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Scientists Surprised to Find Earth's Biosphere Booming

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the but-there's-also-the-slow-hiss-in-the-background dept.

Earth 692

radioweather writes "An article from the Financial Post says that recent studies of biosphere imaging from the NASA SEAWIFS satellite indicate that the Earth's biomass is booming: 'The results surprised Steven Running of the University of Montana and Ramakrishna Nemani of NASA, scientists involved in analyzing the NASA satellite data. They found that over a period of almost two decades, the Earth as a whole became more bountiful by a whopping 6.2%. About 25% of the Earth's vegetated landmass — almost 110 million square kilometers — enjoyed significant increases and only 7% showed significant declines. When the satellite data zooms in, it finds that each square meter of land, on average, now produces almost 500 grams of greenery per year.' Their 2004 study, and other more recent ones, point to the warming of the planet and the presence of CO2, fertilizing the biota and resulting in the increased green side effect."

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So now we have the (5, Funny)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706357)

Green Side Effect as a result of the greenhouse effect. So are we all gonna die or not already?

Re:So now we have the (-1, Troll)

aproposofwhat (1019098) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706431)

It's just Gaia self-regulating again - the good thing is that she's not got an immune system, or we'd all be gobbled up by large white cells (images of 'The Prisoner' being chased by those latex balls spring to mind).

We're all going to die, but most of us will make it to three score and ten unless the Israelis start WWIII - if this 'green side effect' is powerful enough, then our descendants may make it as well.

It just goes to show what a wonderful self-regulating system evolution has produced.

Re:So now we have the (5, Funny)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706825)

How do you go from biomass regeneration to WWIII?

Anyway, Earth, in its aspect as a living system, can survive the impact of a gigantic Asteroid and destruction of almost all Plant and Animal life, repopulating back to previous levels within a few tens of millions of years.

That the biomass is booming is simply an example of the very same mechanisms at work.

All species go extinct, all of them, that includes us. The greatest likelihood is that the Voyager probe will outlast the species that created it.

There is some small chance that we will make it to the stars and survive, but this will spark a new round of evolution. Result? Extinction of the current form of Homo Sapiens.

My only consolation is that this includes the french :)

Re:So now we have the (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23706891)

You've giving credit to Gaia? Oh come on, that's not an explanation -- that's an invisible hand. It's as silly as explaining the planetary orbits by saying that "god did it". It's a non-explanation -- there's nothing to understand in your answer, there's no depth.

And will you have faith that "Gaia" will solve a future dilemma? How will you know? Will you take it on faith again?

Bah, humbug. What a mis-explanation.

Re:So now we have the (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23706445)

So are we all gonna die or not already?
Certainty? In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.
Benjamin Franklin

The questions that remain are to the manner and time, the costs paid in the meantime and those costs left behind.

Re:So now we have the (3, Insightful)

Xiroth (917768) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706571)

Ya know, this is exactly the thing that shits me to tears about the whole greenhouse debate. Those who've been saying that we might want to do something about the greenhouse effect before it's too late have been characterised as leftist loonies who care more about the planet and other animals than humans and human civilisation. In some cases they're right - there is a liberal dose of the usual extremist greenie suspects in the climate change movement - but I really wonder whether those people actually know what they're fighting for. Because, frankly, the stated aims of environmentalists - improving the forests, saving the fuzzy animals, and so on, is actually served by the increasing CO2 in the atmosphere, as plants grow better in richer CO2 atmospheres and that leads to a stronger biosphere all round. By and large, there's very few better things we could have done with our intelligence for the continuance of life on Earth than releasing all of the trapped CO2 back into the atmosphere so that it can be used again.

The only species that are going to really be adversely affected by this sort of change are those who have set up permanent settlements right next to the water and can't easily retreat further inland as the water rises. Or has critical infrastructure that can be easily destroyed by hurricanes and tornadoes as the weather becomes more chaotic. Or relies on things staying the same, year in, year out, just because they have been for the last 200 years. Such a species would really be fucked by this sort of a change. One only hopes they wouldn't be stupid enough to cause it.

We're not doing this for the planet. We're not doing this for the plants, or even the fuzzy animals. We're doing it for us. Because if you look at the cold hard facts, we really don't have any other choices worth a damn.

I'm a moderate rightist, and I approve this message.

Re:So now we have the (3, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706685)

Because, frankly, the stated aims of environmentalists - improving the forests, saving the fuzzy animals, and so on,
Where have you found these "stated aims"?

Most of the climate speculation I've seen concentrates on very human-centric concerns such as food production, extreme weather and the effect of rising sea levels on major cities.

Re:So now we have the (5, Funny)

Xiroth (917768) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706693)

Feel free to read the rest of the post whenever you have time in your clearly busy schedule.

I agree (1, Interesting)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706709)

That damn greenhouse effect growing my crops again. Man I'm pissed off.

I'm convinced that humans can't ruin the world by using CO2 admitting sources of power (perhaps if we burned it all at once not for energy). My reasoning:

1) Humans are not very the best at surviving extremes in weather. Thus:

2) If CO2/other green house gases screw up the air humans will die off before most other life forms.

3) The ones that survive will tend to be CO2 digesting lifeforms which will bring things back to normal and in the meantime probably have a hayday with all the extra food.

Environmentalists bitch about the selfishness of man to burn plant harming fuels etc. But then most of their arguements revolve around how it affects people. Oh look at this poor tribe that had to move from the coast presumably because of the ocean level rising (it has in fact declined on average). Oh there is draughts in Africa (but they don't mention that it was a record crop year in the Americas when we had all that warming for the El Nino, also better fishing conditions etc).

Re:I agree (5, Funny)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706787)

Oh look at this poor tribe that had to move from the coast presumably because of the ocean level rising (it has in fact declined on average).
The inhabitants of low-lying atolls and islands all around the Pacific would like to have a word with you.

Re:I agree (3, Funny)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706799)

The inhabitants of low-lying atolls and islands all around the Pacific would like to have a word with you.

... the millions of people living in large coastal cities would, too.

Re:So now we have the (5, Insightful)

FeepingCreature (1132265) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706747)

My personal take on it is that the Earth is a very complex system with interactions that still aren't nearly fully understood, and since it's kinda the only living room we have, it would be wise to keep our interference as low as we can, until we have attained a much more .. certain understanding.

