March 23, 2017 at 7:04 am

REDEMPTION OF THE BEAST – The Carbon Cycle and the Demonization of CO2 – Part 3

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Read parts 1 & 2 here:

Irrigated Cotton, China
Photograph by Keren Su, Getty Images


One More Benefit: Carbon Dioxide and Ozone

There is another benefit to carbon dioxide enrichment that needs to be discussed. It relates to the effects of ozone pollution on plants. Ozone (O3) is a molecule composed of three oxygen atoms that normally makes up only about 0.6 parts per million of the atmosphere. The greatest concentrations of ozone are found in the stratosphere between 6 and 30 miles above the Earth’s surface. Stratospheric concentrations of ozone range between 2 and 8 parts per million, about 10 to 50 times greater than at the bottom of the atmosphere. At this height above the Earth’s surface ozone provides the crucially important service of intercepting ultraviolet rays which are very damaging to living things. However, at low atmospheric levels near the Earth’s surface ozone can become highly phytotoxic. Ozone can interfere with photosynthesis and a considerable amount of evidence demonstrates reduced crop yields when exposed to ozone pollution.

The website of the Missouri Botanical Garden discusses the damaging effects to plant life from too much ozone exposure.

“Ozone is the most damaging air pollutant to plants. The action of sunlight (ultraviolet radiation) on molecular oxygen and oxides of nitrogen spontaneously generate ozone . . . Ozone can move across great distances to cause damage to plants far from its origin and is therefore classified as a non-pointsource pollutant. The extent of damage depends on the concentration of ozone, the duration of exposure, and plant sensitivity. Acute damage to deciduous trees causes marginal leaf burn and dot-like irregular-shaped lesions or spots that may be tan, white or dark brown. Symptoms may spread over entire leaves. Another common symptom is bleaching of the upper leaf surface . . . Acute damage to conifers causes browning at the same point on all needles in a bundle (needle cluster).

ozone, damage, plants

Figure 6. Ozone damage on leaves of American linden or basswood tree (tilia). Accessed from http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org


Figure 7. Muskmelon leaves showing damage from ozone pollution.
Accessed from http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org

Due to the known damaging effect of ozone on plants, and knowing that atmospheric levels of CO2 were rising, and would probably continue to rise, and, that many of the same industrial practices that added to the growing carbon pool also contributed ozone to the atmosphere, a number of scientists have looked at the interactive effects of carbon dioxide enrichment and high levels of ozone.

In one important, statistically rigorous study, the researchers sought to determine the interactive effect on plants in an environment of both elevated carbon dioxide and elevated ozone. [see: Volin, John C, Peter B. Reich & Thomas J Givnish (1998) Elevated carbon dioxide ameliorates the effects of ozone on photosynthesis and growth: species respond similarly regardless of photosynthetic pathway or plant functional group: New Phytology, Vol. 138, pp. 315 – 325].

To better understand this situation the authors selected 6 perennial species consisting of two types of trees, quaking aspens and red oaks; two species of grass from the C3 group – western wheatgrass and prairie Junegrass; and two species from the C4 group – “sideoats grama” and little bluestem. (The number in subscript refers to the type of photosynthetic pathway.) C3 plants were discussed above. C4 plants have a different method of extracting carbon from the carbon dioxide molecule than C3 plants and are adapted generally to more arid environments. The idea in this study was to get a relatively diverse cross section of plants. To perform the experiment, conducted at the University of Wisconsin, 64 seedlings of each species were planted in two controlled environment growth rooms. Each room was divided into four individual chambers for the purpose of testing the different treatment regimes.

The authors describe the situation:

“In industrial regions, current ambient levels of O3 reduce photosynthesis in many, and probably most, plant species. Chronic O3 pollution commonly results in increased respiration rates, shifts in C allocation, decreased leaf retention, and shortened leaf longevity, and current levels are known to be high enough to reduce the growth and yield of agricultural crops and trees.”

