NYT: Global Greening, Faster Plant Growth, is Bad

Reproduced with permission, copyright Dr. Craig D. Idso.

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t Howard “Cork” Hayden – According to New York Times all the commercial greenhouse growers who artificially elevate CO2 in greenhouses to more than double natural atmospheric levels are making a terrible mistake, because increased CO2 does not produce better crop yields.

‘Global Greening’ Sounds Good. In the Long Run, It’s Terrible.

Rising carbon dioxide levels are making the world greener. But that’s nothing to celebrate.

By Carl Zimmer
July 30, 2018
“Global greening” sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

Plants need carbon dioxide to grow, and we are now emitting 40 billion tons of it into the atmosphere each year. A number of small studies have suggested that humans actually are contributing to an increase in photosynthesis across the globe.

Elliott Campbell, an environmental scientist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his colleagues last year published a study that put a number to it. Their conclusion: plants are now converting 31 percent more carbon dioxide into organic matter than they were before the Industrial Revolution.

While photosynthesis does pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, much of that gas goes right back into the air. The reason: At night, the chemical reactions in plants essentially run backward. In a process known as respiration, plants pump out carbon dioxide instead of pulling it in.

“Part of the story is that photosynthesis is going up, and part of the story is that so is respiration,” said Dr. Campbell.

While the increase in photosynthesis is greater than that of respiration, the ultimate benefit to crops has been small — and it doesn’t explain our modern agricultural revolution.

“The driving factor has to be the fertilizers, the seed varieties, the irrigation,” Dr. Campbell said.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/30/science/climate-change-plants-global-greening.html

That “small” benefit is lucrative enough that commercial greenhouses burn tons of natural gas every year, discard the heat, and feed their crops with the CO2 produced by burning the gas, using devices like the Johnson CO2 generator.

Even the Canadian Government advises CO2 be elevated to 800-1000ppm in greenhouses, to increase photosynthesis by up to 50%.

To be fair to Dr. Campbell current atmospheric levels of around 400ppm are far lower than what the Canadian government advises for improved crop yields. So perhaps the natural effect is currently too small, we need to push a lot more CO2 into the atmosphere to realise the full benefits.

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July 31, 2018 4:10 pm

Go ask a commercial tomato grower who spends big money on liquid CO2 if the increased yield and production is worth the investment.
Who is this inside Christmas tree grower?

Mitchell Brown
Reply to  Sid Abma
August 3, 2018 3:46 pm

You better believe it does, we have 3 greenhouses.

July 31, 2018 4:14 pm

It is estimated that the CO2 Fertilisation Effect has added biomass equivalent to five billion giant redwood trees over the last forty years. What’s not to like..?

We could do with a lot more CO2 out there.

Louis Hooffstetter
Reply to  Dreadnought
July 31, 2018 8:57 pm

Trees absorb 1.65 to 1.80 lbs of CO2 for every 1 lb of dry wood produced (depending on species).

Hoyt Clagwell
Reply to  Louis Hooffstetter
July 31, 2018 9:16 pm

I don’t normally like to get pedantic Lous, but ‘Factoid’ is correctly defined by the person who coined the word as “something that is widely believed to be true, but is in fact, not true. Derived from ‘fact’ (truth) and ‘oid’ (simulation). This word was popularized by CNNs incorrect usage of the word so frequently that the definition of the word itself (that it refers to a small nugget of truth) has become a factoid.

Louis Hooffstetter
Reply to  Hoyt Clagwell
August 1, 2018 6:56 am

Then change factoid to Fact!
This is definitely true.

Reply to  Louis Hooffstetter
August 7, 2018 10:33 am

Well, it may be true, but it’s meaningless without a reference to the TIME PERIOD over which this happens. Per day? Per year? Over their entire lifetimes? If the latter, it’s not really impressive at all.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Hoyt Clagwell
August 2, 2018 10:05 am

I like the alternative, “factlet”. Little, but relevant facts.

Reply to  Louis Hooffstetter
August 1, 2018 4:28 am

Factoid: its a trace gas, how can 4 molecules in 10,000 do what 3 couldn’t? Hogwash.

Reply to  RyanS
August 1, 2018 6:50 am

Being small does not prevent something from having an impact. A few grams of arsenic can kill a grown man.

Tom Schaefer
Reply to  MarkW
August 1, 2018 7:01 am

Because it is what in chemistry they call the “limiting reagent” in most cases.

Reply to  MarkW
August 1, 2018 8:43 am

Using arsenic as an example is horribly out of context, particularly using 400 ppm as a baseline. A lethal dose of arsenic is between 70 – 200 mg/kg of body mass. Extrapolated for an 80 kg human, the range is 5.6 – 200 grams to be lethal. However, keeping the 400 ppm reference, these amounts have to be diluted across a volume of water 14 liters – 40 liters.
With water intoxication occurring at 90ml/kg, the same 80 kg human is likely to die of water intoxication at just over 7 liters. There is no way the same person would be concerned with the arsenic levels since it is the water which would kill the person first.
Are a few grams of arsenic deadly? Yes.
Can it be deadly at 400 ppm? Yes, but the volume of water/liquid to get to 400 ppm is even deadlier.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  RHS
August 1, 2018 9:11 am

You are missing the point that just because something is present in small quantities doesn’t mean it can’t have a significant effect. The argument that small quantities of anything can be ignored is not valid. Attacking the example does not disprove the assertion. Perhaps a better example might be a nerve gas.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 1, 2018 12:54 pm

I think my point is missed, anything can be deadly, it just has to be in the correct proportions. However, in those proportions, there can be other considerations/variables which are more important and easily overlooked. It is easy to say CO2 is harmful and even deadly, but it easy to overlook and discount the likelihood the conditions would have to exist to make it a problem on a global scale, particularly how minor it’s importance really is.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 1, 2018 2:03 pm

You are missing the point that just because something is present in small quantities does not mean it can’t have a significant effect. The argument that small quantities of anything can be ignored is not valid. Attacking the example does not disprove the assertion. Perhaps a better example might be a nerve gas.