Re:So now we have the (5, Interesting)

Gearoid_Murphy (976819) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706777)

"Because, frankly, the stated aims of environmentalists - improving the forests, saving the fuzzy animals, and so on, is actually served by the increasing CO2 in the atmosphere, as plants grow better in richer CO2 atmospheres and that leads to a stronger biosphere all round." Hold up there buddy, that is simply not true, many animals depend on icy habitats (polar bears, penguins) which are going to disappear with increasing temperature. Increased melting will disrupt the north Atlantic drift which will completely change the climate of northern Europe to something like the previous ice age. Increased levels of CO2 interacting with the sea will cause the oceans to become more acidic, this is already happening. Whatever the result, the planet is likely to be going through the most rapid period of change to its internal distribution of gases ever recorded, as a direct result of pollution from burning fossil fuels. As a species, humanity has emerged in a relatively calm period in the earth's climatic history, now, our children and their children, and heaven forbid, maybe even we, will have to deal with the consequences of these actions, which I doubt will "lead to a stronger biosphere all round."

Re:So now we have the (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706861)

I can't believe any scientists are surprised by the result of increased green in the presence of increased CO2. That's generally how it works. What I don't see is any break-down indicating that increased green is contributing to any increases in oxygen production or otherwise any consumption or reduction of CO2.

It has been observed through various forms of evidence that the earth has indeed cycled in this way many times. This event is significant, however, as evidenced by the melting of ice that hasn't been in liquid form for several cycles. If I understand and have read things correctly, then this is a melting of ice that has been in a frozen state for more than 5 million years. So while it's arguable that the earth naturally goes through these cycles, it's also evident that these cycles are responsible for mass extinction events on the planet.

So who cares?

1. If you care about "the planet" only, then you are pretty comfortable in knowing that the planet will be just fine. It has seen changes like these before and will not suffer or become lifeless as a result of this.

2. If you care about our current planetary ecosystem, then you are right to be concerned as it seems evident that it is being changed irreversibly. There is such a great depth to how inter-twined we are with the environment, that it is hard not to believe that any major change in the environment will not lead to a mass extinction event especially a mass extinction of humans. (If someone were to create a food substance completely out of raw, non-living minerals, then perhaps humans could stand a chance at survival.) (The very notion that only life in areas where the sea level changes is ridiculous and fails to account for other realities surrounding the change in sea level. There is, for example, the change in water temperature which has a direct connection with the patterns and intensity of weather events such as hurricanes. These weather changes are global, not only coastal. These weather changes affect the balance of plant and animal life which will inevitably lead to the rise of some and the fall of others, but consider what it means when the bees die... and they are dying. When the bees die, the stuff we depend on to make food dies with them. We will follow soon after we run out of food.)

3. If the question of cause or blame is important to you, then I believe the circumstantial evidence supports the notion that humans are responsible for what it going on.

Ultimately, I believe humans are responsible for what is going on and could stop this any time we are prepared to value life over profit. At every level, however, we're prepared to kill for money... kill for control over our own destiny. Isn't it ironic that its the human desire and instinct to dominate and control that will likely destroy us?

I love technology. I couldn't know what I know or learn what I may learn without it. I couldn't write this here without it. I'm contributing to our own demise simply by not giving up my own technology, quitting my job, destroying my car and living naked in the woods somewhere. But then, I'm just a drone like the majority of us. We're in no position to make those kinds of changes. It is the other classes of people who are in a position to make a change and their willingness to make changes...more specifically, to give up their existing business models in favor of those that will support the existence of humans. (For example, the airline industry should REALLY consider using their enormous profits to evolve into massive rail projects that can run on power sources other than those that emit greenhouse gasses. And the automotive industry should put currently known technologies to use.) We already know what is possible. We just aren't doing it. The market mentality drives us and even requires us by law to destroy ourselves for profit.

The stock market is not a maintainable model. In theory, it should be a reflection of supply and demand. In reality, it is driven by guesses, fears, beliefs, speculation, fad/fashion and just about anything but the facts. (You can't have facts because of insider trading laws...someone will know the facts before everyone else and take unfair advantage!) So we have this supply-and-demand, invisible-hand, capitalistic system that, on paper works very very well being pushed and guided by what boils down to human emotion.

The whole situation is so complex and removed from itself that the study of the individual parts are meaningless without a better understanding of the whole picture of how things come together and where the failings lie. The major contributors of the environmental problems aren't inclined to change and they are the ONLY ONES who can make the change effective. We, the peons, are not in a position to make serious impact without overthrowing the leadership of the world... a global form of the French Revolution. (Sure, we can 'do our part' by recycling plastic bottles, but does that address the problem of the big picture? No. We can even swear off of technology and live like primitives, but does that address the problem of the big picture? No, and and the moment we put down our guns, the people who keep their guns will push us into reservations in the middle of the desert.) Meanwhile, the planet's bourgeoisie, who are in a position to make effective changes, are too afraid to endanger their positions to make the changes necessary... the changes necessary to sustain them.

Blame should be placed squarely where it belongs. So far, the people who can make the most difference have done a pretty good job of keeping us distracted from them and deflecting the blame. Without accurately assigned blame, appropriate actions will not follow.

Re:So now we have the (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706887)

Ultimately, I believe humans are responsible for what is going on and could stop this any time we are prepared to value life over profit.

Actually, we would just need to value long-term profit over short-term profit. But we can't even do that.

The cycle.... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23706361)

More CO2 => increased temperatures => more greenery => more CO2 absorption => decreased temperatures?

Re:The cycle.... (5, Funny)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706373)

More CO2 => increased temperatures => more greenery => more CO2 absorption => decreased temperatures?
Yeah, seriously, I think I'm gonna go back to believing in horoscopes.

Re:The cycle.... (3, Insightful)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706381)

Looks like just this will happen. But before CO2 levels decrease, there may be mass extinctions.

Re:The cycle.... (4, Insightful)

MrMr (219533) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706437)

And after CO2 levels have decreased, there may be mass extinctions.
Perhaps mass extinction is the preferred process to upgrade the biopshere to cope with new conditions?

