Claim: U.N. data reflects greening of the Earth, not carbon dioxide

NASA says the greening of the planet is due to increased CO2, these guys are arguing against that, saying increased forest growth “correlates strongly to the UN Development Programme’s Human Development Index”. Riiiighht. They say that “Europe’s early turnaround and expansion of forest resources obviously can’t be attributed to the rapid rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide that began decades later”. By the same token, the U.N. didn’t exist until decades later, and they sure as hell haven’t had any impact on the greening of the Eastern United States as shown in their map below.

I call BS on this paper, especially when NASA says this related to satellite (not political index) data:

From a quarter to half of Earth’s vegetated lands has shown significant greening over the last 35 years largely due to rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change on April 25.

This is just another attempt to demonize the benefits of increased carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere, and it’s a pretty lame attempt using political index data.


Global forests expanding: Reflects wellbeing, not rising CO2, experts say

Study finds virtually no correlation between higher levels of atmospheric CO2 and nations’ forest expansion/decline; difference mirrors the UN Human Development Index

The surprising, steady expansion of forests in many countries is a reflection of national well being and does not constitute a benefit of rapidly rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, experts say.

Since the 1800s, transitions from net forest loss to gain have coincided with a switch within nations from subsistence to market oriented agriculture. Today the growth or decline of a nation’s forest resources correlates strongly to the UN Development Program’s Human Development Index. CREDIT University of Helsinki

On the planet as a whole, forests and other terrestrial ecosystems have become greener, which several global climate change models attribute to CO2 fertilization, says the study, published today by PLOS ONE(in full post-embargo here: http://bit.ly/2JNB3TD).

In fact, however, since the 1800s transitions from net forest loss to gain have coincided with a switch within nations from subsistence to market oriented agriculture. Today the growth or decline of a nation’s forest resources correlates strongly to the UN Development Programme’s Human Development Index.

“Our findings offer an important insight for efforts to address climate change. Where people and nations are or become relatively well off, we can count on forests absorbing carbon at increasing levels,” says Prof. Kauppi of the University of Helsinki, who co-authored the study with U of H colleague Vilma Sandström and Antti Lipponen of the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

From 1990 to 2015, forest growing stock rose annually by 1.31% in high income countries and by 0.5% in higher middle income countries. By contrast, forest growing stock fell by an annual average 0.29% in 27 lower middle income countries and by 0.72% in 22 low income countries.

“From a policy development perspective, it is very important to understand why national forests resources change in such a surprisingly diverse fashion,” says Dr. Kauppi.

Transitions from net forest loss to net gain first occurred in the 1800s in Western Europe, then Central Europe and the eastern United States, followed by Northern and Eastern Europe, Japan and New Zealand.

The study, entitled “Forest resources of nations in relation to human well-being,” notes that Europe’s early turnaround and expansion of forest resources obviously can’t be attributed to the rapid rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide that began decades later.

“Weather observations confirm indisputably that global temperatures are rising together with atmospheric CO2 levels,” says Dr. Lipponen. “However, the study shows that, over more than a century, changes in forest growing stock around the world have been virtually unrelated to those trends.”

In the last 50 years, China and Chile have made the transition from net forest loss to net forest gain. More recently some subtropical and tropical countries of Latin America, Africa, and the Far East have done so as well.

The report says that between 1990 and 2015 some 13 tropical countries appear to have either transitioned, or continued along the path of forest expansion that follows such transitions.

A previously published summary of latest UN data (2010-2015) shows forest area expanding in Europe, North America, the Caribbean, East Asia, and Western Central Asia, but decreasing in Central America, South America, South and Southeast Asia, and throughout Africa.

At a regional level, the greatest losses are being experienced in Nigeria, Brazil and Indonesia.

The report says transitions in Latin America and Africa are uncertain and perhaps reversible. Africa is the continent with a great risk of further losses of forest ecosystems; a majority of the 55 African countries has not reported forest transition.

Impressing the experts was the forest transition in India over three decades starting in 1970 despite more than doubling in population (from 555 to 1,231 million, 1970 to 2010).

Brunei is the sole wealthy nation with decreasing forest resources.

“Highly developed countries apply modern agricultural methods on good farmlands and abandon marginal lands, which become available for forest expansion,” the study says. “Developed countries invest in sustainable programs of forest management and nature protection.”

The study attributes forest expansion to several factors that have outweighed the impacts of population growth and improving diets. They include:

  • Urbanization, which draws farmers off marginal rural lands
  • Evolution from a subsistence regime to market economy, which further concentrates farming to the best lands
  • Better agricultural technologies and yields, relieving the need to clear new agricultural land
  • Better transportation, communication, storage, processing, and consumer behavior, reducing food waste
  • The availability of alternatives to wood as a fuel

Vilma Sandström underlines that another factor requires detailed impact assessment: developed nations increasingly outsource their resource needs to others abroad through international trade.

Earlier research suggested that growing stock stops decreasing at a per capita income threshold at US$ 4,600 (in 2003 dollars). Today the threshold is likely closer to $20,000 dollars income per capita.

“Unfortunately, deforestation continues in biologically rich forests,” the paper says. “The new expanding forests are biologically less diverse, especially where they consist of planted monocultures.”

Says Dr. Lipponen: “Human development can translate into the well-being of forest ecosystems. This promotes carbon sequestration and preservation of the global biodiversity in the long term.”

“Policy analyses must expand from focusing on individual projects such as carbon capture, biodiversity conservation or farm management to inter-disciplinary analyses of harmonized well-being of people and forests.”

The researchers also call for greater global scale monitoring of vegetation surfaces, calling “a major priority area in world science.”

###

Advertisements

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
TG

What a bunch of CROOKS!!!!

HotScot

TG
No, you don’t understand. What they appear to be doing here is making the case for industrialisation and wealth to promote global greening.
I haven’t read the paper (I probably wouldn’t understand it) but that’s whet I get from the article here.
“The availability of alternatives to wood as a fuel” e.g. coal and gas. See what I mean?

