CARBON What is Driving the Strategy to Demonize the Most Amazing, Life Sustaining Element? Chapter 2, 3
Robert D. Brinsmead
Since the beginning of our Industrial Age around 1800 CE, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have risen from about 280 ppm to a little over 400ppm. This is a rise of 45%, most of which has happened in the last 50 years. Most of these elevated carbon dioxide levels are due to mankind’s increasing use of hydrocarbons such as coal, oil and gas. We have been digging up and pumping out hydrocarbons from the ground and returning it to the atmosphere.
Although there may be some question whether these rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are partly or entirely due to human activity, it makes no difference to the fact that higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere means more plant growth and bigger food harvests.
Craig Idso, PhD (an agricultural scientist) is a world leader in carbon dioxide research and the long-time editor of. He has spent more than 30 years either doing or reviewing thousands of trials to find out how a whole range of different plants respond to higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Although all plants do not respond to the same degree, he has documented how species generally have better growth and produce higher yields when they are fed with more carbon dioxide.
His findings have been replicated by other trials all over the world. As a recent peer reviewed report puts it, “Numerous studies of CO2 enrichment in chambers (e.g. greenhouses) have demonstrated dramatically improved crops yields. Ainsworth-Long (2005) performed a meta-analysis of 124 papers on 40 species tested at 12 sites, 7 in USA, 3 in Europe, 2 in New Zealand and Japan, using free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE). The actual increases achieved (above the ambient level of the CO2 at the time of the study) varied from 30.5% to 60% with a median of 50-55% (550ppm) and an average of 49.2%.” ()
Growers who operate indoor greenhouses to raise crops such as tomatoes and flowers now prove the benefits of carbon dioxide enrichment on a daily basis. By raising carbon dioxide levels by up to 300% (1,200 ppm) they raise the volume of their tomato harvests by about 40% without any further inputs.
In 2015, former IPCC delegatecalling for a reassessment of the benefits of carbon dioxide. He said: “Carbon dioxide fertilizes plants, and emissions from fossil fuels have already had a hugely beneficial effect on crops, increasing yields by at least 10-15%.” He also said that these carbon dioxide benefits were worth $140 billion p.a.
In a Forward to the Goklany paper, the world renowned Princeton physicist, Freeman Dyson wrote:
“Indur Goklany has done a careful job, collecting and documenting the evidence that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does far more good than harm. To any unprejudiced person reading this account, the facts should be obvious: that the non-climatic effects of carbon dioxide as a sustainer of wildlife and crop plants are enormously beneficial... I am hoping that the scientists and politicians who have been blindly demonizing carbon dioxide for 37 years will one day open their eyes and look at the evidence.” Princeton, September 20
, especially in the basic grain crops, over the last three years (2016, 2017 and 2018). Record aerial carbon dioxide levels (an increase of 11% over the last 20 years) correlate with .
On top of increasing crop yields, elevated levels of aerial carbon dioxide has been found to significantly increase the level of flavonoids, vitamin C, vitamin A, glutathione, protein, isoflavone, glucosinolates and other antioxidants . To cite just one example: “Growing spinach at 800ppm increased the fresh weight by 67%, the soluble protein concentration by about 52% and vitamin C by 21%.” ().
The good news about carbon dioxide keeps coming. Trials have shown that plants which which can draw on higher levels of aerial carbon dioxide require less water. This is because increased levels of aerial carbon dioxide cause the stomata on the leaves of plants to open less, and because of that, transpire less. These water savings on a thirsty planet are enormously significant. It also means that some plants can now thrive in more arid conditions, or that trees that could not survive can now survive under very dry conditions. Plants nourished with more carbon dioxide are fortified to withstand harsher conditions generally – not just a drier environment, but one that is hotter, colder or has lower nutrient levels. Carbon dioxide makes plants tougher and more resilient.
All these factors played a role in enabling the world to achieve record food harvests. The world is now growing more food than ever and despite the population growth of another billion people in the last 25 years, the percentage of people not getting enough food is the lowest it has ever been. During the last 25 years carbon dioxide levels of the atmosphere have risen by 11%, and this has boosted for production by about the same amount. That extra carbon dioxide is feeding an extra billion people. Just think about that for a while before supporting any reduction to carbon dioxide emissions.
During the 1960’s it was widely feared that the world would not be able to grow enough food to support a projected 6 billion people, to say nothing of 7 billion people who now live on the planet. Paul Ehrlich’s book, The Population Bomb (l968) predicted that hundreds of millions of people would perish of starvation before the end of the 20th century.