Re:The cycle.... (0, Troll)

celle (906675) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706449)

And for the good of the universe I hope one of those extinctions is us. It's not like we won't deserve it either.

Re:The cycle.... (4, Funny)

MrMr (219533) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706507)

You think the universe would be even remotely interesting without at least one really evil species?
We could be the Vogons of the galaxy. I'd like the shouting part.

Re:The cycle.... (4, Funny)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706639)

I will write poetry, I'm really bad at this :D "Ode to extinctions: O thy, which is extinct, Don't ever come back, Because for you the race is over, Use burma shave".

Re:The cycle.... (2, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706423)

>More CO2 => increased temperatures => more greenery => more CO2 absorption => decreased temperatures?

Exactly. Amazing how it all balances out. Its not the first time in earth's history that this cycle has played out.

Al Gore... Clean up on Isle 7.

Re:The cycle.... (3, Interesting)

Sique (173459) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706849)

The problem is: The process works for the Earth as a whole, but is catastrophic for the individual.

Most of our technology is used to create a non changing environment for us: steady food and water supply, steady temperatures without summer or winter extremes, steady health etc.pp...

We are not very good equipped with technology to deal with constant change. And global warming, followed by a global cooling might be complicated to deal with.

Re:The cycle.... (3, Informative)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706889)

More CO2 => increased temperatures => more greenery => more CO2 absorption => decreased temperatures?

Yes. It's one of many self-regulating systems you'll find in nature. It's negative feedbacks like this that keep the climate stable-ish. If a volcano belches out a vast cloud of carbon, the trees will devour it, and not much will change overall. Read up Lovelock's 'Gaia' theory: modelling the Earth's whole biosphere as a distributed organism, and its interconnected feedbacks as homeostatic mechanisms that stabilise internal conditions.

Trouble is that we're putting out far more carbon than any volcano ever dreamed of. And, er... we're cutting down the trees at the same time. That's really not a good idea.

great (0, Troll)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706365)

another excuse for Bush and Co. to use

"Look were making the planet greener by fertilizing it with CO2!"

White house brainstorm session: (4, Funny)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706393)

Moderator: How are we going to turn this into something that will scare the masses - we have a few more anti-privacy bills to pass..

Jeff: We'll be attacked any minute by a muslim man-eating creeper and..

Jill: What about we are all going to starve because.. uhh..

Tony: We're gonna be taken over by weeds..

Jill: Weed!

Jeff: Man eating weed..

All together: Muslim-man-eating-weed!

Moderator: Great, let's write that one down.

Re:White house brainstorm session: (1)

aproposofwhat (1019098) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706543)

Muslim-man-eating-weed!

Puts me in mind of this song [lyricsmode.com] - the 'Petrol d'Allah' line always makes me grin, and I am a great fan of Black September.

Re:great (0, Flamebait)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706481)

Actually this is the REALITY.

The world that we, and our ancestors, have been used to has been a "desert" planet with far less carbon in circulation than (perhaps) ever before.

The Earth was once a lush green place with abundant plant and animal life. By pre-historic standards todays world is just barren and sparse

Whenever you see plant life; thats carbon thats been sucked out of the air.

Whenever you see animal life; thats carbon thats been sucked out of the air and concentrated in plants.

A living planet needs carbon. Ours was almost dead until we started releasing the carbon back into the ecosystem.

Re:great (0, Redundant)

tomtomtom777 (1148633) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706721)

Whenever you see animal life; thats carbon thats been sucked out of the air and concentrated in plants.

Nope. Whenever you see animal life; thats carbon thats been taken from plants and blown back in the air.

A living planet needs carbon.

True, but the carbon is already in the cycle. Thats not the problem. The only problem might be that due to us burning loads of fuel, the balance of the cycle is a bit shifted.

Re:great (0, Troll)

LS (57954) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706801)

A living planet needs carbon. Ours was almost dead until we started releasing the carbon back into the ecosystem.

What a bunch of nonsense! Or planet is no where near dead. What do you constitute as the distinction between dead and alive?

Perhaps this "desert-like" planet is precisely what is needed for advanced human civilization to survive. Pumping more carbon into the atmosphere might make our planet more lush and green, but it may very well no longer be suitable for advanced civilization.

Quit coming up with bullshit non-scientific arguments to justify your greedy status-quo energy wasting lifestyle.

Re:great (4, Interesting)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706827)

Pre-historic ecosystems, such as the massive hadrosaur herds, required far more abundant plant growth than is possible in any modern ecosystem.

Animals such as hadrosaurs would grow extremely rapidly from hatchlings to full grown. That took a LOT of plant material for them to eat. And their population density was fairly high. In order for hadrosaur herds to thrive as they did the vegetation had to be extremely fast growing and abundant.

Modern ecosystems are, by comparison to pre-historic ecosystems, virtually deserts.

There is just nothing like the hadrosaur in the modern world, there just isn't the carbon in circulation to sustain the plant life required to support them.

Is biodiversity also booming? (4, Insightful)

sweet_petunias_full_ (1091547) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706391)

Biodiversity is declining and that's a bad thing even if more weeds are growing in Oshkosh.

The arctic ice pack is melting and that will ultimately change the earth's albedo in a bad way. I don't see much optimism in that, even if some plants in some places grow better due to changing climate conditions.

Re:Is biodiversity also booming? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23706421)

all of your children will die.

Return of the slime (5, Insightful)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706455)

Biodiversity is declining and that's a bad thing even if more weeds are growing in Oshkosh.



That's a good point. I read an article a while ago stating that some parts of the oceans are experiencing a "return of the slime" - the higher life forms are disappearing, while simpler life forms are booming.


Probably not something we want to have. I'd rather have fish and seafood than algae slime, thank you very much.

Re:Return of the slime (5, Insightful)

sweet_petunias_full_ (1091547) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706533)

"I'd rather have fish and seafood than algae slime"

If sea levels continue to rise due to global warming, the spawning grounds for many fish will be flushed with excessive salinity which will wipe out those special ecosystems and drop fish stocks worldwide (...already in sharp decline). So as you say, the fish and seafood will be replaced with slime, and there will be more mosquitoes due to the lack of fish hatchlings to eat the mosquito larvae.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_level_rise [wikipedia.org]

Biosphere booming indeed.