Just because one small quantity has a significant effect does NOT mean that ALL small quantities have significant effects.

Considering the context, considering the mechanisms of action, and acknowledging this context and this mechanism of action, I do not think it is improper to assert that a small quantity of CO2 cannot have a significant effect.

CO2 is NOT arsenic. CO2 is NOT a nerve gas. By introducing these comparisons, you are strongly implying these similes: Carbon dioxide is like arsenic and Carbon dioxide is like a nerve gas, both of which are absurd similes. The mechanism of poison in the human body or the mechanism of a nerve gas in the human body is completely different than the mechanism of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere.

Via the above objections, you also are strongly implying the simile, Earth is like the human body, hence CO2 is like poison to the human body. Is this really the argument that we should use to counter claims about the small quantity of CO2?

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
August 1, 2018 6:50 pm

Beside the fact CO2 forcing is logarithmic and peaks well below present levels?

Reply to  RHS
August 1, 2018 6:48 pm

He’s a goof. An infantile goof.

David A
Reply to  RHS
August 2, 2018 7:48 am

Going from 280 to 400 plus PPM has caused every crop on the planet to produce 10 to 20 percent more food -bio mass! And all this with zero increase in land or water!!!

Crop production technology HAS produced a larger increase then the CO2, yet the two are orthogonal. Sans the CO2 we would very possibly be in global war. Almost certainly true if we suddenly dropped to 280 ppm CO2.

Reply to  MarkW
August 1, 2018 1:18 pm

You’re using a chemical reaction to “discredit” a physical attribute…

Reply to  MarkW
August 1, 2018 6:46 pm

And the adage “It’s the dose that kills” is true.

Can’t do abstraction, huh? Well, when you’re finished with elementary school…

Andre Den Tandt
Reply to  RyanS
August 1, 2018 1:55 pm

Think of leaves as fishing-nets collecting the 4-in-10,000 molecules required to make wood.

Reply to  RyanS
August 1, 2018 3:03 pm

I just don’t buy this global greening bs. How can a 0.01% increase of a colorless, odorless gas cause anything. More IPCC magic thinking.

Reply to  RyanS
August 1, 2018 5:34 pm

Perhaps you left off the /sarc tag….

If not, consider the reaction of a human, who is bordering on scurvy, to a small glass of orange juice once or twice a week. Or perhaps, more commonly, to a small improvement in a selenium or other trace mineral deficiency.

Global CO2 is above plant starvation level, but nowhere near optimum.

Reply to  RyanS
August 2, 2018 10:15 am

Where to begin…

At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, atmospheric CO2 was around 285 ppm. Now it’s around 400 ppm, Ryan. That’s a 40% increase, which plants readily utilize.

It’s also critical to recognize that plants can’t utilize CO2 until the level reaches ~185 ppm. So the increase in effective CO2 as far as plants are concerned is actually 215%.

The math is: (400 – 185)/(285 – 185) = 2.15 (or 215%)

Sweet Old Bob
July 31, 2018 4:15 pm

The NYT frequently gets things bass ackwards ….

Rhoda R
Reply to  Sweet Old Bob
July 31, 2018 4:27 pm

Gotta believe the NYT – they have fact checkers and experts ‘n stuff like that.

Reply to  Rhoda R
July 31, 2018 5:34 pm

Not only that, they are printed on dead trees that eventually release CO2 into the atmosphere.

Tom Schaefer
Reply to  shrnfr
August 1, 2018 7:04 am

Or are sequestered for millennia in land fills (to some extent).

Reply to  shrnfr
August 1, 2018 8:19 am

Big press = big hypocrites. Huge tree killers and shameful child labor beneficiaries.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Rhoda R
July 31, 2018 5:49 pm

Maybe when this global warming hoax comes to an end they will be able to get some “climate scientists” dirt cheap working for minimum wage.

Reply to  Rhoda R
August 1, 2018 6:51 pm

NYFunny Farm

July 31, 2018 4:32 pm

“and it doesn’t explain our modern agricultural revolution.

“The driving factor has to be the fertilizers, the seed varieties, the irrigation,” Dr. Campbell said.”

Strawman- no one has ever argued that CO2 is responsible for what fertilisers, seed varieties and irrigation are known to have achieved. It’s simply added to it.

Reply to  Scute
July 31, 2018 5:16 pm

But the part added is very very bad.

Sam C Cogar
Reply to  Scute
August 1, 2018 4:05 am

But, but, but …… the fertilizers, the seed varieties, the irrigation ….. won’t be worth a hoot just as soon as the atmospheric CO2 ppm decreases below 350 ppm.

And that will happen just as soon as the global average near-surface temperatures start decreasing to what they were during the LIA.

Pillage Idiot
Reply to  Scute
August 1, 2018 8:50 am

There is solid evidence for the greening of the Sahel.

Dr. Campbell apparently believes that CO2 is not responsible for this significant increase in plant growth. It must be aliens running around at night and fertilizing this entire region.