After discussing their material and methods Volin and colleagues report on the results of their experiments, and the results proved quite remarkable. The first thing they noted was that “In all six species used in this experiment, plants grown at ambient CO2 were smaller and had a lower RGR (relative growth rate) when exposed to an elevated level of O3-induced reductions in in situ photosynthesis at ambient CO2.” In other words, under a concentration of CO2 equal to present atmospheric concentrations the presence of ozone caused stunted growth in the test plants. However, and this is where it gets interesting “Examination of the interactive effects of CO2 and O3 revealed that elevated CO2 reduced the deleterious effects of high O3 on both photosynthesis and growth.”

In other words, under a concentration of CO2 equal to present atmospheric concentrations the presence of ozone caused stunted growth in the test plants. However, and this is where it gets interesting “Examination of the interactive effects of CO2 and O3 revealed that elevated CO2 reduced the deleterious effects of high O3 on both photosynthesis and growth.”

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In conclusion they state:

“An elevated CO2 environment seems to ameliorate the adverse effects of elevated O3 on both photosynthesis and growth, regardless of photosynthetic pathway or plant functional group.” And, finally “The amelioration of O3 by CO2 concentrations forecasted for the next century may have important consequences for both individual and interactive species responses.”

Yes, important consequences indeed, potentially positive consequences that, again, are ignored or dismissed by the proponents of AGW (anthropogenic global warming) without further consideration. So, here we have evidence that the presence of elevated levels of carbon dioxide counteracts the detrimental effects of elevated ozone. We can add that benefit of carbon dioxide to the list.

Given what we now know about the power of carbon dioxide to stimulate plant growth it is time to address the question of what is happening on the global scale of terrestrial nature as a result of the enhancement of atmospheric carbon dioxide that is underway. To that end there is a considerable body of empirical evidence now available.

The Terrestrial Biosphere and Carbon Dioxide

By the early 1980s the first signs of what could potentially be a planetary scale response to carbon fertilization was becoming apparent. In 1984 the work of Valmore C. LaMarche, Jr. and his colleagues with the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, on rates of tree ring growth in subalpine pine trees in New Mexico, Colorado and California, appeared in the journal Science. [see: LaMarche, Valmore C. et al. (1984) Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide: Tree Ring Evidence for Growth Enhancement in Natural Vegetation; Science, vol. 225, Sept. 7, pp. 1019-1021]

The two tree species studied for this research were specifically bristlecone pines that grew near the tree line at altitudes typically around 10 or 11 thousand feet above sea level. Earlier studies by LaMarche and others discovered that tree ring thickness, and hence tree growth rates, began accelerating after about 1840, coincident with the transition out of the Little Ice Age. It was assumed that this was due to the warming climate. However, later studies up to the 1980s showed continued accelerated growth rates in spite of the fact the climate began to cool during this period and continued to do so through the 1960s and 1970s.

In the abstract of their report the authors write:

“A response of plant growth to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide, which has been anticipated from laboratory data, may now have been detected in the annual rings of subalpine conifers growing in the western United States. Experimental evidence shows that carbon dioxide can be an important limiting factor in the growth of plants in this high-altitude environment. The greatly increased tree growth rates observed since the mid-19th century exceed those expected from climatic trends but are consistent in magnitude with global trends in carbon dioxide, especially in recent decades.”

The next two graphs depict this accelerated growth rate in high altitude bristlecone pines as documented by LaMarche, et al.


Figure 8. Tree width indices for limber pine, sampled at Mount Jefferson Nevada. Note rapid increase in growth rate since the 1960s. LaMarche, et al. p. 1019

Figure 9. These are the growth records for bristle cone pines sampled from the White Mountains, California. They are typical of all samples gathered and studied by this team. Growth rates at the Sheep Mountain site increased by 106 percent between 1850 and 1983 and at the Campito Mountain site they increased by 73 percent during the same time interval. LaMarche et al. p. 1020.

After careful consideration of all possible explanations the authors’ state:

“We believe, from the evidence now available, that subalpine vegetation generally, and upper tree-line conifers in particular, could now be exhibiting enhanced growth as a direct response to increasing concentrations of atmospheric CO2.” They conclude by saying that: “Although high-altitude subalpine forests constitute only a small fraction of the earth’s standing biomass, increased CO2 uptake and storage could now be occurring in these habitats.”

