Open letter to environmentalists from A. Tree
You love trees – you’re even called tree-huggers. Yet I’m a tree, and you don’t love me. You won’t even feed me!
One of my indispensable foods is carbon dioxide. But you’ve demonised it by fabricating the story that it’s the most important “greenhouse” gas. You pretend that one of the world’s rarest gases, a mere 0.00039 of the atmosphere, will overheat the climate. You never mention that water vapour, up to 4% of the atmosphere (10,000 times more plentiful than CO2), is also the most powerful greenhouse gas of all, with each molecule having about 26 times more warming effect than carbon dioxide.
To support your corrupt fib about CO2, you’ve started referring to this tasteless, odourless, invisible, non-toxic, life-giving plant food as a pollutant. So you try to restrict my diet.
Whatever CO2 I consume can’t affect the climate! The more CO2 in the air, the more growing I and my family can do, and the better off you are. Use your brain!
An important reason for your increased agricultural productivity since 1950 is the increasing amount of CO2 in the air.
I’ve been around for over a thousand years, since the Middle Ages. The sturdy bodies of many brethren from that time still survive in the cathedrals, great houses and other constructions of Europe, but I have survived unfelled, in living form, with green leaves and flowing sap, and I tell you that I like carbon dioxide. I’ll take all you can give me, and, in a magical reciprocity, I’ll give you in return the other gas of life – oxygen.
I can’t live without carbon dioxide; you can’t live without oxygen. We’re made for each other, my friend! Please dispense for us all the beneficial carbon dioxide you possibly can.
Yours in hope,
P.S.: When you burn something, thanks a lot for the carbon dioxide — but keep trying to remove the pollutants. AT.
What CO2 achieves
Numerous studies reported at CO2 Science show benefits of greater growth in the biosphere from increasing levels of CO2. Some show that higher temperatures also improve productivity. The more productive plant life becomes, the more benefits accrue to the animals feeding on it.
One study shows annual growth increases in wild forests from 1920 to the 1980s of up to 43% – probably from rising levels of CO2.
This commentary on Regional trends in terrestrial carbon exchange and their seasonal signatures (Gurney & Eckels, 2011) describes something you’ll never hear on New Zealand television:
As ever more anthropogenic CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere and the air’s CO2 concentration rises ever higher, so too does the photosynthetic prowess of earth’s terrestrial vegetation grow ever stronger, as the great global greening of the earth gains ever more momentum and sucks ever more CO2 out of the air and incorporates it into living biomass and soil organic matter, thereby muting the rate of global warming that would otherwise prevail in the absence of this important negative feedback phenomenon.
Some hope of more CO2
Germany is scrambling to make up for the loss of nuclear generation, hurriedly banned by Chancellor Angela Merkel in a reaction to aging Japanese reactors being irretrievably damaged by the tsunami. Everyone overlooks the fact that, old as the reactors’ safety systems were, they still protected the environment from radiation, apart from a little cooling water which escaped to the ocean and harmed nothing — despite the media’s alarums. Merkel banned nuclear generators simply because it fitted a long-held philosophy and here was a convenient excuse to do so.
To replace Germany’s nuclear generation, planned and just-completed coal-fired generators total about 25 stations in the next three years. Eight per year. One every six weeks.
The environmental group BUND estimated that one project would emit 9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. Most proposed coal-fired stations are opposed by citizen groups because of their CO2 emissions — so Germany gives hope for the trees if the projects get through the planning process.
In a scarcely credible post-script to the Japan earthquake, this story just hit the newswires:
Eight US sailors who served on a humanitarian mission to Japan in the wake of the tsunami-triggered Fukushima nuclear reactor crisis are suing the utility that operates the power plant. They say they were exposed to harmful levels of radiation that could result in cancer and a shorter life.
Curious that Americans might sue before any harm is suffered. It would be tragic should a judge take them seriously. (But I’ll probably be given a legal opinion that demolishes my reasoning on that.)
Global demand for coal is expected to grow to 8.9 billion tons by 2016 from 7.9 billion tons this year. China is expected to add about 160 new coal-fired plants to the 620 operating now, within four years. During that period, India will add more than 46 plants.