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Matt Ridley spoke to Reason TV the other day, outlining how the world is getting greener as a result of human activity.
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A good discussion.
But I don't share Matt Ridley's astonishment that more CO2 = more green. This is surely obvious to anybody who understands the very simple 'equation'
CO2 + H20 + sunlight = plants.+ O2
Another definition of a plant is a machine for turning sunlight and CO2 into cellulose and oxygen.
Only those who have been indoctrinated into believing that CO2 is the Devil Gas Incarnate can be astonished by something that I learnt at age 12 in Mr Jones' biology class.
Here's a nice video
Excellent! And proof a good ducumentary doesn't need wizz bang graphics to work. He left me worrying about homeless woodpeckers.
Paul Ehrlich's life's work down the pan. Silent spring is cacophonous. Carbon dioxide is fertiliser. Sustainable development is, er, unsustainable. And all proved by scientists. The Graun is not going to take this lying down: loosing money for years has to have been worthwhile, hasn't it?
Oh flipin flip! Ducumentary? Two buttons away from the 'o' I wanted to press. Still, just as well I didn't press the one in the middle.
Re the key equation CO2 + H2O + sunlight = plants + O2Photosynthesis started on planet earth 2-3 billion years ago with stromatolytes - chlorophylic bacteria.They produced masses of O2 for billennia which completely oxidised all the iron in and on the earth's crust.The 'carbon' from the CO2 eventually became fossil fuels of one kind or another.Thus we can calculate how much fossil fuel remains to be used from how much iron ore there is on the planet.Iron ore is around 5% of the crust. If you do the sums you can easily calculateA. how much oxygen is in this ore andB. How much carbon this oxygen came from (when it was CO2)The answer (ball - park) is around One billion GigatonneEnough at current rates of consumption to last humanity ten million years.
See me out!!
For you amusement, here is the socialist party solution to energy and climate change.
I particularly like the picture of a green woman showing sea level rise. I assume that she is quite accurately showing that the rise in 2012 is about the thickness of the indicated line, but how many readers would realise this?
Latimer AlderBut I don't share Matt Ridley's astonishment that more CO2 = more green. This is surely obvious to anybody who understands the very simple 'equation'
True. But looking into 'deep time', if one accepts 'GEOCARB' (III in this instance) then, pardon me for not being a 'Climate Scientist', this doesn't look like a 'cycle' (Carbon or otherwise). More like a 600 million year disaster in the making (for Carbon based life). One doesn't need to be a mathematician to realise that there is a 'trend line' there. Heading to zero.
Now, we know that, (from your formula), when CO2 'runs out' then life on Earth (as we know it) stops.100ppm is about where things start to go wrong. Our fossil fuelled activities have already added a few tens of millions of years - but is that enough (in Geological timescalses)? I think not.
The reason we don't have massive land animals is that there isn't enough CO2 to support our particular food chain. Green is good - but only if we can eat it.
'If one accepts 'GEOCARB'
Oh - yippee ...another academic has another 'model'.
Count me as a sceptic on this one.
If and when academics start their sales pitches (papers) for their precious models with
'See how well our model reproduces the observations....'
'Our research team needs further large investment to investigate the entirely unexpected large divergence between our predictions and the error-prone and entirely unreliable 'field-collected' unsupervised data. We need to find exactly where the data is at fault'
Then I might be tempted to accept them.
Until then, count me as sceptic on all 'models'.
The original hippie movement based on The Whole Earth Catalog was all about Bucky Fuller's very popular books and six hour long live presentations that basically blew Malthus out of the water, the guy who Ehrlich based his outlook on. Contemporary Gaia worshippers resemble Marxists more than tree huggers.
I think you may have taken my response the wrong way.
My point was that CO2 was, according to some academics, much higher in the past. 600,000,000 years past. It has been, according to GEOCARB, falling, pretty much, at a constant rate over that 600m years....
Now, given the reality of photosynthesis, water is a constant, only CO2 has dropped to critical levels in recent (Geological) times. Our activities until now (280-->400ppm) may well have bought the Planet some tens of millions years. Not much compared to the 600 million, but some tens of millions none the less.
Burn that Coal is my view. Carbon based life will love you for it.
