The Greening of Planet Earth

A couple of decades ago, I had a VHS tape titled “The Greening of Planet Earth” that expounded on the virtues of more CO2 in the atmosphere. I lost it somewhere along the way, but the point is evergreen, so to speak. Carbon dioxide is plant food, as those who studied photosynthesis in junior high school know. More CO2 means more plant life. This basic truth has now been admitted by even such a retrograde news source as the BBC:

A new study says that if the extra green leaves prompted by rising CO2 levels were laid in a carpet, it would cover twice the continental USA.

Climate sceptics argue the findings show that the extra CO2 is actually benefiting the planet.

Actually, that proposition isn’t debatable. The question is whether some ill-defined future catastrophe will at some point negate the present benefits.

The lead author, Prof. Ranga Myneni from Boston University, told BBC News the extra tree growth would not compensate for global warming, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, ocean acidification, the loss of Arctic sea ice, and the prediction of more severe tropical storms.

Of course not! I assume that is the genuflection one must engage in to get a study published in a prominent journal, and publicized by BBC. Whether any of those purported ills are real is another story.

The new study is published in the journal Nature Climate Change by a team of 32 authors from 24 institutions in eight countries.

It is called Greening of the Earth and its Drivers, and it is based on data from the Modis and AVHRR instruments which have been carried on American satellites over the past 33 years.The sensors show significant greening of something between 25% and 50% of the Earth’s vegetated land, which in turn is slowing the pace of climate change as the plants are drawing CO2 from the atmosphere.

Just 4% of vegetated land has suffered from plant loss.

The Earth’s complex climate system includes many feedback mechanisms, both positive and negative. If more CO2 means more greenery, as it certainly does, that is a negative feedback because those additional leaves will inhale CO2, thereby reducing whatever effect increased CO2 may possibly have on the climate.

The scientists say several factors play a part in the plant boom, including climate change (8%), more nitrogen in the environment (9%), and shifts in land management (4%).

But the main factor, they say, is plants using extra CO2 from human society to fertilise their growth (70%).

This is extraordinary. The planet Earth really is greening, to our immense benefit, as a result of humans’ emission of carbon dioxide. Let’s hear it for fossil fuels, which are even more beneficial than most of us realized!

Harnessing energy from the sun, green leaves grow by using CO2, water, and nutrients from soil.

Well, yeah. I learned that when I was 13 years old. You probably did too.

Nic Lewis, an independent scientist often critical of the IPCC, told BBC News: “The magnitude of the increase in vegetation appears to be considerably larger than suggested by previous studies.

“This suggests that projected atmospheric CO2 levels in IPCC scenarios are significantly too high, which implies that global temperature rises projected by IPCC models are also too high, even if the climate is as sensitive to CO2 increases as the models imply.”

This is one of many reasons why global warming hysteria is politically-inspired and liberal-funded BS.

I can hardly believe that the BBC allowed its readers to read this conclusion:

And Prof. Judith Curry, the former chair of Earth and atmospheric sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, added: “It is inappropriate to dismiss the arguments of the so-called contrarians, since their disagreement with the consensus reflects conflicts of values and a preference for the empirical (i.e. what has been observed) versus the hypothetical (i.e. what is projected from climate models).

“These disagreements are at the heart of the public debate on climate change, and these issues should be debated, not dismissed.”

Dr. Curry is a heroine of science vs. politics. She correctly states that the current battle is between empiricism, espoused by climate realists–often referred to as skeptics–and the corrupt, theory-based alarmism, unsupported by scientific data, that is urged by politically- and financially-motivated hysterics.

On any reasonable accounting, the human race is doing Earth a service by restoring long-buried CO2 to our atmosphere.

STEVE adds: Here’s the complete study in Nature, if you’re a glutton.