Re:Return of the slime (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23706821)

"So as you say, the fish and seafood will be replaced with slime, and there will be more mosquitoes due to the lack of fish hatchlings to eat the mosquito larvae."

You actually think the fish in the ocean mosquitoes? When was the last time you saw mosquito eggs in the ocean?

Re:Return of the slime (4, Funny)

arotenbe (1203922) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706545)

I'd rather have fish and seafood than algae slime, thank you very much.
Please, won't someone think of the sushi!

Re:Return of the slime (1)

AC-x (735297) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706815)

"I'd rather have fish and seafood than algae slime, thank you very much."

Buy Soylent Green high-energy plankton rations, much more nutritious and palatable than Soylent red and yellow!

Re:Is biodiversity also booming? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23706463)

An "ice age" is defined as a period where ice sheets cover land in both hemispheres. In the south, we have Antarctica; in the north, we have Greenland. Guess what that means? We're in an ice age. Guess what it means that the ice sheets are melting? We're coming out of one. Guess what happens to temperatures when you come out of an ice age? They rise. I shit you not. We've been coming out of an ice age for 11,000 years. If the warming trend that began after the peak of the last ice age were a day, the industrial revolution happend at thirty minutes to midnight. CO2 is good. That's what TFA says. The mean surface temperature of Mars is rising also--that's not the industiral revolution and that's not some gas-leak on our little rovers.

Thank you, that is all.

Re:Is biodiversity also booming? (4, Informative)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706537)

In the words of Wolfgang Pauli, "this isn't right. It isn't even wrong."

First of all, an ice age is only a time when average temperatures are signficantly below present levels. Most of history for almost a million years has been an ice age; The current interglacial has lasted remarkably long.

Second of all, we are not coming out of an ice age. Earth's global temperature and sea levels began a rapid rise approximately 20Kya and both leveled off near their current values around 10 to 12Kya.

Third, the extent to which industrialization has changed the concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere in the last 250 years is unprecedented in the last 600 thousand years, and if you think it's not having an effect you're either delusional or willfully ignorant.

Re:Is biodiversity also booming? (1)

sweet_petunias_full_ (1091547) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706645)

Your understanding of geologic time is healthy, but weather is now changing so abruptly that a natural cause seems less and less likely to explain the weirdness.

For example, NOAA scientists point out that the icecap is melting *way* faster than expected:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/06/AR2007090602499_pf.html [washingtonpost.com]

Of course, you don't care about that - for the moment - but I think it is alarming even before we know what all of the consequences will be.

"You breathe your air how you want and I'll breathe my air how I want."

Re:Is biodiversity also booming? (1)

imneverwrong (1303895) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706797)

Given that we don't really know how many distinct types of animal/plant/organism currently exist, it's a bit of a stretch to say that biodiversity is declining. Certainly, it's declining in the areas we can easily get to to measure, which is as expected!

Re:Is biodiversity also booming? (1)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706851)

The arctic ice pack is melting and that will ultimately change the earth's albedo in a bad way

What I find fascinating is that when the Poles froze first time round *that* was a climate changing catastrophe for the species then living as well.

I smell bullshit (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23706397)

Quote from article "massive programs in an effort to remove as much as 80% of the carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere.

If these governments are right, they will have done us all a service. If they are wrong, the service could be all ill, with food production dropping world wide, and the countless ecological niches on which living creatures depend stressed."

Bollocks, governments are not removing emissions, they are reducing emissions. Thus we will still keep all the CO2 in the atmosphere, we will just pump less new CO2 into the atmosphere.

Thus the plants can keep growing all they like, we won't be removing their food anytime soon. All we are doing is slowing down the pace at which we are overfeeding them.

corn, wheat, soybeans, rice, are biomass (4, Insightful)

0WaitState (231806) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706399)

So how much of this increased biomass is due to higher yielding farming techniques over the past 20 years? And how much of the higher farm yield is due to fertilizers from crude oil? (hint, in 1st world countries, you cannot profitably farm bulk crops without oil originated fertilzer)

Re:corn, wheat, soybeans, rice, are biomass (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23706651)

My first thought was: 500 grams per square meter? Average street price of $10/gram? That's some profitable business!
 

It depends (4, Interesting)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706731)

Well, yes, but at the same time those plants absorb some CO2 out of the atmosphere to grow. And then you eat them, shit it, and it's not going back into the atmosphere. Or they get turned to clothes, paper (quick-growing trees are used as crops to produce paper), etc, which end up in a landfill and again it's not quite going back into the atmosphere.

So while some CO2 _is_ produced in raising those crops, yes, including in creating their fertilizer, they also remove some CO2 from the air. So the balance isn't as doom-and-gloom as you seem to assume.

Second, we're talking fertilizers, not plastics. Most of what those plants need is nitrogen, which actually comes from the air. (Fossil fuels don't contain much nitrogen.) E.g., ammonium nitrate is nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen. There is no carbon in it at all. (And even if there were, it would go into the plant, not back into the air.)

Technically, some carbon is used there, but at least for the Haber process that's methane gas from natural gas fields. There's buggerall need to start from oil to produce it. And it's recycled back into methane by the end of the process, so it's basically used more as a catalyst than "OMG, dumping CO2 into the atmosphere." The Odda Process is even more fun, in that at least one variant of it can actually use CO2 and fix it to CaCO3.

So all that remains as a source of pollution there is that, like any factory, it needs some energy. It doesn't necessarily mean oil, though. I'm sure you can use nuclear power instead, which, for whatever other sins it may have, has exactly zero CO2 emissions.

Re:It depends (3, Informative)

Sique (173459) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706909)

Well, yes, but at the same time those plants absorb some CO2 out of the atmosphere to grow. And then you eat them, shit it, and it's not going back into the atmosphere.
No, this CO2 goes straight back into the atmosphere: fungus and bacteria feed on them, and release the CO2 when they digest it and turn it back into soil.

As soon as a living dies all the trapped CO2 is released during the deceasing of the corpse. To actually trap it forever you have to close it off from any oxygene, then it might turn into coal or oil again.