Bill Clinton once called CO2 'plant food'. I'm highly amused by the fact that he's only said it once.=================
ssat said on Feb 6, 2013 at 4:41 PM on the BH thread announcing Matt's 'elevation'
"The maiden speech is expected to be short and uncontroversial and would not express views that would provoke an interruption." www.parliament.uk
He could always just talk about the weather :-)
Greening the Planet would be an excellent maiden speech, if he has yet to make one.
Zed and responses removed.
I liked the positive upswing for 90% of the talk, where he talked of the various positives in food production even with increasing world population, and the emphasis on the fact that renewables by definition *have* to be a direct contest with wildlife as opposed to fossil fuels which don’t. But his last segment on bio-fuels came across as rushed and seemed to contradict the previous positives by giving the impression there was increasing starvation , seem a bit jarring and less considered.
I think the fact that there is a strict omerta on positive interpretations from the "cause" of environmentalism is one of the indicators that the alarmists have their days numbered and people like Ridley do well to keep showing them up like this by saying the things they are not even allowed to think!. ;)
I am an admirer of Mat Ridley and I appreciate the way that he explains his ideas and thoughts, very simply.I want to believe everything in this video but I recently watched another convincing video on the subject of desertification.http://www.savoryinstitute.com/desertification/existing-solutions/Can both of these videos be accurate.I need help here because there seems to be a contradiction which I am struggling to comprehend.How can desertification be increasing at the same time as the earth is greening.?What have I missed.?
don't know where you get your information for the ad hom attack on Matt, but it is completely irrelevant to point he is making. He is not making any claim to being a climate scientist, simply pointing out some of the actual changes...
Malone: OK, pal, why the mahaska? Why are you carrying the gun? Ness: I'm a treasury officer. Malone: Alright. Just remember what we talked about now. [Malone walks away] Ness: Hey, wait a minute! What the hell kind of policemen you got in this god damn city? You just turned your back on an armed man. Malone: You're a treasury officer. Ness: How do you know that? I just told you that. Malone: Who would claim to be that who was not? Hmm?
Memorable quote from The Untouchables.
Likewise, who would claim to be a climate scientist if they were not? Hmm?
Believe it or not, 19 years ago Bill McKibben wrote an article in the Atlantic that while not quite as positive as this talk by Matt Ridley, nevertheless celebrated "an explosion of green" in the eastern half of the United States.
I thought I put an html link in that last post, but apparently not.
Here's the url for the article by McKibben:
Pharos: That's quite some memory you have. What the video makes clear is that a dose of rational optimism can get a favourable reception. Let's hope that that continues in the HoL.
The HoL could while they're at it take note of a new presentation by one of the legendary names in C20th geological research- the Swiss geologist Peter Ziegler. No surprise- its the sun wot did it. Summary at NoTricksZone on the sidebar and full slideshow here
Matt will like the 4th bullet point on conclusions slide 48.
We have a situation where good people are held hostage to very bad ideas, and I for one think we should honor the goodness in man and let actions be questions for the law. Where everyone else is let free. Manipulation can happen to us all.
After spending a goodly part of my adult lifetime in and around teaching and teachers, I take my hat off to Matt Ridley for style, for clarity, for brevity and above all, for acheiving his teaching objectives without the use of a -plethora of audio-visual equipment.A masterly display of simple and unvarnished expository teaching - not the only way to teach, but so often done so badly.As students would say these days - 'Ridley rocks!'
normalnew: unfortunately manipulation can happen in the law also, which is what a lot of this is about.
Ridley again over at GWPF, this time on clathrate. The man's a menace :-)
Ridley's GWPF article is another competent exposé of the problems facing the enviro-activists.For the last 20 years they have pinned their misanthropic hopes of unpicking the Industrial Revolution on CO2 as the cause of a range of unpleasantnesses which will doom us all to early extinction.At last some very uncomfortable (for them) facts are coming along to bite them on the backside. The salient (and un-deniable — un-deniable, that is, unless you are a Eurocrat or a Deben or a Yeo) fact is that US
CO2 emissions in energy production have plummeted by nearly 20 per cent in five years without political targets or policies, while Europe’s have hardly changed, despite expensive schemes to subsidise the producers of renewable energy and penalise fossil fuels
"Our activities until now (280-->400ppm) may well have bought the Planet some tens of millions years"
The industrial revolution arrived just in time, then! I wonder how NLP supporters will cope with that..?
