody that moderate CO2 increases is harmful to the planet. What a bunch of lazy, stupid kids we have coming through university these days. Global warming is better than global cooling and let’s hope that we do get 2 degrees of warming! Or I want my money back.

Paul Courtney
Reply to  Ron Williams
May 18, 2017 4:06 pm

Wonder if they oppose growing corn for biofuel? Seem to present the same problems as the “plantations”. They should take their most effective action against “big corn”- organize a march!

Reply to  Ron Williams
May 18, 2017 4:33 pm

“Isn’t it ironic that a well known fact that trees lock up a lot CO2 is disputed by an academic think tank”
Where did you get that idea from?

Reply to  seaice1
May 18, 2017 4:47 pm

Seaice: Why, is the assertion wrong?

Reply to  Ron Williams
May 19, 2017 6:37 am

The article states that growing trees is not a substitute for cutting emissions, it does not say that trees don’t absorb CO2.

Samuel C Cogar
May 18, 2017 11:48 am

The plantations would need to be so large, they would eliminate most natural ecosystems or reduce food production if implemented as a …………

And so would the implementation of “green energy” producing plantations consisting of massive Wind Generator and Solar Panel farms.

May 18, 2017 11:50 am

All possible measures except nuclear power of course.

May 18, 2017 12:01 pm

Anything from PIK is guaranteed to be warmunist foolishness. As here again demonstrated.

Mike McMillan
Reply to  ristvan
May 18, 2017 6:05 pm

I understand Dr Schellnhuber has a very large supercomputer.

May 18, 2017 12:17 pm

Translation: there’s not enough business opportunity for new tree farms, carbon trading is much more lucrative. The old saying, money for nothing.

Reply to  RWturner
May 18, 2017 10:15 pm

Translation: the tree lobby forgot to send the check this month.

May 18, 2017 12:17 pm

Below 2 degrees Celsius from the height of the medieval warm period or the low at the end of the little ice age? And why?

Ron Williams
Reply to  Mark
May 18, 2017 12:33 pm

As I understand it, since 1850. Which is regarded as the start of the Industrial Revolution and the burning of significant amounts of coal. 1850 is also sort of the last of the cooler temps of the LIA, so 2 degrees of warming would just be sort of back to a normal condition for Earth in an interglacial. Which has been getting successively cooler every warming trend since the height of the Holocene warming optimum 6000-7000 years before present.
Why? Good question! They think that they can just pull a number out of a hat they think is convenient, stabilize the weather/climate to this hypothetical construct, and the climate will just be peachy hereafter. It is a supreme act of ignorance of how the world and weather/climate actually works.

Reply to  Ron Williams
May 18, 2017 12:46 pm

“They think that they can just pull a number out of a hat they think is convenient, stabilize the weather/climate to this hypothetical construct, and the climate will just be peachy hereafter. It is a supreme act of ignorance of how the world and weather/climate actually works.”
Yes, and they want to charge the taxpayers of the world Trillions of dollars to make this made-up temperature target.
Pull a two-degree target out of thin air, and then make the world march to your drumbeat. Good trick.

Reply to  Ron Williams
May 18, 2017 4:17 pm

The start of the Industrial Revolution was about 1760. (Maybe that is why the LIA ended?). However, 1850 is probably a good date for the widespread burning of coal. It is, as with everything having to do with CAGW / CC, misrepresented as the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

don penman
May 18, 2017 12:33 pm

Some scientists are obsessed with the role of co2 warming the atmosphere it seems to be the only mechanism that they recognise affecting the Earths climate while increasing co2 does not appear to be doing anything adverse in recent history. What we observe today about the effect of increased co2 should guide our views of the effect of increasing co2 in previous geological periods and not the other way round. It seems that some scientists are riding a gravy train of public money on this issue which would be better spent elsewhere.