Three years later a paper was published by the Royal Society of London anticipating the potential effects of enhanced carbon dioxide on forest growth. The author, Paul Gordon Jarvis (1935 – 2013) was a forester and ecologist with the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Edinburgh. It was clear to Jarvis that plants and vegetation must be taking up increasing amounts of carbon dioxide.

“Growth and partitioning to the roots of seedlings and young trees generally increases in response to a doubling in atmospheric CO2 concentration. Experimental results are very variable, because of the differing length of the experiments, the artificial conditions and the artefactual constraints. At larger scales, direct measurements of responses to increase in atmospheric CO2 are impractical but models of canopy processes suggest that significant increases in assimilation will result from the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentrations.” [see: Jarvis, P. G. (1989) Atmospheric carbon dioxide and forests: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, vol. B 324, pp. 369 – 392]


“Larger scales”
in this case could be regional, continental, or even global. Jarvis comments on an important fact. It is well known that there is a seasonal amplitude variation caused by the increased photosynthetic uptake of CO2 in the spring, causing atmospheric concentrations to go down and to rise during the winter when plants and leaves die-off. This oscillation is clearly shown in the Keeling Curve from Mauna Loa Observatory data upon which average global concentrations are inferred. Jarvis’s comment is in reference to the fact that the amplitude of this oscillation has increased: “Inferences from the increase in amplitude of the seasonal oscillation in the global atmospheric CO2 concentration at different latitudes suggest that forest is having a significant impact on the global atmospheric concentration.” The amplitude of the seasonal oscillation is going to be a direct function of total biomass. In other words, if the amplitude increases it is because there is an increase in the amount of plants and forests taking up and releasing CO2.

In discussing a possible temperature increase caused by increasing carbon dioxide levels, Jarvis admits that:

“The detection of such an increase is difficult, not least because over the past 50 years the temperature in the temperate region of the Northern Hemisphere has been decreasing at a rate of about 0.15°C per year as a result of various superimposed climate cycles. There is not general agreement that an increase in temperature has so far been detected.”

Yes, you read that right. For the half century prior to the publication of this paper in 1989, the global temperature had been cooling from its 20th century high during the 1930s. This fact alone casts doubt upon scenarios in which carbon dioxide is the principal driver of global warming, for exactly at the time humankind began to substantially add to the atmospheric carbon dioxide pool, global temperature began to cool! Clearly there were other factors at work − the “various superimposed climate cycles” to which Jarvis refers − whatever those might be. In the late 1980s and early 1990s the global temperature began to rise, but with the onset of the 21st century the rise has been in a state of pause and global warming proponents have been attempting mightily to explain away the pause.

Yes, you read that right. For the half century prior to the publication of this paper in 1989, the global temperature had been cooling from its 20th century high during the 1930s. This fact alone casts doubt upon scenarios in which carbon dioxide is the principal driver of global warming, for exactly at the time humankind began to substantially add to the atmospheric carbon dioxide pool, global temperature began to cool!

Jarvis conducted a number of first hand experiments on the effects of carbon dioxide enrichment on young trees, one of which involved approximately 30 each of both conifers and broadleaves. The experiments ranged in duration from a few weeks up to 2 ½ years.

Jarvis comments on the results:

“In all cases, the rate of growth of dry matter was increased at the higher CO2 concentration, the increase being in the range of 20—120% with a median of about 40%. In most of the experiments there were increases in the mass of leaves as a result of increases in the number, area or thickness. Masses of both fine and coarse roots were also increased . . . To a considerable extent, an increase in ambient CO2 concentration was effective in compensating for lack of light, water or nutrients . . . Young trees growing in situations of low nitrogen or phosphorus, or on small volumes of nutrient-poor soils, none the less showed increased growth in response to a doubling in ambient CO2 concentrations. A scarcity of nutrients does not prevent a growth response to increase in CO2 concentration.”

Jarvis then comments in regards to the carbon cycle that:

“Forests accumulate large amounts of carbon in woody branches, stems and litter. The standing crop of dry matter may typically vary from 100—500 t ha—1. (tons per hectare, a hectare being 10,000 sq. meters, or 2.471 acres) A stand of 320 t ha—1 of dry matter of typical composition will have taken up approximately twice that amount of CO2 during its period of growth, thus reducing the content of the atmosphere by that amount.”

