The Fight Against Global Greening – Part 3

Guest Essay by Kip Hansen

Green_Madness_Part_3This is Part 3 of a four part series.  If you are not familiar with The Fight Against Global Greening – Part 1 and Part 2, you can either read them in their  entirety and then read this, or read the introduction of Part 1 up to the line “Let’s look at #1” and then read this. — kh

Carl Zimmer of the NY Times has said “‘Global Greening’ Sounds Good. In the Long Run, It’s Terrible.”.  In collaboration with Dr. J. E. Campbell of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute, he has stated that position,  offering us these:

Bad Things About Global Greening: (quoted from Zimmer’s article)

1. “More Photosynthesis Doesn’t Mean More Food“

2. “Extra Carbon Dioxide Can Make Plants Less Nutritious”

3. “More Plants Won’t Prevent Climate Change”

4. “Global Greening Won’t Last Forever”

In Part 1, we looked at the question of the relationship between increased photosynthesis and food production (Zimmer’s #1).  In Part 2, we discussed the claim that “extra carbon dioxide can make plants less nutritious”.

Let’s Look at #3:  “More Plants Won’t Prevent Climate Change”

Here’s what Zimmer and Campbell say:

“More Plants Won’t Prevent Climate Change

“It’s not just strawberries and other crops that are taking in extra carbon dioxide. So are the forests, grasslands and other wild ecosystems of the world.

When scientists take into account both extra photosynthesis and respiration, they estimate that plants remove a quarter of the carbon dioxide we put in the atmosphere.

“That’s on par with what China emits,” said Dr. Campbell. “And China is the biggest global polluter.”

Even more remarkably, the plants have been scrubbing the same fraction of carbon dioxide out of the air even as our emissions explode.

“Every year we build more power plants, and every year the plants take out more CO2,” Dr. Campbell said.

But that isn’t cause to celebrate. It’s a bit like hearing that your chemotherapy is slowing the growth of your tumor by 25 percent.

Despite global greening, carbon dioxide levels have climbed over the past two centuries to levels not seen on Earth for millions of years. And the carbon dioxide we’ve injected into the atmosphere is already having major impacts across the planet.

The six warmest years on record all occurred after 2010. The weather has already become more extreme. Sea levels have risen. The oceans are acidifying.

If plants keep on absorbing only a quarter of our carbon dioxide in the future, then we can expect all these trends to get stronger.

In other words, if global greening isn’t saving us now, we can’t rely on it to save us in the future.”

Let’s try to figure out the logic to what Zimmer and Campbell are saying.  They accept without argument that:

  1. “plants remove a quarter of the carbon dioxide we put in the atmosphere.”

“That’s on par with what China emits,” said Dr. Campbell. “And China is the biggest global polluter.”

2. “the plants have been scrubbing the same fraction of carbon dioxide out of the air even as our emissions explode.”

“Every year we build more power plants, and every year the plants take out more CO2,” Dr. Campbell said.

Now, if any other process could be credited with removing a full 25% of all CO2 emitted by mankind every year, year after year, it would be labelled heroic.  Governments and laboratories are fielding schemes to hopefully remove fairly small  amounts of CO2  or to prevent them from being emitted in the first place — these pages here at WUWT  feature these ideas, one after another — schemes to convert CO2 into rocks, capture CO2 into fuels like ammonia, capture and store CO2 in caves and oil wells.  Just  imagine for a moment that we were talking about China reducing its CO2  emissions to zero overnight.  This is what Global Greening is currently doing, cost free.

But instead of applauding this biologically-induced geoengineering feat, Zimmer offers us (and I am actually embarrassed, on his behalf,  to quote him) this:

“But that isn’t cause to celebrate.

It’s a bit like hearing that your chemotherapy is slowing the growth of your tumor by 25 percent.”

[ Let’s ignore the insensitivity of this statement — how hurtful it must be to those fighting cancer themselves, or with relatives fighting cancer,  around the world, who would be thrilled to hear that the growth their tumors had been slowed.  The comparison of CO2 emissions to cancer is itself is a vicious bit of insensitive propaganda hype. ]

The reduction of CO2 emissions by an entire “China’s worth” is “not a cause for celebration”?  Apparently, for Zimmer and Campbell, all of the Paris Agreement targets, even if actually being met by any country, would also not be “cause to celebrate”.  After all, they only slow the growth of atmospheric CO2 , they do not eliminate it altogether.

It is difficult to follow this line of reasoning….it doesn’t actually seem to be a line of reasoning, but rather a line of unreasoning.  The majority of the scientific world concerned with atmospheric CO2 is struggling, fighting, to reduce emissions and, if possible, remove CO2  from the atmosphere in order to reduce CO2 concentrations, which the IPCC has claimed to be dangerous.  Yet Zimmer vainly tries to convince us that a no-cost,  no-effort method that annually removes an amount of CO2  equivalent to the entire annual emissions of the world’s worst emitter, China, is “not a cause to celebrate.”

His position is simply paraphrased as:  “There is no good in removing CO2  from the atmosphere unless you can entirely stop its concentration  from growing.”   With this he has  thrown the entire Paris Agreement effort  under the bus.