In other news... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23706403)

Obesity rate in USA reach a stunning record high...

The pertinent question... (3, Interesting)

Ron2K (1301199) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706407)

... is whether this outweighs the negative aspects of global warming or not.

I'd say it's too early to say for sure, but it would definitely be interesting to find out.

Re:The pertinent question... (2, Funny)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706491)

... is whether this outweighs the negative aspects of global warming or not.

It's a good life, if you are a plant. Plants like it in greenhouses, gardeners not so much.

Re:The pertinent question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23706499)

What are the negative aspects of global warming, precisely? More abundant crops? Yup, I see why Monsanto is worried. Maybe they should have a chat with Al "The Internet c'est moi" Gore... Or they already had?

Re:The pertinent question... (5, Interesting)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706735)

Warmer temperatures induce melting of arctic and greenland icesheets. If this continues far enough, it may reduce the salinity of the north Atlantic to the point that the oceanic conveyor shuts down; If this happens, Europe freezes. There is evidence that this is already in progress; Measurements have indicated that the columns of cold, dense saltwater from the surface that need to sink to the ocean floor are not getting as far down as they should.

Increasing temperatures over equatorial oceans drive increased humidity and increased storm formation, resulting in an increased number of more powerful hurricanes/typhoons/cyclones. Rising humidity in tropical regions is also extending the range of tropical disease-carrying insects northwards.

The addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere is altering the equilibrium acidity of the oceans, as more of it dissolves into top layers of the ocean and forms carbonic acid. This makes it more difficult for diatoms to grow their carbonate-based bodies. If the acidity increases sufficiently, it could cause diatom populations to crash as their bodies dissovle and effectively nuke the entire oceanic ecosystem from the bottom floor.

Underneath the permafrost in much of the north are unimaginably massive deposits of methane calthrates, consisting of a crystal of methane and water molecules that is only thermodynamically stable at low temperatures and high pressures. If rising temperatures induce a massive decomposition (blowout) of calthrates, the result would be catastrophic beyond measure; Methane has thousands of times the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide, and there are billions of tons of it locked up in calthrates.

There is a now famous picture, showing an image of a Himalayan ice pack taken circa 1910 alongside an image taken today; The ice has all but disappeared. If reduced snow accumulation and increased melting takes place, many borderline parts of the world will be tipped into being outright deserts due to reduced river flow. Guess what feeds the world's rivers?

So... would you like to know more?

Yeah and then there are "dead zones" (2, Interesting)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706415)

I've seen many references to "the cause" of oceanic "dead zones" being nutrients (mainly agricultural run-off of chemically active nitrogen) but this seems paradoxical:

Yes I know the story: nutrients create algae blooms which then die and decay thereby robbing the ocean of oxygen.

What I'm referring to as a seeming "paradox" is not only the fact that the base of the food chain is dramatically expanded by nutrients --
but that the organisms making up this foundation produce _oxygen_ from photosynthesis supporting algae grazers with both food _and_ oxygen.

Why don't the smaller, rapidly-reproducing zooplankton take up the gauntlet?

Virtually all of the articles I've read on hypoxic waters and dead zones fail to address this paradox. I've only read one paper that
mentioned even an _hypothesis_ of how algae grazers fail to flourish -- referring to algae species that protect themselves with toxins.
But this doesn't ring true: Why would the most pioneering of algae species be the most protective of themselves when there is so much
opportunity to evolve optimizations for growth rather than defense against grazers?

obvious answer (2, Insightful)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706475)

Everyone is too focused on political scaremongering, everyone else is too afraid to come out with anything unpopular in case they're called an "oil company sell out" by the idiot global warming mob and lose their jobs.

Re:Yeah and then there are "dead zones" (2, Interesting)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706477)

What I'm referring to as a seeming "paradox" is not only the fact that the base of the food chain is dramatically expanded by nutrients -- but that the organisms making up this foundation produce _oxygen_ from photosynthesis supporting algae grazers with both food _and_ oxygen.

Why don't the smaller, rapidly-reproducing zooplankton take up the gauntlet?

Because algae consume oxygen when there is no sunlight, just like any other plant. If there's sufficient quantities of algae, they will suffocate any higher life form that requires oxygen.

Re:Yeah and then there are "dead zones" (1)

cnettel (836611) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706505)

What I'm referring to as a seeming "paradox" is not only the fact that the base of the food chain is dramatically expanded by nutrients -- but that the organisms making up this foundation produce _oxygen_ from photosynthesis supporting algae grazers with both food _and_ oxygen.

Why don't the smaller, rapidly-reproducing zooplankton take up the gauntlet?

Because algae consume oxygen when there is no sunlight, just like any other plant. If there's sufficient quantities of algae, they will suffocate any higher life form that requires oxygen.

When they die, they also reach the regions at higher depths, where oxygen is depleted when decomposing them. Naturally, anaerobic or middle-ground low-oxygen organisms will still live there, but that will efficiently stop other organisms. As some eggs and larvae for higher animals first develop in the sediments, this can affect the complete cycle tremendously.

Re:Yeah and then there are "dead zones" (4, Interesting)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706603)

The situation you describe looks like a new equilibrium that's seperated from the existing ones by a kinetic barrier; Before algae grazers can move in, the bloom peaks, dies, and creates a dead zone phenomenon.

Re:Yeah and then there are "dead zones" (4, Informative)

Entropy2016 (751922) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706613)

Yes I know the story: nutrients create algae blooms which then die and decay thereby robbing the ocean of oxygen.
No, you don't know the story. That's only part of it.
In addition to losing oxygen, the water becomes more turbid,and the proportions of species in the community is damaged.
Some of these algal/cyanobacteria blooms are actually toxic to plants & animals.

Why don't the smaller, rapidly-reproducing zooplankton take up the gauntlet?
Because they suffocate near the alleged food source. That of course assumes the food source firstly isn't toxic to them.
Ever seen a dead mouse in a mouse-trap? Food surrounded by lethal conditions is hardly food.

Why don't the smaller, rapidly-reproducing zooplankton take up the gauntlet?

