Satanic Gases / Global warming good for plants

Kickaha

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Scientists: Global warming might be good for plants

By SUE VORENBERG
Scripps Howard News Service
July 04, 2002

- Increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere could increase global warming, but in an odd twist, may also reduce some of those effects by increasing the number of plants.

The possibility is being tested through a Los Alamos National Laboratory ocean model, which may be the most detailed of its kind in the world.

Scientists in New Mexico are using the model to investigate how pollution and greenhouse gasses, such as carbon dioxide, will change ocean plant life - which also could ultimately change the Earth's climate.

"(Increasing industrial development across the globe) would put a lot of stuff in the air, but most people aren't looking at what those pollutants will do to the ocean," said Scott Elliott, a Los Alamos scientist.

Prevailing global winds move air from the west to the east across China, Japan and to the United States. As industrial development continues to rise in China, scientists expect a large amount of excess carbon to be deposited on the surface of the Pacific Ocean, Elliott said.

"Carbon is a nutrient; it's going to lead to some interesting changes in the ecodynamics of the Pacific," Elliott said. "In general, it will probably cause plants to create more biomass. We'll have more species. As the cars kick up dust, they'll probably also add more iron from that dust to the air, and that's also a nutrient, which means even more plant growth."

The model hasn't yet shown if significant growth of new plants will clog ocean cycles, but Elliott says increased plant growth might have some advantages in the fight against global warming.

Plants breathe carbon dioxide, which could reduce the quantity of the gas in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide traps the sun's heat and causes the Earth to warm, scientists believe.

"It's a theory," Elliott said. "But to quantify it, you need a major Earth system modeling effort, which is where my work with the model fits in."

Los Alamos scientists also are working with other environmental experts across the globe, combining the lab's ocean model with others that investigate air- and land-based processes, Elliott said.

"It's really a global village, and a lot of different countries are working on these sorts of models," Elliott said. "Japan has its own strong air circulation model. If you think about the cycles, as China continues to develop, any Chinese air pollution will just cream Japan. Really, most countries have an interest in discovering how these cycles work."
 

Kickaha

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Global warming is vastly overrated as an environmental threat, argue leading climatologists Patrick J. Michaels and Robert Balling, Jr. Vice President Gore has staked much of his career on a largely mythical problem, they write.

"The Satanic Gases" marshals an impressive array of scientific data, studies and analyses that argue, cogently and consistently, that the initial forecasts of rapid global warming were simply wrong. But, perhaps more important, the book points out that attempts to "fix" the forecast by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are even more misguided than the original projections.

The authors argue that the jury is already in on global warming, and the verdict is a modest heating over the 21st century — very similar to what occurred during the last third of the 20th century. The vast majority of warming will take place in the winter, and within that season, the coldest, deadliest air masses will show the greatest change. The final third of the last century saw the greatest improvements in food supply, wealth and longevity of life ever experienced. Some improvements actually resulted from changes in the earth’s natural greenhouse effect and others were totally insensitive to temperature. The authors argue that it is virtually impossible to reverse all of that progress with only a continued slow warming of the planet.

by: Patrick J. Michaels and Robert C. Balling Jr.

224 pages
 

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