Welcome to the CO2 disaster — 4 billion tons more plants, more greenery

During the recent warmest decades on record, Earth suffered under the highest CO2 levels of the last 800,000 years. Life responded to this devastating situation by — flourishing. There are now some 4 billion tons more living matter on the planet than there was in 1993. What a calamity. (And what a lot of carbon credits.)

It has, naturally, got nothing to do with warmth and aerial fertilizer. The researchers tell us it due to that force of nature known as “good luck”. Remember, human CO2 emissions were pollution that was going to afflict life on Earth. After twenty years of predicting the loss of forests and species, it turned out that biology bloomed instead. Notch up another model “success”. The press release headline: Good luck reverses global forest loss. (What else would we expect from UNSW?)

To those who know basic biology — and that almost half the dry weight of plants is carbon, sucked straight out of the air — this is not so much good luck as one entirely foreseeable and foreseen consequence of rising CO2. Acquiring carbon is often a plant’s hardest task. When the sun comes up, a cornfield begins sucking, and by lunch time its already got all it can get, so growth slows til night returns to pump up the CO2 levels again. Pulling out all that plant fertilizer from under Middle Eastern deserts and spreading it around where the plants could get it has a predictable effect on plant life (though it’s fair to ask if our emissions actually contribute very much).

Remember in post-modern climate science, your air-conditioner causes snowstorms, but if CO2 rises and plants grow — that’s “luck”.

Lui et al studied, as they call it, natural radio waves, recorded in satellite data of our land surfaces.[1]

Fig 2:  Mean annual change in aboveground biomass carbon between 1993 and 2012.

Press release UNSW

         Good luck reverses global forest loss

Global vegetation has increased by the equivalent of 4 billion tonnes of carbon – despite ongoing large-scale deforestation in the tropics.

Analysis of 20 years of satellite data has revealed the total amount of vegetation globally has increased by almost the equivalent of 4 billion tonnes of carbon since 2003. This is despite ongoing large-scale deforestation in the tropics.

An Australian-led international team of scientists published the findings in Nature Climate Change, finding a range of causes for the increase.

“The increase in vegetation primarily came from a lucky combination of environmental and economic factors and massive tree-planting projects in China,” said Dr Yi Liu a lead author and remote sensing scientist from the Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at UNSW Australia.

“Vegetation increased on the savannas in Australia, Africa and South America as a result of increasing rainfall, while in Russia and former Soviet republics we have seen the regrowth of forests on abandoned farmland. China was the only country to intentionally increase its vegetation with tree planting projects.”

At the same time massive vegetation loss is still occurring in many other regions. The greatest declines have been on the edge of the Amazon forests and in the Indonesian provinces of Sumatra and Kalimantan – the Indonesian part of Borneo.

“Vegetation increased on the savannas in Australia, Africa and South America as a result of increasing rainfall, while in Russia and former Soviet republics we have seen the regrowth of forests on abandoned farmland. China was the only country to intentionally increase its vegetation with tree planting projects,” he added.

Buried low in the press release is a mention that CO2 might not be all bad:

The main cause of this strong growth over the savannas came from higher rainfall, particularly in recent years, although higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere may have helped plants there to grow more vigorously.

What are the priorities in this press release?  Every point is framed to fit The Global Narrative.

And below, what “ongoing” Australian landclearing are they referring too?

“With our approach we found unexpectedly large vegetation increases in the savannas of southern Africa and northern Australia. The increase in Australia occurred despite ongoing land clearing, urbanization and big droughts across other parts of Australia.”

Australians have stopped so much land clearing since 1990 that it’s the main reason we can meet our Kyoto Protocol commitments. (Per capita emissions declined by 28% in Australia since 1990, but two thirds of that decline is due to land use and forestry changes.) Farmers like Peter Spencer were forced to pay for Australia’s carbon commitment with their land. In his case, until it bankrupted him. It was also no accident that landclearing slowed. The native vegetation act ensured it.