Hugh Price
May 18, 2017 12:36 pm

The authors ignore the option of sequestering hundreds of millions of tons of agricultural stover produced every year, which would require little or no additional land.

John F. Hultquist
May 18, 2017 12:41 pm

Growing plants and then storing the CO2 they have taken up from the atmosphere is no viable option to counteract unmitigated emissions …
Here they use “unmitigated” to mean business as usual and, likely, increasing. As such, this becomes the “straw man” argument, a logical fallacy, which means that if you carefully dissect the argument or statement, it doesn’t make sense.
Who claimed trees could do it all?
About 10 years ago “planting trees” was in the news as a way of saving the world. Then, running a few numbers, it was determined that trees are darker* (lower albedo) than most bare sand and rock (higher albedo), so more trees equals more short wave absorption. The big push to plant trees went away.

May 18, 2017 12:42 pm

““Reducing fossil fuel use is a precondition for stabilizing the climate,”
The Earth’s climate is as stable as it has ever been, maybe more so. Prove otherwise.

Reply to  TA
May 18, 2017 9:31 pm

…… crickets.

May 18, 2017 1:00 pm

Why would we remove a forest to plant biomass plantations? Would you remove your face to stop getting pimples? Just ludicrous.
You want to know a great “biomass storage solution”? Build a wood-framed house. Where could we possibly plant a tree, without cutting down a tree? In a yard. Why doesn’t this “scientific report” even allude to the fact that phytoplankton use more CO2, and product more O2, than all the Earth’s plants combined? Just more doomsday hyperbole.
The Earth is already countering the increased CO2 levels. People only make problems worse, when we try to “fix” a problem. Just be sensible, reduce excess energy consumption, and don’t go out of your way to cause a problem, and the Earth will fix itself.
This planet has already survived far worse catastrophes than we could possibly create (short of all-out nuclear war), and it will fix this little bump in the road, too.

H. D. Hoese
May 18, 2017 1:14 pm

I am continually discovering new never heard of journals which one always hopes offer new worlds to explore. I randomly picked this paper out of “Earth’s Future.”
“From data to decisions: Processing information, biases, and beliefs for improved management of natural resources and environments” Pierre D. Glynn. et al. 2017.
Five selections. (1) “Open Traceable Accountable Policy” (2) “We are cognitive misers [Stanovich and West, 2003]: our brains constantly seek and use shortcuts to minimize mental effort.” (3) “. (The Darwinian mind is named after Charles Darwin…” (4) “… it would be beneficial for us to differentiate between beliefs and facts,… ” (5) “ In addition, power dynamics and manipulations may lead stakeholders or policy makers or scientific experts [Oreskes and Conway, 2010, 2013] to inappropriately cherry-pick, reorganize, or hide information provided. “
Of course, I cherry-picked these examples, but nevertheless my condolences to the members of the American Geophysical Union which formerly had a reputation for producing great papers, some of which I actually understood.

May 18, 2017 1:42 pm

If planting trees does no good, then Al Gore has no fig leaf to cover his excessive jet travel and home electricity use, since he justifies it by saying that he contributes to projects that plant trees.

Reply to  JohnS
May 18, 2017 9:33 pm

….let ol’ Al use ol’ pine cones instead. Besides, wherever he goes, it’s a blizzard.

Reply to  JohnS
May 18, 2017 10:21 pm

All those carbon “offsets” just became worthless…
However will the alarmists make up for all their (literal) jetsetting?

May 18, 2017 1:49 pm

Someone had to counteract the positive news about the 9% increase in forrest they just found!

