Does the Earth Process CO2?

co2-increases-tree-growthWith Obama’s War on Coal in full display, the economic destruction the environmental movement is willing to cause to eliminate CO2 emissions and “save the planet” is becoming tragic.  Environmentalists depend on two claims 1.) Rising CO2 emissions will harm the planet, and 2.) Humans can emit enough CO2 emissions to effect this change.

While both claims are debatable, there are some recent studies which bring the first into doubt.  One of the primary concerns that global warming alarmists have is that over time CO2 will build up in the atmosphere causing a green house effect which will trap heat on the planet and warm the earth.  One thing missing from their equations is whether CO2 is naturally used up by the earth.  Recent studies indicate the earth has two natural processes for doing just that.

An article published July 9 entitled “Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels Causing Desert Greening” details one of these studies.  “A new study, based on satellite observations, CSIRO, in collaboration with the Australian National University (ANU) reported that the rising levels of carbon dioxide have caused deserts to start greening and  increased foliage cover by 11 percent from 1982-2010 across parts of the arid areas studied in Australia, North America, the Middle East and Africa.”  The study used mathematical modeling together with satellite data.  The Australian scientists found that CO2 acted as a fertilizer in warm climates.  This was because “elevated carbon dioxide levels affect the photosynthesis process of a leaf causing it to consume less water to convert sunlight into sugar. This leads to plants in arid environments increasing their number of leaves.”

While the study warned of potentially dangerous secondary effects that required more research, this study seems to confirm that the earth is using up increased CO2 to create more trees, which will in turn use up more CO2 since trees continually turn CO2 into oxygen.

This reinforces research by  Dr. Craig Idso in his book, ““The Many Benefits of Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment, ” discussing the potential benefits of higher CO2 levels. As a result of higher atmospheric CO2, earth’s plants are likely to sustain themselves within large portions of their natural habitats, which will also work to the advantage of animal life that depends on those plants, Idso observed at the 2011 American Legislative Exchange Council annual meeting.

“The end result is a future where there will likely be a great CO2 induced proliferation of regional biodiversity as opposed to extinctions of species globally,” he said. “Lots of peer reviewed research supports this outcome.”

Woodrow Wilcox


There is also a fascinating UCLA textbook-like summary on the relationship between plate tectonics and the carbon cycle.  In it they contend that plate tectonics act as a natural carbon recycling process through subduction and eruption:

“Subduction is the process by which continental crust slides beneath another portion of crust.  The subducting crust melts and becomes magma, the material that fuels volcanic eruption.  The melted crust contains carbon in the sediments and soils, thus recycling it through the mantle of the earth.


“The melted crust convecting through the mantle will eventually resurface in the form of lava during eruptions from volcanoes. These volcanoes were originally formed by tectonic forces–where there is an excess of magma below the crust due to subduction, it is forced to erupt.  The process of eruption includes degassing.  Degassing is where carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere as the eruption occurs because the dissolved carbon in the magma is unstable and under pressure, and is therefore forced to leave the fluid.”

While clearly a much more destructive form of recycling, the idea that the earth naturally recycles CO2 is something that is often overlooked, and worth remembering.

Work by John Kehr, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article by Matt Ridley undercuts an even more fundamental myth of global warming alarmists: the idea that rising CO2 levels causes the earth to warm.  Writes Ridley, “First, it’s true that in the distant past (hundreds of thousands of years ago) a rise in carbon dioxide sometimes did follow a rise in temperature.” Actually, this is invariably the pattern in the ice core record, not ‘sometimes.’ Moreover, as you can see on John Kehr’s excellent graphs here, the inconvenient truth is that at the end of the Eemian interglacial temperature fell steadily for thousands of years before CO2 levels fell at all.”

The Ridley article goes on to cite studies and data which look at the earth’s historic temperature shifts, which all interestingly happened before fossil fuels were depended on for fuel, and argues there is no historic correlation between CO2 levels and the earth’s temperatures.  He admits that, “CO2 is a greenhouse gas and will in the absence of other factors cause net warming,” but finds it highly doubtful that current CO2 rises can cause dangerous warming.  Some of the factors which keep the environmentalists modeling from aligning with what actually happened and is happening probably includes the two factors outlined above, as well as other potentially still unknown processes occurring in a highly complicated biosphere.

2008 research by Christopher Monckton in “Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered” found that the UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had most assuredly overstated the impact of CO2 on warming in its climate models.

Writes Monckton, “[T]he IPCC’s estimates of climate sensitivity must have been very much exaggerated. There may, therefore, be a good reason why, contrary to the projections of the models on which the IPCC relies, temperatures have not risen for a decade and have been falling since the phase-transition in global temperature trends that occurred in late 2001. Perhaps real-world climate sensitivity is very much below the IPCC’s estimates. Perhaps, therefore, there is no “climate crisis” at all. At present, then, in policy terms there is no case for doing anything. The correct policy approach to a non-problem is to have the courage to do nothing.”

This uncertainty on the impact of CO2 levels on the environment makes Obama’s War on Coal seems like the destruction of jobs and a way of life for many is based on blind faith instead of irrefutable data of an eminent impending global catastrophe.

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Willie Deutsch is Editor-in-Chief for, and Social Media Director for Americans for Limited Government.
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