Thursday, July 01, 2010

John Cook's blog: photosynthesis is deniers' propaganda

John Cook is the author of the "deniers' talking points" list that has been converted to a mobile phone application; see my answers to John Cook's Skeptical Science. He also has a blog and its newest entry is called
CO2 is good for plants: another red herring in the climate change debate
In this text, Mariana Ashley who "writes about online colleges" teaches us something about photosynthesis. In her opinion, CO2 is only as important for plants as ignorance. Photosynthesis is just politics, no science.

She argues that the argument that "CO2 increases plants' growth" has "inherent weaknesses". Once you get to this remarkable sentence, you surely start to be curious what the weaknesses may be. Our new biology teacher will tell you what they are!

First, photosynthesis only increases with CO2 in the lab, not in Nature which is an "uncontrolled environment". In her opinion, the laws of Nature such as photosynthesis only work in the labs - which are mostly paid by the evil corporations, anyway - but they do not work in Nature.

In Nature, very different laws apply. Nature is able to figure out that CO2 is evil so the gas damages everyone.
Related: See a nice 5-minute animated lecture on photosynthesis. Well, yes, I find it amazing that these complex machines that are able to reproduce themselves via a code have spontaneously evolved in Nature. And photosynthesis is just one basic process that underlies life.
Once the laughter dies down and Ms Ashley figures out that this argument of hers didn't work very well, she argues that even if CO2 were increasing the plant growth, this effect shouldn't be looked at because it is a red herring that distracts us from the fact that 105% of effects caused by CO2 are negative. And you know, there will be drought and fires etc.

(By the way, a fresh preprint argues that forest fires actually lower the CO2 levels because they store carbon in charcoal.)

Moreover, Ashley claims that the argument that photosynthesis increases with CO2 rests on a logical fallacy:
However, at its most basic level, the CO2 plant food argument rests on a simple logical fallacy - the fallacy of exclusion, which focuses on one cause-and-effect (in this case, more CO2 means more plants) to the exclusion of all other cause-and-effect chains.
I see. So the deniers rest on the "fallacy of exclusion" which means that they focus on one cause and one effect. This is a really cute criticism from the people who want the whole mankind to focus on one gas - CO2 - and one of its thousands of effects, the greenhouse effect. ;-)

Concerning exclusions and the relative importance of different effects of CO2, just think what is more important for life: photosynthesis, or the greenhouse effect?

Even if the whole greenhouse effect - including the effect of water vapor which is 10-20 times stronger than that of CO2 - on planet Earth were suddenly turned off, the tropics would still be at a balmy 15 °C today and there could be lots of life over there. If you turned the photosynthesis off, life as we know it would die within a year. And note that total CO2 ever contributed by the mankind has only changed the greenhouse effect on Earth by a few percent (with mostly positive consequences, but let's not discuss it here) while it has arguably increased the photosynthesis rates by dozens of percent.

CO2's impact on tree growth

There was one interesting idea in the comments on Cook's blog: fast plant growth has its disadvantages, too. Other nutrients don't get everywhere in the bigger body. But these problems are analogous to the people who eat too much fat so that they become fat themselves. If it becomes a problem for life, survival, and reproduction, these people are just suppressed by natural selection; edacity and greed may be deadly. Those who know how to grow appropriately will survive. And those who survive - and those will matter in the future - will still agree that it's better for them if the food (even if it is just one important kind of nutrient) is cheap and abundant.

John Cook's blog is among the top 10 most visited alarmist blogs in the world. I find it remarkable what quality standards have become acceptable at these blogs. As long as their insane belief is supported, they are ready to publish rants by women who are as dumb as a doorknob and who make poultry look ingenious in comparison. They have created the environment in which it is nearly politically incorrect to point that that Ms Ashley impersonates all the assumptions that people have about the inherent inability of many women to understand the basic concepts of logic and science.

They're ready to deny photosynthesis and they're ready to claim that it is the other side that suffers from their very own most striking logical fallacy. In the name of their belief, they are ready to do anything.

A funny bonus on Gore

BBC explains in the last sentence of their report why the victim of the likely 2006 Portland sexual attack by Al Gore - see links, interview, video, details - remained in silence:
One friend "was basically asking me to just suck it up, otherwise the world's going to be destroyed from global warming", she said.
Maybe if she had allowed the prophet to do whatever he wanted, she would have saved the world from the burning of the Sun, too. :-) The woman, called Molly Hagerty, claims to have both secret tapes as well as Gore's DNA on her tainted pants: Hollywood Dame.

Via Tom Weidig


  1. You missed her line: "A rise in CO2 levels is not the only consequence of climate change"
    Heresy! CO2 levels changing because of climate! How did that get published.

  2. To assert that CO2 does not directly impact plant growth except in the laboratory is to demonstrate a major side effect of AGW deep belief: a reduction in critical thinking skills. In extreme forms, this reduction can lead to deep gullibility, and even a reduction in intelligence.

  3. I noticed that the press published the poor lady's name, which is normally a big no no. The only times I see this practice not adhered to is when a woman accuses a big Democrat of sexual assault.

  4. Sure, CO2 only increases plant growth in the lab.
    And CO2 only increases global temperatures in computer simulations.

    See how that works? ;)

  5. This is a joke, right? You are kidding, aren't you?

  6. Only in the lab? Then why have native Hawaiian farmers been building walls across inclines since time immemorial for the express purpose of entrapping CO2 to stimulate plant growth?
    (Of course nobody called it CO2 back then, but they were well aware of its existence nonetheles.)