Gary Pearse
May 18, 2017 1:56 pm

The much lampooned PIK fear-mongers (FM) have to diss trees as effective sinks of carbon to save end-of-the-world scenarios. They will have been essayed by recent reports of rapid greening and the appearance of 14% more forest cover than earlier surveys reported. My old former farm, cultivated for over a century, has in twenty years become a forest that’s tough to walk through and one of the finest blackberry and raspberry picking areas along fences and the brook.
Remember the 2C limit for the century was pulled out of the air. With the controversy and cutback on climate sensitivity, and temperature rise predictions that were 3x observations showing CO2 to be not so ‘dangerous,’ the FM stretched the baseline back 300yrs to the LIA during which time temperatures have already risen (thankfully) by over half of the 2C ‘limit’. With the unbelievable endothermic greening of the planet, (unexpectedly signicant and growing sink) a factor that was hardly accorded consideration by the PIKs of this world, they decided to make the ‘carbon’ more dangerous and cut the limit to 1.5C. This is likely the worst case for a business as usual, do nothing scenario.
The PIK and friends also have yet to acknowledge the obvious and growing benefits of CO2 which any reasonable evaluator can see for himself. Doubling of harvests, thickening of individual trees, increased habitat, increased drought resistance…
FM know the end is Nye.. er.. I mean nigh.

Gary Pearse
May 18, 2017 2:00 pm

Gee mods, I didn’t use any nasty words in my long post!

May 18, 2017 2:18 pm

“As scientists we are looking at all possible futures, not just the positive ones,” says co-author Wolfgang Lucht from PIK. “
The worst case being, what if it suddenly turned very cold.

May 18, 2017 2:41 pm

“Planting trees cannot replace cutting CO2 emissions”
Absolutely true. There’s no way that just planting trees will lead to Western deindustrialization, prevent African and Asia from developing, or fill the coffers of all the trough-gobbling environmentalists, green tech companies and socialist leaving political organizations, nor will planting trees fulfill the world domination dreams of the Club of Rome. Their just trees. They can only do so much.

Edward Hurst
May 18, 2017 2:55 pm

Ron Williams – that’s an admirable number of trees! I thought my twenty thousand or so was good going, but then that’s just what I do in my ‘spare’ time.
To me it is blatantly obvious that restoring woodland in balance with improved agricultural crops and methods is a necessary and wise thing to do. The benefits are endless, renewable in fact -such as preserving and enhancing biodiversity, landscape, human amenity, wood fuel, ecosystem ‘services’ (I think that’s what they call it) etc etc.
Land cleared of its trees can be difficult to re-wood in the presence of deer, sheep and goats (desert makers) that no longer have natural predators. I put a six foot fence around a bit of ground adjacent to a wood – five years on I can hardly get through the re-growth. Nearby un-fenced areas have no regeneration.
I live in The Scottish Borders within the stunning Cheviot Hills, glittering loch etc. It is idylic!
Well almost…
The hills are pretty much naked – rough grazing, the occasional block of monoculture conifers such as Sitka spruce and relatively miniscule patches of natural deciduous species of trees.
The potential for woodland restoration with all its benefits is huge…
…sadly we have a dictatorship known as the Scottish Nationalist Party obsessed with not only Independence, (economic suicide) but also renewables, commonly in the form of those giant icons of greed – wind turbines.
My neighbour, a rich arrogant bully, also benefits from the idylic setting. He however, does not appreciate just how fortunate he is…four times he has attempted to blanket his hill land with turbines, that thwarted he has now conned the local council (with the most devious and dishonest planning application I have ever seen) to install an Anaerobic Digester CPH unit of such an excessive scale it cannot possibly be fed from his own land despite his claims. His crows of ‘being green” are a joke as, along with many other things such as digging up archeology and ripping out trees, walls and hedges, he also burns plastic within the loch wildlife reserve and shoves any unburnt residue into the so called protected loch.
As we all know, the Green Blob Madness has gone so far beyond anything actually environmentally friendly, they have proved beyond doubt that it is about money, greed and power rather than anything actually of use.
Just imagine how far humanity could have advanced over the last decade or so with focus, funds and effort on restoring woodland, sensible safe GM crops, real pollution control and realistic energy research and development into technologies such as Thorium Energy.
So Ron, please keep planting and encourage others to do so too. We are doing our bit!
As for the western world’s current malaise, it really is time for the Green Blob to pause, look at itself in a mirror and ask “What have I become?”