Australia’s total emissions from electricity and what-not are about 550 Mt a year (not counting land use changes). We spent $14 billion to reduce global emissions by 0.004%, which, based on the evidence, means we may have achieved slightly less greenery on Planet Earth.

Rather than admitting this research means things might not be as dire as forecast for plants, forest, crops or global CO2 levels (and that the models were wrong), researchers remind us instead things could “rapidly reverse”, things are still poised on the brink, and golly but global warming would be happening faster if not for this lucky process. Does that mean plant-growth is just another excuse for “the pause”?


Vegetation change plays a critical role in the Earth’s carbon (C) budget and its associated radiative forcing in response to anthropogenic and natural climate change1, 2, 3, 4. Existing global estimates of aboveground biomass carbon (ABC) based on field survey data provide brief snapshots that are mainly limited to forest ecosystems5, 6, 7, 8. Here we use an entirely new remote sensing approach to derive global ABC estimates for both forest and non-forest biomes during the past two decades from satellite passive microwave observations. We estimate a global average ABC of 362 PgC over the period 1998–2002, of which 65% is in forests and 17% in savannahs. Over the period 1993–2012, an estimated −0.07 PgC yr−1 ABC was lost globally, mostly resulting from the loss of tropical forests (−0.26 PgC yr−1) and net gains in mixed forests over boreal and temperate regions (+0.13 PgC yr−1) and tropical savannahs and shrublands (+0.05 PgC yr−1). Interannual ABC patterns are greatly influenced by the strong response of water-limited ecosystems to rainfall variability, particularly savannahs. From 2003 onwards, forest in Russia and China expanded and tropical deforestation declined. Increased ABC associated with wetter conditions in the savannahs of northern Australia and southern Africa reversed global ABC loss, leading to an overall gain, consistent with trends in the global carbon sink reported in recent studies1, 3, 9.

 See other related articles on and .


[1^] Yi Y. Liu, Albert I. J. M. van Dijk, Richard A. M. de Jeu, Josep G. Canadell, Matthew F. McCabe, Jason P. Evans  & Guojie Wang (2015) Recent reversal in loss of global terrestrial biomass, Nature Climate Change | Letter doi:10.1038/nclimate2581 [abstract]

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35 comments to Welcome to the CO2 disaster — 4 billion tons more plants, more greenery

  • #

    This is what the ABC’s Tony Jones calls “an increasingly degraded planet”.

    Western Europe hasn’t been this green since the middle ages.

    Western Australia’s central West is now more green than red.


    • #

      Far too many ‘greens’ for my liking, Tony Jones is on the nail — their toxic presence has led to ‘an increasingly degraded the planet’.


  • #
    Bite Back

    Joanne sarcastically says,

    What a calamity.

    And they do deserve it. But I think it’s more like,

    What? A calamity?

    They are not satisfied either way things go and it would be better for their cause if they spoke with one voice instead of many.

    Conclusion — they simply intend to complain and cause trouble, no matter what happens. So I wish them all the complaining they can enjoy and then some. They’re already unable to keep track of the complexity of their complaints and it makes fools of them constantly. It will eventually confound them completely and they will choke on it.

    The sooner the better.

    Bring on the CO2. A greener world can’t hurt anything.



  • #

    Climate policies will fix this greening problem too. The Brits will start firing coal fired power plants with wood pellets in the near future. It will take an area the size of Rhode Island (~1200 sq. miles) to grow enough wood and replenish the feedstock over 30 years for just one of their four boilers.


  • #

    In the comments of a recent blog-post at NoTricksZone someone posted a link to an article in Nature: Long-term decline of the Amazon carbon sink.