The noteworthy lesson to be appreciated once more, is simply that as plants consume carbon dioxide in the process of photosynthesis, it is simultaneously being sequestered by becoming a part of the increasing plant matter and is therefore removed from the atmosphere.Jarvis realizes that this fact has potentially far-reaching implications when considered on the planetary scale:

“If the atmospheric CO2 concentration is so sensitive to the physiological activities of vegetation, particularly forest, proper consideration must be given to the possible role of vegetation in ameliorating the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration. A forest accumulating dry matter of average composition with respect to fats, proteins, carbohydrates and lignin at a rate of 5 tonne ha—1 per year, the approximate average for the U. K., would assimilate CO2 at a rate of ca. 10 tonne ha—1 per year, removing carbon form the atmosphere at 2.7 t ha—1 per year. Consequently, an area of such forest of 2 Gha would be able to assimilate the 5—6 Gt per year of carbon currently being added to the global atmosphere annually by the burning of fossil fuels . . . The approximate area of Europe is 1 Gha (10 x 106 km2). Thus a new, young, actively growing forest twice the area of Europe, could, in principle, assimilate all of the CO2 produced through combustion and oxidation at the present rate.”

Let’s try to make this easier to comprehend. The area of Europe is about 3.931 million square miles. Twice this amount is 7.862 million sq. miles. The total land area of the Earth is about 57.308 sq. miles. So if an additional land area equal to about 1/15th the land area of Earth became forested, that forest would consume all of the carbon dioxide we humans are putting into it from the consumption of fossil fuels!

Consider that the total desert area of the Earth is about 19 million square miles and that the total area of land abandonment and degradation according to the estimates of the Global Assessment of Soil Degradation (GLASOD) commissioned by the United Nations Environment Program, is somewhere around 8 million square miles. Together the deserts of the world and the degraded land equal about 27 million square miles. If just a little over ¼ of this land area were to revert to forest it would, again, yearly consume all the carbon dioxide we humans put into the atmosphere.

Obviously this affect could not go on forever. However, what it does mean is that as the density of Earth’s biomass increases, as larger areas of Earth’s surface become green, the biospheric demand for carbon dioxide will increase as well. Jarvis estimates that at least 80 years would transpire before such new, additional forest mass would cease to assimilate carbon. The key here would be well-managed forests, with regular harvesting and replacement planting of new trees as well as full utilization of the timber in such a manner that oxidation is minimized. What this tells us is this: if the biomass of the Earth is, in fact, increasing due to stimulated photosynthesis and carbon uptake, we have at least a century to make the conversion to carbon neutral energy technologies.

The paper I referenced above by Sherwood Idso, describing in detail his experiments growing orange trees under conditions of CO2 enrichment, addresses the issue of biospheric feedbacks.

“Consider the fact that CO2 is the primary raw material used by plants in producing organic matter via the process of photosynthesis, and that the more CO2 there is in the air, the better plants can perform this vital function, even under conditions of limiting light, water and nutrients. This being the case, as literally hundreds of laboratory and field experiments have clearly demonstrated, the CO2 sequestering ability of the world’s plant life should rise right along with the CO2 content of the atmosphere. And at some future date it may be possible that it will have risen high enough to offset man’s perturbation of the global carbon cycle and yearly remove from the atmosphere all of the CO2 that we yearly put into it, which would stabilize the CO2 content of the air and prevent it from rising further.”

After discussing the dramatic results obtained from his orange tree experiments Idso turns to the question of the effect on other trees comprising the total mix of Earth’s forests. To address that question he invokes the phenomenon of the fluctuating annual cycle of atmospheric CO2.

“When the terrestrial vegetation of the Northern Hemisphere awakens from winter dormancy each year, it withdraws great quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere as it begins a new season of growth, significantly lowering the CO2 content of the air. Likewise, when it senesces in the fall, great quantities of CO2 are liberated, raising the air’s CO2 content. The net result of these yearly recurring phenomena is a cyclic variation of the air’s CO2 concentration.”