A contemporary of Paul Ehrlich was an agronomist by the name of Norman Borlaug. During the 1960’s he quietly launched what became known as the Green Revolution in high-yield agriculture on three continents (Mexico, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Africa). As world population doubled over the next 40 years, thanks largely to the work of Borlaug, world food production trebled using the same amount of land. and credited with saving a billion people from starvation. He received the Nobel Prize and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Besides developing better strains of grain and using pesticides judiciously, Borlaug realized that high yield agriculture could not be achieved without the aid of nitrogen. Although there is a lot of nitrogen in the air, plants other than legumes cannot access it. Their roots must take it up from the soil, but Borlaug also knew that soils generally contain far too little nitrogen for optimum plant growth. While animal manures can provide some of that nitrogen, Borlaug soon figured out that there was nowhere near enough land to support all the animals required to produce enough nitrogen to meet the challenge of feeding the world. Fortunately for Borlaug, a method of creating lots of cheap nitrogen fertilizer using fossil fuel had recently been developed. Here was a method of taking the nitrogen that is so plentiful in the air and putting it into the soil where it was accessible to plants. Borlaug demonstrated that this simple action alone would dramatically raise food production by an average of 30%.
With the world population now reaching 7 billion, a new phase of the Green Revolution is already under way. Just as Borlaug took nitrogen in the air and put it into the soil to feed the plants, the new phase of the Green Revolution is about taking carbon out of the earth and putting it into the atmosphere to lift food production.
there was a lushly vegetated earth teeming with life and with atmospheric carbon dioxide levels orders of magnitude higher than now. In our present Pleistocene Era, these carbon dioxide levels have been limping along barely above a level where plants would starve. On the other hand, if present carbon dioxide levels were doubled, all plant life would thrive and crop yields would receive a massive boost.
By highlighting the agricultural benefits of higher levels of carbon dioxide, scientists like Craig Idso and Patrick Moore are carrying on the work of “the man who fed the world” in the last half of the 20th Century. The new phase of the Green Revolution in this 21st Century requires higher rather than lower carbon dioxide emissions.
Increased aerial carbon dioxide levels are not only boosting world agricultural yields, they are also dramatically greening the earth. Leaf density of the rainforests has significantly increased. The fringes of desert regions have greened, especially because trees benefit from higher aerial carbon dioxide levels more than most other plants.
In April 25, 2016 the journal Nature Climate Change published . By analysing NASA satellite data with high resolution imaging technology, they found that the earth had greened by 14% in the 30 years from 1980 to 2011. They said that the expansion of green areas were as large as 2 continental USA’s. That’s also double the size of Australia. To what did the researchers credit these astonishing gains? They estimated that 9% was due to more nitrogen, 8% was due to global warming, 4% was due to land change, but a whopping 70% was due to more aerial carbon dioxide.
So this demonized dirty black polluting stuff called carbon is quite literally greening the world.
This throws a new light on what has been dubbed “the social cost” of dumping 10 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year. About half of this is being hungrily gobbled up by plants which are now using it to create an exciting new chapter of the Green Revolution. With carbon emissions feeding the world and greening the world, the political discourse should be lauding “the social dividend of carbon.” The politicians and the scientists who go on decrying “the social cost of carbon” have all this up-side-down and back-to-front.
Instead of being demonized, carbon should now be celebrated as mankind’s best friend. We have all heard it said that diamonds (which are wholly carbon) are a girl’s best friend. Carbon is mankind’s best friend and the planet’s best friend.
The impacts of carbon dioxide on the climate have so dominated the political discourse and have so demonized carbon that the beneficial impacts of higher carbon dioxide emissions have not received the consideration they deserve. Once the facts about carbon dioxide’s enormous benefits are understood, it becomes much easier to defang this monster called climate change.
There are two very straight forward questions which need to be addressed in the climate change debate: (1) Is carbon dioxide a heat-trapping greenhouse gas that causes global warming? (2) How much warming will result from rising carbon dioxide emissions?
The answer to the first question is “yes.” It would be hard to find a scientist, even among the so-called climate sceptics, who would challenge the thesis that carbon dioxide is a heat-trapping greenhouse gas that causes some global warming. The main heat-trapping gas, however, is water vapour. It comprises about 90% of all greenhouse gases, although this can vary a lot between the tropics and the poles where the air is cold and dry.