    Atmospheric carbon dioxide records indicate that the land surface has acted as a strong global carbon sink over recent decades, with a substantial fraction of this sink probably located in the tropics, particularly in the Amazon. Nevertheless, it is unclear how the terrestrial carbon sink will evolve as climate and atmospheric composition continue to change. Here we analyse the historical evolution of the biomass dynamics of the Amazon rainforest over three decades using a distributed network of 321 plots. While this analysis confirms that Amazon forests have acted as a long-term net biomass sink, we find a long-term decreasing trend of carbon accumulation. Rates of net increase in above-ground biomass declined by one-third during the past decade compared to the 1990s. This is a consequence of growth rate increases levelling off recently, while biomass mortality persistently increased throughout, leading to a shortening of carbon residence times. Potential drivers for the mortality increase include greater climate variability, and feedbacks of faster growth on mortality, resulting in shortened tree longevity. The observed decline of the Amazon sink diverges markedly from the recent increase in terrestrial carbon uptake at the global scale, and is contrary to expectations based on models.

    This paper is saying that while it’s true that CO2 is causing plants to grow faster, the faster growth is killing them sooner!!!!!!! (but only in the Amazon of course) CO2 is once again the evil gas that must be dealt with.

    But hold on just a minute, didn’t Yi Y. Liu just finish telling us in his article that the decline in tropical vegetation is due to “ongoing large-scale deforestation in the tropics”? And that “The greatest declines have been on the edge of the Amazon forests . . .”?

    So what’s killing the trees, CO2 gluttony, or deforrestation for planting bio-fuels? Well, that’s easy. It all depends on what you’re trying to prove. If you want to claim it’s all just luck, then it’s OK to say the loss in bio-mass is because of deforrestation. If you want to claim that it’s CO2 emissions, then you say that the loss in bio-mass is because of plants just eating too much.

    The ends justify the means.

    Do all these people have no shame?



  • #

    Reading this reminded me of a BBC television programme The Truth About Calories I caught last week. The presenter was in a field of potatoes and described how vegetation grows using sunlight and gas. Not carbon dioxide, just an unspecified gas. As I pointed out to my wife and daughter such a blatant lie of omission was quite deliberate.


  • #

    Has anyone given this any actual consideration? I mean consider for a moment, 4 billion ton improvement in green life. More plants sucking down the CO2 level = more plants growing or plants growing more large. Eventually, enough plant improvement and … CO2 stops going up. Then what are all the alarmistas gonna do? They’ve been squalling like a gut-shot panther over the pause in temperature rise … what is it going to be like once the CO2 pause hits?


    • #

      wyo, in the big scheme, the 4b T sounds large, but is a little bit extra on a giant turnover. Plants absorb120bT a year.

      If a CO2 pause comes, it’s more likely to be due to ocean temperatures, not plants.


      • #

        True story, Jo.

        But I was referring to the extra 4 billion tons. Plants have been using 120 billion, say that includes the 4 billion. But, before long, 124 billion. Then 128 billion and so on. Exactly what timescale, I am not sure of. But you get the idea. As long as plant life, including algae, etc., keeping growing and improving growth and then once the oceans cool a little, things are gonna go the other way. And the cooling is gonna happen. The sun is just way too quiet for it not to.


        • #
          el gordo


          ‘And the cooling is gonna happen. The sun is just way too quiet for it not to.’

          If we accept the idea that the sun is the main driver of earthly climate, then obviously we’ll have to lift our game and produce more human induced CO2.


    • #
      el gordo


      In fact human induced CO2 has been on a plateau for a few years, while out-gassing from the oceans appears to be holding up.


    • #

      The amount of additional biomass (4 billion tonnes) appears to represent a (staggering /sarc) increase of 0.714% (total global biomass 560 billion tonnes C).

      Much like the contribution of anthropogenic CO2, it seems largely irrelevant and the likelihood appears that this ‘increase’ falls within the bounds of:
      1. model error
      2. natural variation.


  • #
    Leonard Lane

    A bit off track. But Obama Administration says it will mage binding agreements at global warming meeting in Paris. See WUWT for test of statement.

    Many are hoping to repeal these agreements after Obama leaves office in Jan 2017. But for some things going on in USA that might worry some please search Operation Jade Helm.