Latitude

and yet the UN is directly responsible for keeping them from developing

HotScot

Latitude
Yes, but this report is further cornering the U.N. when it’s saying quite explicitly, to my mind, that industrialisation is good for the planet.
No alarmist has ever said that before, have they? In fact, I don’t expect sceptics have said it before, but it’s all there, in black and white, having passed their precious peer review process.
If the article is a fair representation of the study, an alarmist (or is he?) has just shot the CAGW cause in the foot.
Happy days 😂

commieBob

No, you don’t understand. What they appear to be doing here is making the case for industrialisation and wealth to promote global greening.

Bing! Bing! Bing! Bing!
Apparently the authors of the report didn’t understand that they are undermining the official narrative. Another inconvenient truth. Well spotted HotScot.

HotScot

Bob
Every cloud has a silver lining.
🤣

Duncan Smith

“The surprising, steady expansion of forests in many countries is a reflection of national well being and does not constitute a benefit of rapidly rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, experts say.”
I don’t know what are they trying to saying? The earth is not greening due to human generated CO2 but it is greening due to human ingenuity through being able to burn sequestered carbon in the wealthiest nations. Does anyone else see the circular logic here?

HotScot

Duncan
Whatever they are trying to say, what they are saying is that if it’s not CO2 that’s causing greening, then it’s industrialisation, and if not that, it must therefore be CO2.
Whichevever way you put it, mans presence on earth is a force for good.
Who knows, perhaps the guy is a closet sceptic and did this deliberately.

Greg

Total BS.
There does not seem to be ANY analysis of correlation in any form, so their claims of “close correlation” are BS. All they have done is a trivial trend fit over the whole data period. This is now becoming typical in Climate pseudo-science. If you fit a straight line to any two data sets and compare the “trends” , one will always be a perfect match to the other with a +/ve or -/ve scaling factor.
THAT IS NOT CALLED CORRELATION. It’s called a trivial , meaningless result.

HotScot

Greg
forgive me, I’m a layman so the precise details of this paper are over my head.
However, from the summary provided by Anthony, it seems it’s an attempt to rubbish CO2 as being responsible for global greening.
Fair enough, but that’s not what NASA claimed as the paper on their satellite observations over the last 30 years isolates ‘virgin’ greening i.e. greening not influenced by man in terms of agriculture or anything else. Their results, as far as I can gather, are extracted from that data only.
This paper focusses on man made greening, and it tells us industrialisation is largely responsible for greening, but it’s study seems to exclude virgin greening altogether.
In my simplistic view, that means there are two separate causes of greening, unsurprisingly
1. virgin vegetation, which can only be caused by CO2 (NASA) and;
2. that caused by industrialisation (this report).
The first one represents 14% greening over the last 30 years. The second one (by my extremely crude calculation above) seems to represent something similar over 25 years.
In other words, things are better than we thought. Whilst this study might be as misrepresented as you maintain (and I don’t doubt you) the fact remains, they seem to be telling us that over the last 30 years or so, global greening is around 28% when both causes are added together.
This is my interpretation of both papers. I’m perfectly happy to be contradicted by the detail of either as I’m not a scientist or engineer, or even well educated.
The alarmists can’t have their cake and eat it. And in this case, they have just handed the whole cake over to the sceptics to eat.
The next time I have a debate with an alarmist I’ll be using it:
Me – “CO2 causes virgin vegetation to green, NASA tells us so”.
Alarmist – “Yea, but what about all the vegetation destroyed by industrialisation”.
Me – “well, this paper tells us that’s a fallacy, industrialisation actually promotes greening”.
Alarmist – “Oh”.

Greg

HS, I think your summary is probably correct. My bone of contention is that thsi is supposed to be a scientific paper and they are claiming “strong correlation” without the slightest calculation of the degree of correlation AFAICS.
If they are saying burning coal stops people cutting down trees well duh, yes.
We should be burning more coal instead of “keeping it in the gournd” and chopping down massive swaths of american oak forest and “protected” forests in France and Germany and burning it as “biofuel” instead of coal. UKs largest power station : Drax now burns as much wood as it can get and a couple of weeks ago was lauded for having a “coal free” day.
When I grew up the greens were all about “save the trees”. Now they can’t wait to massacre them, because “carbon”./

HotScot

Greg
OK, got it now, and agree.
I agree entirely with your opinion on coal, and so, apparently, do the Chinese and Indians.
My understanding is that if we burned all the known fossil fuel reserves, it still wouldn’t achieve the magical CO2 doubling.
Drax is a disgrace to the UK!
My anecdote on the subject of the planet is, that as our descendants blast off the planet before it’s engulfed by the Sun, some kid will ask their Dad why we left the planet full of natural fuel. What a waste.
And amongst the 200,000,000 people in developing countries due to die prematurely by 2050 because of fuel poverty, there is a genius who might crack fusion. What a waste.