Unfortunately, the very term “greenhouse gases” has been tossed around for so long in such a fear-generating context that greenhouse gases have become demonized too. This is really quite silly because water vapour is by far the largest greenhouse gas. The reality is that without this greenhouse “blanket”, earth’s surface would become so hot and cold, that no plant or animal life could survive on it.
An inland desert provides a partial illustration of what happens where there is too little greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Due to its very dry air, the desert can become extremely hot during the day, and then quickly turn deadly cold at night. This is because there is not enough water vapour to moderate the temperature extremes.
It is generally agreed that most of the warming from carbon dioxide occurs at night, in winter and in the colder high latitude regions, due to their being less water vapour and its greenhouse effect in those times and places. This greenhouse warming is beneficial to agriculture because more carbon dioxide emissions lengthens the growing season and boosts food production in the cooler agricultural regions of the world. It also benefits human health because this lessening of the diurnal temperature variation has been proven to lessen the risk of heart attack, stroke and some other health risks. ().
Climate Sensitivity is the technical term used to refer to the amount of warming likely to occur if carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are doubled, i.e., from 280 ppm to 560 ppm. The carbon dioxide levels are presently 409ppm.
There is a general agreement on all sides of the climate change debate that a doubling of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, if everything else remained the same, would warm earth’s surface by 1.10 C. The reason why there is a general agreement on this point is because the effect of this additional carbon dioxide can be scientifically measured and replicated according to true scientific principles.
If the 1.10 of warming resulting from a doubling of carbon dioxide from 280 ppm to 560 ppm were all there was too it, then there would be no grounds for alarm because that very modest amount of warming – 45% of which is already achieved – would cause far . It would boost food production and greenery in general as well as having human health benefits. After all, the Pleistocene Era in which we now live is recognized by geologists as the coolest Era since plants evolved.
The theory of dangerous anthropogenic global warming (DAGW) rests on the unproved assumption that the 1.10 of warming caused by doubling carbon dioxide levels will have “positive feedbacks” – meaning that others factors in the climate system will kick in to multiply the modest carbon dioxide effects. Specifically, the theory of DAGW rests on the assumption that the 1.1 degree of carbon dioxide-induced warming will result in more evaporation of water, and that this increased water vapour (the most dominant greenhouse gas) will multiply that 1.10 of warming by anything from 3 to 6 times. This is like saying that carbon dioxide is like the little dog that wakes up the big dog (water vapour) which does more damage after being woken up by the little dog.
This assumption about the “positive feedbacks” of water vapour (to which has been added some now discredited speculation about the behaviour of clouds) has been fed into the climate Models which project a sensitivity of anything from 30 upwards. Those who are sceptical of these DAGW projections, and for very good reasons, have become known as “climate change sceptics.” They don’t question that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. They don’t question that a doubling of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere would, if everything else remained equal, cause 1.10 of warming. They are simply sceptical of a theory of “positive feedbacks” which turn a modest and beneficial amount of warming into a dangerous amount of warming.
As for the claim about their being an overwhelming scientific consensus about the climate science, it is really a very misleading if not a dishonest bit of band-wagoning. There never has been any consensus on the issue of sensitivity, and sensitivity is precisely what the crux of the argument is about. Even the IPCC reports, all five of them, indicate there is no consensus on this question of how much warming? There is not even anything like a consensus among the DAGW advocates. As time goes on, however, more and more
The hypothesis about the “positive feedbacks” of water vapour is being blown out of the water (pun intended). Sceptics of any high or dangerous sensitivity make the perfectly valid observation that the process of evaporation itself has a cooling effect, that the clouds formed by additional water vapour have a cooling effect during the day, and that increased precipitation (rainfall) permits more evaporative cooling at the surface. It appears that the best scientific papers now being published estimate sensitivity to be about 1.3 -1.50. And we need to remember that 45% of this warming has already occurred. If there are other “negative feedbacks” not yet understood, sensitivity may prove to be even lower. That is because in all complex natural systems, there are checks and balances to maintain normalcy. In other words, the “feedbacks” should tend to moderate rather than exacerbate the effects of rising carbon dioxide levels. This is why some very highly qualified atmospheric physicists and climatologists (e.g., Richard Lindzen and Roy Spencer) argue for “negative feedbacks.”
The final evidence of how much warming will be found in measuring the temperature itself over a period of time. According to the Satellites that measure temperatures (UAH and GISS) there has been little or no statistically significant [exceeding 0.20] temperature gains for 20 years even though carbon dioxide levels have increased by about 11% over that period.