  • #

    I remember seeing a documentary about 10 years ago on an experiment conducted in a rainforest were CO2 was introduced to create artificially high levels. The result was a 15% increase in growth. Big surprise. Nothing that commercial growers have known for decades.


  • #

    Does “Luck” equate to a “Miracle” for the Warmista of the cult?, these people don’t have an original thought amongst them.

    Soon we’ll get rehashed phrases like,
    – Every cloud has a carbon lining.
    – Life’s like a rainforest, you never know what’s gonna grow.
    – Nature doesn’t mind a vacuum.


  • #

    Co2 is a pollutant? I have always referred to this material as PLANET FOOD


    • #
      Radical Rodent

      Judging by the posting of the red thumbs, there are at least 3 people reading this site who have serious issues with accepting the truth, else why should they object to referencing CO2 as “Plant food” (as well as the other salient points being made)?


  • #

    Warming worriers mispredictions must therefore simply be bad luck. 😉


  • #
    Rereke Whakaaro

    The researchers have got it all “base over apex”.

    It reminds me of a play called “Glide Time”, by Roger Hall, which was about a Government Stores department, and the interaction between the Public Servants.

    At one point in the play, a man in a brown dust coat and carrying a clipboard, walks into the “office”, and starts counting the number of desks, chairs, hat racks, etc., ticking them off on the clipboard, as he went. The conversation between the other characters continued as they totally ignored him.

    Then, whilst staring into the auditorium, the man in the dust coat starts counting various sections of the audience. He looks down at the clip board in a worried way, and then repeats the process of counting parts of the audience. At this juncture, the other characters fall silent and just watch him.

    Finally, he looks up from his clipboard, looking extremely frightened, and says, “One of your windows is missing!”

    In the play, it was extremely funny. It is less so, now that the attitude has permeated the whole of the western bureaucracy, that seems transfixed with the notion of climate catastrophe.


  • #

    The warmists will rant and will rave,
    On how wicked mankind must behave,
    To cause a reduction,
    In CO2 production,
    Of the very gas growing plants crave.


  • #
    Another Ian


    Maybe Jo could do a line of handy site decorations along the lines of the violin on the

    “We don’t need no stinking giant fans” post today at


    Doesn’t seem to perform when you go to the link though.


  • #
    JJM Gommers

    The use of CO2 in greenhouses is known for 30 – 40 years. The expression “”may have helped”” is ridiculous, it’s the dominant variable in this process.
    A peculiar phenomenon by the greenies: CO2 dictates global warming but has little impact on plant growth.
    The opposite is true but how to reverse this indoctrination, it has reached the level of a religion


  • #
    Bill Burrows

    The authors of this Nature Climate Change paper clearly have a poor appreciation of plant ecology and range management. Above average rainfall and improved nutrition certainly enhance plant growth, but the plants (trees in the case of savannas) need to be present in the first instance. Meanwhile the ‘wet’ (La Nina) years experienced in northern Australia since the 1990’s (oh to have some now!) are not much different in duration or extent to similar cycles of ‘drought and flooding rains’ experienced since Europeans and their domestic livestock first displaced the previous hunter-gatherer society. Why did the trees not ‘thicken up’ in these earlier wet years?

    A common saying in northern Australia is that the indigenous people managed the country by burning it, in 3 ways – frequently, regularly and often. An article in a Tropical Savannas CRC Newsletter noted that ‘Aborigines lit fires (in the landscape) anytime it wasn’t raining’. And the insightful anthropologist Rhys Jones coined the term “fire-stick farming” to describe the practice. It is believed regular burning helped keep the savanna vegetation “open” (facilitating people movement) and maintained areas of ‘green pick’ on which game would congregate and be more easily hunted.

    The northern Australia savannas experience a monsoonal climate. In the extended ‘dry’ the grass pastures (top hamper) quickly lose their nutritional value for livestock. Up until the 1960’s-70’s those livestock were European (Bos taurus) cattle ill equipped to survive the ‘dry’, and highly susceptible to infestations of cattle tick. Consequently many cattle died or were sold off and stocking rates were greatly reduced in the dry season resulting in a large body of dry grass which was routinely burnt off (or ignited by lightning in early ‘wet’ season storms). These regular fires (which effectively maintained the burning regime of the previous indigenous management) limited the ability of woody plants to establish and thicken up in the savannas.

