The Fight Against Global Greening – Part 4

Guest Essay by Kip Hansen



This is Part 4 of a four part series.  If you are not familiar with The Fight Against Global Greening – Part 1,  Part 2 and Part 3 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”. And in Part 3 we discussed the fact that Global Greening, by itself, would not stop climate change.

In this final and shorter segment, I discuss the implications of the obviously true fact that Global Greening won’t last forever.

Let’s Look at #4:  “Global Greening Won’t Last Forever”

Here’s what Zimmer and Campbell say:

Global Greening Won’t Last Forever

There’s still a lot that Dr. Campbell and his colleagues don’t understand about global greening. Most importantly, they don’t know how long it will last.

As temperatures rise and rainfall patterns change, plants may stop soaking up extra carbon dioxide.

“Plants are quietly scrubbing the air of one China’s worth of carbon. What frightens me is knowing this can’t go on forever,” said Dr. Campbell. “If respiration catches up with photosynthesis, this huge carbon reservoir could spill back into our air.”

“There’s a wild card out there.”

— Carl Zimmer, “NY Times article “Global Greening….it’s Terrible

I’ll try to do a better job of stating Zimmer’s (and Campbell’s) position than they do.

Zimmer admits that the subject of Global Greening is young and still full of unknowns…the usual list includes known unknowns, unknown unknowns, etc.  It is refreshing to see an admission of anything less than Omnipotence and Settled Science.

“Most importantly, they don’t know how long it will last,” Zimmer says.

Well, neither do I (nor do you  or anyone else).   There is pertinent science on the topic though — greenhouse men have been growing flowers and other horticultural crops under enhanced CO2 for many years and there doesn’t seem to be an upper limit of CO2 concentrations that the atmosphere will be reaching, at least in this or the next century.


So, although various plants have their individual CO2 saturation points (the point at which increasing CO2 does not increase photosynthesis – colored orange), the general figure given for maximum benefit by many experts is 1000 ppm.  [The graph above is only illustrative.]  The important bit is that plants generally keep increasing photosynthesis with additional CO2 — up to about 1000 ppm.

The 21st Century average  annual increase in atmospheric CO2 is around 2.5 ppm per year, so that gives us, if everyone keeps emitting CO2 at the same rate, and no one even tries to meet Paris emission reduction targets,  240 more years of possible Global Greening effect from CO2 enhancement.   Of course, some plants will top out at 800 ppm, some at 900 ppm, some plants will find they don’t get enough water and some won’t find sufficient nutrients.

Now Zimmer and Campbell are afraid that at some point the horror-story RCP 8.5 scenario will actually come to pass, the planet’s average surface temperature will rise so high and droughts become so extensive (well, wherever it is not flooding)  that plants will not only stop absorbing China’s portion of emissions, but will die and all that carbon will be released back into the atmosphere — all at once — as CO2 through the breakdown of the plant debris. This is what Campbell means when he says “If respiration catches up with photosynthesis, this huge carbon reservoir could spill back into our air.”

It is certainly true that if all the plants died — or even if just a great percentage of the plants died — decomposition, through natural processes, would begin to breakdown the plant material on the ground and in the ground into simpler compounds and CO2 would be emitted — the principle of biological respiration in the carbon cycle.    Here is The Carbon Cycle.


Zimmer’s catastrophic fears will not be realized because of the grey boxes in the Carbon Cycle diagram — these are Carbon Stores.  They are unlike Campbell’s “reservoir of carbon” analogy — they are not a big dammed lake full of carbon dioxide that is posed to “spill” back into our air.  We see “Respiration” right above the black-and-white cow in the diagram.  More correctly, the flow of CO2 to the atmosphere from Decay and part of the exchange with the oceans can also be considered Respiration in the biological carbon cycle.  The Carbon Stores have been created as  carbon dioxide has been transformed  through photosynthesis and the actions of plant and animal life into vegetation (leaves, stems, tree trunks, woody brush), it has become soil and the organic matter in the soil, some is locked up in the surface waters of the oceans and much has sunk to the deep ocean not to be seen for centuries or millennia, sediments on the ocean floor are carbonaceous and will eventually become sedimentary rock through the process of rock formation,  some has become and will become deposits of oil and coal and gas and some is locked up in the bodies of all the planet’s animal life, including 8 billion human beings.

Dr. Campbell must be very confused if he truly thinks that the “end of Global Greening” would result in any sort of threatening sudden spill of carbon back into the atmosphere.

As I discussed in Part  — it is the bio-sequestration of carbon and once sequestered, the carbon will not return to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide for varying lengths of time — on a time scale ranging from days to millennia.

But Zimmer and Campbell fear another aspect of Global Greening:  What if man keeps emitting 40-50-60 billion tons of CO2 every year and things are being kept in check somewhat by the fact that Nature will have been soaking up 10-12-15 billion tons of that CO2 annually, and then suddenly Nature is CO2-saturated and photosynthesis levels off while CO2 emissions keep rising and rising?    Well, I guess that is within the realm of possibility — but like many alarmists visions of the future, it relies on the assumption that things will only stay the same or get worse — and neglects the more likely possibility that Mankind will mitigate the ill effects and reinforce and take advantage of the good effects of our changing world and climate.

I don’t think that it is overly optimistic to think that in the next 150 years we will see energy breakthroughs that obviate our worries of Global Warming by eliminating the need to produce electricity energy by burning hydrocarbons — oil, gas, coal, wood.

In the last 150 years, we have gone from the burning of peat, wood and charcoal; through the massive coal age; and the petroleum age.  The nuclear age got off to a good start, only to be stalled by the fears of the anti-nuke activists.  One hopes that with the newest designs for nuclear power plants and the hopes of fusion, the nuclear age will really get going again.

What we needn’t worry about are the groundless fears expressed by Dr. Campbell and parroted by Zimmer in the NY Times — the fact that Global Greening will not last forever is a simple biological fact and has no foreseeable downsides for mankind.

Global Greening is not terrible — GLOBAL GREENING  is WONDERFUL.

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Author’s Comment Policy:

To those who have managed to read all four of the essays in the series, congratulations, you exceed my expectations….I barely managed enough patience to write them.  In retrospect, I could have combined Parts 3 and 4.   I did think it was important to put the senseless fear mongering of Zimmer and Campbell to rest — countering them with basic science.

What I worry about is that the average NY Times reader is so deficient in basic science education that they will have read  Zimmer’s “Global Greening…Its Terrible” and not seen through the illogic and pseudo-science.    Hope that some of them may read here springs eternal.

As always, appreciate you having  put in the time to read here.

Address your comments to “Kip…” if you are speaking to me personally, and I’ll try to field your question or concern.

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Quick Links:

The Fight Against Global Greening – Part 1

The Fight Against Global Greening – Part 2

The Fight Against Global Greening – Part 3

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

bio-sequestration of carbon

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192 thoughts on “The Fight Against Global Greening – Part 4

  1. Kip,
    Thank you for another thoughtful, well-researched and well-written piece.

    Have you had any response from Messrs. Campbell and/or Zimmer?

    • I think the irony of that….is hysterical
      CO2 is captured from power plants…cleaned up…and sold back to people to be released back into the air

    • A title for a new Irma Bombeck book:
      “The herbs next to exhaust vent always grow the biggest.”

    • But flowers are just not as beautiful and, for example, marijuana is just not as nutritious when grown at these elevated CO2 concentrations.


    • Chaamjamal ==> Thank you for the link — lots of good journals references there for those interested in CO2 enhancement effect on plant growth.

    • Seed germination percentages increase with increasing CO2. It not just the speed of growth. Its more plants.

    • “Before it was expropriated by the global warming/climate change movement, the term “Greenhouse Effect” referred to the effect of elevated carbon dioxide in greenhouses on crop chemistry. ”

      John Henry Poynting coined “greenhouse effect” in 1909.

      “The important features of soil chemistry are the availability of water, nitrates, phosphates, and minerals.” And oxygen.

      • Kristi ==> Soil does need oxygen — to allow soil dwellers (microbes, insects, worms, itty bitty bugs and all) to do their thing. I’m somewhat uncertain as to why you are onto soil chemistry here.
        Plants need CO2 for photosynthesis (while giving off O2) and give off CO2 in respiration (while taking in O2).

        • Kip, plant roots need oxygen for their cells to live, and it is not transported from the leaves. That’s why plants can die in waterlogged soils. They actually wilt as if they were water starved, and that’s because the roots can’t function.

        • Kristi is the master of obfuscation. She is the mistress of tangential subject dodging. It’s about what could happen most times with her rather then what is likely to happen or what should happen based on past evidence. It’s sad you have to leave her to her misery but her consistent doomsday thinking is probably the only way she can get grants for her research.

    • There is an overwhelming amount of literature on growth under CO2 enhancement. Much of it deals with greenhouse culture which may not be exactly transferable to the world at large, just as shining an IR light on a closed cylinder of containing some CO2 may not model well what happens in the open atmosphere.

      What some experiments show is that, at least under the specified conditions, much higher concentrations of CO2 seem beneficial and certainly do not result in dying plants. None of those I’ve read involved raising temperatures to markedly higher levels, however. Does anyone know about maximum useful temperatures in greenhouses?

      These two experiments deal with CO2 levels up to 10,000 ppm.

      This article on setting up your greenhouse recommends 1500 ppm as ideal

      While I don’t have the energy to search for more I do clearly remember reading literature from a greenhouse equipment provider that stated their controller equipment came pre-calibrated for the generally recommended level of 1600 ppm (but was adjustable).

      Another article about what was described as the most popular orchid rasied for the florists industry found increased improvements in size, beauty, and growth rate up to their maximum tested level of 12,000 ppm.

      • At one time I was looking into the “CO2 makes plants less nutritious)….crap
        …I”m not buying that one bit

        They measured nutrition by weight…CO2 makes fruits grow faster and get bigger….if they measured like for like they would have found the same.

        Water does the same thing….a dehydrated plant is more nutritious by weight…it’s concentrated….than one pumped up with water

        note: never buy huge pumped up mangoes….not a lot of flavor and too much water

      • Andy ==> Ihaven’t seen anything anywhere that high concentrations of CO2 (within reason, we’re not talking actual percentage points — like 12000 ppm — 1.2%) are actually lethal or harmful in any way.

        The Zimmer/Campbell fear is that runaway AGW would have other negative effects (drought, heat) that along with/caused by higher CO2 would lead to less plant life.