But, as Idso point out, something very interesting is going on with this process:

“The peaks and troughs of this cycle are becoming more enhanced each year, something that every group of scientists that has ever studied the subject has concluded is due to the aerial ‘fertilization effect’ of the rising CO2 content of earth’s atmosphere. That is, as the CO2 content of the air rises higher and higher each year, the plant life of the planet becomes more and more robust, so that each spring and summer it extracts more CO2 from the atmosphere than it did the year before, and each fall and winter it releases more of it back to the atmosphere.”

Recall that we learned that biospheric productivity increased at least 33% for a 300 parts per million increase of atmospheric CO2 in order to appreciate the significance of what Idso says next:

“What is particularly noteworthy about this observation is that the amplitude of the atmosphere’s seasonal CO2 cycle is increasing at a rate that is four times greater than what would be expected on the basis of what is known about the growth response of non-woody plants to atmospheric CO2 enrichment. This fact implies that total biospheric productivity would increase by about 4 x 33% for a 300-ppm increase in the air’s CO2 content.”

Based upon studies by Piers Sellers and James J. McCarthy in Planet Earth: Part III – Biosphere Interactions, Idso points out that land vegetation accounts for about 90% of the amplitude of the annual carbon dioxide cycle. [see: Sellers, Piers, and James J. McCarthy (1990) Planet Earth: Part III: Biosphere interactions. Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union, vol. 71, no. 52 (Dec. 25) 1883-1884] As a percentage of the total planetary vegetation, trees account for about 75% of the land biospheric carbon exchange occurring in the process of photosynthesis. Therefore forests account for about 75% of 90% of the total global forest carbon uptake, or about 2/3. The rest of Earth’s vegetation in the form of the non-woody plants account for about the remaining 1/3 of the response.

Based upon the rate of increase in the magnitude of the annual cyclic amplitude that is occurring 4 times greater than calculations would predict, Idso derives a very simple equation.

4(33%) = 1/3(33%) + 2/3GF

The term on the left represents the 4x net productivity enhancement of the entire biosphere as a consequence of a 300 ppm atmospheric enrichment. The first term on the right is the known response of non-woody plants and the second term is the mean response of the global forest to the same 300 ppm increase. Idso then solves the equation for GF.

132% = 11% + 2/3GF
132% − 11% = 2/3GF
3(121%) = 3(2/3GF)
362% = 2GF or GF = 181%

This number is consistent with Idso’s empirical studies on orange trees. Regarding the same experiments discussed above, Idso and his colleague Bruce Kimball provide additional details in the Journal Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. In describing the increase in biomass both above ground and below ground, they note that

“although the fine root biomass density is enhanced by approximately 75% beneath the trees’ canopy, the fact that the roots of the CO2 enriched trees extend further out from their trunks than do the roots of the ambient trees results in a total biomass enhancement of 175%.”

Admitting that such an increase seemed hard to believe Idso and Kimball point out that

“A 175% enhancement of fine root biomass produced by a 300 (ppm) enrichment of the air may seem inordinately large, but other measurements we have made on the trees would appear to confirm its reality. Idso et al. (1991), for example, found the CO2 induced enhancement of total above-ground trunk plus branch volume to be 179%.”

Here we note something of great significance: Empirical studies in a microscale environment are consistent with the theoretical computations for the macroscale global environment, implying that an increase of 180% in the mean productivity of the world’s forests is not farfetched at all. What does this imply with respect to climate change?

Here we note something of great significance: Empirical studies in a microscale environment are consistent with the theoretical computations for the macroscale global environment, implying that an increase of 180% in the mean productivity of the world’s forests is not farfetched at all. What does this imply with respect to climate change?

Simply this: Projections of future rise in carbon dioxide content would be limited by the fact of being consumed by the increase in global biomass. Idso refers to the work of G. Marland from 3 years earlier (1988). In a report prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy, Marland, who later became a contributing author for IPCC reports, calculated that the anthropogenic release of carbon dioxide into the global atmosphere could be balanced by a doubling of the growth rate of Earth’s forests. Based upon the idea that forests account for 2/3 of total global photosynthesis, Idso calculates the amount of additional carbon dioxide necessary to stimulate a doubling of global photosynthesis. What he discovers has provocative implications, for, as he explains

“the maximum increase in atmospheric CO2 predicted for the future is actually identical to the equivalent CO2 increase of the past hundred or so years. Hence, we have already lived through an equivalent atmospheric CO2 increase that is as large as the maximum additional CO2 rise that could yet occur in conjunction with current CO2 emission rates.”