Virtually all of the articles I've read on hypoxic waters and dead zones fail to address this paradox. I've only read one paper that
mentioned even an _hypothesis_ of how algae grazers fail to flourish -- referring to algae species that protect themselves with toxins.
But this doesn't ring true: Why would the most pioneering of algae species be the most protective of themselves when there is so much
opportunity to evolve optimizations for growth rather than defense against grazers?
The evolution of life doesn't care about optimizations for growth. Evolution does not seek to form a more perfect creature. Either the environment kills it before it reproduces or it doesn't. Their goal is survival, not being efficient at it. An organism's life can be amazingly cruel and miserable, yet still perfectly succeed in this function. Optimizations and perfections aren't on the agenda unless the consequence of not adopting such things is extinction.

It's very simple, unthinking, and without any sort of goal orientation save for existing. If the algae can exist successfully without such optimizations, they will continue to do so. Kinda like how massive numbers of people will continue to buy large inefficient vehicles until gas gets expensive. They could have used optimized & efficient vehicles, but they don't unless they perceive it to be absolutely necessary to get by.

Re:Yeah and then there are "dead zones" (1)

MrMr (219533) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706627)

Dead zones are probably not caused by CO2. But I also don't understand your paradox: Photosynthesis can only occur in the top of the water column where the excess oxygen escapes into the atmosphere (oxygen solubility in water is quite low), while 'dead zones' are always confined to poorly mixed deep water. How is this zooplankton going to get hold of both the O2 and the nutrients?

Re:Yeah and then there are "dead zones" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23706791)

The answer isn't really too hard -- the oxygen doesn't saturate the water. No matter how much oxygen is produced, if it is all being pumped out at the surface, it will have a difficult time reaching the lower water levels.

Absorbing CO2 (-1, Troll)

Lothar (9453) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706417)

Surely this means that more CO2 is absorbed from the atmosphere. This must be a blow to all the carbon crazed environment people!

Re:Absorbing CO2 (2, Insightful)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706557)

Depends on what you do with the plants, if you let them rot deep under ground yes. If you burn them (for heat, etanol, diese or whatever.) no.

Re:Absorbing CO2 (2, Interesting)

FatMullet (1086469) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706725)

It certainly means more CO2 is being taken up in the global biomass. Not enough CO2 is being taken up by the biomass to prevent global concentrations of CO2 increasing though. The other worry is that as global land temperatures increase the release of CO2 from soil increases as well (bacteria in the soil will rot vegetation down quicker). So, even though the mass of vegetation over land increases, the carbon in the soil decreases and the land becomes a net source of CO2 rather than a sink. For example Cox et al 2001 : Acceleration of global warming due to carbon cycle feedbacks in a coupled climate model, Nature, 408, pp 184-187

one more nail (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23706451)

This is one more nail in the coffin of the religion of global alarmism. Gee, who'da thunk that more CO2 would help make more plants, and thereby reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere?
I understand the concept of tipping points, but there ain't no way we can produce enough CO2 to counter all the plants on the planet - especially when you factor in algae and the like.
Of course, zealots won't let facts and logic get in the way of their belief.
You know, they would be a whole lot more believable if they didn't "figures don't lie, but liars can figure" propagandize all the events in the world (every climate event is evidence). I see Drudge today says Washington DC 105 degrees (oops, that's really the *heat index* - not actual temperature).
Meanwhile, let's ignore the fact the west coast is having one of the mildest spring/summer periods that I can remember in at least a decade.

Consider the source (5, Interesting)

JakartaDean (834076) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706457)

Well, this would certainly be great if true -- the impact of increased global temperatures and higher availability of CO2 means that plant life booms, sequestering CO2. But...

Consider the source. The summary links to two rather untrustworthy sources of global warming information. Why are there no links to the actual study? Maybe the lack of appropriate links is, in it's own way, part of the story. Colour me sceptical.

Re:Consider the source (1)

DamienNightbane (768702) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706531)

CO2 and global temperature were both much higher when the dinosaurs were around and the world managed just fine with a fuckton more plantlife and other species than we have now.

I for one welcome our new giant dragonfly overlords.

Re:Consider the source (1)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706659)

Why are there no links to the actual study
Apparently you aren't familiar with global warming articles. It doesn't matter what side of the fence the article is on, journalists rarely cite their sources. Why you ask? Because it gives the journalist free reign to come up with their own conclusions.

My guess is if you dig for the studies you'll find the study found both good and bad aspects of the increased greenery.

I don't know if your intent is to fully discredit the article though (as it is hard to detect inflection over the internet) but I would like te mention it is a logical fallacy to believe that because the sources are untrustworthy at times that no information is ever correct - and it is also a logical fallacy to believe that no evidence confirms or negates a premise. Not siding with either you or the article, just a point for clarification.

checks and balances (2, Informative)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706461)

like the US government, nature seems to have a neat system of checks and balances in place to prevent someone from coming in and ruining everything.

Antarctica is currently so cold, it cannot snow. But it is currently melting. Along with this melting, Antarctica is heating up, and soon, it WILL be able to snow, and this snow will cause the glaciers to grow. Balance.

More CO2 in the air means plants will grow bigger and faster, and begin pumping O2 into the air. Balance.

Unfortunately, humans seem to be a lot like the Bush administration. we barge in and start screwing around with things so much, these checks and balances disappear. this is what we call a tipping point, and I believe we are nearing the point where it will be socially acceptable to crack each other's heads open and feast on the delicious goo inside.

This just in - scientists miss the obvious. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23706467)

Now remember people all together now

CO2 is plant food, it's the same as oxygen for humans. More CO2=More plant food=More O2 for us. The earth is actually in a carbon dioxide starved state. At time in earths past carbon levels were 13x higher than they are today.

Take off your tinfoil hats and wake up. Global warming is just a new method of introducing world wide "Carbon Taxation" for the elites.

Carbon Dioxide makes up 1/3 of one percent of the air we breath and yet we somehow believe that it along with a few other minute amounts of substances are going to cause global devastation. Gee does anybody think that the big ball of fire in the sky might actually have a much larger affect than these borderline trace gases. That the fact that the orbit of the earth is not a perfect circle, it's actually in an ellipse type pattern that is near the closest it gets during its cycle.