What effect does Global Greening have on atmospheric CO2 concentrations?  Zimmer and Campbell have stipulated [agreed without the necessity of argument] that Global Greening removes from the atmosphere some about 10 billion tons of CO2 annually.  Not only that, but it keeps removing more each year as the globe greens.

Really?  Yes, here’s the graph:


This graph, from UCSD/Scripps, represents the Earth’s “breathing” — in the Northern spring and summer, growing plants remove COfaster than we emit it and the monthly data points go down. As growth slows in the mid-summer and through winter, plants don’t take up as much CO2 and emissions get ahead.  The Southern hemisphere does not have as much an effect on the graph as does the Northern hemisphere. We see though that as Global Greening takes hold, it takes up more parts-per-million year to year — in the 1960s, the seasonal difference was 6.2 ppm, by 2018 it has risen to 9 ppm.

Then this:


The other thing that is obvious is that CO2 concentrations (in ppm) continue to rise as modern societies (and Nature) continue to emit more CO2 than increased plant photosynthesis takes up.   Since 2000, from the first chart above,  the annual increase in ppm of seasonal uptake of CO2 has been about 0.125ppm/year — or 1/8th of a ppm per year.  In eight years, that increase is 1 ppm.  But CO2  is increasing at an average rate (2010-2017) of 2.54 ppm/year.  Global Greening will not catch up at these rates, will not stop and will not reverse the increase of CO2 atmospheric concentrations by itself.

Zimmer and Campbell are right on this score:

Global Greening, by itself, will not stop the rise in atmospheric CO2. 

Now that we’ve got a good handle on the facts, let’s revisit what claim Zimmer was attempting to refute with his odd claim that “Global Greening is terrible because  “More Plants Won’t Prevent Climate Change””.

Did anyone ever claim that Global Greening would prevent climate change?

In Zimmer’s “Global Greening….it’s Terrible” article in the NY Times, Zimmer says:

“Climate change denialists were quick to jump on Dr. Campbell’s research as proof that increased carbon dioxide is making the world a better place.

“So-called carbon pollution has done much more to expand and invigorate the planet’s greenery than all the climate policies of all the world’s governments combined,” the Competitive Enterprise Institute declared shortly after the study came out.

“The best messages are positive: CO2 increases crop yields, the earth is greening,” wrote Joseph Bast, the chief executive officer of the Heartland Institute, in an October 2017 email obtained by EE News.

In June, Mr. Bast co-authored an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal in which he cited Dr. Campbell’s work as evidence of the benefits of fossil fuels. Our unleashing of carbon dioxide contributes “to the greening of the Earth,” he said. “

Zimmer engages in a journalistic trick — he jumps in with both boots to refute something that was never claimed in the first place — no one ever claimed that Global Greening would stop climate change.

How many things can you list that are good that will not stop climate change?  World Peace, an AIDS vaccine, ending poverty, an unbiased press.  The list is pretty long.  None of these would be terrible just because they don’t stop climate change, and neither is Global Greening.

It is not that Zimmer and Campbell don’t have a valid point — they do, but they don’t state it and they don’t use it — they do something illogical and try to establish a falsehood as true instead.

It would have been simple enough to say that,  from their viewpoint, while Global Greening may be a positive side effect of rising atmospheric CO2, their concerns about the potential negative effects of global warming/climate change lead them to continue to believe that rising atmospheric CO2 is, on balance, a negative thing, a bad thing, and in their odd choice of words, “terrible”.   We could accept that — they are allowed to have a point of view and to state it along with their reasoning for holding that viewpoint.   But Zimmer seems to have allowed himself to be swept up by emotion-fueled advocacy — his need to fight “climate change” at any cost — and lost his thread of rationality, abandoned his journalistic ethics and destroyed my respect for him as a science journalist.   Had he been writing on the Opinion pages of the NY Times, as Andy Revkin did, he could bang away with his climate change advocacy to his heart’s content —  but personal opinion disguised as facts doesn’t belong in the Science news section of any newspaper.

What he never should have tried to do is to convince his readers that “Global Greening is terrible” — it is not — GLOBAL GREENING IS WONDERFUL

# # # # #

Author’s Comment Policy:

I was saddened by Carl Zimmer’s descent into irrational advocacy.  He is a sharp guy and usually writes good science journalism.   We often see the same thing here with our readers and their comments — someone who normally writes good comments, makes good observations, raises interesting questions suddenly flips and becomes an irrational advocate blathering illogic about some specialized topic — be it GMOs or Feral Cats.   It takes a very strong mind to keep on the rather narrow path of good science, rational thought, critical thinking and logical argument when dealing with a subject about which one is passionate.  The ability to do so is a trait we ascribe to scientists — who, because they are human like the rest of us, often let us down in this regard.

I hope readers will confine their comments to the subject of this essay.  Hint: it is about science journalism, Global Greening good-or-bad, and how advocacy and science reporting must not be mixed.

