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Wait, greening?

17 Apr 2019 | Science Notes

Amidst news that Canada warmed 1.7 degrees since 1948 we might also note that the country has gotten better off since World War II. So if all bad changes are blamed on global warming, can we credit it for the positives too? Including a study in the April 2018 Journal of Climate on the impact of CO2-induced planetary greening on rainfall and soil moisture worldwide. Wait, what, greening? Yes. It turns out all that extra "carbon pollution" combined with slightly warmer weather has added so much foliage since the ‘80s that it’s affecting precipitation in some places. One scientist said it's as if we've added a continent's worth of vegetation to the planet. If you're thinking the greens will find reasons why greening is actually bad, you'd be right.

Carbon dioxide has always been an essential gas in our atmosphere, as necessary for life as oxygen. Most plants in our world evolved under conditions of far higher CO2 levels and react to additional CO2 availability with what can only be called conspicuous enthusiasm. The indispensable CO2Science.org maintains an exhaustive data base of studies showing the benefits of atmospheric enrichment of CO2 on hundreds of species of plants. So it is not surprising that higher CO2 levels and slightly warmer weather are associated with global greening – literally an increase in the total leafy coverage of the Earth. More food. More forests. Less desertification and erosion. Yay, right?

No. Boo. For equally unsurprising is the fact that greens hate talking about global greening, and the IPCC does Fred Astaire-worthy tap-dances around it. They raise the issue only to wave it away, grudgingly admitting it is happening, then quickly returning to their search for any form of bad news no matter how trivial. For a great overview of the scientific evidence and reflections on what it implies about the distorted politics of the whole situation, read Matt Ridley's 2016 lecture to the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

One comment on “Wait, greening?”

  1. Matt Ridley's video lecture highlighted in this article "Wait, greening?" is really worth watching, followed up by reading the transcript of the video. The graphics shown in the video are presented in the transcript.

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