There is one more reason to be less apprehensive about rising levels of carbon dioxide. Its warming effects are logarithmic, meaning that the effect of carbon dioxide diminishes as the levels rise. (See D. Weston Allen, The Weather Makers Re-examined, 201-3)
Climate change alarmism reminds us of Mark Twain’s quip: “Reports about my death are greatly exaggerated.” Freeman Dyson has said, “The possibly harmful climatic effects of carbon dioxide have been greatly exaggerated.” Over an entire generation, the public has been bombarded with scary scenarios of climate catastrophes, none of which have happened.
We were told that the Arctic would be free of ice by 2013. It hasn’t happened.
The UN warned that by the year 2010 there would be 50 million climate refugees. There’s not even been one.
They said the polar bears would disappear. They’ve doubled in numbers since the scare mongering started.
The experts said that global warming would reduce agricultural yields. There have been world record harvests instead.
The IPPC declared that all the glaciers of the Himalayas would soon disappear. Even the IPCC had to admit it got that one wrong.
Londoners were told that their children would never see snow again. That prediction soon got buried in record snow falls.
Who hasn’t heard that the small islands of the Pacific would soon disappear below rising sea-levels? Those Islands are not only still there, but some of them are rising further above sea level.
It has been said repeatedly for a generation that the world is warming at an unprecedented rate. Any kid just leaving school can look at the weather Satellites records from UAH or GISS and see that there has been very little global warming since they were born.
Then there was that Australian of the Year, Tim Flannery, who told us that even the rain that fell on the ground would not fill our dams. He had hardly finished telling us this before the La Nina rains flooded an area of Australia larger than France.
Who hasn’t heard that hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts and other weather disasters are becoming more frequent and more destructive? Even Barack Obama came out to Australia and repeated that factoid. Yet all the authentic public statistics (which are not difficult to find) show that
There are now whole books that have documented this litany of failed climate predictions. Would you buy a used car from these climate change salesmen?
James Lovelock (“may his tribe increase”) was once the father-figure of global warming alarmism. He went on record saying that the world would soon become so hot that there would soon be only a few pairs of breeding humans left in the Antarctic. Statements like that went seven times around the world before the truth could get its boots on to say (from the same humbled James Lovelock), “I was needlessly alarmist, but I wasn’t the only one.” “Twenty years ago we thought we knew what the climate was doing, but the climate is doing its own thing.” “I’ve grown up a bit since then.” Would that we had more scientists like him rather than those who act like politicians who can never admit that they got it wrong.
There is one stark fact that is enough to blow all this angst about carbon dioxide emissions away. Over the last 20 years mankind has dug up and pumped out of the ground 1/3rd of all the hydrocarbons it has ever used. The atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have increased by 11%. If Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth was correct, we should have had this unpreceded global warming.
The DAGW Emperor has no clothes.
The only rational conclusion we can draw from all the evidence is that man-made carbon dioxide emissions are good for the planet and for all life upon it. Increased carbon dioxide emissions are giving us more food and a greener earth. They are making it a little warmer at night, a little warmer in winter and a little warmer in those cooler regions where it is needed most.
Can we have too many carbon dioxide emissions?
According to Patrick Moore PhD. (Ecology), This is indicated by thousands of trials and also by the wide use of carbon dioxide to boost plant yields in indoor greenhouses. If at first blush that much atmospheric carbon dioxide appears to be too high, consider that during the geological Cambrian Era (about 500 million years ago) there was up to 17 times more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than we have today.
Yet that era is called the “Cambrian explosion” because it was the time when a great diversity of life forms exploded into existence all over the planet. In the later Jurassic Era atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were still many times higher than today. With all that aerial carbon available the earth was lush with plant life and massive forests proliferated. For the last 150 million years, however, plant life has been drawing down carbon from the atmosphere. Much of this carbon has been buried in the earth as coal deposits instead of being returned to the atmosphere. Marine life too has been steadily drawing down carbon from the atmosphere for shell making, and by this process turning the carbon into billions of tons of carboniferous rocks.
We are now living in the Pleistocene Era which began about 2 million years ago. It is also called the era of the Ice Ages in which 30% of the earth has been covered in ice for 100,000 years periods, with warmer interludes lasting about 10 thousands years. In this present Pleistocene Era carbon dioxide levels have plunged to their lowest level ever – 150 ppm during a recent glaciation. At that level, plant life cannot continue to survive. Fortunately, aerial carbon dioxide levels rose to 280 ppm in our present Holocene, but that is still bumping along just above the level of plant starvation (This information about the geological eras is drawn from Dr. Moore’s paper cited above).