Recently, I have noticed that many readers treat every comment thread as an Open Thread — in which they are free to discuss — and endless argue —  whatever is on their minds.  This is not true.  The Policy of WUWT states: “Some off topic comments may get deleted, don’t take it personally, it happens. Commenters that routinely lead threads astray in areas that are not relevant or are of personal interest only to them may find these posts deleted.”   Moderation here is done with a light hand, but the principle of commenting on topic remains.

Address your comments to “Kip…” if you are speaking specifically to me and I’ll try to respond.

Thanks for reading.

# # # # #

Quick Links:

The Fight Against Global Greening – Part 1

The Fight Against Global Greening – Part 2

Zimmer’s NY Times article “Global Greening….it’s Terrible”

The Competitive Enterprise Institute declared shortly after the study came out

EE News: Skeptics suspicious of Pruitt plan to press him on red team

October 2017 Heartland email [illegally?] obtained by EE News [pdf]

Our unleashing of carbon dioxide contributes “to the greening of the Earth,”

# # # # #



0 0 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tom Halla
August 17, 2018 12:42 pm

Zimmer starts with the presumption global warming is a bad thing, which he has made no attempt to establish. Given that the Medieval Warm Period was rather nice, let alone the interestingly named Holocene Climatic Optimum, were warmer than the present, how, pray tell, is warming bad?
Historically, cold periods are associated with barbarian invasions, drought, famine, and societal collapse. S

Reply to  Tom Halla
August 17, 2018 1:57 pm

and this terrible presumption leads to his terrible tumor analogy.

What he needs to realize is that what we have now is a small benign tumor.

And the self serving greedy bastards that have are trying to talk us into using chemotherapy in an attempt to eradicate a small benign tumor should have their medical certification taken away.

Bryan A
Reply to  DonM
August 17, 2018 2:17 pm

I wouldn’t even call it a tumor, I would call it … Benign Green Growth

David A Smith
Reply to  Bryan A
August 19, 2018 3:22 pm

The Earth has a benign epidermal green growth.

The green blob however is malignant.

Reply to  Tom Halla
August 17, 2018 7:09 pm

Egypt’s Old Kingdom (began ~2,686 B.C. era for 3-6th dynasties) ended ~ 2,181 B.C. era . The following 7-10 th dynasties became known as the First Intermediate Period lasted to ~2,025 B.C. era (which is then when Egypt’s subsequent Middle Kingdom of 11 & 12 dynasties ruled).

A feature of Egypt’s brief 1st Intermediate Period was that the Nile’s water level was so diminished that the agricultural productivity of crops sometimes failed. As a consequence provinces were able to assume more rights (ex: tax relief & independantly start rituals), in part to allay episodes of societal rebellion (ex: grain stores broken into).

Reply to  gringojay
August 17, 2018 7:55 pm

Near East climate during the “early” Bronze Age followed the relative drying climate that began there about 4,000+ years ago. However during the early Bronze Age there were phases of dryness fluctuating up & down.

It was not until the “middle” Bronze Age that the Near East resumed a significant dryward trend; which was only ameliorated in the “late” Bronze Age. See Fig. 2 of Riehl’s (2011) “Variability in ancient Near Eastern environmental and agricultural development”; available on-line as free full pdf.

Thomas Homer
August 17, 2018 12:45 pm

Global Greening means more food can be grown locally.
More food grown locally lessens food distribution fuel consumption.
Less food distribution fuel consumption lessens fuel distribution fuel consumption.

Thomas Homer
August 17, 2018 12:56 pm

Phytoplankton consume CO2 through photosynthesis just as vegetation does. A more robust marine food chain should be included under the Global-Greening umbrella.

Blue whales consume krill
Krill consume phytoplankton
Phytoplankton consume Carbon dioxide

Increasing whales’ food source is not ‘terrible’, right?

Reply to  Thomas Homer
August 17, 2018 1:02 pm

The food chain for just about everything that lives in the sea starts with CO2.
The exception being those critters that live on geothermal energy.

Bryan A
Reply to  MarkW
August 17, 2018 2:19 pm

Yeah but there just venting

Reply to  MarkW
August 17, 2018 3:10 pm


Seems to me the planet is self regulating, at least as far as CO2 is concerned. We give it more, it gobbles it up and grows “Feed me, Feed me now!” (Little Shop of Horrors). Perhaps a problem when we get to the point it can’t gobble it up, say, over 1,000 ppm, but even that’s a stretch as plant life loves the stuff.

And at 410 ppm we’re only ~260 ppm away from certain extinction so, thanks, but I’ll suffer a bit of extra heat if it means we move further away from guaranteed death.

Which conjurers up an amusing thought; can you imagine the panic amongst the liberal greens were CO2 approaching 150 ppm, they would burn their grannies. 🙂

August 17, 2018 12:59 pm

“abandoned his journalistic ethics”

Is there any evidence that he had such ethics in the first place?

It takes no “ethics” to report correctly on things that you either agree with, or at worst don’t care about.
Ethics only show up when reporting on things that you disagree with.

Reply to  MarkW
August 19, 2018 1:30 pm

Exactly. Like the claim “NASA really sent men to the Moon”. Why do people agree with the claim? You cannot tell unless you discuss with them.