Reply to  Scute
August 1, 2018 2:18 pm

Two words: “limiting factors”.

Now that fertilizers, seed varieties and irrigation have overcome major limiting factors, as far as the required foundation for plant growth goes, only now can the effects of MORE CO2 finally be realized.

Also, if you know your C3 and C4 plants, you will understand that the limiting factors imposed by these particular pathways of plant metabolism will dictate which plants will benefit most by more and more CO2 and which plants will plateau at an optimum quantity, beyond which no further benefits can be achieved.

But noooooooooo, … alarmists will conflate outcomes with C3 and C4 plants, confuse poor yields caused by other limiting factors with eeeeeeeeevil effects of more CO2, choose areas with poor irrigation to set up otherwise perfectly controlled experiments (Oops!, we totally forgot about that water thing), or maybe, if they are desperate, try to grow corn in the shade, pump in lots of CO2, and say poor yield is because of too much CO2 instead of too little sunlight.

July 31, 2018 4:37 pm

I live in Colorado and have been employed often to provide HVAC design services for our growing marijuana businesses. They pump CO2 into the greenhouses to improve production. Ya think the greenies in California are in favor of growing weed sans CO2?

Reply to  Eric Worrall
July 31, 2018 6:08 pm

Your referenced article points out that grow-lights use a lot of energy. So much so, that’s how they catch pot growers (in states where it’s still illegal) is the spike in energy consumption needed for their grow-lights.

Paul S
Reply to  Red94ViperRT10
July 31, 2018 6:14 pm

Good point, The lighting load is incredible, that’s why they hire me to cool down the space. (Cooling down the space also consumes power). Of course, the power to produce that electricity is made by wind turbines and photovoltaics, yeah right.

Reply to  Paul S
August 1, 2018 5:49 am

Paul S :
Yep ! Especially at night !

R. Shearer
Reply to  Red94ViperRT10
July 31, 2018 7:01 pm

On the other hand, LED lighting technology is quickly improving both in terms of efficiency and output spectrum, among other advantages.

Some people might be tempted to drive solar panels off them.

Reply to  Red94ViperRT10
August 1, 2018 7:54 am

CFL & Led lights are rapidly replacing Metal Halide and High Power Sodium lights for Cannabis growers. They produce much less heat (another method of targeting indoor grows is Infra red sensors on helicopters), and use a lot less power for the same PAR.
Or so I have read ..

Reply to  Paul
July 31, 2018 5:19 pm

Maybe. After all they ban plastic straws but hand out plastic needles to everyone.

Michael Lemaire
Reply to  Paul
July 31, 2018 6:21 pm

If the CO2 is organic, it’s ok

John Bell
Reply to  Paul
July 31, 2018 6:39 pm

I can make a million bucks if i build a machine to concentrate C02 out of the atmosphere without fuels and i will sell them to greenhouses.

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  John Bell
July 31, 2018 8:35 pm

Its called quicklime. Mix it with water and it will absorb CO2 from the air. Heat it, it will release CO2 and regenerate the quicklime.

Reply to  Walter Sobchak
July 31, 2018 10:48 pm

For the curious, quicklime can be made by firing limestone in a kiln. IIRC, medieval brickmakers used it in mortar, and leather tanners used it to score hair off of hides.

Reply to  Paul
August 1, 2018 12:46 am

Colorado is a strange place. My wife and I started our coach tour of the States there and walking around Denver saw men with placards asking for money for “food, shelter and marijuana” .
Yet when we went into a pizza place for dinner we were asked our ages, as if we two grey haired pensioners were teenagers on a first , illicit date?
So hustling for marijuana is OK , but you have to over 18 to buy a pizza? Weird , but then the world would be a boring place if we were all the same.

Rod Everson
Reply to  Paul
August 1, 2018 8:33 am

This is probably a stupid question, but if greenhouses are actually burning natural gas to create CO2 and power companies are considering separating CO2 from their emissions streams and then sequestering that recovered CO2 in underground chambers, why don’t the two parties get together, pump the recovered CO2 into greenhouses and save the gas the greenhouses are presently burning?

Not enough greenhouses? Too expensive to pipe it? Too expensive to recover the CO2 (although that appears to be the plan)? What?

Not that I agree that it makes sense to sequester CO2, but if someone is already doing it, or is going to do it…

July 31, 2018 4:40 pm

This guy really sounds like an idiot. I thought he was going to bring up the fact that in California, greening is going to produce more wildfires. Maybe he did (but I didn’t read the whole article linked)…
As far as these wildfires, why can’t CA get it’s act together and smother these fires when they are small/first start? Is there a delay in reporting fires? Don’t they have fire towers like they do in Pennsylvania? And in CA don’t they have large planes to dump fire retardant on small fires, or do they just wait until they are large fires?? I can’t remember when PA had it’s last large wildfire/forest fire…(PA does have some droughts too sometimes).

Reply to  J Philip Peterson
July 31, 2018 6:42 pm

California gets almost no rain from May through September. It is and always has been bone dry this time of year. Some of these fires start in remote areas and within minutes can be out of control.
These are man caused fires at lower elevations. Fires started higher up by lightning are rarely a huge problem because of lower day temps and damp cool nights.
I was living in the Bay Area during the Oakland fire in 91. It was reported when it started but the unusually hot October weather and high winds made it impossible to contain that day.

