Global Warming Questions that Bring Facts to Light

Let’s say we are experiencing global warming. Let’s say this phenomenon is not only real, it’s something we can change, and that our survival depends on it. Even if all of this is true, why wouldn’t the three to five percent anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions that are really creating the “tipping point” – whereby normal planetary temperature fluctuations may careen into full fledged icecap meltdown – be better credited and offset by simply planting more trees?


We have just posted an in-depth feature story entitled “Global Warming Facts” by the eminent and respected atmospheric scientist from MIT, Dr. Richard Lindzen. It is clear from the data presented in Lindzen’s tables that global surface temperatures have not increased in around ten years. What does this all mean?

One thing appears worth considering: Taking drastic action to dramatically curtail CO2 emissions comes at a great price in economic growth and individual freedoms. Is this as important as simply cleaning up pollutants? What if this emphasis on reducing the emissions of C02, which is not a pollutant, will de-emphasize reducing emissions of genuine toxic pollutants; lead, ozone, sulpher dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulates?

In the last 150 years the forests of the world have shrunk from over 30 million square miles to around 18 million square miles. Meanwhile the deserts of the world have grown from around 5 million square miles to over 8 million square miles. Changes in land status on this scale, on a planet where there are only 56 million square miles of land surface, undoubtedly change the weather. According to Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, most global warming models don’t even take into account farming methods. Furthermore, megopoli of tens of millions of people now sprawl, absorbing and radiating heat; urbanized areas easily consume 2% of the land surface of the planet. Of course it’s hotter! Reverse desertification, reforest, plant urban trees!

An extremely encouraging and relevant point in all this is that technology can’t be stopped. Technology is a river, one that will always flow free; no matter how many dams, eventually the river of innovation will flow. Inexpensive photovoltaic panels, cheap and durable batteries with energy densities approaching and exceeding 500 watt-hours per kilogram are coming soon. These solutions will prevail.

Meanwhile let us at least not cut down the last remnants of the Congo and Amazon rainforests so enterprising local biofuel entrepreneurs can plant “carbon neutral” sugar cane and cassava plantations.

3 Responses to “Global Warming Questions that Bring Facts to Light”
  1. Brad Arnold says:

    Mankind only emits 3% of the CO2 nature does. Climate models predict that the earth will be able to absorb 30% less CO2 in 2030 than today. Obviously, mankind reducing greenhouse gas emissions is less important than nature’s reduced ability to absorb them.

    Unfortunately, if you crunch the numbers you find that planting trees isn’t enough to tip the balance. Instead, widespread deforestation is predictable due to draught, heatwaves, infestation, and fire. I suggest using the ocean, rather than land, to biosequester the carbon.

    Finally, when forced, the climate didn’t change gradually and linearly, but changes abruptly from one climate state to another. It is predictable that in the next decade or two the climate will change from the mild Holocene to a hotter dryer state that has caused mass extinctions in the past. Climate models suggest conservatively that 1/3 of the planet will be desert by 2100. Try growing trees in a desert.

  2. Ed Ring says:

    Brad: I agree that the ocean has a greater capacity for carbon absorption and carbon sequestration than land. After all, there are 139 million square miles of ocean, and only 56 million square miles of land. But I would like to know to what extent climate models take into account land use. In the last 150 years forests have retreated from 40 million square miles to 20 million square miles, at the same time as deserts and arid regions have expanded from 5 million square miles to nearly twice that.

    These changes in land status are not the result of global warming, indeed they could be the primary cause. Deforestation and desertification are the result of increasing human settlements as well as unenlightened land management. The question isn’t simply whether or not restoring forest and reversing desertification can offset CO2 emissions – but to what extent making these changes might actually cool the planet. What do climate models have to say about literally 50% of the land surface of the planet becoming deforested or arid? Why wouldn’t that contribute to global warming, and why wouldn’t that contribute to global cooling if it were reversed?


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.