Some scientists appear over-anxious to tell us that our present 400ppm levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are the highest they have ever been for 400,000 years. What they don’t tell us is that this 400,000 year geological blink of an eye brings us to the middle of the present Pleistocene Era when carbon dioxide levels were not only dangerously low, but the lowest they have ever been in the history of our planet. The scientists who dish out this kind of spin should know that life began, exploded and flourished on this planet when the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were orders of magnitude greater than they have been for the last 400,000 years.
By digging up the hydrocarbons buried in the earth, mankind is not proving itself to be the one rogue species that destroys the earth. Rather, by replenishing those depleted aerial carbon dioxide levels,
Here in the ground below our feet there is the greatest battery for storing energy that has ever been devised. Plants capture the sun’s energy more efficiently than anything mankind has been able to invent. The energy stored in nature’s great underground “battery” is carbon-based energy which plants drew down from the atmosphere. When we use that carbon-based energy we are simply activating the carbon cycle by returning that carbon to the atmosphere. This carbon cycle is the life cycle. We feed the plants, and the plants feed us.
There are two great advantages of using this carbon-based energy. In the first place, this source of cheap and abundant energy has enabled mankind to achieve a level of unprecedented prosperity, comfort and longevity. At the same time, it is has raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to dramatically increase food production and the greening of the earth. This man-made achievement is something to celebrate:
“We – humanity – should be throwing ourselves the party to outdo all parties, a combination graduation-wedding-birthday-all-rites-of passage party, to mark our emergence from a death-dominated world of raw-material scarcity. Sing, dance, be merry – and work. But instead we see gloomy faces. They are spoilsports, and they have bad effects.
“The spoilsports accuse our generations of having a party – at the expense of generations to come. But it is those who use the government to their own advantage who are having a party at the expense of others – the bureaucrats, the grants-grabbers, the subsidy-looters. Don’t let them spoil our merry day.” (Julian Simon, The Ultimate Resource, p.408)
Breaking Through With the Good News about Carbon Dioxide
There are some news and current affair commentators who seem to be willing to put their head up above the parapet to question the wisdom of reducing our carbon dioxide emissions at the expense of the economy. They are against the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions, at least as far as making these reductions legally binding. But they are not breaking through to enlighten the public that higher emissions are highly beneficial.
If the thesis of this paper is correct –
· that carbon dioxide emissions are highly beneficial rather than harmful,
· that carbon dioxide emissions are not just another plant food but the primary plant food,
· that carbon dioxide emissions have raised world food production from 10 -15%,
· that reducing aerial carbon dioxide levels could starve a billion people,
· that rising carbon dioxide levels are dramatically greening the earth,
· that aerial carbon dioxide levels are a long way from reaching optimum levels,
· that reducing the carbon dioxide fertilization of plants would sabotage the “Green Revolution” this century just as reducing nitrogen fertilization would have sabotaged the Green Revolution last century,
Then the only conclusion we can come to is that more carbon dioxide emissions are needed rather than less.
Why then should it even be implicitly conceded that reducing carbon dioxide is a desirable thing? For instance, nuclear energy may be beneficial for a number of reasons, but why use the argument that its zero carbon dioxide emissions is any advantage? Gas may be a better energy source than coal for a number of reasons, but why argue that its lower carbon dioxide emission is one of them? New coal-fired power stations (HELE) may be more efficient and have better scrubbers to reduce real pollutants, but why concede that lower carbon dioxide emissions makes them superior?
Whatever the arguments there may be for other sources of energy, why drag along the old bogey about the advantage of lower emissions? Since carbon dioxide is an odourless, colourless, non-toxic gas which is just as natural and essential to life as oxygen and water, why concede that anything that gives off carbon dioxide is not “clean energy”? Making any concessions toward “reducing carbon dioxide emission,” “reducing greenhouse gases” or “reducing our carbon footprint” plays into the hands of those who have coined these phrases to demonize carbon and brainwash the public. The time has come to cut through by saying it clearly and repeatedly, “Carbon dioxide is good for you” and “We need more of it, not less.”
Chapter 1: here
Chapters 4 and 5: here
Chapter 1: here
Chapters 4 and 5: here