Reply to  Grant
August 1, 2018 1:50 am

This is technically known as a “mediterranean climate”. All areas with such a climate are, not surprisingly, very fire-prone (California, central Chile, the Mediterranean, southwestern South Africa, South and Southwest Australia)

Reply to  tty
August 1, 2018 1:51 am

PS. They are also very good wine-growing areas.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Grant
August 1, 2018 9:19 am

It is my experience, after living most of my adult life in the Santa Clara Valley, that one can expect one or two rain storms in mid to late-October, but the second season doesn’t really start until November.

Reply to  J Philip Peterson
July 31, 2018 6:52 pm

California had a series of air bases up and down the state. Time from a call to aircraft in the air is 7 minutes and every part of the state is assessable within 20.
There was a fire one day across from my shop in Sonora. Within just a couple minutes the flames were towering over the trees and racing up the hill. The airborne tanker beat the local fire department to the scene, dump a load of retardant which gave the trucks the edge they needed to stop the fire. This happens every day throughout the state preventing catastrophe. It’s the few that get away that you hear about.

Reply to  J Philip Peterson
July 31, 2018 7:48 pm

Aggressively fighting every single fire was the mistake that got us into this mess.

Reply to  MarkW
July 31, 2018 10:58 pm

Small fire now, small fire later. No fire now, BIG fire later.

Reply to  J Philip Peterson
August 1, 2018 12:21 am

Clearly never seen a fire blow up. A fire can go from a spark to multiples acres involved in minutes. I saw 20 acres involved in five minutes once. It is very, very hot and very dry in a California summer except along the coast it self. Even few miles inland and that changes. Pennsylvania has an Atlantic climate. You guys grow trees like Claifornia grows weeds. Its hot, nasty and humid on the east coast. The saying “its dry heat” is no joke. The worst fire problem though is the history of fire suppression and development. Fire suppression increases fuel loads and developers build expensive houses that are sooner or later going to be burned (Redding, some of the Coast Ranges towns, sooner or later the environs of the major Sierra towns like Sonora and Placerville are looking at unhappy times).

Paul S
Reply to  J Philip Peterson
August 1, 2018 7:57 am

The forest back east are mostly deciduous, where as the forests in the west are coniferous. A pine tree is barrel of sap soaked in kerosene waiting for a match. Have you ever burned a Christmas tree in the fireplace?

Brian S
July 31, 2018 4:58 pm

We should stop using the term ‘coal-fired power stations’ and rather call them ‘coal recycling plants’. Then perhaps Joe (and Josephine) Public will twig that all of the carbon in coal measures came from CO2 in the atmosphere and Earth can never be as green as it once was without the higher CO2 levels that nourished the vegetation that produced the coal measures. RECYCLE COAL – OXIDISE IT!

R. Shearer
Reply to  Brian S
July 31, 2018 7:07 pm

Nice! Maybe energy source should be pro choice and reflect diversity also.

Coal is black power.

July 31, 2018 5:04 pm

I dont know where this idiot Dr Campbell had earned his degree but one has to ask:

If what comes in during day,goes out during the night, how come cellulose accumulate in these plants?

Bill Murphy
Reply to  ChrisB
July 31, 2018 6:49 pm

Apparently they don’t teach the carbon cycle any more, even at the PhD level. After all, just think how many greenies would freak out if they knew that some of the carbon in their bodies and in the granola they ate for lunch was once emitted by a coal fired power plant as CO2. They’d run out of space in the safe spaces.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  ChrisB
July 31, 2018 10:23 pm

Depending on species and environmental conditions, it consumes 25-75% of all the carbohydrates produced in photosynthesis

Reply to  ChrisB
August 1, 2018 5:10 am

It says, ambiguously, in the article that ‘much of’, but not all of the CO2 is returned to the atmosphere by respiration. Obviously, the portion of CO2 not returned by respiration becomes part of the growing biomass.

Reply to  ChrisB
August 1, 2018 9:02 pm

Elliot Campbell (no credential given) first states “plants are now converting 31 percent more carbon dioxide into organic matter than they were before the Industrial Revolution” and then goes on to state “the ultimate benefit to crops has been small”.
Statistically speaking, 31% more is not small.

July 31, 2018 5:15 pm

So in the same day CO2 is greening the world, which is bad, and not greening the world, which is bad https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/07/31/pushing-the-great-american-desert-eastward-reality-or-hype/. Now I get it.

Reply to  Thom
July 31, 2018 6:10 pm

Yeah, I read about that study, too. It was models all the way down.

Reply to  Red94ViperRT10
August 1, 2018 12:15 pm

So obviously the undeniable truth – even without knowing assumptions that the models – all of them – ah . . . ‘benefitted’ from.

Mods – /SARC.
[Just in case!]


July 31, 2018 5:19 pm

So in a nut shell… High levels of greenhouse gases are great in actual greenhouses, but warmists claim the rest of the world isn’t worthy to have those higher levels.

honest liberty
July 31, 2018 5:28 pm

I’ve been seeing this type of propaganda filth for a few years now and I’m getting more and more disgusted.
At some point, one would hope that even those most entrenched in the dogma will awaken to the reality this is the new eugenics. Nick claims to be a scientist but how many of these fraudulent articles and studies have to be disproven before the faithful shake themselves out of the trance?

It is simple. Maurice strong was a dark occultist (you can read his words and dissect his intentions; it equals pure satanism), and many like him are outside of the average populations purview. The choice of Carbon was not accidental. 6 protons 6 neutrons 6 electrons. this is symbolic, as they are attacking man directly, while claiming mankind itself is the beast responsible. From the moment a child is born it begins exhaling CO2, which based on weight and height is measurable, calculable, and thence can be added until the child is of working age.
This is the plan folks. Energy as currency.
All of this stuff ties in together as one ultimate, cashless system of complete surveillance with no individual rights.

