September 20, 2010

Amazon Rainforest Resiliency

Filed under: Adaptation, Plants

Do a search on “Global Warming and Amazon Rainforest” and enjoy over 200,000 sites mostly proclaiming that “Amazon rainforest may become a desert” or “large portion of the rainforest will be lost” or you name it. Throw in the 200 indigenous cultures in the forest, add in some clever phrases like “lungs of the planet,” argue that the rainforest is being destroyed faster than anyone expected, and then claim “incalculable damages” all because of global warming. The cure for everything and anything is surely hidden in the rainforest of the Amazon, and the loss of that ecosystem could spell the end of us all.

Three recent papers appearing in leading scientific journals spell trouble for the alarmists’ claims about global warming and the precious and delicate Amazon rainforest.

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September 13, 2010

Coral Bleaching

Filed under: Adaptation, Animals, Plants

Global warming causes coral bleaching – and there is absolutely no doubt about it, right? Tens of thousands of websites found searching for “Global warming and coral bleaching” seem to agree that when the ocean warms, the oxygen content reduces, and the corals become “bleached.” The heat affects the tiny algae which live symbiotically inside the corals and supply them with food. The heat stress damages the algae and in consequence leads to coral death. The argument for the global warming/coral bleaching connection is bolstered by the massive El Niño event in 1997 and 1998 that led to unusually warm tropical waters throughout the world’s lower latitudes and coral bleaching in many locations. But, as with so many other topics covered in World Climate Report, the idea that corals are in peril because of global warming turns out to be considerably more complicated than is commonly presented to the public at large.

Three recent articles give us reason to question the alarmists’ claims that coral reefs are in deep trouble due to the buildup of greenhouse gases.

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August 2, 2010

Plant Productivity on the Rise in China (and Birds Love It!)

Filed under: Adaptation, Animals, Plants

We like birds and always have a special place in our essay series for good news about their future. A recent article in Acta Oecologica deals with bird diversity in China and the news could not be better, particularly given the results from three other recent studies from China that find that find that plant productivity—a primary determinent of species richness of China’s birds—is on the rise, quite probabily a result of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

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June 21, 2010

Spinach Lovers Rejoice

Filed under: Adaptation, Agriculture, Plants

We at World Climate Report wholeheartedly endorse First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to curb childhood obesity. As she has said many times, about two-thirds of American adults, and about a third of American children, are overweight or obese. The country spends $150 billion every year treating obesity-related diseases, most of which are preventable. Military officials, looking at a pool of increasingly overweight recruits, have said that the nation’s weight problem is a security issue as well as an economic one—obesity is now one of the most common disqualifiers for military service.

If you are in the DC area, be sure to make a visit to the south lawn of the White House grounds where the first lady will be organically growing lots and lots of spinach (more spinach than anything else—see Figure 1)! She not only plans on growing the stuff, but she is featuring her side dish called “No Cream Creamed Spinach” which to feed six people requires two pounds of baby spinach (the recipe is at the end of our article). We are sure the Obama children just cannot get enough of her healthy spinach salad.


Figure 1. Layout of the White House vegetable garden. Note the preponderance of spinach!

Given the Obama’s focus on spinach, we decided to deliver them some wonderful news about how spinach responds to elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).

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October 1, 2007

Back When All News Wasn’t Bad

Filed under: Adaptation, Animals, Extinctions, Plants

In 1996, Camille Parmesan published a paper in Nature magazine that supposedly was the first documentation that animal species (in this case Edith’s Checkerspot Butterflies) were shifting there range because of presumably anthropogenic climate changes. Parmesan told the New York Times, “I cannot say that climate warming has caused the shift; what I can say is that it is exactly what is predicted by global warming scenarios…”

Parmesan went on to look at additional species and her work, and other studies like hers that document shifting species ranges as the climate warms, are treated as “blockbusters” when the appear, most often in the world’s most prestigious scientific journals such as Science and Nature. These are accompanied by press releases and widespread media coverage that undoubtedly reverberates with the (mock?) horror of environmentalists worldwide. In fact, some studies have even taken the shifting-range-is-bad concept a step further, projecting that a quarter to a third of all the world’s species will be extinct in 50 years. The lead author of one such study published in Nature magazine, British University of Leeds’ Chris Thomas, told the Washington Post, “We’re not talking about the occasional extinction—we’re talking about 1.25 million species. It’s a massive number.”