Kristi Silber

Not sure how many here have read the paper, but my impression is pretty different (no surprise, eh?).
Greg, there are strong correlations between forest growing stock and wealth (not industrialization) of countries – unless you have some opposition to a Mann Whitney U test in this case? This effect is irrespective of CO2 fertilization, and has nothing to do with that question. It’s a matter of land usage.
“Two mechanisms operate as drivers of forest transition sometimes counteracting and sometimes reinforcing one another. First, urbanization and non-farm jobs pull farmers off the rural lands. The fields, often up in the mountains or otherwise located in margins of agriculture, return to forests. Second, a scarcity of wood-derived products attracts governments and landowners actively to create new forests…
“As nations over time become wealthier and better organized, objectives and practices of land management change profoundly. Mather and Needle [17] mention the following five drivers of development, which lead to forest transitions and, further, to an expansion of forested lands. 1) Farmers adjust agriculture to land quality…. 2) Evolution from a subsistence regime to a market economy…3) Rural exodus promotes the transition from subsistence farming to the market regimes. 4) Agricultural technologies and the yields improve… 5) As nations evolve, the development of railways and other modes of communication … Storage facilities, transportation, processing, chilling chains and consumer behavior have an impact on how much food becomes wasted [18]. The demand for agricultural land is relaxed, if the losses can be reduced.”
This was heavily edited for length; it’s quite interesting, suggested reading for those interested in developing nations, agriculture and land use.
“Multiple global models suggest that in recent decades CO2 fertilization explains most of the global greening trends [2]. These models do not contain land use change nor land management explicitly as independent variables.”
Hmmm. This is interesting. Climate change models do not account for the land use changes that result from development, which itself is in a certain direction, but is uncertain as to time frame.
CO2 fertilization and the greening of the biosphere is real. But that’s a separate issue from the extent of forests. Just because plants grow faster doesn’t mean they will grow into forests. Nor does it mean the effect will be sustained. Example:
http://www.pnas.org/content/107/45/19368.full
” During the first 6 y of the experiment, NPP was significantly enhanced in forest plots exposed to 550 ppm CO2 compared with NPP in plots in current ambient CO2, and this was a consistent and sustained response. However, the enhancement of NPP under elevated CO2 declined from 24% in 2001–2003 to 9% in 2008. Global analyses that assume a sustained CO2 fertilization effect are no longer supported by this FACE experiment. N budget analysis supports the premise that N availability was limiting to tree growth and declining over time —an expected consequence of stand development, which was exacerbated by elevated CO2. ”
Nothing here is for or against a narrative. In science, the “narrative” is ever-changing.

TimTheToolMan

Kristi writes

Just because plants grow faster doesn’t mean they will grow into forests.

The paper doesn’t even attempt to look at whether global forests are expanding despite increased global wood usage (as I suspect they are) Whether those forests are managed forests or not would seem irrelevant.
If that’s the case, then the question of the importance of CO2 fertilisation is put in a different light, dont you think?

Phoenix44

No, that is unfair, as they are basically right. As we become wealthier, we sop chopping down trees for basic needs and we can grow more food on fewer acres. That means we return land to forest.
The additional CO2 has helped, but all the CO2 in the universe cannot grow a tree that is not there.

Thomas Homer

Phoenix44 – ” … but all the CO2 in the universe cannot grow a tree that is not there”
And, all of the trees that are here cannot grow without CO2.

MarkW

That’s the beauty of trees. In fact plant life of any kind. They can easily grow in areas where they are not now.
It’s called seeds.

Samuel C Cogar

“Additional (increased) CO2”, ……. you say.
Given the fact that the subject of Anthony’s published commentary pertains to this excerpted “lead-in” statement, to wit:

NASA says the greening of the planet is due to increased CO2, ………

And the fact that I just checked on the current CO2 status, which is, to wit:

Daily CO2
Mauna Loa Observatory | Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations
May 14, 2018: 412.45 ppm

https://www.co2.earth/daily-co2

I thought I would brag about my fantastic ability (HA HA) of predicting what the maximum atmospheric CO2 ppm will be for fiscal 2018 …… and to offer factual proof of said “predicting ability” by citing my posting on WUWT wherein I voiced said prediction, to wit:
Posted by: Samuel C Cogar – March 26, 2018 at 2:45 pm

CO2 ppm will continue to increase during the month of April 2018 and during the 1st 17 to 21 days of May 2018, when it will reach its “maximum CO2 ppm” for fiscal year 2018, which I estimate will be 413.13 ppm.
Excerpted from posting @ https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/03/26/parisagreement-climate-accord-fails-co2-emissions-growing-worldwide-trump-vindicated-for-pulling-out/comment-page-1/#comment-2775506

Close “enough” counts in Horseshoes, ……. also.

HotScot

Need help here folks, my maths is pants.
So 25 years x 1.31% growth + 25 years x 0.5% growth,
Minus 25 years x 0.29% + 25 years x 0.72% growth,
By my calculation works out at an incredibly coincidental 13% net growth. Remarkably consistent with the 14% NASA calculated over 30 years.
I have ignored the 27 lower middle income countries and 22 low income countries because neither of these are mentioned in the growth in high income countries and higher middle income countries.
If the numbers are correct, it seems a positive indictment for wealth to literally seed the planets growth. So perhaps we should be helping Africa to industrialise and promote the growth of vegetation there.

More great work, Anthony!

Alan Tomalty

These guys cant see the forest because of the trees. Increased vegetation means increased plant growth ie lichen, moss, ferns, grass , shrubs,flowers, weeds, bushes, …etc AND trees. Arguing that only trees are important is missing the big picture. Trees growing in thewild need an eco infrastrucure. CO2 is the catalyst. NASA is correct. These climate scientists are looneytunes.

BillP

Agreed. That is the big flaw in the study, they are equating 2 things that are not the same.

Urederra

Sorry Alan, CO2 is the building block, not the catalyst.

Latitude

This is their map…comment image
…which is in direct contradiction to NASA’s map
http://www.co2science.org/articles/V19/apr/Zhuetal2016b.jpg

Tom Halla

Good comparison.

Latitude
May 15, 2018 at 5:09 pm
Thanks Latitude. Do you know what they mean by “LAI” on the NASA map? And would you have a link to a hi res version of that map?

John F. Hultquist
Bellman

I may be misunderstanding, but are those two maps showing the same thing? The top one is showing changes in forest areas, whereas the bottom one is leave area, which I would assume shows a lot more than forests.
Also, do you have a source for the second map, attributed to NASA? It doesn’t seem to agree with othe maps of LAIcomment image

John

Yeah, because, you know, plant food…

-d

It is vanishingly difficult to find anything the UN is good for. Grasping at straws is a predictable behavior.
When Freeman Dyson said that increased CO2 would cause an increase plant and forest growth, he was roundly denounced as anti-science and a prototypical denier. Maybe some of them are still on that page? Who are the deniers now?
Everyone seems to forget that Arrhenious thought warming would be a good thing: increasing the desirability of living in Scandinavia and decreasing the need for heating fuel. He was probably right, too; considering recent population migrations have given us exactly what good old Svante wanted, I suppose we may find out soon.