I know Ridley is a sceptical favourite, so nothing he says can be untrue. But I had the feeling that he was spouting half-truths from start to finish. I'm not knowledgeable enough to say exactly where he is being economical with the truth, but his example of the Amazon strikes me as doubtful. From what I read, the forest is still shrinking but listening to Ridley you'd think it was expanding. Sure, when they cut down the trees and plant soya that might show up on a satellite picture as a change but it is not good. Maybe he's saying that all that extra CO₂ is causing the remaining trees to grow faster than the rate of clearing, but is the Amazon really CO₂ limited?
In his examples of Haiti and whaling he suggested there is a simple choice: "either you cut down every tree on the island or you use fossil fuels"; or "either you kill all the whales and burn whale-oil or you use fossil fuels". I wonder why he would use such false dichotomies unless they are the best arguments he can find to support his position - in which case a sceptic would have to question the basis for his opinions. No such questioning will be found on the Hill, of course.
Mar 15, 2013 at 5:54 PM | BitBucket
Leaving aside your incredulity and your "feelings", could you help me find where in the video Ridley uses the following quotes?
"either you cut down every tree on the island or you use fossil fuels"
"either you kill all the whales and burn whale-oil or you use fossil fuels"
I don't recall him saying that and checking the section on Haiti at the end I don't see anything like that quote.
If you don't know what I mean here is an example of me quoting Ridley and saying where in the video he says it:
15:42 "So in other words it is the fossil fuels that is sparing the forest in the Dominican Republic"
If you could do that that would be nice. Cheers
Cat, yes you are right, I was naughty with the quotation marks. They are not quotes but they encapsulate what he wants his audience to believe - that fossil fuels are the answer. He'd like you to take away the message that the difference between Haiti (no trees) and the Dom. Republic (many trees) is fossil fuel imports. Haiti cut down all its forest for fuel, he implies. No mention of logging or slash-and burn clearance for farming or of dysfunctional government; it is all down to oil imports he wants you to think - and maybe you now do.
My question is why he needs to present things in this way if the argument is so strong. I guess ending a talk with a nice anecdote is a good way to imprint the message you want: oil is king. I mean if he'd ended by saying that part of the reason Haiti is brown and its neighbour green is that it imports less oil and that it has fewer solar water heaters and solar panels, it wouldn't have such a ring to it. And his pretty portrait of Spitsbergen would be less striking if he said that despite the availability of oil products 30 years ago when he last visited, the wildlife was so widely slaughtered by hunters that polar bears etc could not occupy their natural range. Now that the reapers have been stopped, nature has recovered - nothing to do with oil.
Another thing that tickled me was his stuff about peak farmland usage. The paper he based that upon used a model to make its predictions. Knowing how sceptics love models, I am surprised he didn't mention that.
Ridley is clearly entitled to present his opinions and he is a good speaker, but should you take him seriously?
@Mar 15, 2013 at 11:41 PM | BitBucket
...it is all down to oil imports he wants you to think - and maybe you now do.
I don't think *anything* is *all down* to *anything* else. I never do. It's a boring state of mind to have. It is not my way of looking at the world. I don't see Ridley making that claim either.
Ridley says of Haiti and the Dominican Republic that fossil fuels save cutting down trees. You can't get a better example of how fossil fuels can reduce the pressure on natural resources, the theme of his talk.
It is a perfect example that is extendable and is further covered by his discussion of how fossil fuel is unusable by wildlife and saves humans competing with natural resources.
From someone claiming to see false dichotomies I find this funny from you:
...but should you take him seriously?
Well er, gee, I don't know what's the alternative? I should only laugh at him? Assume everything he says is a lie?
A dichotomy if I ever I hear it, and a false one to boot ;)
You do know one can take someone seriously *and* critique them at the same time?
Maybe you don't know? Or don't know how?
"He'd like you to take away the message"
“They are not quotes but they encapsulate what he wants his audience to believe “
"...it is all down to oil imports he wants you to think - and maybe you now do."