      • I built and ran a large commercial plant nursery over many years, and I can tell you that as long as there is sufficient soil moisture, plants can and do tolerate tremendously high levels of heat, and in fact they grow like crazy under such conditions.
        Now, we were growing tropical ornamentals, but this includes a very wide sampling of plants native to the tropical regions of the world.
        It is factually the case that the vast majority of plants love it hot, and hate it when it is cold.
        And keep in mind that under conditions of elevated CO2, plants become far more resistant to the deleterious effects of low or insufficient soil moisture.
        And many sorts of plants do not need soil moisture…they thrive on the water they can pull from the air at night and on very humid days.

        • And one does not have to look very far or very hard to discern why it would be the case that plants tolerate high heat very much more readily than excessive cold, or even slightly chilly in the case of many tropical species.
          Ditto for high CO2 levels.
          The obvious reason is that for the vast majority of Earth history the temperature of the Earth was far higher than currently is the case, and had far higher levels of CO2.
          And it was under these conditions that plants evolved and came to fill every ecological niche on the planet, except the tops of permanently frozen mountains and in the polar regions during the rare ice ages.
          To be a warmista is to ignore entire branches of scientific knowledge.

  2. Stating there is anything good about what the green blob has labeled “pollution” results in a frantic effort to claim there isn’t any benefit after all. Doing cost-benefit analysis seems outside their mental map, as the environment is a matter of morality to them.

  3. “… plants MAY stop soaking up extra carbon dioxide.” The usual, obligatory conditional qualifier! Just once I’d like to see these prophets of doom have the courage of conviction to provide a proper scientific prediction of quantity or probability, with associated confidence interval — something that would allow us to hold their feet to the fire when their predictions fail. Mathematics is the language of science. These prophets use the language of lawyers and politicians instead of the language of scientists.

    • These prophets use the language of lawyers and politicians instead of the language of scientists.

      Real scientists are very careful not to overstate what they know, even most of the alarmist scientists. Alarmist activists like Mann and Hansen are willing to say things with absolute certainty that can’t be said with absolute certainty. committee hearing

      In his testimony before the House committee, Mann expresses absolute assurance. The other scientists sound like they are waffling because the science is not well understood and is far from precise.

      Just because you’re being careful with your words, it doesn’t mean you are prevaricating. Being absolutely confident, on the other hand, may just mean that you’re a good salesman or liar.

    • They dont do null hypothesis nor confidence intervals very well. Most climate scientists still think that at a 95% confidence interval, that that means there is a 95 % probability that their hypothesis is correct. They forget that they chose the confidence interval.

      • It worse than that. I was just reading through the high school chemistry book where they discuss the scientific method. They start ok with saying to make an hypothesis and decide what observation could be done to confirm it. But they end there. No mention of making a null hypothesis, which could be the simple inverse of the original and then find observations that prove it also.

        I plan to tell the teacher a simple story I learned long ago. A scientist made a hypothesis that ice floats because air is trapped in the frozen water. He took thousands of measurements at rivers, lakes, oceans, the arctic, the antarctic, salt water, fresh water, contaminated water and sure enough, he proved his hypothesis. He could find nothing that changed what he originally thought. What he didn’t realize is that he didn’t make a null hypothesis by simply taking the inverse, i.e., the water floats because air is NOT trapped in the ice. How would you prove this. Create a vacuum, add water, then freeze. What do you think would happen?

  4. In comment on a previous post I asked what would the CO2 ppm be if all the fossil fuel resources were converted to CO2, and a kind respondent gave a figure of 600ppm.
    Does this figure still stand scrutiny? If it does, then in the first graph we only get to the early part of the orange area.
    If so, where is the problem?

    • Well we have a 160 year supply of coal and in 160 years time I am sure that more will be found. So we may not run out of coal before we reach 1000 ppm. However Mother Nature will probably sequester the CO2 somewhere, probably the same place where Trenberth’s missing heat went to. So given these 2 conflicting scenarios, who knows?

      • The estimate is based on current rates of consumption. If we reduce rates, it will last longer, if we increase rates it will decline more quickly. It may be a safe bet that more can be discovered, but it is less certain how much. The economics of coal mining today favors open pit mining, meaning it has to be shallow. Therefore, it is less likely that shallow deposits have been missed than deep deposits. Deposits sitting on the Continental Shelf, while they have been worked off the coast of Wales, are not amenable to open pit mining either. So, that means the exploration area available for coal is smaller than that for liquid or gaseous hydrocarbons.

        Either way, it isn’t how long the recoverable coal lasts, it is the total amount that gets mined and burned that is the important consideration for the contribution to atmospheric CO2. With estimates of longevity of CO2 over a thousand years, a hundred years give or take won’t make a big difference.

    • StephenP ==> We have almost no idea what this “all the fossil fuel resources ” might mean. There have been some guess-timates of CO2 atmospheric concentrations if all KNOWN easily recovered fossil fuels were burned — but guesses just won’t do . So much depends on time scale.
      Every time someone has said “by the year XXXX we will run out of coal — oil — natural gas –” the date comes and goes and we still have unknown and HUGE — and always larger — quantities still left in the ground.
      I think, thus, that the question is unanswerable.

      • I think we might get some boundary limits and perhaps better than that by calculating the total volume of sedimentary rock on the Earth, then making some educated guess as to what percentage of this volume is organic material.

      • Another way to look at the, IMO, virtually limitless potential for adding to what we are able to extract and use is to consider that less than ten years ago, so called experts were telling us, smugly and with all confidence, that there was not enough undiscovered oil and gas in the US to even bother looking for it.

    • Just look at the Carbon Cycle graphic… There are lots of sources of CO2, not just what humans release by combusting the fuels we can find. Furthermore, the sinks have been taking CO2 out of the air for billions of years, apparently faster than it has been restored. And all that would have happened even if Mankind had never come along and tamed fire.

  5. Of course, the only way you can get to very high levels of warming is large amplification from a much more active hydrological cycle. This makes the projection of widespread drought under those circumstances rather absurd.

  6. ” The nuclear age got off to a good start, only to be stalled by the fears of the anti-nuke activists.”

    This sentence should read: “The nuclear age got off to a good start, only to be stalled by a Soviet disinformation campaign.”

    I don’t think anyone believes there is enough readily available fossil fuel to get us to 1000 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere.

    BTW: how do the warmunists propose to have warming without more evaporation, higher humidity (%H2O in the atmosphere) and rain. Some places that are now warm are deserts. Some are rain forests. Higher temperatures cannot necessarily cause less rain.

    • Walter ==> One can find anything one wishes in the chaotic results returned by Climate Models. web Search “NCAR 40 Earths study” — and there you have it.

  7. The question is how much usable “fossil” hydrocarbon is in the ground and how fast will we be using it. What will the resulting ppm of co2 be. The infamous “The Limits to Growth” was part of the required reading list in college (many, many moons ago). One thing that many commentators seem to miss that is my most relevant recollection of the entire book is that it stated very clearly to me that changes in technology could not be accounted for in the model and that they would make massive differences in the output.. In the same vein, not only future technology changes but a broadly defined change in the productivity index of labor, energy use, or the production of any good or service deemed to be of value. To assume that we have good idea of what this will be at some future date in the next 100 years given the changes in the last 100 years would seem to be a repeat of the same failure of “Utopian” dreamers we have always seen in the past. They are simply trying to brow-beat everyone into their “Utopian” version of Plato’s “Republic”, which is what all the AGW’s climate agreements are implicitly intended to guide the planetary governance toward.

    • al in kansas ==> Welcome pilgrim! You are quite right — efforts to project conditions 100 years in the future are seriously misguided and fail on the very point you. This is sometimes referred to as the Horse Manure Crisis error — where predictions of cities being buried in their own horse manure (as populations increased) were foiled by the invention of the internal combustion engine powered automobile. The definition of “air pollution” alaso changed….from the stink of feces (human and animal) to the stink of auto and diesel exhaust.

  8. Once upon a time, if you wanted to scare yourself you visited the booth at the firemen’s carnival or the traveling circus where Madame Swammiegee would dim the lights, stare at your palm, then move her magic Ouija Board and tell you your scary, “inevitable” fate. For some reason, kids and susceptible adults find this sort of thing fun, in that chills-up-the-spine scawwy movie way. Ah, for the innocent past!

    Today, we have “scientist”/grifters with multinational bankers’ backing moving the same old Ouija board.
    I find them a lot less entertaining–and credible.

  9. “The 21st Century average annual increase in atmospheric CO2 is around 2.5 ppm per year, so that gives us, if everyone keeps emitting CO2 at the same rate, and no one even tries to meet Paris emission reduction targets, 240 more years”

    At a growth rate of 1/2% per year and a PV of 408ppm it will take 180 years to reach 1000ppm. In any case that should be our goal. I somehow think that Mother nature wont let us increase that much. The atmosphere always seems to sink the CO2 somewhere else like Trenberth’s missing heat.

    • Alan T ==> Always a different way to figure the unknowable future. I used the average PPM increase for the eight years of the new century — given that the Keeling Curve seem preternaturally straight. Different folks — different strokes.

  10. Carl Zimmer is nuts.
    Who here on this planet would not want a warmer, greener world? A world where food grows easier than today, and the NW passage would be open as a trading route?

      • Tom & Clyde ==> Always, among the self-annointed literati, there are those who wish to lord it over the common people and tell them they are killing themselves by living.
        The misguided Hothouse Earth group is just the Club of Rome reincarnated — with a slightly different but scarily identical message.
        These groups never include their own members in those responsible for the “coming destruction” — it is always “present company excluded”.
        If psychology were a real science, maybe they could explain this — I sure can’t.

      • Clyde Spencer,
        No I wouldn’t, those “responses of my antagonists” on that blog will only be a waste of my time. For they’re believing in things they don’t understand.
        No ice at the Arctic would never be a problem, just as returning Greenland to a green and useful place would not be a problem.
        And no we wouldn’t drown if that happened. 😉

        • “No ice at the Arctic would never be a problem”

          I expect Kip holds the same deluded misapprehension. It shows a sad unwillingness to even look at the evidence, to just lazily say it can’t exist.

        • tom0mason, replying to RyanS

          No ice at the Arctic would never be a problem, just as returning Greenland to a green and useful place would not be a problem.