This from the same people that were predicting a global ice age in the 60's and 70's.

Global warming/global climate change... More booga booga from the asshats that brought us "the war on terror".

Re:This just in - scientists miss the obvious. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23706631)

Take off your tinfoil hats and wake up. Global warming is just a new method of introducing world wide "Carbon Taxation" for the elites.
Wins so many awards for irony.

Re:This just in - scientists miss the obvious. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23706679)

Do you know how obvious it is that you're just stringing together buzzwords and out-of-context facts that you looked up on Wikipedia?

FMB (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23706479)

its from a blog... where's the link to the article or research paper?

Twisted Conclusion (5, Insightful)

estitabarnak (654060) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706483)

An excellent example of taking raw data and jumping to a conclusion. Certainly, if the numbers show that plant biomass is up, then biomass could very well be up, but is that a good thing?

This does not take in to account bioDIVERSITY. While we may be increasing crop density, causing giant algol blooms, is monoculture something that we really want?

You can introduce an exotic species of grass to populations in the Moaje desert which are extremely prone to burning, but will grow back from the ground. All of the native plants, which are not accustomed to fires die off. What you're left with is an exotic grass that any number of animal species may need be able to utilize. Destroy biodiversity at the bottom and everything above it falls apart.

Same goes for giant algae blooms in the Gulf of Mexico due to high nitrogen runoff from agriculture. Sure there's a metric fuck-ton of algae growing there, but at what cost? If the death of every other living thing (or nigh on) in the surrounding area is good, then... great!

Furthurmore, last time I checked, Carbon was not exactly a limiting factor in plant growth. I've seen plants die from pH, salt poisoning, incorrect water levels, heat, cold, you name it. However, I don't think I've ever seen a plant suffer from lack of CO2.

In short: To say that plant biomass alone accounts for a healthy ecosystem and that increased carbon levels confers from magical "nutrients" to plants is far-fetched at best.

Re:Twisted Conclusion (1)

cnettel (836611) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706547)

Look up C4 plants and other adaptations. The matter of getting enough CO2 in, while not evaporating too much water, is critical. Few plants will die from it, but they will sure grow far slower. By increasing the CO2 concentration, the tipping point where photosynthesis can still go on efficiently is shifted.

Re:Twisted Conclusion (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23706551)

"Furthurmore, last time I checked, Carbon was not exactly a limiting factor in plant growth. I've seen plants die from pH, salt poisoning, incorrect water levels, heat, cold, you name it. However, I don't think I've ever seen a plant suffer from lack of CO2..."

CO2 IS a limiting factor in plant growth. The current concentration, around 350 ppm, is actually at the lowest end for plant survival. Dendrochronologists have to factor in extra growth caused by the recent CO2 blip into their calculations. Why do you think polytunnel farmers inject extra CO2 into their tunnels?

To people who know about these things, this is a non-story.

If you don't know what you're talking about, please don't post on slashdot as if you do.....

emo (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706589)

That's right, everything is bad. There can never be any good news. Slash slash, bleed bleed. Maybe you should be making music rather than posting on slashdot.

Re:Twisted Conclusion (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706811)

Biodiversity is overrated. If a species is so weak or specialized that it can't survive changing circumstances or new competitors, why shouldn't it go extinct? While humans may accelerate the process, every ecosystem has to deal with change. What is bad news for one species may be an opportunity for others.

Re:Twisted Conclusion (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706867)

Biodiversity is overrated.

Enjoy your algae paste for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

If a species is so weak or specialized that it can't survive changing circumstances or new competitors, why shouldn't it go extinct?

Because it's tasty or valuable in other ways ?

While humans may accelerate the process, every ecosystem has to deal with change.

Humans are also a species. Getting to the point where change occurs to rapidly for us to keep up would be ... unfortunate, even though it may be the ultimate lesson not to crap in your living room.

What is bad news for one species may be an opportunity for others.

Yes, I really want more disease-carrying mosquito species around.

meh... (2, Insightful)

drik00 (526104) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706487)

There is one constant and one constant alone about the history of our planet: its changing... thats what it does.

I'll all for conservation, but ppl need to decide if CO2 is helping or hurting (not that we put out enough for it to matter, anyhow) before telling the world it needs to spend $40+ trillion on *fixing* things.

Yeah, I'm bitter.

Re:meh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23706605)

I agree. Yes, global warming is a potentially species ending issue... I guess. But 1 or 2 degrees over how many decades?

And tell me the world isn't better off being even 10 degrees warmer (less snow, less infrastructure costs).

"Oh, but then in 200 years, we'll turn into Venus" Meh, prove it. And prove our tech and political institutions won't be much more well adapted to tackle the issue than they are today.

Re:meh... (2, Interesting)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706655)

I agree. Yes, global warming is a potentially species ending issue... I guess. But 1 or 2 degrees over how many decades?



1 to 2 degrees, times the mass of the atmosphere (really, really big number) is a frickin' huge amount of additional energy available that's just waiting to cause storms and other extreme weather.



And tell me the world isn't better off being even 10 degrees warmer (less snow, less infrastructure costs).



The problem is that not only does the average temperature rise, but the standard deviation rises, too. So you'll end up with even more extreme temperature swings. The increase also isn't evenly distributed (some areas will actually end up becoming colder). You'll have to deal with tropical and subtropical diseases in areas that were formerly temperate. I don't want to have to deal with frikkin' malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever and whatnot. Then you have ocean acidification from the CO2 that starts negatively impacting (read: killing) useful (read: valuable) fish and seafood stocks. Coastal areas will become flooded, making people move further inland.



"Oh, but then in 200 years, we'll turn into Venus" Meh, prove it.



We don't need to turn into Venus to make Earth a really shitty place to live.

Re:meh... (2, Interesting)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706857)

What level of catatastrophe has to befall us before you'll consider the case "proven?"

This isn't like urban planning, where you can see how various schemes panned out elsewhere, because there are no elsewheres to compare ourselves with. It isn't like increasing the police budget in the hopes of preventing crime next year. It's not like intermediate chemistry lab, where you can just get more acid from the big jug if you mess this one up.