On the one hand, increased use of fossil fuels and fertilizers means less cutting down forests to burn for cooking and heat and no more slash and burn agriculture. On the other hand, the population is far greater now while mankind consumes copious amounts of wood for construction and paper products.
CO2 must have an effect since forests evolved when CO2 levels were far higher. It’s reasonable to suggest that forests know how to take advantage of higher CO2 levels. Doubling CO2 increases the critical raw material for plants by 100%, while it means little to the temperature, even if you buy in to the linearity fantasy of an absurdly high ECS, where 3C is only a little more than 1% of the current average temperature. The actual 1C increase from doubling CO2 is about 1/3 % of the average temperature and represents a little more than 1% of the average energy of the emissions of that average temperature.

HotScot

co2isnotevil
The 14% increase in vegetation observed by NASA over the last 30 years is equivalent to two continents the size of mainland America, according to one of the reports authors.
Whether that be by increased atmospheric CO2 alone, industrialisation alone, or a combination of both, what this report is saying is that industrialisation is good.
And with two continents worth of extra vegetation (perhaps three in another 15 years time) there should be plenty of timber to go round as the population grows.
I must add, that the original NASA report made a distinction between virgin greening and human influenced greening. It’s only virgin greening they say is responsible for the 14%, what this guy seems to be saying is that the human contribution makes even more greening.
By that metric, we’re all going to be overrun by vegetables!
Happy days 🤣

Hans-Georg

The plants will also “roll over” us. After all, it’s not just the “green leaf index,” which is growing rapidly, but the leaves also do something for branches, trunks, roots and even the plant as a whole. The biomass of each individual plant increases. This is almost like a CO2 fertilizer in the greenhouse, only that this works without our efforts and also makes the plants as a further benefit dryness-resistant, plants can now survive dry periods better than before, which further contributes to their growth.
I see this development on our roads when you look up for once. The tops of the trees on the edge of the road now cover entire streets, so that you almost drive like in a green tunnel. The maintenance effort (cut branches, crowns, etc.) is therefore getting bigger. Yes, the plants will roll over us (postively expressed).

GregK

Come the day we will be overrun by vegetables !
Angkor Wat and Borobodur had to be hacked back out of vegetable cover.
Leave your house for 5 years without maintenance and see what it looks like.
Even in these carbon dioxide impoverished times

John harmsworth

How long before the first “peer reviewed” paper comes out blaming CO2 greening for a “catastrophic increase” in trip and fall death and injury due to “excessive” greening. We will look up at the damned trees from where we have fallen and realize it’s much, much worse than we thought.

Michael Jankowski

“…Study finds virtually no correlation between higher levels of atmospheric CO2 and nations’ forest expansion/decline…”
Well of course there’s no correlation with decline. The cause of the decline would be something very different from rising CO2.
And obviously there are other factors at play…but good grief.

NW sage

I think someone in the author’s education cycle forgot to point out that correlation does NOT prove causation!

Pat Frank

They also appear to be looking for a single causative agent (the tyranny of linear thinking) in what is likely to be a multi-factorial process.

JMurphy

Pat Frank wrote: “They also appear to be looking for a single causative agent (the tyranny of linear thinking) in what is likely to be a multi-factorial process.”
Very true. Just like those who agree with the tyranny which thinks that increasing CO2 should linearly lead to rising temperatures, and who thereby refuse to accept the reality of the multi-factorial process. Hear, hear.

TimTheToolMan

Pat writes

They also appear to be looking for a single causative agent

Control knob thinking.

John F. Hultquist

“Expansion” is not the issue, although some expansion is possible.
The plants are healthier, thus more and/or larger surface area, . . ., and pollen.
A recent news item about climate change linked to more pollen, allergies, and asthma missed the healthier plant part and blamed things on global warming.

Jeff

CO2 benefit DENIERS.
The current small 0.04% CO2 concentration still retards plant growth.

Rich Davis

Summing it up, tiny changes in the composition of the atmosphere create catastrophic changes in climate, but they do not under any circumstances have any positive side effects. CO2 bad. Need more socialism.

zazove

Nope Rich, you’ve got that completely ass around.
Tiny or otherwise “changes in the composition of the atmosphere” do absolutley nothing to the climate, zero…apparently. But they are the sole cause of turning whole deserts into verdant swathes of luxuriant growth.

MarkW

zazove thinks it’s being sarcastic, but it has accidentally, for once, spoken the truth.
The fact that more CO2 means plants don’t need as much water to survive, and can grow in places that used to be too dry, has nothing to do with whether or not CO2 causes the planet to warm.

Rich Davis

And I notice you didn’t contest that we need more socialism.
Just saying.

OweninGA

Let’s see 1800s Europe – large numbers emigrated to North America and still more moved from farm to factory, leaving the farms to begin reverting back to scrub and woodlands. Late 1800’s US east coast farms on poor soils began to play out causing migration from farms to western farm lands and budding industrial towns. The abandoned farms began to return to scrub and eventually forest lands throughout the eastern US. In these two areas the argument for land use changes can definitely be supported.
The greening of the Sahel and other sparsely populated areas? Not so much.

Crispin in Waterloo

Do you remember the excuse given that the expansion of the Sahara south was caused by humans mismanaging the herds, and that the spread of the desert in patches was caused by over-grazing? I do.
That was until the climate shift in 1982-3. Since then the Sahel has moved 500+ km north into the Sahara. I guess this too has been caused by over-grazing in a Lysenkoist way: if you over-graze long enough the grass adapts and learns to grow faster and run away. Isn’t nature wonderful? The grass is retreating into the desert to get away from the goats. Learn something every day.

