Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
This article from the journal Nature yesterday, Climate change could flip Mediterranean lands to desert, about a new Science journal paper, is very typical of too much of the climate research and reporting these days.
First, they outline the coming and certain disaster:
Maintaining the historic ranges of the region’s ecosystems would require limiting warming to just 1.5 ºC, by making substantial cuts to the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions, the analysis concludes. Otherwise, the vegetation and ecosystems of the Mediterranean basin will shift as temperatures rise. Increasing desertification in southern Europe is just one of the changes that would result. “Everything is moving in parallel. Shrubby vegetation will move into the deciduous forests, while the forests move to higher elevation in the mountains,” says Joel Guiot, a palaeoclimatologist at the European Centre for Geoscience Research and Education in Aix-en-Provence, France, and lead author of the study.
Then they point out the necessary political solution, which of course requires us to agree to an odious international agreement that will limit our individual freedoms and give more power to international governments:
“I like that they’re doing this comparison across different warming scenarios in line with the Paris agreement, to start to gauge the sensitivity to them,” says Benjamin Cook, a climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. The study confirms the vulnerability of many ecosystems, and could guide policymakers’ efforts to help natural systems adapt to climate change, says Patrick Gonzalez, principal climate-change scientist at the US National Park Service based at the University of California, Berkeley. “This study shows how essential it is for nations to meet their Paris commitments.”
Only at the very end of the article, almost as an aside, do they note these inconvenient facts about the limitations of the paper (which also happens to be based entirely on computer models):
Both the climate and vegetation models have significant uncertainties, however, and the models can account only for natural vegetation, rather than managed vegetation such as forests and crops. The study ignores the fact that humans continually affect ecosystems through land-use change, urbanization and soil degradation.
Meanwhile, I have been spending my spare time reading a 1,078 page report called Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts, which outlines in incredible detail the research that has been going on for the past thirty years on the actual effects of increased carbon dioxide on plant life. This vast research, which can be read here, has essentially found that the effects of increased CO2 are almost all positive, across the board. To quote just the first five key findings of the first chapter, “Carbon dioxide, plants, and soils”:
- Results from 3,586 separate experimental conditions conducted on 549 plant species reveal nearly all plants will experience increases in dry weight or biomass in response to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment. Results from an additional 2,094 separate experimental conditions conducted on 472 plant species reveal nearly all plants will experience increases in photosynthesis in response to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment.
- Long-term CO 2 enrichment studies confirm the findings of shorter-term experiments, demonstrating the effects of elevated atmospheric CO 2 likely persist across plant lifetimes.
- Several studies indicate plants are not harmed by super-elevated atmospheric CO 2 concentrations an order of magnitude or more greater than the globe’s current mean. Instead, positive growth responses are reported, some of which are particularly large. Most plants will display enhanced rates of photosynthesis and biomass production as the atmosphere’s CO 2 concentration rises.
- Forest growth rates throughout the world have increased over the years in concert with, and in response to, the historical increase in the air’s CO 2 concentration. As the atmosphere’s CO 2 concentration continues to rise, forests likely will respond by exhibiting significant increases in biomass production, and thus they likely will grow more robustly and significantly expand their ranges, as is already being documented in many parts of the world.
- Where tropical forests have not been decimated by the targeted and direct destructive actions of people, such as the felling and burning of trees, forest productivity has been growing with the passing of time, rising with the increasing CO 2 content of the air. It has been doing so despite changes in atmospheric, soil, and water chemistry, including twentieth century global warming, which IPCC claims to have been unprecedented over the past one to two millennia.
There’s more. Anyone who has the time and is interested in the study of climate should take a look. It doesn’t try to prove that global warming is or is not happening. It only looks to see what the effects of increased carbon dioxide will have on life on Earth. And it finds that these effects mostly beneficial.