Global Warming Delayed, Who Could Have Guessed?

(U.S. Forest Service via AP)

I am an avid reader of the UK newspaper The Telegraph. My wife turned me on to it and we got a subscription a few years ago and don’t blink at paying the price, whatever it is.


The reason? It is both a reliable source of news, including US news and lacks the left-wing bias of The New York Times or the Washington Post without being a tabloid. It is a respectable broadsheet, leaning a bit right but hardly ideologically predictable. It is one of my go-to sources.

A great example of how The Telegraph covers stories that get ignored or downplayed in the MSM is one published today about climate change. It describes a new study out of Ohio State University that shows current models, which are used to push apocalyptic predictions of runaway global warming, grossly underestimate the uptake of CO2 by plants.

Note that this is a study of an actual, measurable phenomenon, not some blathering by an activist scientist or the regurgitation of a climate model that is tuned to create extreme results.

Plants will absorb 20 per cent more carbon dioxide than predicted by the end of the century, a new study has found, suggesting climate models are overestimating how fast the planet will warm.

Trinity College Dublin said its research painted an “uncharacteristically upbeat picture for the planet” after finding models had failed to take into account all the elements of photosynthesis.

During photosynthesis, green plants use light energy from the sun to convert carbon dioxide, water and minerals into the sugars they need for growth.

Scientists thought climate change could weaken the process, but the new research suggests plants can adjust to the temperatures, efficiently absorbing carbon dioxide, producing extra nutrients, and continuing to thrive.

They found that on a global scale, the amount of carbon converted during photosynthesis could be up to 68 per cent greater by the end of the century compared to the start of the century, and 20 per cent more than some current models suggest.


This kind of finding is actually nothing new, and similar results have been found before.

Trees are getting bigger because of more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and are likely to be helping to mitigate global warming more than climate models suggest, scientists believe.

A new study from The Ohio State University has found that tree trunk volume in the US is up to 29 per cent bigger than it was 30 years ago, a finding that is likely to be mirrored elsewhere in the world.

Trees are known to act as a buffer zone against climate change by pulling in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but the latest research shows just how much they have been bulking up on the extra fuel.

“It’s well known that when you put a ton of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it doesn’t stay up there forever,” said Brent Sohngen, professor of environmental and resource economics at Ohio State.

Rarely noted in stories on carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is this important fact: carbon dioxide is a plant food, and it is so powerful a fertilizer that greenhouses generally add the gas to the atmosphere to a level about 3x the levels outside in order to speed plant development.

As you can see from this chart, current CO2 levels in the atmosphere are at the very low end of what plants can survive, and CO2 levels 3x as much more than double plant growth.

Not that you would know this from the MSM coverage of CO2. The Los Angeles actually has a story about how more CO2 might cause plants to lose the ability to perform photosynthesis.


No, global warming is not going to destroy the rainforest.

If you search for the Ohio State study on Google you will find a few think pieces, but nobody in the MSM is touting the results as good news because they don’t want good news. They want people scared out of their minds, and that plan is working well when you look at kids who are being bombarded with doomerism.

Google “global warming despair” and you get a long list of stories about the mental health crisis caused by the doomers.

We often see graphs of CO2 levels in the atmosphere that go back a thousand or so years, and the rise in CO2 from industrialization looks extremely alarming. But put into the climate context of the Earth over millions of years we turn out to be on the low end, which should surprise nobody: the Earth is still working its way out of an ice age that had much of the temperate regions of the world covered in a mile of ice, a distinctly suboptimal state for both plant and animal life.

CO2 has been dramatically higher in the past–in fact, there have been times when the poles had thriving ecosystems. Now we may not want the Earth to get that warm for optimal living conditions, but I suspect that most people would rather be near that extreme than the one from just a few thousand years ago, when glaciers covered what are now prime agricultural zones, and human beings almost went extinct.


12,000 years ago, as the ice age was past its peak and the glaciers began melting, only about 1 million to a max of 10 million humans were alive on earth. Human population has positively correlated with higher temperatures, and population collapses are correlated with lower temperatures. This isn’t even controversial.

I don’t know about you, but this seems to be a good argument for wanting at least somewhat warmer temperatures. It certainly doesn’t give us reason to panic about modest temperature increases.

In any case, the Ohio State study should give people pause about the reliability of current climate models. The ecosystem is extraordinarily complex, and the belief that scientists have the tools to properly model it at this point is ridiculous. Surely the complexity of the climate system should make us wary of making huge changes without paying attention to how the climate responds, but as you can see from the above chart humans are not driving CO2 levels anywhere near those found at times when the ecosystem was flourishing.

One thing we do know for certain is that making radical reductions in the use of fossil fuels will immiserate billions of people, and doing so solely on the basis of speculation-driven models is grossly irresponsible. That nobody in the scientific community had adequately taken into consideration the fertilizing effect of carbon dioxide on plants doesn’t inspire confidence in their wisdom regarding what we should do to prevent a notional, not proven climate disaster.


Radical cuts in carbon emissions will surely have a disastrous effect on human well-being. Increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere seem unlikely to cause a disaster, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

UPDATE: Added a bit to clarify sources and context.

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