May 18, 2017 3:04 pm

I sort of noted with their scenario 3 that it would require large quantities of fertilizers. Didn’t they stop to think that that probably will require large quantities of petroleum stock to produce. The same stocks they want to keep in the ground. Add to that the large quantities of water. The same item that will cause social instability, mass migrations, crime and the heart break of psoriasis? At least that’s the other boogey man if National Geographic’s “Parched” series is anything to go by. These guys need to keep up.

May 18, 2017 3:09 pm

I thought that Freeman Dyson had worked out in the mid 1970s that planting trees would do the trick.

Reply to  bleD
May 18, 2017 3:53 pm

Freeman Dyson? That piker! He doesn’t hold a candle to the likes of this guy (who’s name I can’t quite remember).
Let’s be serious; anyone born before 2008 has no grasp on reality.

Reply to  Bartleby
May 18, 2017 9:35 pm

….if you mean “post-normal reality”, you’re probably right. 2008 was a real point of decline.

May 18, 2017 3:50 pm

Negative message (threat):
no viable option, unmitigated emissions, greenhouse gas, a late-regret option, substantial failure, reduce food production, growing biomass, stabilize the climate, too huge to manage.
Positive message (promise):
ambitious emissions reductions, aggressive climate stabilization policy, advancements in land management, high inputs of water, globally applied high-tech carbon-storage-machinery.
“What happens in the worst case, a widespread disruption and failure of mitigation policies? Would plants allow us to still stabilize climate in emergency mode? The answer is: no.”
So there you have it. We’re doomed. Again.

Reply to  Bartleby
May 18, 2017 3:51 pm

And of course, it’s worse than we thought.

michael hart
May 18, 2017 4:37 pm

“This is low-tech terrestrial carbon dioxide removal that could be combined with high-tech carbon storage mechanisms, for example underground.”

Only a climate scientist could consider a hole in the ground to be “high-tech”. No wonder all their models seem to be “state of the art”.

May 18, 2017 5:11 pm

So Domino’s claim that planting trees to obtain “carbon free” sugar (I think they really mean carbon neutral) isn’t going to cut it. We’re all doomed anyway. (As if a 2° rise in global temperature is going to hurt anything but warmists doomsday scenario.)

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
May 18, 2017 5:17 pm

Let the warmists first tell the world: what is the realistic relationship between CO2 raise and temperature raise? Not the hypothetical like IPCC, more than half type.
Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

May 18, 2017 5:51 pm

Oh, no!!! Green? Say it isn’t so!