HotScot

Crispin
Glad to see you safely back in Waterloo.
It might be me, but from Anthony’s account of this report, it seems the author is saying, quite explicitly, that human industrialisation is good for plant growth.
I don’t know if the guy is perhaps a closet sceptic, but it passed the peer review process and, whilst perhaps seeking to rubbish the concept of extra CO2 induced growth, it’s telling everyone, loud and clear, that industrialisation has caused the planet to green.
However, the NASA report on greening, explicitly excluded human influenced greening from their calculations. They only included virgin greening in areas unaffected by man. Therefore, this ‘industrialised greening’ is additional to the 14% observed by NASA.
Just gets better and better.

Hans-Georg

And if you look at the latest Nasa satellite images of the Sahara, you should put your attention on Morocco. Never before in the last hundreds of years was Morocco so green. The West African monsoon has meanwhile progressed far. And this process will continue. The greener the outer reaches of the Sahara, the easier it will be to fall into the desert. A win-win effect.

John harmsworth

It’s not bad enough the poor bastards are getting wealthier. They have to put up with more to eat, too!

ossqss

What about the use of wood for heating and cooking has been reduced by virtue of more available utilities for then populous in developing countries?

MattS

Poor countries that use wood for fuel are also greening: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/carbon-dioxide-fertilization-greening-earth

HotScot

MattS
That report from NASA is careful to make it’s greening observations on areas unaffected by man, i.e. virgin greening.
What Anthony’s article does is implicate industrialisation in greening, therefore, it is in addition to NASA’s 14% virgin greening over 30 years of satellite observations.
I’m wondering if this reports author is really a closet sceptic because if he’s not, he’s really shot the alarmist cause in the foot i.e. if it’s not CO2 it’s industrialisation, and if it’s not industrialisation, it’s CO2. Either way is positive for the sceptical side of the debate.

MattS

At HotScott. No doubt industrialisation allows us to use our land much more efficiently, and we have the wealth to have land set aside for nature, and we have increased that over the last say 50 years, however, I dont think the writer of the report meant to shoot himself in the foot, but as often, the science behind CAGW is so ill thought out they often do by accident.

Tar-heel wood

Except for Drax power station burning wood pellets.

John harmsworth

They will have to build more of these before we are completely overrun with trees. We may have to resort to setting forests on fire.

co2 is a trace gas. it has no effects.
plus where is the controlled experiment..
the earth has been greener before…
it could be the sun, there are so many things we dont know
haha

J.H.

The effects of CO2 on plant growth is non controversial and well understood. I think you need to go back to school.

John F. Hultquist

“school” ??
No, he is off his meds again.
Note the hysterical “haha”.
A large glass of wine, and time in bed are usually helpful.
There are many controlled experiments of CO2 on plant growth.
None on CO2 and global warming.
Mr. Mosher knows this. He only sounds stupid, sometimes.

zazove

“haha”
Exactly. The hypocrisy is stupendous.

TimTheToolMan

The thing is zazove, CO2 literally IS known to increase plant growth so a 30% increase in atmospheric CO2 would be expected to increase plant growth considerably. On the other hand, CO2 is NOT known to cause global warming at the rate we’ve recently experienced it and there is much room for skepticism as to how much of the warming its caused over the last say 60 years.

zazove

That’s right Tim: stupendous hypocrisy.
CO2 acts both as a plant fertilizer and as a GHG – in controlled experiments. Nothing contraversial there.
If, as is repeatedly claimed and indeed championed here, there are causal links between CO2 and greening as observed by satellite then why not between CO2 and global warming? please, in your own words what’s the difference?
Btw I think the CO2 IS causing the greening and is probably a good thing.
But as Steven Mosher points out above: why don’t all the other alternative possiblities that get cited to explain away global warming like: the sun, natural cycles, we can’t be sure over such short time frames, etc, etc apply to the greening?
I’ll tell you why – it’s inconvenient.

Bellman

“The thing is zazove, CO2 literally IS known to increase plant growth so a 30% increase in atmospheric CO2 would be expected to increase plant growth considerably.”
But the thing is, TimeTheToolMan, I keep seeing comments insisting that CO2 has only increased by 0.01%, that it is only an insignificant trace gas. That it is simply impossible for such a tiny amount of a gas to have any effect on the global climate.
Of course increasing CO2 can increase plant growth, I just find it odd the way these hand-wavy arguments change depending on whether people are talking about positive or negative effects.

Dr Deanster

The difference is one, greening involves chemical reactions, where CO2 is a primary substrate …. ie, greening doesn’t happen at all in its absence. Whereas global warming deals with heat, supplied by the sun, … no CO2 nessesary, and historical records indicate that even in the context of the greenhouse effect, no CO2 is needed as water vapor is “capable” of all the greenhouse effect we observe, and in fact is required to achieve the rediculous warming predictions of the IPCC.
The uncertainty of the two is pretty clear. But … I get where Mosh is coming from.

TimTheToolMan

If, as is repeatedly claimed and indeed championed here, there are causal links between CO2 and greening as observed by satellite then why not between CO2 and global warming? please, in your own words what’s the difference?

Because we can measure the effects of CO2 on plant growth directly. And the concentration of CO2 is directly important.
By comparison, there are many factors effecting the climate and CO2 is just one factor. The effects of CO2 aren’t direct and are moderated by feedbacks and we dont know what they are, especially over the longer term.

MarkW

Self awareness is your friend.

MarkW

Poor zazove, he actually considers a computer model to be a controlled experiment.
Then again, he thinks CO2 is the control knob for the atmosphere.

MarkW

Bellman, so somebody said something, and this is proof that all skeptics agree?
Unlike you alarmists, we skeptics think for ourselves.

Bellman

MarkW
“Bellman, so somebody said something, and this is proof that all skeptics agree?”
I’m sure not all here agree, and I didn’t say they did. It’s not even really a question of agreeing with anything, just the way the CO2 figure is framed.
But those who do use the misleading 0.01% increase figure include quite a few who post here regularly.

