How green is my planet?
The revelation this week that CO2 had just reached 410 ppm is just the most recent negative climate "tipping point" being reached. This news was accompanied by the usual links to future apocalyptic warming events and predictions of the Earth spiraling into planetary doom. According to the self-proclaimed guardians of the Earth, we need to enact strict regulations and taxes to reduce our use of fossil fuels to forestall these predicted harmful events that are occurring due to our "sins of emission."
Yet the proposed solutions to this theoretical man-made warming, such as the Paris Climate Accord, are necessarily economically harmful to the developed nations while increasing energy costs for all. Full enactment represents a great transfer of wealth from the "haves" to the "have nots." According to Bjorn Lomborg, economist from the University of Copenhagen, the Paris Accord would strip $1.5 trillion per year from the economies of the world yet forestall less than one third of a degree Fahrenheit in warming by the year 2100.
The facts belie the "heated" rhetoric and apocalyptic visions forecast by supporters of human-driven catastrophic warming. We find that the predictions of doom are just that – predictions and speculation based on climate models that don't model climate very well at all. According to 2016 congressional testimony, Alabama State climatologist Dr. John Christy's comparison of 100 climate model runs used to support the Paris Accord over-predicted warming in the tropics by 2.5 times and up to 3 times too much in the tropics.
So, rather than relying on speculation of what may occur 30 or 50 years in the future based on these failed models, we should review what is actually happening today in the real world. After hundreds of years of rising temperatures and 100-plus years of steadily increasing CO2, should we not be able to recognize some of these predicted climate calamities by now?
What we find is an Earth that is prospering, "greening," and thriving precisely due to rising temperatures and increasing CO2.
A review of what is actually happening with droughts, intense heat waves, and forest fires, to name a few, shows that they are in long-term decline, and the experts point to increasing worldwide soil moisture content as the primary reason. Rising temperatures lead to higher water vapor in the atmosphere and thence to increased precipitation. An increase in the CO2 fertilization effect serves to decrease the size of plants' pores and reduce transpiration needed, leading to lessened water usage, leaving moisture in the ground.
These two factors, working in tandem, have largely been responsible for what is likely the biggest untold story about our Earth and its changing climate: an amazing greening of the Earth is taking place. According to NASA scientists, 25 to 50% of the Earth is "greening," reflecting increasing vegetation, and only 4% is "browning," or showing decline in plant life. Probably the best example is the southern Sahara (Sahel), where 300,000 square kilometers of former desert are turning into a lush grassland, and the NASA experts tell us it is due to climate change.
We are also told that the human consequences of global warming will be severe and lead to famine and increases in mortality owing to rising temperature and extreme weather-related events. However, as you might have guessed, just the opposite is occurring.
Food production, fueled by technological advances and human innovation, but also turbocharged by CO2 fertilization, increased soil moisture, and longer growing seasons, continues to set records year after year, with no end in sight. 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 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.
Gregory Wrightstone is author of the new book, Inconvenient Facts: The Science That Al Gore Doesn't Want You To Know. Wrightstone is a geologist with more than 35 years of experience researching and studying various aspects of the Earth's processes. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Geological Society of America.