Bill Burrows
May 18, 2017 8:46 pm

Those promoting fears that increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations signal the end of the world as we know it, are clearly mortified that trees may lock up sufficient carbon (50% of tree biomass) to negate the panic they are trying to engender. Indeed the current article is an entirely foreseeable response given the large body of hard data now showing that the world is greening ( doi:10.1038/nclimate3004 ) and that trees are increasing (in cover and/or density) in Australia ( ) , Africa ( doi:10.1038/s41559-017-0081 ) and around the world generally (e,g, doi: 10.1126/science.aam6527 ; doi:10.1038/nature14967 ). Most of these increases are not from plantation forests but from natural processes with trees/shrubs simply responding to changed management conditions (notably the advent of domestic livestock grazing – Americas, Africa, Australia – and/or altered burning regimes).
Such population switches in our vegetation (especially rangelands) have been in train for a long time (e,g. Hastings and Turner’s classic “The Changing Mile” ( ) and as a result of the scale and extent of the phenomenon it is not surprising that scientists are observing pauses in the growth of atmospheric CO2 – due to enhanced terrestrial carbon uptake ( doi:10.1038/ncomms13428 ). For example Detmers et al. 2015 ( ) recorded an enhanced carbon sink in Australia in 2011 amounting to some 2800 Mt CO2-e. This contrasts with the continent’s reported net greenhouse gas inventory emissions for the same period, of just 552 Mt CO2-e!
The Detmers et al. findings were based on inversion of column averaged CO2 concentrations measured from the top of the Earth’s atmosphere to its surface. The authors employed sensors on Japan’s GOSAT satellite platform. Today NASA’s OCO-2 provides better coverage of the Earth and about four times the precision of GOSAT. And most importantly inversion of atmospheric CO2 integrates all sources and sinks. .After all it is the putative effect of the CO2 molecule, not its origin, that is the crux of the ongoing argument.
Targeting atmospheric CO2 concentrations also eliminates the fiddles and plain bad estimates we make when we try to do above- and below-ground sampling of carbon in vegetation in the field, or undertake modelling (e.g. of soil organic carbon fluxes) not verified by field validation. Again what is measured in these inversions is the parameter of prime concern to all those seeking to reduce GHG effects. Analogously it would seem to be intuitively sound to base all alleged temperature responses on atmospheric recording platforms, to likewise avoid widespread criticism of unrepresentative/inaccurate measurements and subsequent adjustments made to ground sourced data.

May 18, 2017 8:53 pm

Just a question or several: If carbon is so very, very bad, and plants are essentially just carbon-based organisms (like all other life on this planet), how can planting more trees do any good, when they release CO2 and O2 as a byproduct of sugar production?
Have these ‘tree people’ forgotten that there are other plants that trees? In a square mile of grass alone, the grass sprigs (plants) outnumber humans by the quadrillions.
I’m just trying to understand the seemingly intentional lack of information on the part of the people who make these strange pronouncements, especially when it comes to planting trees as a solution to the problem. Do they realize, even a little, that every ecosystem is different and not all trees will grow in all areas? Do they know that cacti respirate the same as other plants? Do any of those morons know anything at all about biosystems?

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
Reply to  Sara
May 18, 2017 10:13 pm

Sorghum plant, Castor plant, Cactus plant — Is it not so?
Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

Reply to  Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
May 19, 2017 11:09 am

Corn, oats, wheat, barley, rye – are they not all grasses? Think of the grasses! #grasseslives matter!!!!

Reply to  Sara
May 18, 2017 10:45 pm

Cacti would not be widely planted in an urban setting due to legal liability.

May 18, 2017 10:43 pm

The concept of trees contributing to ozone is very old study. Goes back at least to the 70’s. The example always given at that time was the haze over the Rocky Mountains from the trees, particularly certain species. They do not all emit the same.

May 19, 2017 4:40 am

UN figures state:
“Due to drought and desertification each year 12 million hectares are lost (23 hectares/minute!), where 20 million tons of grain could have been grown”
Does anyone have figures to counter that assertion?

Reply to  Griff
May 19, 2017 6:40 am

Desertification stopped 30 years ago.

Reply to  Griff
May 19, 2017 11:07 am

I thought that the weeds and grass growing in the Sahara (want pictures?) and the end of California’s dreaded immortal drought would be enough of a rebuttal… but what do I know?

May 19, 2017 8:24 am

Trump and his team are under huge pressure to take the easy way out and to fall in line with the climate obsession. If he falls for this not only will he breaking his word, he will be doing the objectively wrong thing. Breaking the back of the climate social madness is the only way to help America and the world. Killing the Paris “Agreement” is the only viable option. Helping America and the world return to a pro-science pro-people energy and eco policy structure started with ending the climate consensus.

Petrer Gay
May 20, 2017 3:38 am

It’s often forgotten that over-grazing by goats contributed to the Sahara. Experiments have shown that when a seemingly arid area of the Sahel is fenced to exclude goats trees grow (Niger). Farmers father south in Zambia know this well. In the drier areas thickets of varying heights are controlled and preserved to enable vegetable crops to grow beneath.

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