          This isolated sentence is somewhat difficult to comment about, since we do not know all of the previous words from the other site. However, if one assumes this is about the oft-repeated theory of the Arctic Death Spiral of ever-increasing heat being absorbed by ever-warmer newly-exposed Arctic ocean waters as the ice melts, be aware of the actual year-round effect: From today’s sea ice extents, more energy is lost from the open ocean year-round than is gained from the few summer months of solar exposure.
          Now, those five fleeting months of summer DO result in solar energy being absorbed (ocean waters are generally “darker” and have a lower albedo than ice-covered waters at the same latitude.) If one assumes that some given September arctic sea ice low point does ever go to some mythical “near-zero” conditions, be aware that the arctic melt ponds began freezing overnight as early as Aug 12 (according to J Curry, SHEBA, 1998), and by mid-September, only a few hundred watts are available at the arctic surface over the entire day. We can be sure that, yes, the sea ice will re-freeze each fall. In addition, 1 million sq kilometers covers a continuous sea ice field from latitude 85 all the way to the north pole, all the way around the pole. So, even 1 Mkm^2 leaves a very, very large ice-covered area.

          However, through the entire summer, the sun is so low in the sky, with such great atmospheric absorption that very little solar energy is actually present to be absorbed. The summer arctic sea ice at measured albedoes as low as 0.39 to 0.45, and with open water direct radiation albedo as high as 0.35, there just isn’t very much difference between the ice-covered sea and an open ocean when measured over the entire year. Further, the open ocean loses much more extra energy all-year due to increeased LW radiation, evaporation, convection and reduced conduction losses than does an ice-covered sea exposed to the same atmosphere temperatures and winds.

          • “In addition, 1 million sq kilometers covers a continuous sea ice field from latitude 85 all the way to the north pole, all the way around the pole. So, even 1 Mkm^2 leaves a very, very large ice-covered area.”

            All true at the moment but that state has been less common than the ice-free state over geological time – it is temporary. What is more, the trend to a warmer ice-free Arctic is now (historically) rapid. The Arctic has more often been ice-free year round.

          • Even if it did happen, which it won’t, there’s nothing wrong with the arctic being ice free year round.

          • The assumption appears to be that ice reflects light (and therefore heat) very well, so keeps the polar waters cold, whereas the polar waters. being dark, will absorb the incident heat and will warm, also assumed to be excessively, and thus the ice will disappear.

            The counter assumption is that the ice forms an insulating blanket over the polar waters, preventing loss of heat, whereas the polar waters, without ice, being dark, will happily radiate heat and therefore keep cool.

            Which, if either, assumption is the correct one?

          • Dudley Horscroft

            The assumption appears to be that ice reflects light (and therefore heat) very well, so keeps the polar waters cold, whereas the polar waters. being dark, will absorb the incident heat and will warm, also assumed to be excessively, and thus the ice will disappear.

            The counter assumption is that the ice forms an insulating blanket over the polar waters, preventing loss of heat, whereas the polar waters, without ice, being dark, will happily radiate heat and therefore keep cool.

            Which, if either, assumption is the correct one?

            Actually, BOTH are correct. But, the first one – the theory pushed by the very simplistic “arctic death spiral” propaganda – is only true for all latitudes between 50 north and 50 south.

            But there is no sea ice in that area.

            Further north, in the latitudes between 71 north and 90 north where the sea ice actually resides through the 5 months of arctic summer (mid-April to mid-August), this simplistic theory using average values from the equator-tropics-temperate climates for albedo and solar elevation angles, falls completely on its face those 7 months of the year when the ice DOES insulate the arctic ocean from the increasingly cold arctic air and its eventual heat loss to the infinite cold of outer space.

            Careful! There is a limited area of Arctic sea ice down at latitude 60 north – There, the sea ice follows two different heat exchange curves depending on the day of year. But, but after 1 July, all of this regional sea ice has melted out (and most is gone by 1 June), and so the “Less Arctic Sea ice = More heat lost from the newly opened arctic ocean over the span of an entire year” rule applies for all sea ice present from 1 June through its mid-Sept low point through the next spring’s 15 April turnover point.

          • Thank you! From your reference article,
            Clyde Spencer

            I also did a discreet summation of the frustums of a hemisphere (Af = 2πR DX). Multiplying the normalized (to a unit area for the hemisphere) frustum areas by the average reflectivity for the angle of incidence, for each of the frustums, gives the area-weighted reflectivity for each frustum. Summing them gives an area-weighted average reflectivity of about 18%. This is the instantaneous area-averaged reflectance over a hemisphere. This is almost an order of magnitude larger than the sunlight reflected from a small spot on the surface of the ocean directly below the local noon sun during an equinox.

            I have the equation for measured open water albedo (with a correction for wind speeds up to 30 m/sec, though the most probable Arctic wind is 2-5 m/sec) for all solar elevation angles. If you approve, I’ll forward that to your email for a specific albedo calculation at all SEA’s for the entire hemisphere. Yes, your supposition that the “pure still water laboratory Fresnel value” is incorrect is justified. Also, what I did find is that the albedo for direct beam radiation is very, very different that albedo for diffuse radiation. The difference made an amazing change in the total heat energy absorbed in the Arctic through the year.

          • RACookPE1978,

            The Readers Digest version is that albedo is appropriate for diffuse reflectors, like clouds, sand, or surf. But still water has to be treated as a specular reflector with a secondary component of internal diffuse reflectors such as sediment and plankton. And, at angles of incidence greater than 60 degrees, the specular reflectance approaches the diffuse reflectance (albedo) of snow.

            c underscore spencer123 at att dot net

      • Clyde,
        You did well on The Con. It would have been pleasant to help you, but I might have been the first person to get a life ban from the Con, for reasons I thought rather thin at the time, for words that are commonplace now.
        Please do that Con masochism writing more often, it compensates me for not being able to speak. And BTW, it also raises important scientific observations. Geoff.

        • I’l second that, Geoff, as one who is also banned from that one-eyed site. Clyde did a great job. Hopefully, by Clyde advertising their bias, they may wake up and allow more scepticism.

          We can only hope. Thanks Clyde.

        • Geoff and drongo,

          It doesn’t help my blood pressure to have to deal with the insults and name calling, and try to continue to remain civil. So, I can’t do it regularly. However, I’m discovering the weak points in their arguments and logic, so I will be back to haunt them. I have had comments removed before for embarrassing the the newly-minted PhD with remarks such as “Even fishermen understand the glare from specular reflection,” when chastising the author for referring to the Arctic “Dark Water.”

          Thank you for your support.

          • You’ve obviously thought about this more than I have Clyde. My question to you is: weighing up the conflicting feedbacks how would having no NH summer seaice affect the overall global energy flux (year to year)?

          • RyanS,

            My first inclination it to answer your question as a geologist. Changes beget changes. Humans assign subjective value to changes. However, making the observation that when the Arctic had palm trees and dinosaurs, life not only continued, but probably had greater abundance and diversity than at present. So, interestingly enough, progressives seem to promote political changes, but abhor physical changes.

            To respond to your specific question, I’m of the opinion that the impact on “overall global energy flux” from an ice free Arctic is typically overstated, as in so-called experts talking about the “Dark Water” absorbing more sunlight than ice. The warming in the Arctic is probably the result of of a small increase in CO2 in an area that tends to have very little water vapor. Thus, the CO2 is a substitute for the missing water vapor absorption bands found everywhere else on Earth. There is already so little energy arriving at the poles (Which is why there is ice!), that a small increase in absorption will probably have little global impact, UNLESS atmospheric or oceanic circulation is effected. That it would do so is currently only speculation.

          • It is my opinion, supported by only one fact and that is the Earth has been around for 4.5 billion of years and had life for roughly 80% of that time, that the Earth is a self-regulating system. Doesn’t really matter what happens, a feedback someplace kicks in and reduces or reverses the effects. It can’t be any other way, we wouldn’t be here if it were.

    • Right? Might be a reason why folks from Michigan winter in Florida, and not the other way around. Most of us prefer temperate climes.

  11. Human life does not last forever.
    Therefore there must be no human life.
    The universe does not last forever.
    Therefore there must be no universe.
    Good luck with that.

  12. It is an iron-clad requirement of the climate-industrial complex that any potentially beneficial effect of carbon dioxide emissions must be shown as soon as possible to be ultimately deleterious. After all, if it were generally accepted that “hey, this CO2 stuff may be good for us after all”, such a realization would inevitably be followed by a loud sucking noise as the tsunami of climate change funding goes down the tubes, if I am not mixing metaphors.

    As soon as NASA had announced that the world was greening as a result of increased atmospheric CO2 levels, it was entirely predictable that massive efforts would be made to show how this was a bad thing, and that greening was to be dreaded. The science doesn’t matter, what is important is getting the media to parrot your synthetic fears. Anything to keep those funds coming in.

    • Roger ==> Quite Right….Zimmer and Campbell were not the first to try and convince us that Global Greening must be Bad. They were a current example — and one that showed how journalists and scientists can be pressured to reverse themselves in the public eye to conform to the mandated meme of the Climate Team.

      • “…mandated meme of the Climate Team…”

        It’s got a good rhyme but you can’t really dance to it. Maybe a country music song?

  13. The graph of the rate of photosynthesis vs CO2 concentration does not suggest a plateau at 1000 ppm CO2. Rather, it looks like a standard logarithmic relationship that would be expected based on a linear relationship between rate of photosynthesis and CO2 concentration. This is easily derived from a simple differential equation

    dP/dt = kC,

    where k is a rate constant, C is the concentration of CO2 and P is the rate of photosynthesis. Since there is likely to be a nearly linear relationship between the quantity of CO2 consumed and the quantity of plant mass produced by photosynthesis, the rate equation is probably adequately represented by

    dC/dt = kC.

    Integrating this equation gives a logarithmic relation between C (or P) and time.

    In reality, this is likely to be too simple. Photosynthesis is dependent on both CO2 concentration and quantity of plant mass, and plant mass is clearly increasing since the phenomena of “greening” has been observed. Therefore, the rate of photosynthesis is likely to be better expressed by

    dC/dt = kC * M(t),

    where M(t) is the quantity of plant mass involved in photosynthesis over time.

    Clearly, “greening” has the potential to accelerate the rate of photosynthesis and likely proceed at a rate faster than the logarithmic rate estimated earlier, without reaching a plateau as suggested in the article.

  14. Pardon me if I veer from this segment topic back to an earlier point.
    I have no trouble understanding that less transpiration due to CO2 means fewer nutrients in our green-leafy edibles. Less water filtered means less solubles remaining.

