Friday, May 11, 2018

Green turns to Brown

How green is my planet?
By Gregory Wrightstone
American Thinker May 8, 2018

(By The Way, link and share this because these right-wing petroleum industry whores will kill us)

Mr. George Wrightstone has spread an interesting number of misstatements which is a polite way to say he lied. What makes his lies interesting is that he opened each with a citation via internet link to what ought to be a reputable source, NASA, and the National Geographic. Before showing how these sources were distorted I’ll simply note that Mr. Wrightstone is a recently retired petroleum gas engineer with an 1985 masters degree in sedimentary geology. He has no relevant education, nor apparently much study about climate. My first research fellowships were in nuclear chemistry which is also quite distant from climate study. But I did spend 30+ years in archaeology where we do need to study how ancient climate and environmental conditions could be reconstructed. And, unlike Mr. Wrightstone, I also worked in industrial, field and academic science. It is this that helps me to correctly read the sources used (more like abused) by Mr. Wrightstone.

There is a false claim made that “… an amazing greening of the Earth is taking place.” This is supported by 3 links to news items promoted by NASA, or NatGeo. The first link was to a NASA blog from 2003, “Global Garden Gets Greener” by Rebecca Lindsey. Ms. Lindsey is a communication specialist with the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) project at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. She has been a member of their team for 18+ years now and counting. What Mr. Wrightstone misleadingly presented as current was a 15 years out of date popular item that was based entirely on an article;
Nemani, R.R., Keeling, C.D., Hashimoto, H., Jolly, W.M., Piper, S.C., Tucker, C.J., Myneni, R.B. and Running, S.W.,
2003 "Climate driven increases in global terrestrial net primary production from 1982 to 1999" Science Vol. 300: 5625, pp. 1560-1563.

So this amazing “greening” was concluded from data ending in 1999 and then published in 2003.

How did it hold up over time?

It didn’t. In fact, the leading science director of the 2003 project, Dr. Steven W. Running co-authored the following article that basically repudiated the earlier finding, and found that the 1982 to 1999 data grossly over estimated plant growth;

Maosheng Zhao, Steven W. Running
2011 "Response to Comments on “Drought-Induced Reduction in Global Terrestrial Net Primary Production from 2000 Through 2009” Science Vol. 333: 6046, pp. 1093

And in a continuing correction of obsolete models and data, see;

Jennifer M. Cotton, Nathan D. Sheldon, Michael T. Hren, and
Timothy M. Gallagher
2015 "Positive feedback drives carbon release from soils to atmosphere during Paleocene/Eocene warming" Am J Sci Vol 315:337-361;

The phony "greening" is a brown out.


So the next bogus “greenie” from Mr. George Wrightstone is linked to a National Geographic magazine news item;
“Sahara Desert Greening Due to Climate Change?” by James Owen for National Geographic News posted on-line July 31, 2009. The entire hype here was built on a single study;

L. Merbold et al
2009 "Precipitation as driver of carbon fluxes in 11 African ecosystems" Biogeosciences, 6, 1027-1041.

So here are the facts; First, the 2009 article was based on just 2 years of data satellite data; Second, the “Saharan data” was actually from the Sahel far to the southeast of the Sahara. Then it turned out that the measured improvements were from agricultural fields. As the actual scientific report showed, "All included ecosystems dominated by C3-plants showed a strong decrease in 30-min assimilation rates with increasing water vapour pressure deficit above 2.0 kPa." So, they had a wet year. The grass grew.

Then the rain stopped and the grass died.

And the so-called "greening" turned brown- dead brown;

Rishmawi, K. and Prince, S.D., 2016. Environmental and anthropogenic degradation of vegetation in the Sahel from 1982 to 2006. Remote Sensing, 8(11), p.948.

Mr. Wrightstone’s remaining fake “green” news was a April 26, 2016 popular press release from Samson Reiny of NASA's Earth Science News Team, “Carbon Dioxide Fertilization Greening Earth, Study Finds.” The only scientific paper this news item was built on was;
Zhu, Zaichun et al
2016 "Greening of the Earth and its drivers" Nature Climate Change, Vol. 6, pg. 791

Wrightstone has incorrectly joined the idea that CO2 fertilizes grass with the notion that there is not climate change, an idea shown to be false in the same article he tries to use. He ignored this inconvenient fact, “While rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the air can be beneficial for plants, it is also the chief culprit of climate change. … The impacts of climate change include global warming, rising sea levels, melting glaciers and sea ice as well as more severe weather events.”

But, there were very important facts about plants that he tried to avoid reporting from the news item he claims supports his fantasy. For example he seemed to have skipped this part, "The beneficial impacts of carbon dioxide on plants may also be limited, said co-author Dr. Philippe Ciais, associate director of the Laboratory of Climate and Environmental Sciences, Gif-suv-Yvette, France, “Studies have shown that plants acclimatize, or adjust, to rising carbon dioxide concentration and the fertilization effect diminishes over time.”

