Three Cheers for Carbon Dioxide

Carbon dioxide is plant food, one of the basic necessities for almost all life on Earth. That enviros have tried to turn CO2 into a bogeyman verges on the bizarre. In fact, increasing levels of CO2 have already been of great benefit to plants and humans. This paper by Indur Goklany and the Global Warming Policy Foundation is an excellent corrective to warmist hysteria:

Carbon dioxide fertilises plants, and emissions from fossil fuels have already had a hugely beneficial effect on crops, increasing yields by at least 10-15%. This has not only been good for humankind but for the natural world too, because an acre of land that is not used for crops is an acre of land that is left for nature.

This has been a huge boon to humanity, which has been undermined to some degree by environmentalists. In all of the quotes below, numerous footnotes have been deleted but can be seen at the link:

Between 1990–92 and 2011–13, although global population increased by 31% to 7.1 billion, available food supplies increased by 44%. Consequently, the population suffering from chronic hunger declined by 173 million despite a population increase of 1.7 billion. This occurred despite the diversion of land and crops from production of food to the production of biofuels. According to one estimate, in 2008 such activities helped push 130–155 million people into absolute poverty, exacerbating hunger in this most marginal of populations. This may in turn have led to 190,000 premature deaths worldwide in 2010 alone. Thus, ironically, a policy purporting to reduce [global warming] in order to reduce future poverty and hunger only magnified these problems in the present day.

Environmentalism kills. On the other hand, the supposed perils of increased CO2 have failed to materialize. The alarmists’ claims relating to rising sea levels are a joke:

Sea level has risen about 400 feet in the past 20,000 years, and continues to rise, albeit much more slowly than in many times past. That it continues to rise today is unremarkable. Its rise indeed signals a global warming, but not necessarily anthropogenic global warming. Anthropogenic global warming should cause an acceleration in sea-level rise, but several observational studies have failed to detect one. IPCC AR5 notes that, “it is likely that [global mean sea level] rose between 1920 and 1950 at a rate comparable to that observed since 1993.” Some studies actually indicate a recent deceleration. For example, Chen et al. find that the global sea level rose at a rate of 3.2±0.4 mm/yr during 1993–2003, but that rate has decelerated since 2004. By 2012, the rate of rise had slowed significantly to 1.8±0.9 mm/yr.

The alarmists’ models actually predict that there will be fewer extreme weather events, since the temperature differential between the poles and the equator will diminish. Global warming shills never mention this, however, preferring to blame every storm, flood or drought on global warming that hasn’t actually happened. Nor has weather taken a turn for the worse:

Although there has been an increase in warm days, accompanied by a decline in cold days, there have been no general increases in the intensity or frequency of other weather extremes, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, or droughts. Other recent studies confirm this for droughts and floods. Tropical cyclones, a category that includes hurricanes and typhoons, are neither more frequent nor more powerful. Data from 1970 onward indicate that global and Northern Hemisphere accumulated cyclone energy is currently below average. There has not been a major hurricane landfall in the US since 2005 (as of this writing). Moreover, the average number of strong-to-violent tornadoes over the past few years is lower today than it was in the 1950s, 1960s or early-to-mid-1970s.

More importantly, despite a four-fold rise in population and much more complete reporting of such events, since the 1920s deaths from all extreme weather events, including those caused by extreme heat, have declined by 93%, while death rates have declined by 98%.

There has been no increase in economic losses from extreme weather once one accounts for the growth in aggregate wealth, a factor which automatically increases the economic assets at risk.

That’s enough for now, but there is much, much more in the report, which we may revisit in future posts.

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