    I WOULD like proof that it appreciably affects nutrient levels in our seed edibles. Corn Wheat, even tomatoes.
    They don’t release water in themselves. Since the soil moisture/mineral content in any given spot remains essentially the same, then a moisture filled kernel or fruit should reflect little change, based on CO2.

    Anyone know of a definitive study on that?

    • jimA ==> I gave some links to these types of studies in Part 2, link in the Quick Links at the end of the essay. There is a good review study on wheat….hint: they don’t know why or exactly how.

  15. Molecules and photons are extremely small.
    First we start by finding the mass of the atmosphere

    Pressure = Force / Area

    Pressure = 101,325 Pascals

    Area = Area of Earth

    The earth is a near sphere. A sphere has an area of 4*PI*radius^2. Earth has a radius of 6,371 km = 6,371,000 meters. Area of Earth = 4*PI*6,371,000^2 meters^2 = 5.1 * 10^14 m^2

    Force = Pressure * Area

    Force = (101,325 Pascals * 5.1 * 10^14 m^2) = 5.17 * 10^19 Newtons

    Force = mass * gravity

    mass = Force / gravity

    mass = 5.17 * 10^19 Newtons / 9.8 ms^-2 = 5.27 * 10^18 kilograms

    Now that we have a mass in kilograms, we need to convert this number into grams

    (5.27 * 10^18 kilograms) * (1000 g / 1 kg) = 5.27 * 10^21 grams

    The molar mass of air is around 29 grams / mole

    (5.27 * 10^21 grams) * (1 mole / 29 grams) = 1.81 * 10^20 moles

    Finally, multiply by Avogadro ’s number to convert moles to molecules

    (1.81 * 10^20 moles) * (6.02214179*10^23 molecules/mole) = 1.09 * 10^44 molecules

    Since CO2 is 408ppm by volume (this is where my calcs may not be quite correct) there are approx 4.4472 x 10 ^40 no. of CO2 molecules

    for number of photons
    Multiply the the Planck constant, 6.63 x 10^-34, by the wave’s speed. Assuming the wave’s speed to be the speed of light in a vacuum, which is 3 x 10^8 meters per second: 6.63 x 10^-34 x 3 x 10^8 = 1.99 x 10^-25.

    Divide the result by the wave’s wavelength. If you’re calculating, for instance, for a wave with wavelength of 650 x 10^-9 meters: (1.99 x 10^-25) / (650 x 10^-9) = 3.06 x 10^-19

    Divide the power of the wave by this answer. If, for instance, you are calculating all the photons emitted by a 100-watt bulb: 100 / (3.06 x 10^-19) = 3.27 x 10^20. This is the number of photons that the 100 watt light bulb transmits each second or 3.27 x 10^18 photons per watt.

    Now disregarding the NASA energy budget diagram and any back radiation( argue that on another thread please) we have 163.W/m^2 hitting the surface but 40 W/m^2 leaving the surface directly and 86.4 W/m^2 by evapotranspiration and another 18.4 by convection that leaves 18.5 W/m^ leaving the earth surface in long wave IR.
    So because the earth surface transmits on average 18.5 watts /m^2 or (see above for photons per watt) 6 x10 ^19 photons per second/m^2

    and because the earth surface area = 5.1 x 10^14 m^2 that leaves 3.06 x 10^ 34 number of photons per second leaving earth surface.

    or every second there are ((4.4472 x 10 ^ 40)/ (3.06 x 10^34)) = 1.45333 x 10^ 6 CO2 molecules to catch each photon leaving the earth surface.

    • AlanT,
      But each GHG molecule can capture, emit and be ready to repeat in a very short time. You need to include the cycle time to see what is possible. Geoff.

  16. The doomsayers and their acolytes assume that warming is linearly proportional to c02 increase. Even the IPCC says that it is not so. Furthermore, the actual climate sensitivity to c02 may be zero or close to zero, certainly no more than about 1 degree. So what if we get to 1,000 ppm over the next 240 years? It will be net beneficial. Why should we saddle the unborn with trillions of debt and shackle them with no freedoms in futile effort to control atmospheric co2 concentration? Who stands on the high moral ground here?

  17. I am truly trying to understand this angst and the phobias that seem to accompany the angst.

    “What we needn’t worry about are the groundless fears expressed by Dr. Campbell and parroted by Zimmer in the NY Times — the fact that Global Greening will not last forever is a simple biological fact and has no foreseeable downsides for mankind.” – article.

    The problem here that goes undiscussed is the one where there is so much OXYGEN in the air that plants (blue-green algae, for one thing) have to boost the invention of oxygen-breathing animals on land and in the sea, in order to keep the atmosphere balanced properly, to support life. Now, granted, the one-celled critter Euglena did a fine job, acting as if it were both plant and animal, but those days are something like a billion or so years in the past.

    So, I’m not really sure what the problem is because if you remove O2/air-breathing animals from the mix, you’ll return to an atmosphere with oxygen levels too high for plants to do well at all. Insects like dragonflies might become big enough to have four-foot wingspans – stuff like that – but really, you need to invent some O2-inhaling critters if they are to keep things balanced.

    So exactly what IS the problem, again?

    • Sara ==> For Zimmer and Campbell, the problem was ih April 2017, Zimmer wrote a nice article for the New York Times titled “Antarctic Ice Reveals Earth’s Accelerating Plant Growth”. Infamous climate skeptics made a big deal about it and pointed to Zimmer’s article for support. See Part 1.

      Science writers and climate researchers tend to catch heck from the Climate Team (the set of bully-boys that run RealClimate and their close associates) if they say anything that pleases the skeptics. So he had to get with Campbell and try to find out what might be bad about
      Global Greening so he could debunk his earlier story.

      I asked Zimmer about his change of heart on the topic, but he has not replied after almost two weeks — so probably won’t.

  18. Don’t worry. The ignorant prelates of the Church of England’ s Synod are ‘disinvesting in fossil fuels’ in order to starve Africans so we won’t be reaching any high levels of CO2

  19. Respiration, as the plant metabolizing & spinning off CO2, (in response to highlighted box quote : “… temperate rise … if respiration catches up with photosynthesis …”) shows variable response to elevated CO2 (eCO2). In some plants varieties eCO2 causes the rate of leaf respiration to go up, yet in others eCO2 does not affect the leaf respiration rate or even may reduce respiration.

    As for temperature, in the case of some trees at least the cooler domain adapted tree genotypes actually sustain a higher rate of leaf respiration than their warmer domain genotypes. As per Oleksyn (1998)”Growth and physiology of Picea ables populations from elevational transects: common garden evidence for altitudinal ecotypes and cold adaptation.”

    Although eCO2 itself does not equate to greater leaf respiration it (eCO2) can result in a greater leaf area, which means there is potentially more leaf area to be respiring. If the leaf developmental growth pattern includes production of more mesophyllic cells then the leaf will be thicker & there will be potentially more respiring mitochondria square mm.

    I would hesitate to extrapolate that all thick tropical leaves are going to be respiring at a higher rate due to eCO2 leaf area increases in square mm. The dark green tropical leaves are dark from making anthocyanin content out of their photosynthesis derived “sugar” to protect their photo-system 2 subunits from high light.

    Which brings us to the concept that +/- up to “X” level of eCO2 it is a driver of productivity. I’d like to mention this because many comments over the years have cited greenhouse ppm levels & may not understand greenhouses try to also control light in addition to water & nutrients.

    High light (photon flux) a fluctuating response to CO2 occurs. Levels of leaf stroma cytosol phophorus (in it’s inorganic, not esterified) are low during high light & basically this means photosynthesis is held back (which also favors more starch being made from carbon than sugar).

    When high light irradiance is reduced there is an increase of phosphorus in it’s inorganic form & the apparatus of CO2 uptake goes up, which means increased photosynthesis. When there is a suitable (for that plant) reservoir of inorganic phosphorus in the leaf cytosol the leaf can perform it’s natural photo-respiration (distinct from mitochondria respiration ) & photosynthesis can increase.

    The opposite paradigm is when photo-respiration is impaired & the leaf looses sensitivity response to internal leaf oxygen; which varies among plants,. The leaf responds with causes changes in the mix of enzymes & inter-dynamics with a sucrose synthesis enzyme downstream reduces photosynthesis (see starch paradigm above ). Anyway, if a leaf restores its O2 sensitivity then photosynthesis can procede & it is increasing the level of leaf cytosol phosphorus (inorganic) that effectively boosts this O2 sensitivity.
    [Pardon unedited comment, am typing on small tablet.]

    • gringojay ==> Fascinating — can you translate that into a plain language explanation of how this relates to the Global Greening issue — beyond the offered “Approximate maximum photosynthesis at
      CO2 1000 ppm — unless limited by another factor. Temperature, Water, or Soil Nutrients”.
      Are these just the chemical details of “the miracle of photosynthesis”?

      • Hi Kip, – My intention was to point out that a linear calculation of CO2 in vs. CO2 out involving plants ignores how life happens. Also wanted to give an example of why extrapolations from greenhouse cultivation are not always a reliable global metric.

        Elevated CO2 (eCO2) tends to make leaves thicker, although I can not say always. Yet one feature is that under eCO2 the thickening of leaves is more so for crops than the degree of extra leaf thickening in wild plants due to eCO2.

        The thicker leaf also means there is “dilution” of the mineral elements & as mentioned earlier this alters what is going on. Even in single cell algae the thicker it is the less photosynthesis occurs.

        In your 3rd installment yesterday I refered to how under eCO2 phosphorus is “diluted” under eCO2 & today above elaborated on phosphorus as a resource pool inside a leaf.
        Wheat varieties tested showed at 550 ppm eCO2 some (not all) cultivars concentration (mg/g) of phosporus was reduced over 15%. Although the phosphorus yield amount in grams per sq. mm at eCO2 in some wheat tested was more than 20% greater in contrast some contained less than 15% more phosphorus at eCO2. In my mind the variability of photosynthetic plants’ performance makes it hard to say how long, if ever, & at what ppm CO2 “greening” will cease to be a significant factor.