For an American, it could be national pride: NASA did it, because NASA is the greatest space agency. Maybe the only notable space agency. (And then, “NASA also landed a robot on an asteroid” because it’s the greatest; other space agencies are just playing around, or may not even exist at all.)

Or it could be because “school teacher told me so”. Well, my school teacher told me that:

– Earth was believed to be flat until quite recently
– we can breath “oxygen” because of the Amazonian forest (I’m French)

And those teachers were expected to teach us chemistry. Why do we need “oxygen” for? What do we eat, in France? Historically, on a long period, not a lof of food from another continent. Why would we, the animals of Europe, need an oxidizer from another continent to avoid running out of oxygen?

Why do people even agree that the Earth is not flat? Apparently, for some people it’s because “science determined that”.

It isn’t Simon says, it’s Science says.

The fine details of round Earth are best left to the “experts” and need not be discussed further (hopefully, as the person wouldn’t like to expose his ignorance of how that was determined). (The Earth may be round because it’s orbiting the Sun, or something.)

Tl; dr: It’s difficult to determine without free interactions whether someone who regularly spout truths understand those and where they are coming from or whether he is just parroting someone else. Pushing people out of their confort zone clears things up.

The Simpsons did it:

(Lisa steals teacher editions, causes mayhem.)

Michael Carter
August 17, 2018 1:13 pm

I immediately thought of the other great sink: phytoplankton. What are they up to of late? A search produced this:

“Through photosynthesis, phytoplankton consume carbon dioxide on a scale equivalent to forests and other land plants. Some of this carbon is carried to the deep ocean when phytoplankton die, and some is transferred to different layers of the ocean as phytoplankton are eaten by other creatures, which themselves reproduce, generate waste, and die.”


I particularly love the term ‘waste’. It is of course calcareous sediment which produces one of the most important resources on earth: limestone. I wonder if the office building, or the city from which the piece was written is defined as waste?

There is no waste in the rock cycle.



Reply to  Michael Carter
August 17, 2018 1:40 pm

notice the word change…..phyto consumes carbon dioxide…….the carbon sinks

..and that’s why there’s no such thing as ocean acidification

Bruce Cobb
August 17, 2018 1:15 pm

Reminds me of the country song which goes: “If global Greening is wrong, I don’t want to be right”.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
August 17, 2018 3:13 pm

Bruce Cobb

C’mon Ref. we’re into country music now, that must be OT……..Kidding… 🙂

Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 17, 2018 3:59 pm


Clapton blues all the way for me mate. Love everything really though, especially Aretha (as I think we all do) and of course Paul Simon. Everything from Soul, Cajun, African, ballad, blues, rock, folk……you name it. My wife and I went to see one of his last concerts ever, before he announced his retirement from touring, in the Royal Albert Hall last year. We splashed the cash and got premium seats, what a special night.

A tear for Aretha though, not that I’ll admit it to anyone, far less the denizens of WUWT.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 18, 2018 6:06 am


“two whores”

Made me laugh.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 18, 2018 12:32 pm

Joe Bonamassa is one of the best

Tom Halla
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
August 17, 2018 7:16 pm

If it is the same song you were thinking of, I recall it as Motown, not country. Could have gotten covered, though, either way.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
August 18, 2018 10:22 am

Better yet…Where I come from [Heat] is a good thing…

[Heat] makes corn,
Corn makes whiskey,
Whiskey makes my baby,
feel a little frisky…
Where I come from, [heat] is a good thing

August 17, 2018 1:26 pm

One of the reasons “greening” does not automatically equate with restraining changes in rising ambient CO2 levels is because since the early 1980s there has been an increase in the rate of “browning” biomass that do not partake of CO2. And from mid 1990s the rate of “browning” sped up while “greening” continued it’s trend progression. See Pan, et al (2018) data to 2013 study “Increasing global vegetation browning hidden in overall vegetation greening: insights from time-varying trends” free full text is available on-lline.

August 17, 2018 1:35 pm

Even more remarkably, the plants have been scrubbing the same fraction of carbon dioxide out of the air even as our emissions explode.

Maybe they could put some error bars on that statement. Given the imprecision with which we know any of the intakes and outputs of CO2, it is truly amazing that they do the arithmetic in such a manner that the increase in atmospheric CO2 is explained to within one percent by human emissions. Now that’s remarkable. /sarc

Reply to  commieBob
August 17, 2018 3:21 pm


“Error bars”. I think I understand those. It’s like the Factor of Safety (FOS) I was taught in secondary school engineering in the 70’s. Assuming a perfectly built structure, which isn’t possible, hence FOS.

I don’t see many of them in the scientific papers presented on WUWT. Are we just supposed to deduct they are included? Although, I’m happy to accept I miss them.

August 17, 2018 1:37 pm

2. “Extra Carbon Dioxide Can Make Plants Less Nutritious”

well…of course…and so does extra water…’s called dilution
But they never qualify how much less…..I would bet it’s so little no one would notice

““That’s on par with what China emits,” said Dr. Campbell. “And China is the biggest global polluter.””