And then Idso poses the $64,000 dollar question: “If the past is prologue to the future, how much more CO2-induced warming is likely to occur?” His answer to that question is what has earned him the animosity of global warming promoters:

“Very little it would appear; for the most warming that is claimed for the globe over the course of the Industrial Revolution is about 0.5°C; and it can be effectively argued that only a portion of that warming may be attributed to CO2 and other trace gas increases. Thus, warming yet to be faced cannot be much more than what has already occurred, which may not even be sufficient to return the earth to the relative mildness of the climatic optimum that made possible the colonizing voyages of the Vikings.”

“Very little it would appear; for the most warming that is claimed for the globe over the course of the Industrial Revolution is about 0.5°C; and it can be effectively argued that only a portion of that warming may be attributed to CO2 and other trace gas increases. Thus, warming yet to be faced cannot be much more than what has already occurred, which may not even be sufficient to return the earth to the relative mildness of the climatic optimum that made possible the colonizing voyages of the Vikings.”


In regards to the question of the effect of a continued rise in the annual amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere by human activities, Idso points out that

“higher rates of CO2 emissions would require relatively greater atmospheric CO2 increases to sequester the additional carbon. But as the greenhouse effect of a CO2 increase in this range is less than that of an equivalent CO2 increase in the 300- to 600-ppm range, a near linearity would still be maintained . . .”

Again, the fact that each incremental increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations has a significantly diminished heat capturing capability than the equivalent increment that preceded it. Idso does stress the importance of preserving Earth’s forests since they function as such a powerful sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide, thereby significantly mitigating potential climatic consequences. In his closing remarks he puts the carbon cycle phenomenon into perspective:

“In this regard, nature becomes our ally, as increases in atmospheric CO2 result in growth rate increases of trees five times greater than growth rate increases on nonwoody plants. Hence, as the CO2 content of the air continues to rise in the years ahead, woody species will begin to expand their ranges, as is already happening in many parts of the world. Also, as vegetative productivity increases simultaneously over the entire planet, man will harvest greater quantities of organic matter from each unit of land, thereby alleviating somewhat the pressures that currently lead to the felling of forests.”

Finally, Idso points out that:

“As the rising CO2 content of the atmosphere thus provides a strong impetus for forest expansion, it likewise provides a solution to any problems its continued upward trend might produce, as it intensifies the major mechanism responsible for its removal from the air, operating in true Gaian fashion.”

So we see that by 1991 Sherwood Idso is realizing that a small increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations is beginning to stimulate a response from the biosphere and this stimulation could trigger a powerful negative feedback mechanism as far as greenhouse warming is concerned. We must now ask what evidence has accrued in the interim since Idso published his work, of an increase of terrestrial biomass, in other words, a greening of the Earth?

In an article published in the journal Nature in April of 1997 there appeared evidence portending things to come. The article was entitled “Increased plant growth in the northern high latitudes from 1981 to 1991.” The lead author was Professor Ranga B. Myneni with the Department of Earth and Environment at Boston University. Among the other four authors was the late Charles David Keeling (1928 – 2005), then with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. Keeling is well known in climate circles as the lead scientist responsible for establishing the carbon dioxide recording system at Mauna Loa Observatory that has documented the increase in atmospheric concentrations of CO2. The other authors included C. J. Tucker with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; G. Asrar with the Office of Mission to Planet Earth, NASA; and R. R. Nemani with the School of Forestry, University of Montana.