        I’ll add that since productivity of C4 plants under eCO2 do not respond the same as most C3 plants so they add another factor (along with your mentioned temperature, water, nutrients & soil) to how much total CO2 plants can process globally. And in some C4 plants less of the major enzyme (phospho-enol-pyruvate carboxyl-ase) involved in getting CO2 to chloroplasts (from leaf mesophyll) is made when there is a deficit of leaf phosphorus (inorganic). That said it must be understood the C4 plants deal with low leaf phosphorus relatively better than do C3 plants; & this despite C4 plants usually having a greater need for phosphorus (inorganic) than the proportional quantity of phosphorus a C3 would need.

        Another frequent comment seen over the years is that eons ago wild plants thrived in super elevated CO2 & so are evolved to do better the higher the CO2. As refered to with respect to just phosphorus there are gene expression shifts in plants as they are growing & researchers report
        no absolutely equal up or down regulation of a suite of genes in even the same kind of plant.

        There are archaeological digs providing reason to believe it was only ~9,000 B.C. era that some plants were domesticated (although humans were caring for plants in cultivation-like episodes for some local plants since ~3,000 years earlier, or about 12,000 B.C. era). However it was probably anywhere from 1,000 to almost 3,000 years later (archaeological finds from ~8,000 -to 6,000 B.C. era) that humans seem to have focused on domesticating food crops they could uniformly harvest at fixed times (ex: grain & legume).

        I’ll leave it to others to try and coordinate ambient CO2 at the above cited plant domestication waypoints. At least in the NearEast there was an approximately 100 year (~6,200 to ~6,100 B.C. era) cold period at the crucial juncture just before fixed towns show up in archeological digs (by about 6000 B.C. era). If the productive crop varieties that came through that cold period are the core plant stock humans have been breeding edible plants from this may be one reason why experimental eCO2 research results frequently vary; as well as why in some cases the effect of eCO2 seems to revert (ie: genetics).

        • For continuity I will post this observation after reading some others’ comments. Unlike we humans plants do not always pass O2 through mitochondria Complex III & involve cytochrome c + cytochrome oxidase.

          The “alternative oxidase system” (AOX) is well known to be active when plant deals with dry conditions & not as relevant under well watered states. Buuut, AOX as a factor in low water states (it sustains chloroplast ATP synthase enzyme to support photosynthesis) is different than AOX in elevated CO2 (eCO2).

          Bear in mind that eCO2 leaf photosynthesis needs less ATP to manage energy equation balancing with NADPH; because eCO2 diminishes Rubisco oxygen-ase activity as it fosters Rubisco carboxyl-ase functioning. The decrease in photo-respiration under eCO2 & how cellular Calvin Cycle performance needing less ATP to NADPH means the mitochondrial electron transport doesn’t need to make as much ATP – so less sugar is oxidized in the mitochondria & there is less NADH needed.

          AOX in eCO2 becomes relevant because it can use triose phosphate (leaf cell Calvin Cycle can lead to formation of triose phosphate) to sustain photosynthesis; otherwise if triose too sparse then excessive starch/sugar accumulates in the leaf. In general terms, if not enough triose in play then hexose plugs up the leaf with “sugar” phosphates (technically, organic molecule hexose phosphate has to go out of leaf stroma to let inorganic phosphate into that stroma & if stroma phosphate in the inorganic form is low then less ATP is made).

          Because eCO2 occassions lots of carbohydrates it is AOX that contributes to putting them to use. However, eCO2 still provokes more respiration, which varies among plants, so AOX performs another role in eCO2 by causing increased respiration outside the leaf (source) in
          other plant tissue (sink).

          Another common comment over the years has been eCO2 makes plants tolerate dry conditions. Actually even in eCO2 low moisture causes a decrease in gene transcripts of the enzyme (protein) ATP synth-ase, which reduces the photosynthetic rate. But in eCO2 it is use of AOX ameliorating the neccessity for lots of ATP & the more dynamic Calvin Cycle
          (which in a sense traps CO2 & makes “sugars”) under eCO2 that sustains photosynthesis under low moisture.

          In practical terms the type of plant, & likewise the genotype of a kind of plant, that has more AOX capability is better at thriving under eCO2. When theorizing about upper limit
          of ppm CO2 (& factor for respiration burden) we need to look at AOX in several contexts.

          • gringo ==> Thanks for the detailed plant physiology and biochemical discussion of enhanced CO2 conditions as relates to photosynthesis — as always, the layman’s version is oversimplified and the generalities used even in scientific studies can be misleading.

  20. Thanks for the articles, I know it takes a lot of work. Lots of learning needed even (especially?) among the learned. From a journalist—“Scientists have used science to scientifically prove that Louisiana has the worst summers in the entire nation.” From a scientist–“Subtropical Storm Ernesto became Tropical Storm Ernesto on Thursday afternoon as it headed toward the chilly waters of the far North Atlantic.”

    Zimmer and Campbell need an assignment to describe the details of each of your arrows in the carbon cycle. That will keep them busy until the apocalypse.

    • HD ==> One only tries to do what he can. It is surprising that Campbell seems to be a bit confused about carbon sequestration.

  21. The real danger is, for some reason, Co2 drops to below 200ppm. Of course Monsanto hates Co2.

    • OCW ==> CO2 below 200 ppm would be a natural disaster. But why do you think that “Monsanto hates CO2”?

  22. Kip
    I agree with all that you say. However. I am not in favor of nuclear because of various reasons.
    Gas powered plants are best.

    • HenryP ==> reasonable people can disagree — thanks for not giving in to the temptation to list all the reasons for your preference as many would have done — thanks for staying on topic.

  23. If the atmosphere contained 180 ppm CO2 as it did during the last glaciation then we would be desperately trying to add more CO2 to stimulate plant growth. And we would continue to do that until the level was much higher than it is now as the benefits outweigh any negative effects.

  24. “What frightens me is knowing this can’t go on forever,” said Dr. Campbell.
    Really? It “frightens” you? Scared of your own straw man, are you?
    What’s really scary are the depths that science has sunk to with the whole manmade globalwarming/climate change idiocy. What’s even more frightening is the way the CAGW ideology threatens humanity.

    • Bruce Cobb,
      Could not agree more. There is no place for human belief in hard science. An author using “frightens” shows the hand of the fiction writer. Geoff.

    • Seriously.
      What can anyone say about a grown man who is “frightened” by things he has conjured up in his imagination?

  25. For all the imagined and expected cornucopian greenness this delightful gas (and the embarrassing amount of energy we as a fortunate by-product)…

    “suddenly Nature is CO2-saturated and photosynthesis levels off while CO2 emissions keep rising and rising? Well, I guess that is within the realm of possibility…”

    You guess that is within the realm of possibility? You concede this possibility like losing a wisdom tooth. And despite it being the awful truth, you would rather lose another tooth than admit to yourself that that will have meant be the end of your so-called “greening”.

    In your limited opinion you think that is alarmist, I don’t.

    ” — but like many alarmists visions of the future, it relies on the assumption that things will only stay the same or get worse — and neglects the more likely possibility that Mankind will mitigate the ill effects and reinforce and take advantage of the good effects of our changing world and climate.”

    Despite the fact that you concede there is that possibility and despite the fact “the horror-story RCP 8.5 scenario will actually come to pass, the planet’s average surface temperature will rise so high and droughts become so extensive” possibly even if conditions just “stay the same”, you blithley insist it will be a bed of roses forever because you “don’t think that it is overly optimistic to think that in the next 150 years we will see energy breakthroughs that obviate our worries of Global Warming”. And you say it is alarmist to think otherwise?

    Uh huh. You assume mankind must and “Mankind will mitigate the ill effects” of all this “staying the same”. But simultaneously lets just keep doing business as usual for oh, I don’t know, say until after my great, great, great, great granchildren are dead.

    Is that the best you’ve got? Is that how vou’ve done a “better job of stating Zimmer’s (and Campbell’s) position than they do”?

    Congratulations, you sir are a deluded kook.

    • RyanS ==> Tantrum over? Note that name-calling is better left on the schoolyard, it is not acceptable discourse here.

      I’d be glad to hear why you agree with Campbell’s fear or why you feel that the simple fact that Global Greening will have to end sometime is a bad thing . . . . something to be feared.

      • I know you’d rather talk about green herrings, but I’d like to hear how you expect prompt mitigation to avert “the horror-story RCP 8.5 scenario” and “150 years” of BAU can occur simultaneously, because it seems to me only a deluded kook could.

        • RyanS – It would be productive to read your perspective in response to Kip. My impression after reading both sides of this issue is that Campbell’s position is an unsupported hypothesis. Feel free to chime in.

          • Chad, my point of view is that extra CO2 helps some crops in greenhouses and has probably contributed to the observed ‘greening’, probably. But in reality it is at best clutching at straws to think there will be much benefit – unless you exclude every other variable like you can in a glasshouse and at worst its just concocted turd-polishing.

            If you include: rising temperature and thus evaoporation and changed rainfall patterns (plus god only knows what black swan events) the turd loses it’s gloss. These negatives matter a lot less to the relatively wealthy urbanites of northern latitudes who get roses for a few extra weeks or shovel a little less snow off their driveway, but to 2 or 3 billion subsistance farmers in the moonsoon belt, it is a little less appealing.

            But see, now we are discussing it instead of Kip’s delusion.

            Green herring.

          • vapid, pale comebacks aren’t helping you look any less unimpressive but I am enjoying the futile attempts,Ryan.

            You are a one trick pony bud. Let’s step back down from our third grade stoop of poo-slinging and attempt polite discourse, per Kip’s request.

            Are you capable of that? We have a similar distaste for your perspective, but we are willing to at least argue the evidence, or lack thereof. Couldn’t you least attempt it?

        • And you are so confident that the worst case scenario is definitely going to happen that you are willing to condemn millions, perhaps billions of other people to lives of deprivation and starvation?

          • he wouldn’t hold that opinion if he lived in one of those Shi*hole countries. I’d put big money on that.

    • The chances that plants will decide that they no longer need CO2 and stop taking it up is close enough to zero that only paid trolls worry about it.

      Please list what this “ill effects” of CO2 are.

      • Drought. Rising sea levels. Melting glaciers which provide water for 1B people. When rainfall occurs, it is often coming in extreme amounts. Go ahead and tell India and the 800,000 people who have been displaced due to the worst flooding in 100 years about the “harmless, beneficial trace gas CO2”. I’m sure they can trade that for food and shelter.

        • Chris,

          The connection you are attempting to make between CO2 induced warming and the flooding in India is absurd. And, if you read what you actually wrote, you’d find the reason…”worst flooding in 100 years”. The simple, unfortunate truth is that extreme weather events have always happened, and we have every reason to believe they always will. There’s no need to invoke the specter of henny penny and cry “the sky is falling”. Especially when doing so serves merely to line the pockets of crony capitalists and increase control of governments over their citizens.