Well good for them….it would have killed them to say…..that’s on par with twice what the USA emits

Old England
Reply to  Latitude
August 17, 2018 11:45 pm

What China emits is half of what it plans to emit under its INDC.

All the hype about the Paris agreement was designed to conceal that what it truly meant was a ~50% Increase in CO2 emissions by 2030. China doubling and India trembling their respective emissions, meaning that EU and Australian reductions are completely meaningless.

But hey, why let facts or truth get in the way of climate activist propaganda on its chosen path of achieving an unelected marxist-socialist global government and the destruction of the free market and capitalist system – as proclaimed and admitted by U.N. spokespeople.

Reply to  Latitude
August 18, 2018 3:39 am

boosted the leaf growth on eucalypts in my area, along with a few yrs of decent rains i admit, now we have had Lerp some little bug thats like the scale ones that make a covered “cave’ under a leaf. the trees dropped leaves like billy o.
some recovered some havent and the wailing by the greenones was amazing
reckon theyre like cicadas and have a long cycle of appearances and they help cull overgrowth weaker trees and only certain species i noticed.
the “we have to DO something” performances were amusing

Randy Bork
August 17, 2018 1:39 pm

I’m reminded of Kip’s earlier piece “Editorial Narratives in Science Journalism” in which he linked to a former NYT reporter who described the editorial process at the ‘Times [link at end of comment]. He wrote, “It was a shock on arriving at the New York Times in 2004, as the paper’s movie editor, to realize that its editorial dynamic was essentially the reverse [of the LA Times]. By and large, talented reporters scrambled to match stories with what internally was often called “the narrative.” We were occasionally asked to map a narrative for our various beats a year in advance, square the plan with editors, then generate stories that fit the pre-designated line.” Reading Kip’s systematic refutation of the Zimmer piece got me to wondering if he was ordered to produce that piece, regardless of any logic, to attempt to reduce any blowback from the earlier piece. If so, I wonder how he feels being asked to besmirch his own reputation in this manner. link:

August 17, 2018 1:52 pm

Reply to  DonM
August 17, 2018 5:42 pm

hey, thanks for the +1, I really appreciate it!

August 17, 2018 2:01 pm

Few weeks ago I mentioned man made greening of the Sahara desert, they must have found a large underground water reservoir, fascinating images.
paste into google earth search box (top of the page, left)
N22 47 42, E28 31 30
then zoom out and travel south.
Google Earth measures circle’s diameter at half a mile.

Bryan A
Reply to  vukcevic
August 17, 2018 2:24 pm

It is only 160 miles from the Nile but 400′ higher elevation. Perhaps they fly it in at the airport.
There are a couple of lakes to the east but they look Greatly Diminished

Reply to  Bryan A
August 23, 2018 6:47 am

Wells. Plural. Zooming in, it looks consistent with a well in the center of each circle.

August 17, 2018 2:59 pm

As a layman it never ceases to amaze me the numbers that are involved here, and the people.

And at the risk of boring everyone to tears with me banging on about it, John Tyndall himself told us “water vapour is the strongest absorber of radiant heat in the atmosphere and is the principal gas controlling air temperature. Absorption by the other gases is not negligible but relatively small.”

So the great man himself tells us that water vapour is the control knob of global temperature, strange, I know, but the numbers tell us why.

Greenhouse gas concentrations are as follows (roughly):

Water Vapour – 95%
CO2 – 4%
Nitrous Oxide – 1%
Methane – 0.4%
Aerosols – 0.1%

(The numbers are rounded so, no, they won’t add up)

Of the total figure, mankind’s CO2 contribution is around 0.12%. That is a staggeringly small number to overpoweringly influence all other greenhouse gases. Even Tyndall said CO2 “is not negligible but relatively small.” consigning it to a bit part player, whilst not even considering man’s minuscule contribution.

So where did this idea that CO2 has turned into the mother of all greenhouse gases? It simply doesn’t make sense.

But it makes even less sense when it’s put into the context of total atmospheric gases where, as we all know, CO2 is around 0.04%, in which case man made CO2 is around 0.0012%, and if Kit’s numbers are correct, and I have no reason to doubt them, then 25% of man’s CO2 emissions taken up by plant life brings the excess CO2 down to around 0.0009%.

Seriously? Are we even capable of measuring atmospheric CO2 down to that tiny percentage in a climate system that doesn’t even mix the stuff very well?

Furthermore, my understanding is that CO2 is unevenly distributed across the planet, so where does this magic figure of 410ppm come from? One consistent location seems to be Mauna Loa, “the world’s largest and one of its most active volcanoes – a giant shield volcano on the Big Island of Hawai’i.” but CO2 can be measured there, to an accuracy of 0.0009%? OK, that’s not fair, to an accuracy of 0.0012%.

Hmmmmm……I’m certain there’s a rational explanation for siting a CO2 monitoring station on a volcano but as a layman, for the life of me, I can’t image what it is. It seems a bit like Anthony’s objections to temperature measurement stations being sited next to air conditioning vents.

