August 14, 2012

Hansen Is Wrong

Filed under: Droughts, Precipitation

In his recent press blitz, NASA’s James Hansen tries to tie extreme weather events, such the current drought affecting much of the central U.S., to anthropogenic global warming. But the real world argues otherwise.

Hansen is quite adept at timing global warming pronouncements with extreme weather events. Recall that it was during a similar hot, dry period back in the summer of 1988 that Hansen first testified to Congress that global warming from human greenhouse gas emissions was impacting current weather events—testimony which many credit as giving rise to the global-warming-is-going-to-be-bad movement. But then, as now, the tie-in between weather events and human changes to the atmospheric greenhouse effect is tenuous at best, and tie-ins to specific events are ill-supported and ill-advised. In the best case, the anthropogenic emissions-driven rise in global temperatures has a small ancillary impact on a specific extreme weather event, but in the vast majority of the cases, its role is nugatory and undetectable.

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August 2, 2012

Earth’s Carbon Sink Still Strong and Growing

Filed under: Adaptation, Plants

As is widespread and common knowledge, higher atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are beneficial to plants making them grow faster and larger, in addition to enhancing them in virtually every other way. For an immersion in the subject of plants and carbon dioxide, check out the website PlantsNeedCO2.org and revel in the good news concerning higher atmospheric CO2 levels.

This growth enhancement has led to the earth’s plants taking an increasing amount of CO2 from the atmosphere and turning it into biomass where carbon is stored for days to hundreds of years (this mechanism accounts for a significant portion of the earth’s land-based carbon sink). It seems the more CO2 we pump into the atmosphere, the more CO2 that plants take out to enhance their growth.

The oceans also take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and can store it for long periods of time (thousands of years). And it appears that this ocean carbon sink is also expanding as we emit more CO2 into the atmosphere.

Together, the land and ocean carbon sinks have been pretty much keeping up with the increasing anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. Consequently, the percentage of CO2 injected into the atmosphere from human activities that remains in the atmosphere has remained pretty much constant for the last 50 years—according to just-published research in the journal Nature—despite ever increasing anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

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