          • Ah yes, appeal to authority.
            Along with moving goal posts, one of your favorite intellectual activities.

            1) The real world evidence shows that there has been no increase in such events over the last 50 years.
            2) Even the IPCC states that it is impossible to tie individual weather events to CO2.

          • Mark…
            , one of your favorite intellectual activities.

            I’m not sure intellectual was an appropriate word choice

          • Chris,

            I’m sorry, perhaps you meant to reference a different paper? The one you listed is a statistical analysis of rainy days in India, and makes no mention of CO2 directly. It does reference and quote IPCC AR4 in the intro:

            According to
            the latest report of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
            Change (IPCC 2007), another aspect of the
            projected changes is that “wet extremes are projected
            to become more severe in many areas where
            mean precipitation is expected to increase, and
            dry extremes are projected to become more severe
            in areas where mean precipitation is projected to
            decrease. In the Asian monsoon region and other
            tropical areas there will be more flooding”.

            Beyond this general statement, I found no science or research aimed at attributing any specific event to CO2…which is what I said was absurd. Pending any error in my reading/understanding of the paper you cited, and as well, any additional research to the contrary, I stand by my statement. Indeed, it’s been noted repeatedly by climate scientists on both sides of this issue that specific weather events cannot be attributed to CO2 induced warming.

            The general trends discussed in P Guhathakurta et al (2011) are certainly of interest for “hydrological planning” as noted in the paper, but do not offer us any insight into CO2’s specific role.


        • Chris ==> You are conflating the benefits of Global Greening with the possibilities of harm from “climate change caused by rising CO2”. This is what Zimmer and Campbell were doing.

          The point of this four part series was to disentangle the two issues — Global Greening being wonderful does not necessarily mean that everything about rising CO2 is wonderful. Likewise, if one believes that rising CO2 is the most terrible thing ever, that does not mean that Global Greening, a positive effect, is also terrible. That view is illogical.

          • So let me take a quick stab at summing up this whole thing… Greening due to rising CO2 is bad because it has to end sometime. Is that it in a nutshell? So the response could be as simple as, I concede your point, but let’s ride this pony as far as it will go! Fair enough?

        • Chris, all of those delusions exist only in computer models, not the real world.

          As to the flooding, like this summer’s heat wave are just regular ordinary weather. There isn’t a shred of evidence that CO2 influenced any of them.

        • Chris,
          Get a grip and take a deep breathe.
          I sure am sorry you are so emotionally overwrought by your misapprehensions about matters geographical.
          Maybe try breathing into a paper bag for a while.
          Once you calm down and quit panicking, here are some facts to consider:

          Worst flooding in 100 years means that 100 years ago, when CO2 was barely above preindustrial levels, they had worse floods.
          Sea level has risen steadily as CO2 has increased hugely. No correlation is the only rational conclusion.
          Precipitation provides water for people…glaciers lock it up and prevent it from being used.
          If people are using glacial melt…it is because they are melting, instead of not melting and hence growing.
          If it gets colder and glaciers stop melting…that will be a real problem.
          Most mountain valleys have no glaciers, and from these places come rivers that do a fine job of providing water for people.
          Which part of the word “glacier” does your brain translate into “only reason people have water to drink”?

  26. From Campbell, just before where we hit the paywall:
    based on long-term atmospheric carbonyl sulfide (COS) records, derived from ice-core, firn and ambient air samples. We interpret these records using a model ….

    The guy measures sulphur, a Liebig Limiter for plant growth second only to nitrogen THEN uses a model, = a reflection/magnification of the computer programmer’s own thinking, to tell us that carbonoxide made the plants grow
    Amazing. How long was he hospitalised having his own foot stitched back together.
    Since, say, 1850 when the Victorians kicked off the Industrial Revolution, VAST amounts of coal were burned. Not far from here is in fact ‘The Black Country’.
    If you don’t know why its called that, look it up.

    Question: When did any sort of flue gas de-sulphurisation, in earnest, actually start?
    Tail-end of the 20th century. Where did all the sulphur from that coal (and diesel) prior to that time go?

    Then and all along, we are assured that soil organic matter is increasing.
    Show me pictures. In God I trust, all others bring data blah blah.

    And I want current data, data from 50 years ago, 100 years ago and 200 years ago.
    I don’t need to show you pictures. All I do is ask you to visit your local stream/creek/river after a typical local rainstorm and tell me the colour of the water you see.
    If it is brown, red, yellow or orange – I assert that soil organic matter in the soils upstream of your recording place have less organic content than they previously did.
    Its very simple.
    Or, you can ask any countryman /farmer about ground-nesting bird populations and or earthworm populations.
    Not difficult.

    Even simpler, visit places, lots of different places. When there, kick your shoes off and walk.
    High organic soil is soft and bouncy, low organic is hard.

    See what you can figure about the horticultural history of those bits of dirt. In particular, how often the dirt is ploughed and whether or not artificial fertilisers have been used on it.
    Without getting out of your car, is the landscape masculine or feminine?
    You know what I mean.

    Now, my appeal to authority. This is potentially very very scary what’s going on…
    Picture 1:

    Without absolute values, what is all that CO2 doing where it is?
    Global Greening (GG) says it should not be there. GG says CO2 should be high over industrial areas and low over places with lots of plants.

    Even the CO2 over China.
    Of course you say its because of all the industry there.
    I refer to a number I came upon 6 or 7 years ago that stated that China had only 7% of the world’s farmland yet somehow managed to feed 22% of the world’s population off that dirt.

    So what was everyone else doing? How did the Chinese manage to feed 22% of the people from 7% of the dirt – if not by throwing colossal amounts of artificial (nitrogen) fertiliser at that dirt?
    Or could it be the sulphur again, from all the coal they’re burning.
    Or nitrogen oxides coming from all that coal burning, in China currently and from the Black Country previously.
    Is the sulphur and nitrogen nourishing soil bacteria, in China and the Rainforests and THEY are releasing the CO2 plumes above the place in Picture 1 and doing it by eroding soil organic material. It also acidifies the soil, releasing/mobilising toxic heavy metals.
    Ah. Now you know why it is not advisable to consume large amounts of ‘Chinese Herbal Medicine’

    Now visit the OCO gallery properly:

    It takes forever to load so here is just one photo from it:

    WTF is going on there.
    Why is there no data from the places that previously had very high levels of CO2?

    It drives a Coach and Horses not only though the notion of Global Greening but the entire notion of CO2 induced Climate Change.

    What *are* NASA up to there……….

    • China imports a tremendous amount of food. I’m not sure what fraction of their consumption this represents but I would note nutrition gains and resulting increase in the weight and height of their youth.

    • Peta,
      Your 2 maps have different dates and are for different seasons. Seasons have an effect of patterns.
      As I understand it from memory of a few years back, to measure the absorption of light by CO2, by the satellite’s sensors, the best result is when there is strong light. This has been done by using light from specular reflection on the ground (as an example, a flash of light from a chrome car bumper). The abundance of the chance reflections on the ground changes with the ground surface, so different regions accumulate more better data in a given time. This might not be the answer you seek, but I hope it is at least a start.
      There are many, many questions following in the wake of this CO2 data. Geoff.

  27. “What I worry about is that the average NY Times reader is so deficient in basic science education that they will have read Zimmer’s “Global Greening…Its Terrible” and not seen through the illogic and pseudo-science. Hope that some of them may read here springs eternal.”

    The sun will probably burn out before that happens, because they haven’t figured out any other aspect of this subject yet. But then, that isn’t the point anyway. Knowingly or not, they will continue the fairy tale on purpose.

    • The average NYT reader IS that deficient. People are graduating acclaimed universities today with not even the most basic biological grounding in how their and their pets’ bodies work, let alone physics and meteorology. Hence, they can be sold literally anything–product or idea.
      CAGW’s the tip of the cliche iceberg. How about cryogenic chamber weight loss, anti-GMO’s, anti-vaxxers, “gender” theory, veganism, biking to work will save the planet, and “evil doesn’t exist, people just have differing perspectives,” famous last words of the two dewy-eyed naifs who just got a fatal tutorial by the ISIS JV team in Tajikistan?

  28. “There’s a wild card out there.”
    Yes, the fact that weather is random about its manifestations.
    (I guess they are playing their jokers, hoping to win the hand.)

  29. –I don’t think that it is overly optimistic to think that in the next 150 years we will see energy breakthroughs that obviate our worries of Global Warming by eliminating the need to produce electricity energy by burning hydrocarbons — oil, gas, coal, wood.–

    Nature grows plants and human grow crops. Nature makes Methane Hydrates, why humans can’t grow and farm Methane Hydrates. It seems if one is farming Methane Hydrates you might do in a way that allows it to be easier to mine. Such a crop might take a long time to grow, though one find ways to grow it faster, but we grow crops of trees which may require 50 year to harvest, though more commonly less time [less than couple decades] and are harvesting smaller trees. And methane hydrate may require longer time, but it’s real estate on the ocean floor, so why does matter much long time it takes?

    Anyhow, in next 150 years, we probably to mining the naturally grown Methane Hydrates, and burning natural gas creates a lot less CO2 for same amount energy as burning coal and burning coal for 80% of China’s electrical power needs is why China emits more than twice the CO2 as the US does. And of course natural gas is much cleaner in terms of pollution as compared to “other fossil fuels” [though Methane Hydrates aren’t related to “fossils”- as in taking large periods of time to develop- or there are no fossils found or associated with oceanic methane hydrates deposits- and entire ocean floor is geological speaking, young:
    “In essence, oceanic plates are more susceptible to subduction as they get older. Because of this correlation between age and subduction potential, very little ocean floor is older than 125 million years and almost none of it is older than 200 million years.” ]

    And 70% of earth surface is ocean, there lots ocean area in boundary of continental shelves and deep ocean and such regions have Methane Hydrates- and continental shelves in terms being covered with ocean water- is very young, geologically speaking- though older than living trees.

    And there is issue of energy efficiency and there a lot things related to that, an major aspect is related to population density and how cities are designed- which really very backward in terms of having much technological improvement. And efficiency related to computers and internet being used and getting new uses and greater use.

    And my favorite is the increased use space environment- satellite and etc.