However, it’s accepted by the scientific community so it’s not for me to question it.

So, I’ll refer back to my earlier paragraph describing CO2 as the mother of all greenhouse gases. I had an exchange with Kristi on another thread about the mixing of atmospheric gases and the subject of scientific averages.

Kristi quite rightly maintained that energy is passed between atmospheric gas molecules by simply bumping together, and my apologies if that is too simplistic a description of her point, however, assuming I interpreted it correctly, CO2 is such a powerful greenhouse gas that at a saturation of 0.12% of all greenhouse gases, and 0.0012% of all atmospheric gases, it dominates everything, despite what John Tyndall maintains, and as an unevenly mixed atmospheric gas, it somehow transfers all it’s negative qualities to every other molecule no matter how distant they are.

And yes, I get there are unique infrared qualities CO2 retains but really, it seems to me it’s something like the effect a single firefly would have in a jungle.

As for the average surface temperature of the planet, it’s a theoretical starting point, it’s almost meaningless. As with all averages on this scale, one could traverse the planet and never once, other than by sheer coincidence, stumble upon a single place, in a moment in time, that conforms to the scientific average whole number, never mind to a fraction of a degree.

So back to Kip’s point. Isn’t it simply miraculous that, as far as I’m aware, the only empirical manifestation of increased atmospheric CO2 on the planet is that it has greened by 14% in the last ~30 years, and ~70% of that has been attributed to increased atmospheric CO2 by NASA themselves.

One of the researchers, “co-author Zaichun Zhu, of Beijing University, puts it, it’s equivalent to adding a green continent twice the size of mainland USA.”

Think about that for more than a millisecond, that’s utterly staggering. If mankind’s CO2 emissions of 0.12% of all greenhouse gases can have this enormously beneficial effect, with no empirically demonstrated downside, what on earth (literally) are we doing wrong?

I could go on but it would get terribly boring (assuming it isn’t already), however, I’ll finish on one point. The number of scientist’s on this planet is probably in low single digit percentages. There are, in fact more Indians that there are Chiefs.

I have this bizarre notion that good working practices begin with a manager of any description (the Chief) being an advocate for his subordinate (the Indian), no matter how humble both stations are. ‘Intelligence’ comes from the ground up, a concept the armed forces are well aware of, so listening to, and representing subordinates in the chain of command is vital in any successful organisation. Equally, instruction from the top down must also be clear enough for an uneducated soldier to understand.

In the same way, scientists bear the awesome responsibility of undertaking their incredibly complicated work, exploring concepts from the ground up, but with the added responsibility of communicating with the layman i.e. me. in terms we understand to convey the lessons he/she learned.

Other than on very rare occasions, I don’t see that happening in science, I feel like science is dictating to their subordinates, and that’s not right unless science and its community operates for its own benefit, and then that gets scary.

I’m a layman. If what I have tapped out on my little PC is what I understand, and I’m wrong, then scientists aren’t doing their job properly.

If you got this far, thanks. 🙂

Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 17, 2018 3:28 pm


If The Zhu et al. is @ DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE3004 is a scientific paper, I’ll be asleep before the end of the first paragraph. I’ll try it, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

And if my rubbish was a hard slog for you, imagine how difficult it is for 99% of the planet’s population to deal with scientific papers. Zzzzzzzzz…….

Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 17, 2018 3:33 pm


And I think it might be worthwhile directing people to the following address for the paper where it can be freely downloaded. Yours points to Nature where they charge several bucks to access it.

And as it’s 11:30 pm, I’ll try reading it tomor……Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 17, 2018 4:04 pm


Wha?……~snort~….Yea OK, I’m awake…..Off for a Kip now though……LOL

See you in the a.m.

J Mac
Reply to  HotScot
August 17, 2018 7:17 pm

Had a pint or 2, have ye Lad? };>)

Don’t sell yourself short. You understand CO2 ‘climate science’ better than many that claim science PhDs. Keep asking questions and seeking verifiable, repeatable results. It is the very foundation of the scientific method.

Similarly, don’t sell most scientists short either. ‘Climate science’ is a politically corrupted subset of the much greater panoply of human science efforts. As the veterinarian observed about the cats hairballs “This too shall pass!”

Reply to  J Mac
August 18, 2018 6:18 am

J Mac

My blunder, I did mean the climate scientists, not science in general.

I discussed the question of repeatability with my scientist daughter and it’s considered a real crisis amongst contemporary responsible scientists.

Ronald Havelock PhD
Reply to  HotScot
August 17, 2018 9:46 pm

Thanks Hotscot for a brilliant summary. I would add only that the Keeling “curve” is no curve but manifestly a straight line. Not only is the volcano an odd spot for a world-valid measuring point but the island below ha experienced substantial growth of human activity and co2 generation over the entire period of father and son Keelings oh so terrifying data collection

Reply to  Ronald Havelock PhD
August 18, 2018 6:29 am

Ronald Havelock PhD

I’m flattered that you, Kip and J Mac even bothered to read it far less comment on it.