July 31, 2018 5:33 pm

While it is true photosynthesis does reverse to respiration at night a great deal of the carbon taking in during the day has gone into plant growth. Carbon dioxide taken in certainly does equal carbon dioxide respired.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Edwin
July 31, 2018 6:00 pm

certainly does NOT equal

Reply to  Rich Davis
July 31, 2018 11:11 pm

Which is why they use the term ‘much of’ instead of the actual data, or even an estimated figure, like they do for the rest of the article.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Rich Davis
August 1, 2018 3:06 am

Oh I realize what you meant, Edwin. Mass balance. Carbon in equals carbon out plus carbon accumulated. So I retract my “correction” with my apologies.

Reply to  Edwin
August 1, 2018 12:37 am

A tree grows by fixing CO2 and water, converting them to carbohydrates (cellulose). The other”nutrients” needed are some trace elements (the ash left when wood is burned) and nitrogen which is usually fixed in the soil and taken up through the roots. CO2 taken in cannot possibly “equal” CO2 respired or the tree would not grow, no plant would. And, read up on the effects of CO2 levels on “dark respiration.” At least some available studies conclude that increased CO2 results in lower CO2 output at night. The regions where CO2 output through respiration are highest are in tropical rainforest regions where there is high competition for CO2 by plants. Look up Ehleringer, Cerling, and Dearing, eds. (2005) A History of Atmospheric CO2 and Its Effects on Plants, Animals, and Ecosystems, Springer.

steve case
July 31, 2018 5:34 pm

While the increase in photosynthesis is greater than that of respiration, the ultimate benefit to crops has been small — and it doesn’t explain our modern agricultural revolution.


Louis Hooffstetter
Reply to  steve case
July 31, 2018 9:05 pm

Nailed it!

John Bell
July 31, 2018 5:43 pm

When growing “herb” in the basement in the winter i direct the gas water heater to discharge there, boost C02 a bit, do not know how much but it could not hurt.

Reply to  John Bell
July 31, 2018 6:14 pm

Gotta be careful… if your water heater is the least bit off on the combustion efficiency, you are also producing carbon monoxide, and in your basement that can easily get into the living area of your house, and you don’t wake up in the morning. Install a CO monitor, I’ll feel better about you. And I won’t even ask what kind of “herb” you’re growing in the basement in the winter. 😉 None of my business.

R. Shearer
Reply to  Red94ViperRT10
July 31, 2018 7:10 pm

Yes, install a CO monitor, it could save your life. It would be better to brew some beer and vent the fermentation off gases to your “herb.”

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  R. Shearer
July 31, 2018 10:35 pm

Correct, and both produce heat that is the likely cause of the benefit.

There is this odd story from near Seattle: Bizarre death caused by dry ice

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Red94ViperRT10
August 1, 2018 9:26 am

However, an observation: There may be a correlation between the ‘herb’ growing and the stupidity of venting one’s water heater exhaust into the living space of the house.

July 31, 2018 6:12 pm

It seems to me that extra CO2 might have been part of what kept dinosaurs from eating the planet bare.

Reply to  TinyCO2
August 1, 2018 1:18 am

Did decreasing levels of CO2 (and therefore vegetation) kill the dinosaurs? Those big vegetarian dinosaurs needed a lot of greens…

Reply to  Dsystem
August 1, 2018 1:54 am

Uh, no. Ever hear of Chicxulub?

July 31, 2018 6:16 pm

As the old saying goes, SHIRELY..you JEST! The original paper in 2016, on the 17% increase in “green” on the LAND MASSES, based on Landsat data attributed 85% of it to the increase in CO2. The reason: NOT ALL THE AREAS WITH MORE GREEN ARE CROP LAND…hardly! I guess my problem in life, is being an ENGINEER, being PRECISE, reading with PRECISION and NOT FORGETTING what I read is that I just NEVER seem to read anything the the NYT, which has any truth or validity to it based on my “frame of reference”…which, of course, is entirely controled by politics, RIGHT? NO..it’s determined by 40 years of design work and doing things WORTHWHILE for humanity. The NYT? “Never Yet Truth”, by an old Supreme Court Definition, they are “legal pornography”. Why, “They have no redeeming social value..”

Alan Tomalty
July 31, 2018 6:22 pm

The stupid thing is that even if we dug up all the fossil fuels on this planet and burned it all we could never get the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere to actual greenhouse levels. However

has demonstrated; all we need is the correct fertilization and with high CO2 levels the plants will grow healthier and quicker with the right amount of nutrients.

July 31, 2018 7:07 pm

The science is clearer than he thinks – https://principia-scientific.org/scientists-prove-300-ppm-increase-in-co2-enhances-soybean-biomass-by-46/

That’s right 46% yield increase for soybeans for a 300 ppm increase in atmospheric CO2

C3 plants and CO2 – they thrive in higher concentrations

Taylor Pohlman
July 31, 2018 7:17 pm

If you want to have fun with folks who claim that CO2 is a “pollutant”, ask them then what the OSHA limit is for workers in CO2-intensive environments (e.g. greenhouses). To quote CO2Alarm.com: “The OSHA CAS No. 124-38-9 requirement says that the average CO2 level a worker can be exposed to over an 8-hour day can be no more than 5,000ppm, and that the short term exposure limit (STEL) can be no more than 30,000ppm (3%). ”

Needless to say, constant exposures should be lower, but the point is that we will never be at a toxic level of CO2, i.e. NOT a pollutant.