What they did find was that increased cropland production added CO2 to the atmosphere. And that certain kinds of plants benefit from elevated CO2 levels. This is where the distinction between high CO2 favoring C3 plants, and the slower growing C4 plants becomes significant. The original ancestral method of photosynthesis combines CO2 with a five-carbon molecule to produce two identical three-carbon molecules. This is the “C3” process. But, there is a weakness- the plant photosynthetic enzyme also will take up free oxygen which slowed the plant’s growth. A later process evolved that used a different enzyme that made a four carbon molecule. These are the C4 plants. They are both important for positive reasons, and negatives. For example, C4 plants are 14 of the 18 worst weeds in the world, (L. G. Holm, D. L. Plucknett, J. B. Pancho, J. P. Herberger, 1977 “The World's Worst Weeds: Distribution and Biology” Univ. Press of Hawaii).

But, the C3 plants responded very well to enhanced CO2 concentrations which was the claim that Mr. Wrightstone was repeating. He also is claiming that if some plants do well, then we humans have nothing to worry about. That is false.

But do they really do that better? The C3 plants do better, but only for a while. A rather short while.

Two new scientific reports have found that there are short term limits to plants responding positively to high CO2 concentrations;

Peter B. Reich, Sarah E. Hobbie, Tali D. Lee, Melissa A. Pastore
2018 “Unexpected reversal of C3 versus C4 grass response to elevated CO2 during a 20-year field experiment” Science Vol. 360: 6386, pp. 317-320

Mark Hovenden, Paul Newton,
2018 “Plant responses to CO2 are a question of time” Science, Vol. 360: 6386, pp. 263-264

What the happy little story Mr. Wrightstone wants to sell his readers fails to tell is that this fake “greening” is not going to save anybody.

As shown in “Estimating global cropland production from 1961 to 2010” (Han, Pengfei; Zeng, Ning; Zhao, Fang; Lin, Xiaohui, 2017 Earth System Dynamics; Gottingen Vol. 8:3, 875-887), most of the early  “greening” data was due to a burst of agricultural expansion largely in Africa following severe droughts in the 1970s and 1980s and bounced higher during the huge 1997-1998 El Nino event.

Further, the hope that increased plant mass could absorb the radically growing CO2 load failed as well. See;

Lena R. Boysen, Wolfgang Lucht, Dieter Gerten, Vera Heck, Timothy M. Lenton, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber
2017 “The limits to global‐warming mitigation by terrestrial carbon removal” Earth’s Future, The American Geophysical Union (AGU).

In fact, this “greening” turns brown.


Mr. Wrightstone's grand finale started with, "Temperature-related mortality studies show that 15 to 20 times as many people around the world die early deaths due to cold than from heat, so any additional warming would prevent millions of premature deaths due to temperature. Finally, according to a study in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, deaths in the U.S. due to extreme weather have plummeted 98% over the last century.
The cited study is;  Indur M. Goklany “Deaths and Death Rates from Extreme Weather Events: 1900-2008” (Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 14 Number 4 Winter 2009).

Indur M. Goklany?
“Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons” ??

Sure. Finally. In the USA, boo rah.

The supporting “science” was a political rant by Indur M. Goklany “Deaths and Death Rates from Extreme Weather Events: 1900-2008” ( Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 14 Number 4 Winter 2009). First, Indur M. Goklany is an electrical engineer who knows nothing about epidemiology, or demographics. Second, Indur M. Goklany is a long time political hack with political rather than any professional credits. Third, Indur M. Goklany when he was finally turned out of the Federal bureaucracy went to work for extremist "think tanks."

Then as a fourth, the American Physicians and Surgeons is just a  political gang that is still freaking out over the 1964 Medicare Act. They have a tiny membership, and no scientific credibility.

Mr. Wrightstone, “The Earth is not spiraling into a man-made climate catastrophe. Rather, it, and humanity, is thriving and prospering greatly due to our changing climate and increasing carbon dioxide. Sleep well; you aren't destroying the planet.”

In fact, every professional biologist, and climatologist I know personally thinks that we are on the edge of destruction. Some doubt that we humans survive as a species. The only true thing Mr. Wrightstone wrote is that the Earth is just fine. The Earth has seen many mass extinctions. We will probably kill ourselves, and the Earth will keep on spinning just fine.

And while it might “rain on the just and the unjust,” climate change will kill the poor faster than the rich. It has already started;

Sebastian Bathiany, Vasilis Dakos, Marten Scheffer, and
Timothy M. Lenton
2018 “Climate models predict increasing temperature variability in poor countries” Science Advances Vol. 4: 5, eaar5809

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