  30. One of the potential downsides of global greening that is becoming apparent is the increase in forest productivity. That also means fuel loads are accelerating.

    The recent incidence of wild fires across the globe suggest that management practices are not keeping pace with the rate of fuel increase.

    • RickWill ==> Read the literature of those who are actually responsible for forest management and fire suppression. It has long been established wisdom that the wildfire problem in the US was caused by Smokey the Bear rushing out to put out every fire instead of letting these fires burn through the forest quickly, clearing out the extra fuel load and thinning the trees, but not hot enough to kill mature trees. Living trees are not the problem, but the fuel load on the forest floor and brush loads — remaining unburned by naturally caused lighting strike fires every few years.

      • Kip …and in addition some (many?) seeds, such as longleaf pine, NEED fire to even germinate. So new seedlings aren’t starting, which means the age of the forest is increasing, with consequent increased mortality, adding even more fuel, at a faster rate. Yeah, we really “managed” that forest well.

        There’s a table I can’t find right now, starts off with, for prairies, a fire should happen every 2-3 years, in a pine (conifer) forest, every 3-5 years, in hardwood forests, … I can’t remember it all, but EVERY type of ecosystem must have fire, at varying intervals depending on the ecosystem, to remain healthy.

        It’s not all bad. Seems to me I first heard of fire as a necessary part of ALL ecoscapes nearly 30 years ago. The word is gradually getting out.

  31. “plants have been growing at a rate far faster than at any other time in the last 54,000 years. Writing in the journal Nature, they report that plants are converting 31 percent more carbon dioxide into organic matter than they were before the Industrial Revolution.”

    How did they get from 1980 back to the Industrial Revolution?…there’s no science for this

    According to NASA…they didn’t start measuring “greening” until 1980…when CO2 levels were about 340ppm….according to NASA it’s the equivalent of two continental USA’s

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

    …that’s not even possible..but fits with their linear graphs they are famous for

    If the “earth is greening”…then it’s adding green….and will progressively take more and more CO2 out

    • Latitude ==> I’m not quite following you there …. NASA of course didn’t start measuring greening until they had satellites up and were taking high definition color (multi-wavelength) images. Dr. Campbell studied ice cores for atmospheric carbonyl sulfide (COS), to determine photosynthesis levels over time, discussed in a Nature report.

      • Kip, I can’t find what I’m looking for on the internet..not even NASA
        I’m looking for rate of doubling…1 plant, 2 plants, 4 plants, 8, 16 etc

        If the planet is greening, that’s what it’s doing…it wouldn’t be linear like the increase in CO2….it would start slowly increasing….then take off

        edit: LOL…I just realized….it would be a hockey stick

        • Latitude ==> It is not the reproduction of plants that is increasing, though it is true that there are more plants as well. It is photosynthesis that is increasing — which means plants are busier doing their planty thing — turning sunlight and water into sugars and then into plant matter which is animal food.
          No one thinks that a doubling of CO2 equates to a doubling of the number of plants or the planet-wide rate of photosynthesis.
          Plants are just busy growing more, growing bigger, spreading where they weren’t recently growing (like the Arctic southern edges).

    • Even more puzzling… how did “…before the Industrial Revolution…” turn into “…the last 54,000 years…”? (I admit 54,000 years would be before the Industrial Revolution, but don’t get me sidetracked.)

      I’m gonna repeat… Campbell’s comments sound like: increased greening due to increased CO2 is bad because it has to end sometime. That’s all.

  32. Well… history would seem to indicate that there will NOT be a great plant die off at 1000ppm CO2. Afterall, back when CO2 was 3000ppm, plants were big and abundant, and so were animals on both the land and in the sea. So history would indicate that the fear of 1000ppm CO2 is completely irrational.

  33. I published an article “Discussion: Over-emphasis on energy terms in crop yield models”, Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 77 (1995) 113-120. In this figure 1 highlights the limitation of relative radiation stress, relative water stress or relative nutrient stress on relative growth or relative yield. In this region ‘a’ growth and yield are nearly linear with radiation stress increases. In region ‘b’ growth and yields are marginally related to radiation stress [similar to figure presented in the present article with reference to CO2 — 1000 ppm peak]. CO2 is rarely used in this.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    [It is not clear what you mean by “radiation stress”. Does that mean when solar radiation levels (UV, light, IR ?) increase? Or when the growing season extends longer each year? .mod]

    • Dr. Reddy ==> Yes, light levels and soil nutrients, along with water availability are the other 3 of 4 factors affecting plant growth. CO2 being the fourth.

      • Humidity levels can also be important, especially when it is hot.
        Plants love it hot and humid.
        When people are suffering due to high humidity and hot weather, plants are loving it.
        I have found over many years that people are not quick to understand this…at all.
        Plants react to low humidity the same way we react to high humidity…it puts them under stress.
        When we are incredibly uncomfortable outside, is when plants are experiencing optimal conditions and explosive growth rates.

        • The role of relative humidity and soil humidity on crop development are discussed in the book referred above & Reddy, et al. (1984b) paper. In the case of crop growth relative humidity is accounted through potential evapotranspiration.

          Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    • Cont— From my book of 1993 “Agroclimatic/Agrometeorological Techniques: As Applicable to Dry-land Agriculture in Developing Countries”, pages 147-149 & 170-172:
      The crop growth models several stress factors such as radiation (Ri), temperature (Ti) and fertilizer (Ni) are considered in addition to water stress (Mi). The integrated stress index is expressed as the product of individual stresses (Gi) as:

      Gi = Ri x Ti x Ni x Mi

      Ri = 1.0 – Exp [-3.5 x Rt/750] wherein Rt is the daily total solar radiation

      However, the temperature stress may be a duplication of radiation stress. Temperature is the primary driving force in crop development while radiation (in terms of energy) is the primary driving force in the growth of a crop. Many biological processes follow a typical curvilinear pattern with the temperature (Figure on page 147]. This is a bell shaped pattern with 5 critical points, namely Tmin [minimum temperature], Tmax [maximum temperature, Ti inflection points around this temperature the changes in biological activity is maximum [linear ] and Tc a critical (or optimum) temperature at which the biological activity is maximum]. The limits vary according to crop/variety/phenophase. Thus, it is more important to define Tc and Ti for a given crop, which facilitates in the establishment of crop development function with reference temperature. One such function is given as (Reddy, et al. 1984b]:

      D = a ± b x [|19.6 – T|]1/3
      – b if T >19.6 oC or + b if T < 19.6 oC where D is the phenophase duration in days.

      Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    • Mod — Sir, the energy from the Sun that reaches the Earth is termed as total solar radiation. The balance at the Earth surface is known as net radiation. These are given in my book of 1993 [revised edition is under printing by San Francisco based company] referred above in Chapter 1. Total [Global] solar radiation vary with the latitude and seasons. For crop growth we need certain level of this energy. If this is lower than this the growth is reduced and thus biomass and grain yield even if there is no moisture stress or fertilizer stress. After the optimum level the impact is not much on the growth. Total solar radiation is also an input in the evaporative demand that is used in the moisture stress.

      Growing season vary with the season and latitude depending up on the sunshine period — day length. Crop development means — period of days required to complete a phase of entire growth period. This relates to photoperiod and temperature. This is estimated in terms of degrees days or using the temperature function given in the cont– observation. If this period is reduced then the growth will be affected — early start of winter or early withdrawal of summer. These reduce the development period that affects the yield. [see pages 145 for crop development in the above referred book].

      Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    • As the water warms, so carbon dioxide comes out of solution. But as the atmospheric carbon dioxide increases, more goes into solution. The relevant rates of these processes must surely be known. So which is the more important, and thus are the oceans a net sink for CO2 or are they a net source of CO2?

      I hope someone knows.

      • dudley ==> No one really knows — the basic biological, chemical and physics facts are much more complicated than that (as always). We have no way to accurately measure anything about the oceans really, they are too vast for our limited tools — even the thousands of ARGO floats barely manage even the grossest measurements.
        We know the basics: warmer seas hold less CO2 gas, but CO2 is not just another dissolved gas in the ocean, it becomes involved in sea water chemistry, both inorganic and organic, and things get complicated quickly.
        The oceans are not like a balloon that gets filled with CO2 under this circumstance and lets it back out under some other circumstance. See the references in some of my Ocean Acidification essay (use the WUWT search tool).

      • Dudley,
        For a pan of water under lab conditions, these things are known.
        But as noted, the oceans are not simple at all.
        The water at depth is very cold and thus can hold huge amounts of CO2, and there are vertical movements of water that bring deep water to the surface and surface water to depth.
        At the surface there are diurnal changes in temp, and changes due to cloud cover and wind patterns and velocity. Over longer periods of time the patterns are even more varied and complex. There is rainfall, and evaporation. Salinity varies. Waves can vastly increase surface area at times. There are biological processes creating and absorbing CO2 all the time. And, again as noted, various complex and interrelated chemical processes are interacting with all of the above.
        The situation is likely more complicated than trying to keep track of water on, above, and below, the surface of the Earth.
        Imagine trying to figure out if the land of the Earth was losing or gaining water.
        One could probably say for a limited space in a defined period of time which was the case…maybe. But overall, or with any great precision or certainty?
        Of course, none of that will keep some people from telling everyone that they have it all figured out and we should just take what they say as the Gospel chiseled in stone.
        Like they do with the temperature.

    • Ve2 ==> He is a science journalist — not all NY Times science section journalists are ex-something ridiculous (though there are some….especially in climate)

    • I think that, amongst the folks who take every word in the NYT as akin to the Gospel, climate alarmism is quite fashionable, so in that sense…

  34. I believe several practical experiments with increased CO2 levels on plant growth put the “ideal” CO2 value nearer to 1,100 PPM. Of course they didn’t cover all different types of plants as that would require an exorbitant amount of funds, work space, support staff, and my personal favorite… testing repeated by different people at different locations.

    • ScienceABC123 ==> Like many topics, CO2 enhancement experiments get very complicated quickly. The easiest to manage are greenhouse experiments in which all four plant growth factors can be regulated (water, light, soil, and CO2).
      Real world conditions involving CO2 enhancement in real open field conditions are very hard to conduct — and for our purposes, these are the ones that matter.

      • “The easiest to manage are greenhouse experiments in which all four plant growth factors can be regulated (water, light, soil, and CO2).”