Thomas Homer

Stephen Mosher: “co2 is a trace gas. it has no effects.plus where is the controlled experiment..”
You may recall: Biosphere 2 – that was the attempt to live within a closed environment here on Earth, a ‘controlled experiment’. The project failed for several reasons, but mainly because levels of CO2 were poorly understood and maintained. CO2 levels varied wildly, reaching zero at some points and all of the pollinating insects and small mammals died.
The brain trust of Columbia University spent millions buying the facility and attempting to recreate the Biosphere experiment without success. Yet rather than move science forward by quantifying how CO2 is necessary to maintain a Carbon Cycle of Life, the Columbia University brain trust have chosen to malign CO2.

MarkW

Actually, there have been controlled experiments whereby plants are subjected to differing levels of CO2 and impacts on growth measured.
In every case, when everything else was held even. More CO2 meant more plants.

Urederra

You can find thousands of such experiments at http://www.co2science.org/
Here is the list of papers published in peer reviewed journals where the plant under study was rice:
http://www.co2science.org/data/plant_growth/dry/o/ref/oryzas_ref.php
There are similar studies published with hundreds of other plants, sorted in alphabetical order:
http://www.co2science.org/data/plant_growth/photo/photo_subject.php
@Mosher: Come back when you have read all of them. 😀

Steven C Lohr

I am from Ohio. I am attaching a little film about how the Ohio forests have returned. And it isn’t just the National Forest but throughout the regions where people have stopped farming and moved to town. I grew up in the places mentioned in the film and personally have experienced the changes described in the film. There are deer, turkeys, bobcats, ravens and even bears now in Ohio. It was not that way not so long ago. If there is one over arching concept that expresses what it takes to restore a forest, it is stated in the film: NEGLECT> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWEHOq_RD6s

kenji

Chrissy Hynde is gonna have to rewrite her song about her town (Akron) in O-HI-O … https://youtu.be/IcQL2824DPc

John F. Hultquist

Her band mates had plenty of issues.
I think that (partly) kept her from greater success.

kenji

Yeah … bandmate DEATH poses quite a hurdle … quite an issue

John F. Hultquist

I’m from western Pennsylvania.
Read about “The Big Cut.” Grand parents were involved.
http://explorepahistory.com/story.php?storyId=1-9-E&chapter=1

rd50

Thank you for the film.
A picture is worth a thousand statistical numbers! Better than a thousand words.
Great film, great pictures. Life as it was and now is.

Steve O

“The availability of alternative fuels to wood” makes the world greener.” Natural Gas, nuclear plants and oil make living standards rise all across planet earth… even for plants!

TonyL

The paper seems totally reasonable. They are simply making the argument that wealthy societies can afford to be good stewards of their environments. The converse is also true, poor societies do not do so well in this regard, and can even suffer severe environmental degradation.
This simple fact has been well recognized around WUWT since forever.
The authors take the concept one step further and try to quantify the effect using some international economic data. Again, this seems like a totally reasonable thing to do.
***********************************************************
A case study:
Haiti and the Dominican Republic –
Both countries occupy the island of Hispaniola and so have (or had) identical environments. Obviously, both will have identical CO2 enrichment effect.
The difference in environment between the two countries is stark and dramatic. It is just as obvious that the root cause of the differences is economic.

Alan Tomalty

yes but they totally ignore NASA satellite pictures which prove beyond a shadow of a doubt the massive greening in areas where there are little or no people. Only increased CO2 could explain this

Germinio

Alan – the do not ignore it but rather exclude it from their study. They state
“The vast and remote forests of Canada and Siberia do not appear on the forest transition map, notably because only small tracts of these sparsely populated and pristine forests were converted to non-forest uses in the first place.” Similarly grasslands are also excluded because they are not forests and this
study only considers forests.
There is nothing in this paper that contradicts the NASA study. They are looking at different things. You can have an increased “greening” along with deforestation if you replace the forests with crops for example. This
work just tries to make the point that is frequently made here that increased wealth brings improvements to the environment if only because people no long cut down trees for wood.

Rich Davis

I tend to agree that there is a reasonable case to be made that reforestation in wealthy countries is a fact. So it is less a factor of increased CO2 than of land use in those areas. Not that CO2 doesn’t accelerate the transformation when farmland is abandoned. New England is practically a continuous forest that was once open fields. The always rocky, hilly areas were abandoned for Ohio and then Iowa and then Kansas and Nebraska.
Maybe I’m being unfair in my assessment but even though there’s a kernel of truth or the narrow question may be answered correctly, the motivation for publicizing it doesn’t seem so honest. It seems to me that they are motivated by wanting to debunk the idea that CO2 could have any positive effects. CO2 must be an unmitigated problem. Somebody needed to cover for NASA’s embarrassing faux pas of admitting that there are benefits to higher CO2.
Ignoring grasslands and crop productivity just coincidentally allows them to make their case? Chad and Niger getting greener wrecks the argument, so restrict to forest and suddenly poor countries aren’t getting greener any more because new grassland doesn’t count. Sorry, too convenient.

TimTheToolMan

Geronimo writes

increased wealth brings improvements to the environment if only because people no long cut down trees for wood.

As opposed to outsourcing their wood from poorer countries? The paper doesn’t even include an analysis of global wood consumption vs reafforestation rates. That’d be a rather significant oversight, dont you think?
Furthermore, the whole thrust of the paper (IMO) rests on one reference from Mather and Needle

“As nations over time become wealthier and better organized, objectives and practices of land management change profoundly. Mather and Needle [17] mention the following five drivers of development…”

And that reference is just an idea, not a result per se. Specifically “Summary A theoretical basis for the forest transition (the change from contraction to expansion of national forest area) is suggested in terms of increasing agricultural adjustment to land quality.”
Whilst, I dont doubt regional net reafforestation is impacted by our forest management this paper is poor quality and doesn’t explore that apart from suggesting the contribution of land practices is responsible for recent greening.
From the paper

We falsified the hypothesis that forest resources of the World expand because forest ecosystems respond primarily to environmental changes.