But like I said, it’s my understanding of the situation. The problem sceptical scientists have is that they just aren’t good at getting these digestible chunks of information out to the public. It’s taken me years to realise the amount of man made CO2 in our atmosphere. Just using the number 0.0012% would make the public sit up and take notice, imagine it splashed all over the MSM headlines. More importantly, imagine it going viral on Facebook and Twitter.

And what a nice, memorable title for a blog or website on the subject – Zero Zero One Two.

Now, I’m off to find the Keeling ‘Curve.’

Every day’s a schoolday on WUWT! 🙂

Reply to  HotScot
August 18, 2018 6:37 am


Found it, recognise it, just didn’t know it was called the Keeling ‘curve’. And as you say, I have no idea why it’s called a curve.

I wonder if it’s worthwhile me putting together a layman’s guide to climate change, I doubt it would be good enough to be published here though. But a good exercise for me to clarify things in my own mind.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 18, 2018 2:35 pm


Funnily enough, I remember that from secondary school. Also that a circle is mathematically nothing more than a series of straight lines joined together. A crude description but I believe true.

However, perception is reality. And when, perceptibly to the layman, a ‘straight’ line is presented as a curve, by informed scientists, the layman nods and smiles, but whispers to his mate “Bollox”.

The perfect motor car is out there somewhere, but no one would ever drive it, not even scientists.

Reply to  HotScot
August 18, 2018 12:52 pm

It should be obvious to any thinking person that the only good place to monitor earth’s CO2 centrations is on a volcano where CO2 is belched out from the innards of the earth by the ton daily. Really, where else on Mother Earth’s 200 million square miles could we possibly put our most often cited CO2 monitoring station?

Why the heck is there a CO2 monitoring station on Mauna Loa? It is sort of isolated, but it is certainly not isolated from any concentrated sources of CO2.

Makes the sensors in my aluminum foil hat go off.

Reply to  DocSiders
August 18, 2018 4:08 pm


Just a touch of sarcasm in there I suspect? 🙂

Steve R
Reply to  DocSiders
August 19, 2018 6:59 pm

The data for the Keeling curve is likely just fine. If it were effected by gasses released from Mauna Loa it would not have the shape that it does.

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
August 17, 2018 5:14 pm

The figure shows the linear increase along with seasonal change and second figure shows the linear increase in CO2. Well, WMO presented the network of CO2 measurements and the rate of change with years and seasons [in my book “climate change: Myths and realities”, 2008, pages 127 to132]. The CO2 presents a non-linearincrease from around 1740 to 1980 [Figure 8b] and seasonal variation with non-linear yearly increase [1973 to 1986].

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
Reply to  Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
August 17, 2018 9:01 pm

cont— WMO compiled data relating to CO2 and stations recording it – WMO Fact Sheet No. 4, August 1989. Figure 8c is from this report only. Figure 8b is from Siegen Thaler & Oeschger, Tellus, 39B: 140-154, 1987. Figure 8d presents the total global level fossil fuel consumption for 1960, 1980 & 2000 for the Southern Hemisphere [SH] and the Northern Hemisphere [NH]. The projections for the year 2000 compared with those of 1960 indicate that consumption will have more than quadruples in the SH, while that in the NH will have more than doubled in relative terms but in magnitude the NH consumed more over the SH. From the WMO Fact sheet No. 4 it is clear that very few stations are measuring changing composition [Figure 8e] of the atmosphere, including the increases of greenhouse gases [CO2, CH4, N2O, O3, CFCs] especially in tropics [by that time no data] and the SH [by that time only three sites]. With such data sets, presenting unbelievably smooth curve, scientists are filling the literature with highly hypothetical inferences.

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

Alan Miller
August 17, 2018 5:18 pm

Talk about grasping at straws (plastic ones) to support an untenable hypothesis. The desperation is palpable.

August 17, 2018 5:58 pm

Well, what this garbage really is, is proof that it was never about the well-being of living organisms in the first place.

August 17, 2018 6:07 pm

We could probably accelerate this trend. Since this makes growth in more marginal areas easier, we could plant trees and other plants across wide swaths of land in the western United States for example that would accelerate the take up of carbon, and make for more land for wildlife…

Just a thought.

Reply to  dennis Wingo
August 17, 2018 8:59 pm

Exactly what is being done in many parts of the world. Use ‘The Great Green Wall’ ‘greening the desert’ and other similar phrases to search on YouTube. It appears that literally hundreds of millions of trees are being planted by people. This frequently or usually leads to many other types of plants being able to survive in those areas — and often considerably more.

Reply to  AndyHce
August 18, 2018 3:48 am

but in Aus of you do that on your own land- at your own expense- and PROVE it works?
you get a visit from the govt
and they rip it up and bill you
see Peter Andews and Leon Ashbys experiences as two good one
then the decades old Keyline farming in NSW that greened and kept water on property
the govt flogged that off to be a housing estate
it was a world class example of good soil n land management in action.

meanwhile they pay more than the land would ever be worth to save? or plant chunks of some of the worst local species to farmers, has to be fenced off no grazing=fire hazard n pest issues fox rabbits, habitat for roos wrecking fences n crops near it..and its tied up for 100yrsmost of those trees have a max life of 30 or so yrs
its ludicrous but gets good press and the chosen few profit mightily

Steve R
Reply to  dennis Wingo
August 19, 2018 7:04 pm

Its quite likely that grasslands sequester more carbon than woodlands. The carbon becomes sequestered in the soil.