Ron Abate
Reply to  Taylor Pohlman
July 31, 2018 7:55 pm

You forgot to mention sailors in a nuclear sub who live in an environment of, if I remember correctly, 4,000 ppm for months at a time.

Peta of Newark
July 31, 2018 7:35 pm

It is within this story, a real and genuine hazard of increasing CO2.
And it is very real as it is a positive feedback.

3 parts forming the basis:
1) Golden rice.
Where did people of yore who subsisted on rice get their Vitamin A from?
Why the contemporary and urgent need for fortified rice?
Did they get their Vitamin A from old varieties of rice and if so, why not now

2) Plenty folks out there, especially not least advocates of organic farming will rave about ‘Nutrient Content’ and, back to Vit A, will assert that a modern farmed orange contains less than 20% of the Vit. A that an orange did 60 years ago. Surely that’s easily verifiable.

3) A lot of folks says that increasing CO2 increases the starch proportion of classically starchy foods. In a way, that makes perfect sense for the plant, for whose benefit those grains/seeds are for. Seeds and grains are for plants. Not us.
Giving your ‘baby’ a generous supply of food is surely a sensible thing to do for *any* living species.

But when we eat that CO2 enriched food, we are depriving ourselves of nutrient, especially saturated fat. It is what our mother’s milk is made of, what our brains are made of, what our hearts use directly as fuel and what the rest of our anatomy prefers to burn in the shape of ketones, rather than glucose.
Also the basis of cholesterol, without which we would all just be puddles of water on the floor.

Back to the brain part of it, does nutrient free food produce ‘nutrient free people’
(Alcohol certainly does by example)
As your mother told you, “You are what you eat”
Hence why white males are finishing/leaving UK schools without *any* qualifications what-so-ever?
And they carry that as a Badge of Honour – they are actually proud of being thick.
They regard it as ‘normal’ or ‘good’ even.

And so we have here, how did Carl Zimmer get to be in the position he is while being soooooo vacuous. So devoid of original thinking. Seemingly devoid of *any* thinking. So nutrient free and so easily panicked/paranoid.

Was it something he ate?
Now you see the positive feedback………..

Check out Good Queen Bess the 2nd.
95 years old is she. See her in pictures with Mr Trump just recently. Very good nick considering her age.
In the same way Mr Trump avoids alcohol, Her Majesty will not touch starchy food like pasta, bread and potatoes. Such stuff is banned. Much to the disappointment of the lovely Meghan who adores what even she calls ‘sexy mush’
What is maintaining Elizabeth II in her seemingly good health?
Would you say that she is ‘nutrient free’?

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 31, 2018 8:40 pm

Genetics. her mother drank like a fish and smoked like a chimney and lived to be 102.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 31, 2018 9:22 pm


has demonstrated; all we need is the correct fertilization and with high CO2 levels the plants will grow healthier and quicker with the right amount of nutrients.

Reply to  Peta of Newark
August 1, 2018 6:16 am

Peta of Newark : YOU ASK :
“how did Carl Zimmer get to be in the position he is………”
PERHAPS………………HE WAS “FRAMED” !???????
And the good Dr Elliott Campbell………well…….he doesn’t have to make sense !
He HAS AN AGENDA and he comes from a University in CALIFORNIA…
….so , don’t expect anything too much from there either !
After all Dr Suess has the title Dr. and he tends to make things up
( e.g. Thing 1 and Thing 2 ) as he goes along ! BUT it’s a lot of fun !

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Peta of Newark
August 1, 2018 9:33 am

Back in the ’70s, there was concern expressed in the ‘environmental’ community that fertilizers were reducing nutrients in cultivars. However, I haven’t seen much about it lately, other than related to CO2. Scurvy and such things don’t really rise to the level of concern, despite past warning.

July 31, 2018 8:39 pm

About 40 years ago an ASU professor conducted an experiment in Arizona with orange trees in two greenhouses one was a control and the other he had increased the CO2 level to 3X of what he had in the control, ~1000 ppm of CO2. All other conditions, water fertilizer and temperature were left the same; the results of that study were astounding. The growth rate and fruit production that the trees in the greenhouse with the higher CO2 was astounding, it was almost double what the control was able to produce. It you look at the production per acre that farmers have experience with the higher CO2 levels is close to matching those results. With the higher CO2 crops are producing more and are more tolerant to drought.

July 31, 2018 9:20 pm

Today’s story:
“Part of the story is that photosynthesis is going up, and part of the story is that so is respiration,” said Dr. Campbell.

Yesterday’s story:
The study shows that, during extended period of slower warming, worldwide forests ‘breathe in’ carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, but reduced the rate at which they ‘breathe out’ — or release the gas back to the atmosphere.
(and see my comment translating the study findings from poetry into plain English)

Alan Tomalty
July 31, 2018 9:27 pm

FROM THE NASA IS JUNK SCIENCE department take note of this


The following is part of the scope of the program on NASA wanting to study the earth’s global water system. Of course NASA has to make things complicated and combine energy with it. So they called it NEWS (NASA Energy and Water Cycle Study. It started in 2003 and they havent had much success trying to prove that there is any more water vapour in the atmosphere or that the water cycle is changing. BUT they keep trying. Of course all you skeptics realize where this is going. If they can find changes in the water cycle; of course they will tie this back to Mr. CO2. Mr CO2 has had many close calls with the IPCC police but NASA WANTS TO LOCK HIM UP FOR GOOD. So have a look at one of their latest requests for solicitation of proposal which closes in September 2018.