        Bingo! These reports, indicating that crops under increased CO2 levels have a reduced proportion of protein (for example) come from studies conducted under laboratory conditions, where CO2 can be increased while holding all other variables constant (that’s the way I would design the experiment). Which is fine for a laboratory, but in real world conditions, when one is gifted with an increase in atmospheric CO2 so that it is no longer the limiting factor, the intelligent farmer would strive to match all the other variables so they are not the limiting factor. So if the crop is coming in with reduced starch percentages, throw on some more N2 fertilizer. Problem solved! Keep playing with it, figure out the limiting factor and unlimit it!

    • Hey, maybe we could look at satellite pictures over time and see if the Earth is greening up, particularly in areas we would expect would only do so if CO2 was having an effect, if trees are growing faster for no other apparent reason, if crop yields are uniformly increasing even where all other factors are more or less the same, etc.
      Oh, wait…

  35. A challenge to the websites “Open Mind” and “AndThenTheresPhysics”

    In my opinion, “Open Mind” and “AndThenTheresPhysics”, are both just Alarmist echo chambers.

    They are NOT interested in open debate about global warming.

    The people who run these websites, and their followers, sit around insulting people who they see as “the enemy”. But they won’t engage with “the enemy”, in honest debate.

    They have insulting names for “the enemy”. “Deniers” is the most common.

    It is ironic, that Alarmists are actually the biggest “Deniers”.

    I have posted comments on both of these websites, in the last week. Anybody who reads my posts, knows that they are polite, they do not attack people, they do not use foul language, and they provide evidence to back up my views.

    Tamino always deletes my comments immediately. He doesn’t want his followers exposed to global warming heresy.

    AndThenTheresPhysics initially posted my comment, because he has not had contact with me before. After he checked out my website, he deleted most of my comment. The ideas on my website must be very scary, and AndThenTheresPhysics didn’t want his followers exposed to them.

    In response to my initial comment, AndThenTheresPhysics said, “I tend to have a low tolerance for comments that promotes scientific views that are clearly wrong. If you want to call that an “alarmist echo chamber” go ahead.”

    When did AndThenTheresPhysics become the God of Science, deciding what is right, and what is wrong.

    I thought that Science was an open ongoing debate, and that ideas which didn’t get disproved, became accepted. If you stop ideas being expressed, because you think that they are wrong, then it is no longer Science, it is Religion.

    My challenge to “Open Mind” and “AndThenTheresPhysics” is, decide what you want to be. An open forum for discussing global warming, or a bunch of losers, who sit around bitching and moaning.

    It’s YOUR choice.

    Your friend,

    Sheldon Walker

  36. The fact that individual plants may reach a CO2 saturation point is irrelevant. The real concern here is that plants may breed beyond a ideal population saturation point. As well-nourished flora breed profusely, they may become so concentrated that humans will not be able to see the trees for the forest.

  37. Kip,
    “… that plants will not only stop absorbing China’s portion of emissions, but will die and all that carbon will be released back into the atmosphere — all at once — as CO2 through the breakdown of the plant debris. This is what Campbell means when he says “If respiration catches up with photosynthesis, this huge carbon reservoir could spill back into our air.”

    I doubt that this is what Campbell means. I suspect he means that increased respiration could catch up to the increase in photosynthesis. As you know, plant respiration happens at night, when they are using the energy from stored sugars (which is why plants need O2, as well, which they use in the oxidation of carbohydrates), leading to the release of CO2. When temperatures rise, so does the respiration rate. If photosynthesis is limited by temperature, drought, water-saturated soil, nutrients, etc., at the same time respiration rates are higher, the net CO2 uptake can drop to zero. As I understand it, the “huge carbon reservoir” is actually referring to the current increase in carbon sequestration. When it is no longer sequestered, it just goes back into the atmosphere, and the rate of CO2 increase will grow.

    Note on your figure that respiration is not coming just from the cow, but from the garden below the cow.

    I suppose you could be right that Campbell is referring to plant death, but I don’t think anyone is seriously predicting that- not globally, anyway, unless there is runaway global warming. That truly would be catastrophic. I think it more likely that Campbell is saying something off-the-cuff. The point is that “global greening” could be limited by many factors, and without that greening CO2 levels will rise more rapidly.

    Greenhouses grow plants under carefully controlled conditions, and photosynthetic saturation curves like the one you show are ideals, not directly applicable to the field.

    • Kristi ==> I agree with you (mostly) about what Campbell fears — but what I still don’t get is how this basic fact of plant physiology — summarized in the phrase “Global Greening can’t last forever” — then makes Global Greening Terrible.

      Of course, for individual plants, respiration can not outrun photosynthesis. This means as well that individual forests can’t outrun their own photosynthesis. I added decay and ocean CO2 output under respiration as well, and you still can’t outrun photosynthesis (without a massive die-off to feed decay).

      And, right, Global Greening is of course limited — by the four factors of growth — light, temperature, soil, and CO2. Being limited also fails to make Global Greening Terrible.

      That’s what this series is about. Global Greening is not Terrible — it is wonderful.

      The issue here is similar to the nonsense in Nutrition science — where someone somewhere says “Vit XX is a SuperVitamin – cures everything known to man — prevents hair loss and cures cancers”. The comes the counter-attack — which often leads to the idiocy of “No, Vit XX is horrible — it is possible to overdose than that causes YY and TT and etc”. Well, Vit XX is really just another necessary Vitamin and is a good thing. The fact that it is not magical doesn’t make it a bad thing, it is still a good and necessary thing. One needn’t falsely paint it black to counter the over enthusiastic pro-Vit XX-advocates. Better just to tell the truth as well as we understand. That’s what Zimmer and Campbell should have done.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      • Kip,

        Just a guess, but I suspect the title of the article was not Zimmerman’s, but an editor’s. It’s a ridiculous title.

        Saying “Here are four reasons he believes nobody should be celebrating ‘global greening'” is different from saying it’s bad. It might not be worth celebrating if it’s expected to be a temporary phenomenon, for instance, or a “mixed blessing:” it could favor types of plants that aren’t beneficial, like weeds, or alter water tables through its effect on water use efficiency, or change microbial communities. I’m just playing devil’s advocate, I’m not arguing any of these is probable. Possible, though.

        “And, right, Global Greening is of course limited — by the four factors of growth — light, temperature, soil, and CO2.” Water, humidity, wind, ozone and other pollutants, O2, herbivory, disease, competition, symbiotic and parasitic organisms also play roles in growth. Many of these have the potential to be affected by climate change.

  38. Fortunately the effect of CO2 peaks out on temperature at much lower concentrations, so yes, photosynthesis outlasts the GH effect.

  39. All I know is, if CO2 concentrations and temperature keeps rising, it will be like the inside of a greenhouse, where plants don’t grow well…

  40. Has anyone gone to the comments section of the NY Times article cited above and left the Watts Up With That website address so the readers have the opportunity to read the truth? I try to do that when I can. Great article as usual!! Love this website! Thank you!!

      • honest liberty ==> The NY Times almost never (never to my knowledge) deletes comments that aren’t wildly in violation of their policies — even when reported by other readers.
        Never ever deletes mine — and I am a known contrarian in several different newspaper sections.
        Andy Revkin once referred to me as a “long time reader and sometimes critic” and linked to an essay of mine here at WUWT, then published a Guest Essay of mine at Dot Earth.
        Zimmer, though contacted, did not reply to my questions.

        • interesting. I must be used to the operations of the guardian and other such echo-chambers that refuse to allow polite, contrarian discourse based on evidence.

          I’m interested to see where the NYT moves with this new editor of theirs. sarah Jeong

    • Michelle Green ==> Welcome! The NY Times doesn’t allow comments on all articles. No comment section on Zimmers MATTER column which featured “Global Greening …is Terrible”.

  41. Epilogue:

    Thanks to you all for commenting here — a pleasant surprise with very little trolling and a lot of helpful and interesting input.

    One of the worst aspects of today’s media is the substitution of Advocacy for Journalism. We see this on the front pages regarding politics, in the Health and Science sections, popular science news outlets and even in scientific journals. Having and expressing a viewpoint about a science topic is not what I’m talking about — but the efforts to influence the minds of the general public with patently false or intentionally misleading information for the sake of forwarding a socio-political-ideaological position. This is what Zimmer and Campbell were engaged in in the New York Times with their “Global Greening…it’s Terrible” article.

    Note to Carl Zimmer — if you are reading here (like Andy Revkin did when I was writing about his NY Times pieces), please email me at my first name at the domain i4 decimal net. I’d really like to understand the reasons for your latest article — totally off the record — just to satisfy my curious mind.

    I am open to suggestions for topics to cover here at WUWT — if your suggestion rings my Curiosity Bell, I’ll give it a go.

    Thanks for reading.

    • “One of the worst aspects of today’s media is the substitution of Advocacy for Journalism”

      I agree Kip, but you’ve already trodden in your own turd.

      Global Greening being wonderful does not necessarily mean that everything about rising CO2 is wonderful”.

      Um, no of course it doesn’t, at this stage the jury is well and truly out as to any so-called benefits of greening. I am not saying there are none, but for all we know right now, the only benefit form Global warming might a brief period of less snow-shoveling for the lucky few who have driveways.

      Your advocacy is blatant and transparently biased. “Wonderful” is not journalism.

      I have a topic to suggest:

      Wagathon | February 2, 2016 at 4:19 pm | Reply
      Restart Question #1: does changing the atmospheric composition of Earth by ppm of CO2 cause the global to heat?


  42. They conveniently leave out that more plants means more animals as well as more timber, hay, and other products.

  43. “the general figure given for maximum benefit by many experts is 1000 ppm”

    Sigh! Here’s another misunderstanding of the meaning of words.

    When a greenhouse operator says these words – maximum benefit – he is talking about the increased marginal growth compared to the increased marginal cost of putting more CO2 in the greenhouse. If additional CO2 were free to the greenhouse operator, then he would use more CO2.

    I expect that research has been done to determine the most CO2 some particular plant species can utilize. And, since the earth has had past levels of CO2 in the atmosphere of many thousand ppm, I expect that topping out figure to be many thousand ppm.

    You can’t determine that figure by asking a greenhouse operator because the question has a different meaning to him. You need to talk apples to apples (no pun intended), etc. You need to run controlled experiments actually using different levels of CO2 WITHOUT RESPECT TO THE COST OF THE CO2.

    BTW, as population grows, and arable land remains finite (though larger with higher CO2), I expect greater use of greenhouses with their normally elevated CO2 levels.

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