No they didn’t. They point out that there are other factors. We all know that. They never explored their relative importance.
This is so typical in AGW land. Pick on one factor and call it the only important one. Usually its CO2, but not in this case. I guess it doesn’t fit the agenda.

MattS

“poor societies do not do so well in this regard, and can even suffer severe environmental degradation”
https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/carbon-dioxide-fertilization-greening-earth India Africa Asia Turkey, all greening yet these are, compared to us, poor.

Trevor

MattS : YES !! YOU ARE CORRECT !
.But…..MOSTLY DUE TO INDUSTRIALISATION in the WESTERN COUNTRIES
there has been EVER INCREASING Worldwide WEALTH CREATION.
This allows EVEN the poorer countries to become WEALTHIER than they had been in the past.
They also have MARKETS in the WEST to sell their goods ( INCLUDING MINERALS , TOURISM )
SO……………..the common factor here is WEALTH INCREASE.
With wealth you can AFFORD TO IMPROVE THE ENVIRONMENT even if only for the
aesthetics…………….but also the products : Coffee , Tea , Sugar , and so on .
Highly profitable crops on MUCH SMALLER AREAS , intensely farmed , providing
better yields ( due mainly to better crops and science ) and better lifestyles.
Also , the habitat provides for the animals as well.
Chernobyl is a case in point : Absence of people PLUS conducive WARMING + CO2 !
PLUS a little radioactivity to create an exclusion zone !
BUT THERE ARE STILL PEOPLE LIVING THERE AS WELL….UNHARMED IT SEEMS !!!!!
30 Years After Chernobyl, Nature Is Thriving – National Geographic
Video for Forests at Chernobyl , animals returning▶ 3:08
https://video.nationalgeographic.com/…/160418-chernobyl-exclusi…
Apr 18, 2016 – Uploaded by National Geographic
April 18, 2016 – Thirty years after the Chernobyl nuclear accident, people are … Click here to read more about …
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/animals-return-to-chernobyl/
.
So…….I don’t think that “WE” have to apologise about “OUR” industry and lifestyle !
“We” just have to REMOVE the Al Gore’s & David Suzuki’s of this world !
(It is a bit TOO LATE : Even David Attenborough HAS BEEN PERSUADED !!! DAMN !! )

Steve O

Even burning coal makes the world a better place to live for every human and every plant on the planet.

J Mac

Let me see if I understand their hypothesis clearly…..
It is not CO2 enrichment of the atmosphere fertilizing and accelerating plant growth.
It is UN Bull Shit fertilizing and accelerating plant growth.
Got it….. How many Billion$ of Other People$ Money did it take to come to that predictably perverse assertion?

Pop Piasa

I might say that this claim represents the ultimate mortal hubris, but the CO2 thing still edges it out in my scope. I can only dole out a -7.5 based on the level of arrogance.

This study is about forests.
But think about crops.
There is a reason why agricultural productivity is rising. We were all going to starve at one point. But now there is just surpluses of everything. While the forest nearby to the farmland keep getting greener.
I hope some day the people will wake up to what is really going on. But people believe what they believe and only a few a convinced by facts.

Pop Piasa

Bill, most folks never get out of their urban settings except on vacations to institutional parks or resort settings. They have no idea what it’s like to live where there are no other dwellings in sight because of croplands or forest. The biggest problem we face out here in Forgottonia is nature rapidly reclaiming untended land with non-indigenous invasives. Not only do my beans grow bigger and faster, so does the forest flora to engulf my trails and foster exponential insect population growth. I feel pretty helpless as an old guy just keeping up with foot and horse trails on my property.

Jeff

Yes for instance wheat has shown optimal growth at more than twice the current CO2 concentration –
“The optimal atmospheric CO2 concentration for the growth of winter wheat”
“an optimal CO2 concentration of 889.6, 909.4, and 894.2 ppm for aboveground, belowground, and total biomass, respectively, and 967.8 ppm for leaf photosynthesis.”
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26253981

zazove

But wait, how can minute changes to the concentration of a trace gas have any effect?

Pop Piasa

Simple- if that trace gas gets below .025%, most of the flora on this rock will perish, causing the largest mass extinction of life forms yet. We are helping to save the planet by freeing up CO2. Your smart-alec comment shows a lack of perspective on paleoclimate.

MarkW

Poor zazove, it actually believes that having no impact in one area proves that something can’t have an impact anywhere else.
Then again, zazove was always a follower, not a thinker.

nn

Whether less, or more, there is only a positive role for carbon dioxide in our biosphere.
Keep Earth Green as in viable (i.e. worthy).

Karl Baumgarten

The swamp affiliates at NASA need to be removed. They can’t see the CO2 for the trees.

Jeff

In effect CO2 is a plant fertiliser.
So a waste product is distributed to poor farmers for free and reused.
The greens should be loving it.

Peter Lewis Hannan

“I call BS on this paper, especially when NASA says this related to satellite (not political index) data:
From a quarter to half of Earth’s vegetated lands has shown significant greening over the last 35 years largely due to rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change on April 25.
This is just another attempt to demonize the benefits of increased carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere, and it’s a pretty lame attempt using political index data.”
I think that’s an overreaction: there is likely to be more than one cause. The wellbeing, with efficient agriculture and much less use of wood for energy, is based very largely on fossil fuels, so there’s a synergy here.

MattS

But this forest growth is in the last 30 years, long after the world transitioned to the modern way of living if it was going to transition. So the Sahel is greening, but they are still a largely agrarian society. The US is greening, and they are still a largely urban society. No change in society, plenty of change in greeness!

Julien

Interesting, and what kind of experts are they? Railroad engineers or some more astronomers parroting like climate scientists?