“Appendix A-22 NASA Energy and Water Cycle Study”

“Description of Solicited Research”

“1) “To answer a long standing motivational question to the NEWS community, “Is the Water
Cycle Accelerating?”
2) we must be able to elaborate on and respond to the related
questions of “How and Why is the Water Cycle changing?””


Here we go again. The IPCC did not do the null hypothesis on CO2 and now NASA are following in the now time honoured tradition of 97% of climate scientists by again throwing away even the possibility of a null hypothesis before the study commences. The proper scientific method is to do the null hypothesis on the statement “is the Water Cycle changing” and then if after experimentation you can logically throw away the Null hypothesis, then you can proceed to the how and the why in another study. After that you can then proceed to a further study on the 1st statement “Is the Water
Cycle Accelerating?”. I guess, to save time and money; NASA is just assuming it is changing because in their minds; who needs a null hypothesis anyway? It just throws roadblocks into the NASA scientific process.

Of course NASA has to do their own thing. They are in the last phase of of a 15 year study(it will be lengthened because they are running years behind) on the hydrological processes of the globe. There are 2 other organizations doing the same thing. The World Climate Research Program (WCRP) has as its core mandate (The Global Energy and Water Exchanges (GEWEX) project) to study the same thing, as well as the US Climate Change Science organization also has a program with respect to the hydrological system; NASA as always has to duplicate or triplicate things.

Funding for the The World Climate Research Program (WCRP)
1) World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

WMO is a specialized agency of the United Nations, which is dedicated to international cooperation and coordination on the state and behaviour of the Earth’s atmosphere, its interaction with the land and oceans, the weather and climate it produces, and the resulting distribution of water resources. WMO also hosts the WCRP Secretariat.

2) Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO)

IOC-UNESCO is the United Nations marine science organization. The purpose of the Commission is to promote international cooperation and to coordinate programmes in research, services and capacity-building, in order to learn more about the nature and resources of the ocean and coastal areas and to apply that knowledge for the improvement of management, sustainable development, the protection of the marine environment, and the decision-making processes of its Member States. Find out more on the IOC-UNESCO website.

3) The International Science Council (ISC)

ISC was created in 2018 as the result of a merger between the International Council for Science (ICSU) (previously a sponsor of WCRP) and the International Social Science Council (ISSC). It is the only international non-governmental organization bringing together the natural and social sciences and the largest global science organization of its type with a vision to advance science as a global public good. You can find out more on the ISC website.

4) Implementing Partners and Volunteer Contributors

WCRP funding is provided by its co-sponsors (see above), as well as from the voluntary contributions of certain countries. It enables the Programme to initiate, encourage and stimulate high-priority climate system research. Our effort is substantially supported by joint sponsorship, matching funds/support and collaborative implementation by key partners who share the scientific interests of the WCRP community.

Considering a financial contribution to WCRP in 2018?

In 2017 the countries that provided additional financial support were:
Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, United States of America

Reply to  Alan Tomalty
August 1, 2018 3:32 am

If you want to know whether the hydro cycle is changing, pop into kitchen and put the kettle on; say at low heat. When it boils it reaches 100C (at sea level) . If you turn up the heat it boils faster; but the temperature remains the same. Then do your homework, noting that the Rankine Cycle increases its rate without increasing the working fluid/ water for increase in heat input.
Thereafter all the science and data is available already to calculate any changes that occur. The research has already been done.
Can’t see why one needs expensive national and international bodies spending vast sums and time to sort that out.

July 31, 2018 10:12 pm


howard dewhirst
July 31, 2018 10:49 pm

The net effect of photosynthesis has to be to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere – as shown by the down trend at Mona Loa during the northern hemisphere growing season?

July 31, 2018 10:58 pm

The reason: At night, the chemical reactions in plants essentially run backward. In a process known as respiration, plants pump out carbon dioxide instead of pulling it in.

Let’s see, the percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere is about 21%. The percentage of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is about 0.04%. The action of photosynthesis is far out performing both animal and plant respiration. That also includes the CO2 output of volcanoes, fires, and decomposition. This is much ado about nothing.


August 1, 2018 12:30 am

NASA LAI Satellite shows the planet is ~25% greener since the ’80s. That is no small effect, that is huge. Since 1900 then it is arguable that man made CO2 has added 30% to crop yields, with the rest being fertilisers, seed varieties etc.

Mark - Helsinki
August 1, 2018 12:35 am

Dana Nuccitelli also tried this anti science bollocks.

“While photosynthesis does pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, much of that gas goes right back into the air. The reason: At night, the chemical reactions in plants essentially run backward. In a process known as respiration, plants pump out carbon dioxide instead of pulling it in.”

Yes, all the CO2 needed to grow the plant is retained, and respiration is balanced out more or less, the plant does not release the CO2 it consumed to grow. Everyone and his dog knows plants reverse respiration in day\night cycles. Why is this news?

More NYT fake news, this is fake, because the journalist only had to get a second opinion from an actual scientist, not the idiot they quoted, who must surely be a halfwit for claiming something that is patently false, to get the factual scientifically proven information.

NYT produces so much untruth it beggars belief

Jaap Titulaer
August 1, 2018 12:50 am

That’s pretty insane. He should talk to some Dutch people. LMAO.