    However by the 1960’s and soon after Brahman (Bos indicus) cattle, which evolved under monsoonal conditions in Afro-Asia, rapidly replaced the European based cattle herd in the north. The former were simply far better adapted to survive in this environment than their European counterparts. Coincidentally around this time it was found that the provision of inexpensive dry-season feed supplements (urea-molasses licks) enabled the new Brahman infused herd to survive and even put on weight to some extent during the dry season. Consequently the top hamper that was previously burnt was now consumed, thus substantially reducing the extent and intensity of fires in the savannas. This then led to greater survival of woody plant seedlings (derived from wet season seed germination) as they were no longer being eliminated by dry season fires.

    In time this new woody plant population built up and eventually formed its own canopy and became more responsive to favourable growing conditions (e.g. La Nina years) whenever they occurred. So the main cause of this vegetation thickening (and increased above ground carbon sinks) was not higher rainfall or higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations, but changed fire regimes consequential to differing livestock management practices.

    Similar or analogous situations have occurred in the mulga lands, in the invasion of Mitchell grasslands by Acacia spp., in the invasion of Cape York grasslands by Melaleuca spp., the loss of wet sclerophyll forests to invading rainforest on the Atherton Tableland as well as the thickening of eucalypt savanna in north Queensland and the Victoria River District of the Northern Territory. Indeed in 1911 the noted naturalist Karl Domin concluded that, in all parts of Queensland the open ‘forests’ (the true ‘remnant’ condition?) developed through the influence of aborigines, mostly by means of bush fires. Likewise in 1955 M.R.Jacobs, the doyen of eucalypt ecologists correctly prophesized in his seminal book written about the genus – “If fires were controlled the eucalypts would make a much closer forest in the far north of Australia”.

    These and similar insights are well accepted in range management and plant ecological literature. They are found worldwide wherever Europeans and their domestic livestock displaced hunter-gatherer societies. Estimates of the carbon sink in thickening eucalypt woodlands (savannas) in Queensland (based on extensive field measurements) can be sourced in http://www.southwestnrm.org.au/ihub/growth-carbon-stock-change-eucalypt-woodlands-northeast-australia-ecological-greenhouse-sink-im .


  • #
    Peter Cynical of Sandy Bay

    About 20yrs ago the ABC had a documentary on research into gas emissions from rainfall forests in the region North of Cairns. Areas were pegged off and studied for 2yrs. I think it was a PhD study. The results if I recall correctly was that new/young rainforest was a net CO2 sink. The mid growth was a slight Carbon sink but that the mature/rainforest was a net CO2 emitter because of the amount of vegetation decay and the relative low amount of new growth. But if anyone else can remember the show or the resultant report it would be appreciated.


    • #
      Roy Hogue

      That’s not a surprising finding. After all, nature has been recycling living things for the last umpteen million years. It’s been happening for as long as there’s been anything to recycle. What’s alive today is dead tomorrow and recycled the next day. Then it shows up in living form again a day after that. And all living things contain carbon that turns into CO2 in the process. And we humans have the nerve to complain about a gas we have no control over?

      Nature: 1 point
      Complainers: 0 points


  • #

    The whole story leads to a better stated view of the planet that we are moving to a greener warmer world with less deserts. And also with a global population that is becoming increasingly wealthy (on the back of all that cheap HC based energy) and should stabilise at around 11 billion. Increasing wealth also means more desire to make our environment look nice.

    Talk about letting the truth set you free. The only intersting thing is watching the social contortions we will all go through. As Einstein once said “there are 2 things which may be infinite …. The universe and human stupidity …. But I’m not sure about the universe”


  • #
    Silent reader




    International Journal of Modern Physics B (Impact Factor: 0.46). 01/2012; 23(22). DOI: 10.1142/S0217979209052893
    ABSTRACT Thermodynamic deduction and experimental results both demonstrate that gravitation causes temperature gradient in an adiabatic system, i.e., gravithermal effect: The higher altitude the lower temperature.