Those statements are not a critique; rather they sound like borderline paranoia. I suggest you take some time and listen to Ridleys actual words in detail rather than riffing on the feeling you have inside and try make a critique in a way that is easily followed by reference to actual statements. ;)
I'm a little late watching this, and it certainly is impressive in its cool and calm logic. The question needs to be asked over and over, and the answer widely broadcast: "Who are the real humanitarians, the engineers, scientists and biomedical researchers who built our modern world, or the pessimistic scolding elitists typified by the Club of Rome and their ilk?" The answer is so clear that it can only be obfuscated by the unconscious bias of decades of "green" dishonesty enmeshed in the education system. Gramscian yes, but only afflicting the West - communist China and post-communist Russia aren't fooled by it.
BB wouldn't have a ghost of a chance of living comfortably on his tropical high mountaintop were it not for the benefits of modern technology enabled by fossil fuels - think about it BB! Oh you might be able to eke out a meager existence through subsistence agriculture, but not the easy lifestyle you have now with internet access and so on.
Matt Ridley's talk, as good as it is, cries out for a more professional presentation in front of, preferably, a young audience - a university lecture hall setting would be ideal. The sudden realisation of some of the more perceptive in the audience that they have been conned would show on their faces - excellent TV or film documentary material.
Cat, you think me paranoid for wondering how Ridley wants his audience to react. Unless he is just in it for the speaking fee (which seems unlikely) I guess he has a reason for giving such a talk. Is it likely that he gave no thought to what he wanted the audience to take away?
Chris, do you really think the Chinese or Russian public have much input into government policy? And where did I (or anyone else, for that matter) state that fossil fuels have not been instrumental to our current standard of living? On presentation, maybe some questions from the floor would be useful, just for balance, you know...
@Mar 16, 2013 at 5:23 PM | BitBucket
Cat, you think me paranoid for wondering how Ridley wants his audience to react.
Wondering? Oh that's what you are doing "Wondering". Making categorical claims about what someones position is without managing to provide any references to back it up.
You make assertions about Ridley's dogmatism on points that only you seem to see. You can't back them up with specifics. You make assertions that can only be explained by your internal feelings.
And now you claim that you were merely "wondering".
It is a short 20 minute video. Do me a favour and try and make specific references to Ridleys statements along with an explanation exactly why they mean what you think they mean.
Otherwise you make me "wonder" ;)
You know Cuba has a lot of trees. They've had terrible government, slash and burn agriculture, logging. What is that thing which the Cubans have which the Haitians don't?
Venesuelan oil I think, and the Chinese drilling for more off the Florida Keys.
Cat, you clearly enjoy analysing my rhetorical style more than you like addressing the substance. Oh well never mind, whatever rings your bell.
If you want a concrete example of Ridley's bias beyond what I gave you (Haiti, which doesn't convince you) go and watch the lecture by Ranga Myneni of Boston Uni (referenced by Ridley at 3:02, since you like timing) from which Ridley got much of his spiel. Ridley tells us that 50% of the greening he discusses is due to increased rainfall (3:14) and the other 50% is from CO₂ (3:56). Full stop, no debate. Myneni (around 40 minutes in) in contrast says that 50% is from relaxation of climate constraints (including more rain) and the other 50% is possibly from fertilization (CO₂ and N) and anthropomorphic influence (land use change); the first result (the rainfall 50%) is robust whereas the 2nd (fertilization) is "somewhat speculative".
Now sure, if Ridley wants to make a speech that says CO₂ is greening the planet it is inconvenient to have to couch that in ifs and buts - much better to be unequivocal. But without qualification, he misleads intentionally.
@Mar 16, 2013 at 9:36 PM | BitBucket
Cat, you clearly enjoy analysing my rhetorical style more than you like addressing the substance.
Oh please. No, you really gave nothing that had substance so you really did only leave your rhetorical style to behold.
So now it is a refreshing change to see you take my advice and get more specific and offer some substance.
Thanks for the link. That presentation does make the 50/50 break between rain and CO2 a less simple story as depicted by Ridley, and for me Ridley does lose marks for saying this unequivocally. You decide he "he misleads intentionally" because that suits your feelings. Coming from someone making up quotes and then only feels like declaring themselves "naughty" when having it pointed out to them I find that sweet ;)
I am not as persuaded as you he is simply lying, and would not be so harsh. I will be more aware and wary of broad brush stroke figures in future from Ridley, but for now I will even hold open the possibility he may have knowledge of something beyond that July presentation you link to when he says:
"Myneni concludes but he hasn't published this yet."