Earth is a one-off, irreplacable prototype. We can't react to dangers, we have to be proactive or it's going to become, if not uninhabitable, very unpleasant.

Re:meh... (2, Interesting)

Eivind (15695) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706769)

It's quite likely to hurt. Not as in damage the planet. The planet doesn't care in the sligthest what we humans are up to (and would be fine at -100 or +300 degrees).

But hurt as in cause increased human suffering. Not because the conditions are nessecarily worse, that may or may not be a tossup. But simply because they are DIFFERENT. Lots of stuff that we do is adapted to local sealevel, rainfall, wind, sun etc, so a big CHANGE will disrupt a lot.

It wouldn't have been a problem settling Norway (say) at 3 degrees higher temperature, 10 meters higher sealevel, 100-year-storms every 10-years and 10-year-storms every year. Not in the sligthest, migth even have been easier than it was.

But nevertheless it -IS- a problem if we get these things now, or within a few decades. A significant portion of all buildings and infrastructure needs to be moved or secured to deal with that sealevel, for example.

I don't see any cause for bitterness, we're materially richer than humanity has ever been, and up until now we've spent a completely IGNORABLE part of our richness for dealing with climate change.

40 trillion is a number out of thin air. (by whom, over which time-frame ? How much would the damage of the alternative cost ?), but I do note that paying my part of that bill would mean, in essence, one year of zero pay-raise. Or if I was supposed to pay that over the next 2 decades, it'd mean my average pay-rise would be something like 3.1%/year rather than 3.2%/year. Cry me a river.
(yeah, yeah, I do realize the average Chinese can't pay as much as the average Norwegian)

This sounds familiar (1)

bencoder (1197139) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706567)

I wish I could find a reference but I remember finding out about this years ago. Scientists were studying levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and found it to be about half of what it "should" have been based on how much we were outputting (i.e. instead of 6 bazillion tons it was only 3 bazillion tons). They realised that it's because the added carbon was causing an increase in biomass.

But, considering that the amount of CO2 is still rising, as are temperatures, it is clear that this process is not fast enough and it will reach saturation very easily. Trees only use CO2 when they're growing - after that, if they are burnt in a fire, or if they die from some cause, they will release all that CO2 again back into the atmosphere. It's clear that new trees cannot keep growing forever.

Basically, in the short term this is a good thing, but in the long term, it's likely to make the shock bigger, when the process reaches saturation or when a massive fire happens(and it will, rising temperatures + more trees = more likelyhood of fire), and all that CO2 stops being absorbed or gets released back from the trees.

Re:This sounds familiar (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706877)

How much of that vegetation is going to end up in bogs or other places where the CO2 is not released? Think of all the trees and plants that became today's coal deposits.

The Balance of Handwaving (2, Insightful)

MassiveForces (991813) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706595)

I don't understand what it is with the idea that increasing greenery due to increasing CO2 emissions must be counterbalancing exactly. The call can't be made just yet. If the increase took place over eons like all the other natural increases, that might be a good counterbalance mechanism. But the increases we're making are obscenely fast, and could trip other things like methane releases from the ocean and rapid melting of the ice caps before any of these counterbalances can... counterbalance.

Not unreasonable but not very hopeful (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23706607)

Calculating from these numbers, we arrive at

      2 * pi * 6.38e+6**2 * 20% * 0.5 kg * (1 - 1/1.062))

or 1.5e+12 kg as the increase in biomass over 20 years.

At the same time, the DOE [doe.gov] reports that we emit 7e+12 kg of carbon every year. Even assuming the bulk of the biomass increase consists of carbon, we can see that Mother Nature has been capable of absorbing only 1% of our emissions in land vegetation and wildlife.

Re:Not unreasonable but not very hopeful (2, Interesting)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706897)

There have been experiments with tricking nature into sequestering carbon for us by dumping iron into nutrient-deficient parts of the oceans. Algae bloom, die, and sink into the abyss and take the carbon with them. But given numbers like this, I'm left wondering how much of a dent it would make.

! "Scientists" (4, Interesting)

0WaitState (231806) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706619)

The posting headline is misleading: the article author has written a book attempting to debunk global warming. This is not a scientific consensus, but one man pushing a contrary position. Check it out, and make your own evaluation:

The Deniers [nationalreview.com]

Lawrence Solomon is author of a new book from the new Richard Vigilante Books. The book is The Deniers: The World Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution, and Fraud *And those who are too fearful to do so. And that about tells you everything you need to know. In The Deniers, Solomon focuses on profiling the scientists Al Gore conveniently doesn't engage. In the run-up to the hottest holiday of the year, Earth Day, he took questions from National Review Online editor Kathryn Lopez.

Author with an Agenda (4, Informative)

Knutsi (959723) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706661)

First of all, note that the auhtor here does have an agenda. From the end of the article:

"Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe and author of The Deniers"

The book [amazon.com] he wrote does make a clear statement about how he feels about the current debate.

In any event, none can say that this development is linear. Beyond a certain point, maybe the balance between heating caused by CO2 and the increased plant consumption looks very different, and turns around. The complexity of these systems are not to be underestimated, and reading this article as "Some more CO2 might be good for us!", or at least reading it as a excuse not to do anything (like all those SUV owner might), would be bad.

Again it was never confirmed or claimed (2, Insightful)

Martian_Kyo (1161137) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706669)

That global warming will kill the planet. It might kill the current life forms, and new ones will emerge. The question is, can we survive that change?

English vinyards (2)

Raguleader (961891) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706809)

I'm reminded of something a hisotory professor mentioned to me a year or two back: Back in the days of the Roman Empire, Britain was renowned for the quality of grapes it produced, owing to the warm sunny weather typical of England. Basically, the Dark Ages coincided with widespread cooling of the climate in Europe, as well as the political and social breakdown we all know and love that time period for. The temperature drop meant fewer crops would grow, and thus less quality food to go around, which probably only made things worse at the time. Dunno if global warming would mean England is primed to be a move and shaker in the grapes and olives industry though.

Re:English vinyards (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 5 years ago | (#23706901)

Dunno if global warming would mean England is primed to be a move and shaker in the grapes and olives industry though.

Are you kidding? This is England you're talking about. You think we'll miss the chance to bring more drink into the world?

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