And as an aisde AFAIK plants do not respirate CO2 at night at anywhere close to same levels as they take in during the day.

Ed Zuiderwijk
August 1, 2018 1:02 am

It appears that the editor of the NYT doesn’t know his photosynthesis from his respiration. An arts graduate, I guess.

August 1, 2018 7:08 am

I don’t want to call this ‘Fake News’. This MAY be a paid story. With this negative level of critical thinking, it looks like a rant.

Reply to  Martin457
August 1, 2018 8:21 am

Right. The author had a negative POV and gathered facts and opinions to support it. It’s a polemical piece, not a balanced report of the effects of CO2 on plant growth.

Dave Anderson
August 1, 2018 7:47 am

“At night, the chemical reactions in plants essentially run backward. In a process known as respiration, plants pump out carbon dioxide instead of pulling it in.”

Remember when the Amazon Rain Forest was the “Lungs of the Planet”?

August 1, 2018 9:20 am

“While photosynthesis does pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, much of that gas goes right back into the air. The reason: At night, the chemical reactions in plants essentially run backward. In a process known as respiration, plants pump out carbon dioxide instead of pulling it in.”

He had better tell that to the people planting trees as Carbon Offsets.

August 1, 2018 11:43 am

Respiration is cellular metabolism. Plant or animal.
Cellular metabolism operates as long as the cell is alive, 24 hours a day.
It’s just the cell living it’s life.
Plants don’t die at night, respiration does not reverse at any time.
Carbon dioxide is the result of cellular respiration, that reaction never stops.

The chloroplast is a discrete cellular organ that contains the photosynthesis apparatus.
Chlorophyll is the crucial component that can operate only in sunlight, during the day.
During the time when the chloroplast is creating sugar, it is removing CO2 from its surrounding cell, yet the surrounding plant cell is also respiring CO2. The two cellular reactions are fully capable of operating simultaneously.

Take a look at those photos again. Those trees were grown in controlled conditions, with only CO2 the variable. The more CO2 the more growth. CO2 is always (amost) one of the limiting parameters in plant growth, from algae to sequoias. Sometimes water is a limiting material. Sometimes a mineral, such as nitrogen or iron or boron is a limiting material in plant growth. Sometimes the ambient temperature is a limiting parameter. It’s just how things grow.

When “Dr. Campbell” writes that adding CO2 to the air is not a significant contributor to better plant growth, he is making a claim unsupported by overwhelming observed knowledge from a century of plant science. Agricultural crops are increasing yield due to added CO2, along with the other improvements in farming practice, and genetics.

August 1, 2018 12:02 pm

Here’s a quick quiz:
Can anybody spot the subtle NYTimes leftwing bias slight-of-typing from the two excerpt below?

“A number of small studies have suggested that humans actually are contributing to an increase in photosynthesis across the globe.”

“A number of studies indicate that plants that grow in extra carbon dioxide often end up containing lower concentrations of nutrients such as nitrogen, copper and potassium.”


(here’s a hint: It’s been known for probably 5 years now about the CO2 effect on global vegetation. I’ve just heard about the lower nutrients from CO2 in the last couple of months)


On a side note, if anybody thinks that these left-wing activist scientists got together at some point in the past and brainstormed ways to find bad reasons for the greening of the earth from CO2, go to the head of the class.
(And I bet dollars to doughnuts that these ‘scientists’ have gotten together many times in the past and looked for ‘science’ reasons to dismiss skeptic talking points.)

August 1, 2018 12:14 pm

Here’s a few excerpts from a Science Nordic article regarding a study published in the scientific journal Nature Ecology and Evolution. It says that the CO2 induced greening of Africa is having a positive effect on the climate:

“Thirty six per cent of the continent has become greener, while 11 per cent is becoming less green.

The results show that not all is lost for Africa’s nature, say the scientists behind the new research.

“Our results are both positive and negative. Of course it’s not good that humans have had a negative influence on the distribution of trees and bushes in 11 per cent of Africa in the last 20 years, but it doesn’t come as a complete surprise,” says co-author Martin Brandt from the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

“On the other hand it’s not all negative as an area—three times larger than the area where trees and bushes are disappearing—is becoming greener, which is positive, at least from a climate point of view,” he says.”

Andre Den Tandt
August 1, 2018 1:59 pm

It’s actually quite simple: the tree, including leaves and roots, is the sum total of all the CO2 collected by the leaves, transformed into carbon compounds after the oxygen molecules are separated from the carbon, the entire process mediated by a large ” infusion ” of sunlight energy.
When the wood is burned, that energy is released, the carbon molecules are rejoined to oxygen ones, the newly formed CO2 released into the air, ready to be caught by a green leaf to restart the entire process.
So some Co2 caught in daylight is released at night. Nothing is perfect.

August 2, 2018 7:31 pm

At last, a discussion about the important thing: Life. Yes, more life means more respiration.

Nobody ever notices that Michael Mann’s “science” hockey stick was a COMPLAINT that tree rings were growing. Trees are growing! We’re all gonna die!

Roland F Hirsch
August 4, 2018 10:02 am

The NY Times again publishes an attack on science, leaving out every major article on the subject, including The Green of the Earth paper in Nature Climate Change in April 2016: ”, Nature Climate Change (online 25 April 2016): DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE3004. http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v6/n8/full/nclimate3004.html and https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-36130346

Small error, in the next to last paragraph, the report is published by the government of Ontario, Canada.

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