Julien

Actually checked and they’re just from Finland. We can safely ignore that one, they just probably went too much on the Koskenkorva.

Hereward

Regardless of what the report says (I haven’t read it), both are true: rising CO2 benefits plant growth, and affluent societies can afford to worry about conservation and reforestation. Of course, to become an affluent society, fossil fuels are essential, but for some reason affluence seems to make people forget this!

Bob boder

Agreed
There is clear evidence that greater CO2 concentrations help plant grow, but also where I live in Pennsylvania the reforesting of of William Penn’s Woods has much more to do with the suburbanization and wealth of the area as it does anything else, something I have noticed over my lifetime where open tracks of land that used to be used for agriculture become suburbanized and the lands starts filling in with trees. Its not just the flura its also the fauna, Bears, Foxes, Coyotes, Deer and Turkeys are now everywhere not so when I was young. Wealth, capitalism and cheap energy are the best thing for both man and environment.

Philip Schaeffer

Anthony Watts said:
“I call BS on this paper, especially when NASA says this related to satellite (not political index) data:
‘From a quarter to half of Earth’s vegetated lands has shown significant greening over the last 35 years largely due to rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change on April 25.’
This is just another attempt to demonize the benefits of increased carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere, and it’s a pretty lame attempt using political index data.”
Is greening of vegetated areas the same thing as forest growth? Are you really comparing like for like when making your determination that the results are in conflict?
Can you share some of the details with us, or is this as simple as you saying “well, one of these says more green due to CO2, and the other talks about forests which are green so therefore they conflict.”

Coeur de Lion

Poor countries must burn more wood. I mean the black underground sort.

David

And yet, and yet….
We in the UK are chopping down trees in North Carolina to turn into wood pellets to ship 3000 miles across the Atlantic to feed Drax power station in Yorkshire which was built on a coalmine….
Because its GREENER….!!

WXcycles

” … The researchers also call for greater global scale monitoring of vegetation surfaces, calling “a major priority area in world science.” … ”
—-
Catastrophical greeningness! Gimme more money!

Thomas Homer

Carbon Dioxide is the only singular throttle in the Carbon Cycle of Life. Open up the throttle by increasing the partial pressure of atmospheric CO2, and the Cycle of Life becomes more robust.

JS

They are aware of the impact greater CO2 has on plants, so they have been trying to spin that into a disaster story too. Lately I have been seeing these “scientists” spread a story that the increased plant growth due to CO2 will be a bad thing because it will lead to crops that have more sugar and less protein, which will make all vegetables become basically junk food with no nutrition.

Steve O

I’m pretty sure that forestation levels can have multiple factors. In an area such as the Australian outback where there is no farming or other industrial activity, the primary factor in greening is atmospheric CO2. Outside Toronto, land being cleared for housing expansion is the primary factor in net forestry loss.

Dr Deanster

Someone needs to repost that picture Willis put up, showing the leftist state of Uganda or some such stripped of trees and its capitalist, fossil fuel burning neighbor with lush green forest.

MarkW

Definition of an expert:
Someone who says what I’ve paid him to say.

MarkW

Greening involves a lot more than just forests.

Smart Rock

The researchers also call for greater global scale monitoring of vegetation surfaces, calling “a major priority area in world science.”

I thought that’s what NASA was doing.
They are ignoring the trend of cutting down forests to feed thermal power generation. It’s too recent to fit in their scheme and doesn’t agree with their conclusions anyway.
They are also ignoring the amount of forest cut down to make access roads and sites for wind turbines. Photos I’ve seen of Germany suggest a 10 to 15 percent forest loss in the ever-expanding wind farms.

So, let me get this straight: CO2 is NOT the cause of the greening of the Earth, but the improvement of human well-being, as a result of technology that uses fossil fuel to produce MORE CO2, … is.
How do you, then, separate one cause from the other, if increased CO2 is intimately connected with improvement of human well-being via technology that produces CO2 ?
In the end, it is still the use of fossil-fuel technology that has caused the greening.
Oops !

dodgy geezer

So if greening is ‘good’, it can’t be caused by ‘evil’ CO2? But unfortunately it is…
Perhaps we will soon be treated to a dire warning by the world’s gardeners that the wild forests are starting to grow into our cities, and that mankind faces green ruin? Which we can avoid by paying more taxes …

John Hardy

Read the first few lines. Correlation is not causation

joelobryan

Well we did cut down most of the NE forests and Great Lake region forests for fireword and shipbuilding in the 18th-19th Century. It was the discovery of abundant oil and coal that has allowed them to grow back,
So by Development Index, they really mean “When was Fossil Fuel Use Started.”
Stop uses fossil fuel without developing an adequate reliable long-term replacement like nuclear and those forests will get cut down again as mankind reverses development and descends back towards a harsh, brutish existence of firewood stoves and charcoal cooking.

Eric Gisin

The map probably matches one showing the availability of coal.

AGW is not Science

“The study, entitled “Forest resources of nations in relation to human well-being,” notes that Europe’s early turnaround and expansion of forest resources obviously can’t be attributed to the rapid rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide that began decades later.”
And yet, they somehow attribute warming to CO2 level changes that started HUNDREDS OF YEARS AFTER the temperature started increasing, despite NO acceleration in the rate of warming (once CO2 levels started to rise), and despite NO continued warming (at a lower rate – representing the [cough – non-existent] supposed “contribution” of CO2 to the warming) after whatever was (excuse me) REALLY causing the warming stopped.
AND second of all, BS on the notion that “Weather observations confirm indisputably that global temperatures are rising together with atmospheric CO2 levels” when temperatures have gone UP, DOWN, and REMAINED UNCHANGED during a period of steadily RISING CO2 levels.
Selective blindness, willful ignorance, unsupported assumptions and hypotheses, circular logic, confirmation bias, exaggerations, concealment, opaqueness, outright deception – the very essence of “Climate Science.”