    Source: http://www.researchgate.net/publication/263879139_TEMPERATURE_GRADIENT_CAUSED_BY_GRAVITATION

    The implications for climate science are that it is not radiation from CO2 and water vapor that is raisingthe surface temperature, but gravity. The AGW fraud is debunked.


  • #

    So somebody explain to me exactly HOW having increased biodiversity, more plant life to grow food for starving people, and an overall healthy ecosystem is such a “bad thing”….



  • #
    David Jay

    Any discussion of “luck” deserves the Heinlein quote:

    Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded- here and there, now and then- are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.This is known as “bad luck.” — Robert A. Heinlein


  • #

    review of some key debate points–
    History of Atmospheric CO2 through geological time (past 550 million years: from Berner, Science, 1997). graph shown at link: http://earthguide.ucsd.edu/virtualmuseum/images/CO2History.html

    Global Temperature and Atmospheric CO2 over Geologic Time–graph shown at link: http://www.climatechangedispatch.com/how-much-carbon-dioxide-co2-is-in-earths-atmosphere-today.html

    Late Carboniferous to Early Permian time (315 mya — 270 mya) is the only time period in the last 600 million years when both atmospheric CO2 and temperatures were as low as they are today (Quaternary Period ).

    Temperature after C.R. Scotese http://www.scotese.com/climate.htm
    CO2 after R.A. Berner, 2001 (GEOCARB III)

    There has historically been much more CO2 in our atmosphere than exists today. For example:

    During the Jurassic Period (200 mya), average CO2 concentrations were about 1800 ppm or about 4.7 times higher than today.

    The highest concentrations of CO2 during all of the Paleozoic Era occurred during the Cambrian Period, nearly 7000 ppm — about 18 times higher than today.

    The Carboniferous Period and the Ordovician Period were the only geological periods during the Paleozoic Era when global temperatures were as low as they are today. To the consternation of global warming proponents, the Late Ordovician Period was also an Ice Age while at the same time CO2 concentrations then were nearly 12 times higher than today– 4400 ppm.

    According to greenhouse theory, Earth should have been exceedingly hot. Instead, global temperatures were no warmer than today. Clearly, other factors besides atmospheric carbon influence earth temperatures and global warming.
    skepticalscience.com says:
    It turns out falling CO2 levels was the cause of late Ordovician glaciation….What about times closer to home? The last time CO2 was similar to current levels was around 3 million years ago, during the Pliocene. Back then, CO2 levels remained at around 365 to 410 ppm for thousands of years. Arctic temperatures were 11 to 16°C warmer (Csank 2011). Global temperatures over this period is estimated to be 3 to 4°C warmer than pre-industrial temperatures. Sea levels were around 25 metres higher than current sea level (Dwyer 2008). http://www.skepticalscience.com/print.php?r=77
    skepticalscience.com says in 2010, near the top of the link: Another important factor is the sun. During the Ordovician, it would have been several percent dimmer according to established nuclear models of main sequence stars. Surprisingly, this raises the CO2 threshold for glaciation to a staggering 3000 ppmv or so. This also explains (along with the logarithmic forcing effect of CO2) why a runaway greenhouse didn’t occur: with a dimmer sun, high CO2 is necessary to stop the Earth freezing over. http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php?a=66#11178


  • #

    The problems facing the warmists/alarmists are +95% self-made and unnecessary because they have not been content to patiently test their scientific hypotheses but instead they hurriedly multiplied them and assumed more and more speculative reasoning, plus they went into political/financial/media sectors for backing and/or argument instead of being very cautious within the scientific method. They shot themselves in the foot so many times that the question becomes this–can climatology within even a century become a science after such mess has been generated? -R., Mt. Shasta, CA