Time and time again we at World Climate Report counter that the earth’s climate is normally quite variable, and if the earth’s plants and animals were not able to shift their behaviors and viable ranges there would be quite a few less of them on the world today (a category that probably includes the species homo sapiens as well). So plants and animals responding to climate change is hardly unexpected or catastrophic—what would be potentially catastrophic would be the exact opposite situation, that is, if plants and animals were not shifting as the climate varied.

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July 27, 2007

Ground-Level Ozone Trends: Facts vs. Fantasy

Guest Commentary

Joel Schwartz
Visiting Fellow
American Enterprise Institute

Growing plants absorb some of the carbon dioxide emitted by human burning of fossil fuels for energy. However, according to a new study in the journal Nature, ground-level ozone (AKA “smog”) will rise during the 21st Century and stunt plant growth. This will reduce CO2 uptake by vegetation, exacerbating CO2-induced greenhouse warming.

The study, which was performed by Stephen Sitch and colleagues from England’s Hadley Centre for Climate Change Research, is based on computer modeling of current and future ozone levels. To project future emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants, Sitch et al. relied upon the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) A2 scenario. The scenario includes projections of population, economic activity, energy use, and other factors that determined future emissions.

Unfortunately, comparison of Sitch et al.’s model results with actual trends in ozone and ozone-forming pollutants show that their study has nothing to do with reality.

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February 27, 2007

Concern for Kelp Crippled

Filed under: Plants

An article has appeared in the recent issue of Global Change Biology entitled “Little evidence for climate effects on local-scale structure and dynamics of California kelp forest communities.” Is this a mistake, a joke, or some kind of hoax? Did the authors, reviewers, and editors of this outstanding journal not get the message that global warming is destroying ocean ecosystems throughout the world? Everything on land and under the sea is enormously and negatively impacted by ongoing climate change related to the buildup of greenhouse gases – right?

Think again.

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January 26, 2007

Hard Facts about Tobacco

Filed under: Adaptation, Climate History, Plants

The time of year has arrived for you begin to assess how much progress you are making in your New Year’s Resolutions. Been spending time at the gym? Losing weight? Quit smoking? Believe it or not, it is possible that the increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) just might be helping you achieve the latter. Read more to see how (as to the two former, you’re on your own).

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January 4, 2007

Global Forests Love Global Warming

Filed under: Adaptation, Climate History, Plants

Over the past 20 years, approximately 5,000 articles have been published in major scientific journals showing how plants benefit from higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) with or without elevated temperatures. As CO2 concentration increases, plants substantially increase the rate of photosynthesis, rate of growth above and below ground, the water use efficiency, the production of fruit and seeds, and resistance to a variety of stresses. Critics of this positive response to elevated CO2 claim that many of these experiments are conducted in highly controlled laboratory conditions that may have little in common with what is happening in the real world. Outdoor experiments are also conducted, but in most cases, in something far less than “real-world” conditions. In the special case of forests, researchers must create clever experiments to overcome the obvious problems of waiting around a few decades or centuries to see the outcome of an experiment.

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December 13, 2006

Happy Holidays, Thanks to CO2

Filed under: Adaptation, Agriculture, Plants

Like many of you, we have a Christmas tree here decorated with candy canes with a cute little coal train running around the base. The smell of pine is terrific and we are looking forward to eating the candy canes after the holidays. We are all planning a great holiday season and we are looking forward to a bright future. We hope you and your family share our optimism during this fun time of the year.

Today, we will turn out attention to the state of affairs for the tree and the candy canes, and we searched the literature for any updates on how pine trees and sugar cane will fare in a world of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. Given that the literature contains literally thousands of articles on the positive effects of elevated CO2 on plants, we were optimistic that recent material could be found. Of course, three articles were located within minutes dealing with elevated CO2, pine trees, and sugarcane.

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