I think there is an acceptable margin of error when using broad figures but if what Myleni says in the final published paper doesn't come near to supporting the CO2 50% figure then I certainly would ask and expect Ridley to be forthright and respond to questions on that discrepancy.
Not a surprise to geologists. We are in a carbon crisis, with CO2 levels close to catastrophic levels before they started to rise. At these low levels plants are very sensitive to increases.
Myneni's slides (slide 27, at 42:19) quote Zhu et-al (in preparation) as the author of the research. Maybe Myneni is one of the et al.
It would be interesting to know where Ridley got his CO₂ figures for plant growth. He says (4:20) that on average for a 200ppm improvement in CO₂ (from when or does he imply it is linear) in the air you get a 30% improvement in plant growth. Yet the accompanying picture (on the video, don't know what the audience saw) shows a vast difference in some unnamed species at 196ppm and 752ppm. He didn't mention that 196 is way below pre-industrial or current levels or that 752 is double today's level. Strange that.
@Mar 17, 2013 at 12:32 PM | BitBucket
He didn't mention that 196 is way below pre-industrial or current levels or that 752 is double today's level. Strange that.
Now you are back to hand waving with some slightly more specific issues ;)
Are you implying there is actually no increased plant growth going on at all with increased CO2 fertilisation today in the world?
What Ridley says about plant growth is actually perfectly reasonably illustrated by the 196 - 752 ppm range shown in the picture.
From this Hydroponics website I found - Carbon Dioxide Enrichment Methods, it seems about 200 ppm is the minimum plants need to even grow. So taking 300 ppm as 100% then growth increase can get up to about 250% at about 900 ppm.
Ridleys picture shows a start and end range within this scale, the hydroponics link shows the growth is a curve plateauing off to no further growth from 1000 to 1800 ppm.
My eyeballing of the graph persuades me that could be a reasonable basis for taking an average of start and end ranges between 200 to 750 ppm to give an average of 30% over all 200pmm increases.
And no, before you say it, I don't think Ridley is implying that we can increase CO2 levels infinitely. I think it is well known that humans start to suffer from CO2 poisoning somewhere about 30,000 ppm ;)
BitBucket: "It would be interesting to know where Ridley got his CO₂figures for plant growth."A quick Google search turned up this paper, which claims an average of 37% increase from a doubling of pCO₂(from 300-360 ppmv to 600-720). Assuming a logarithmic response -- certainly CO₂fertilisation will increase less than linearly -- one could reasonably impute a growth of ~26% from 300 to 500 ppmv. Not quite Ridley's 30% figure, but fairly close. He may well have a more recent source.
Cat, does anyone deny the effect of CO₂ on plant growth? Why should I? What people might argue is whether global plant growth is CO₂ limited (as opposed to nitrogen or water or phosphorous or light etc). But that is different and probably rather hard to answer.
Was his picture reasonable (and was it his)? Showing a plant hardly growing at the bottom growth limit and growing strongly at twice the current concentration while discussing a 200ppm increase doesn't pass the smell test for me. I mean if I was talking about melting ice and presented two pictures, one of healthy glaciers and one of missing glaciers with temperatures of current and current+4 while talking about a rise in temps of 1 or 2 degrees, you might smell a rat.
Harold, thanks for the link. That nails it really, doesn't it?
That about sums it up. The stupid ecological principle.
@Mar 17, 2013 at 4:53 PM | BitBucketLets be clear here what Ridley said
Roughly speaking, on average, for a 200ppm increase in CO2 in the air you get a 30% improvement in plant growth. That's experiements both in the field and in the laboratory.
and you say...
... you might smell a rat.
That nails it really, doesn't it?
There's likely a fine old drama being carried out in your head but you really aren't as convincing as you may think, and don't convey it very well, when you end up just making your arguments via sense of smell or metaphors about completing DIY chores ;)
BitBucket: "That nails it really, doesn't it?"Not quite sure what you're getting at. Can you please elucidate?
Harold, from what I see your link nails the argument about the effect of CO₂ - a 37% increase in growth for a doubling on average, with variation depending upon the species. Presumably that is in ideal conditions (ie. no other limiting factors, grown alone, not in combination, no pests etc). The nails and the rats weren't connected.
Presumably you have evidence that raised CO2 levels are beneficial to pests?
Good luck with that.
Read it again. I said no such thing.
Yes you did.
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