In the Nature article the authors present their analysis of data going back to 1981, collected by the Very High Resolution Radiometers (AVHRRs) carried on board NOAA meteorological satellites. These instruments can analyze the reflected wavelengths emanating from a variety of terrains, including desert, bare soil, inland water bodies, grasslands, forests and so on. Since each of these landscapes emits different wavelengths it is possible to draw conclusions about the relative abundance of each type of land surface and the extent of vegetation. Study of the global land data so produced led to the development of the “normalized difference vegetation index” or NDVI. The index is expressed as a scale from minus one to plus one and the greater the amount of vegetation the higher the number, with wavelengths in the range of 0.4 to 0.7 microns indicative of the photosynthetic activity of vegetation canopies.

Studying 10 years’ worth of data that started in 1981 the authors discern a striking trend. In the abstract to their article they state

“Here we present evidence from satellite data that the photosynthetic activity of terrestrial vegetation increased from 1981 to 1991 in a manner suggestive of an increase in plant growth associated with a lengthening of the active growing season.”

They further observe that the regions exhibiting the greatest increase occur between latitudes 45 and 70 degrees north. [See: Myneni, R. B. et al. (1997) “Increased plant growth in the northern high latitudes from 1981 to 1991” Nature, vol. 386 (April 17) pp. 698 – 702.]

In the same issue of Nature an article introductory to the paper by Myneni et al., authored by Inez Fung with NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, puts their work into perspective.

“Sustained long-term observations of photosynthesis are rare. Furthermore, the biosphere is notoriously heterogeneous. It is very difficult to extrapolate from field measurements at a few sites to behavior over a large region. . . Myneni et al. present satellite evidence that, on average, the biosphere between 45° N and 70° N has been enjoying increased photosynthesis between 1981 and 1991 . . . The evidence presented by Myneni at al. is the first direct observation of the biosphere that photosynthesis has increased on such a broad scale for such a long time. The satellite observations are extremely provocative and, the authors argue, reveal specific areas where changes have occurred . . . It will be a challenge for ecologists to explain how photosynthesis could have increased by some 10% from 1981 to 1991.” [See: Fung, Inez (1997) Climate change: a greener north. Nature, Vol. 386, April 17, pp. 659-660]

So here it is. By 1997 it had become apparent that because of the increased warmth since the late 19th century, coupled with increasing carbon dioxide amounts, the growing season had lengthened as had the degree of photosynthetic activity of the biosphere.

The work of Myneni et al. examined forest response between the latitudes of 45 to 70 degrees north. What about tropical regions?

This was manifesting as amplified vegetation biomass, hence the phrase “a greener north” in the articles title. The challenge to ecologists – to explain how photosynthesis could increase by 10% in a decade – is indeed provocative and implies the obligation to acknowledge a positive consequence to the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide that is taking place, in contradistinction to the politically contrived view that seeks to demonize carbon dioxide as a pollutant. With this attitude regarding carbon dioxide now dominating the public discussion, an admission by workers in environmental and ecological fields of a positive effect would become a major liability, especially those seeking grant money from politically controlled or influenced sources.

The challenge to ecologists – to explain how photosynthesis could increase by 10% in a decade – is indeed provocative and implies the obligation to acknowledge a positive consequence to the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide that is taking place, in contradistinction to the politically contrived view that seeks to demonize carbon dioxide as a pollutant.

More soon,

Randall Carlson

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  • Bill Watson

    It’s time to disassociate from the feckless and fraudulent Joe Rogan. A somewhat recent show featured a warmist extraordinaire by the name of Adam Cropp. Not only were his falsehoods beyond reason, Rogan held his own with his share of talking points. He brought up the documentary(?) ‘Merchants of Doubt” stating “the same people who were spreading misinformation about cigarettes being addictive were the very same people spreading misinformation about climate change.” Rogan talked about Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” as if the info was legitimate but unfairly slandered by the right.
    Cropp, on the other hand, said this:
    A 4.5^ increase by 2100 is proven to a 99.999% probability. Scientists won’t publish unless they are 100% certain.
    There is no debate, 14,000 peer reviewed articles with only 24 rejecting global warming say so.
    Over 50% of Greenland melted last year (2015, I think.) And much, much more.
    How sad it was to see Rogan sink to such depths, but it’s not like he hasn’t had the benefit of better information. The hell with him.

    https://youtu.be/6x-ovxX5dHI