August 17, 2018 6:45 pm

KIp – you may find this of interest. Repeating from below:

Despite the huge quantities of manmade CO2 emissions, atmospheric CO2 did decrease year-over-year in some of the global cooling years from 1959-1974*.

Doug Cotton says:
January 8, 2012 at 1:57 pm
“Ferd. You do indeed seem very certain of your claims that “every time the planet warms CO2 levels increase” – so do they decrease as a result of it cooling – such as just after 1945? (LOL).”

Answer – Actually, Yes they did Doug

Despite the huge quantities of manmade CO2 emissions, atmospheric CO2 did decrease year-over-year in some of the global cooling years from 1959-1974*.

My question:
Has this not happened recently because of increased humanmade CO2 emissions, or because the world has, until recently, been getting warmer?

Regards (and LOL), Allan

Annualized Mauna Loa dCO2/dt has “gone negative” a few times in the past (calculating dCO2/dt from monthly data, by taking CO2MonthX (year n+1) minus CO2MonthX (year n) to minimize the seasonal CO2 “sawtooth”.)
These 12-month periods when CO2 decreased are (Year and Month ending in):
Modern CO2 data collection at Mauna Loa started in ~1958.

August 18, 2018 12:15 am

One of the many things wrong with this objection to global greening is the delusion that CO2 is the only thing controlling the climate.

Competent scientists know that plans have a cooling effect, so global greening has an effect on temperature in addition to CO2 reduction.

Reply to  BillP
August 18, 2018 1:21 am

Typo plants not plans

August 18, 2018 4:25 am

Excellent post Kip. I appreciate the cogent discussion of CO2 uptake and the insights into Zimmer’s faulty logic. Strawman arguments and other red herring fallacies are so common these days we sometimes don’t see them for what they are. Pointing them out as well as you do is a great service. Thanks.

Reply to  Andy May
August 18, 2018 6:29 am

Andy ==> Thank you Andy. One more short essay in this series … the horror of Global Greening not lasting forever.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 19, 2018 12:52 am


I Say a Little Prayer for You

August 19, 2018 10:13 am

Epilogue – It’s All Right Now

Jumpin Jack Flash – Aretha Franklin and the Stones

August 18, 2018 11:49 am

So, in other words…”It’s no good reducing CO2″ by the amount that China (the worst emitter) produces unless we can somehow control the lives of our less enlightened citizens and maintain the illegitimate power we scientists have accumulated by this obvious (to anyone familiar with the truth) leftist conspiracy…involving: the MSM, the Universities, and the Deep State, and sadly most scientists in every field of science.

My old aluminum hat (tin is so out of style and its effectiveness is still unproven) is almost completely worn out. But who out there is going to protect me and mine from this evil. It is big and it is real.

August 18, 2018 2:08 pm

How his obsession has robbed him of his humanity and rational thinking…

Reply to  hunter
August 18, 2018 2:28 pm

His “obsession” has robbed him of his sanity ! IMHO

Gary Pearse
August 18, 2018 3:19 pm

Kip, I’ve been commenting on the greening frequently here through a long period when advocacy scientists have been silent about this obvious positive benefit of increased CO2. I’ve hammered on the exponential nature of the greening (from a thought experiment on the advance of green fringes into arid areas adding to the area of new plants plus fattening of the existing stock).

Moreover, the greening is an endothermic process, using up part of the energy budget. I calculated this as the energy content of 10Btpa of anthracite coal plus 10%. They definitely dont want to mention this cooling effect. Nor do they want to credit the reduced demand for water by global plants. The greening is the first unequivocal palpable evidence of manmade climate change and the climate alarm folk didn’t want to talk about it.

With world population growth attenuating to peak at ~9B, harvests burgeoning, global poverty reducing, abundant resources I’ve been touting a Garden of Eden Earth^TM by mid century or thereabouts. I have a feeling that my flailing on this may have attracted some notice and that they had to do something- it is the elephant in the climate change changeroom. Their response shows that they weren’t well prepared to do proper battle..

John F. Hultquist
August 18, 2018 9:33 pm

RE: Mauna Loa

The negative comments about measuring CO2 on Mauna Loa are misplaced.
Folks need to read what is done there, and how it is done.
It will only take about 1/2 hour.
After that, make your suggestions on how to do it better, and where.

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
August 19, 2018 1:07 am

Pity this graph stops early but it clearly shows CO2 rise.

comment image

I wonder where its all coming from?

Leo Morgan
August 20, 2018 5:41 am

I didn’t get the impression that their analysis included CO2 extraction by phytoplankton.
That seems a significant omission.
It might not be if CO2 is not the major limiting factor in their growth- and I know people have tried stimulating growth via iron fertilisation- but that cannot be global. I am certain we can expect global greening of phytoplankton as well.

%d bloggers like this: