Monday, July 02, 2012

CO2 will turn savannahs to forests

A current press release reviewed a paper by a German-affiliated duo published in Nature:
Atmospheric CO2 forces abrupt vegetation shifts locally, but not globally
Steven Higgins and Simon Scheiter of Frankfurt acknowledge previous experimental measurements of the CO2 fertilization (increase just by dozens of percent) didn't exhibit a large impact on the natural ecosystems.

However, they claim that this conclusion depends on the location.

In particular, the authors claimed that the trees in the savannahs were CO2-starved in the pre-industrial CO2 concentrations. At moments that depend on the exact location, but sometime between now and the year 2100 AD, the increasing CO2 may give a sufficient advantage to trees in their struggle for local dominance against the grasses.

Recall that savannahs differ from forests exactly by the trees' inability to create shadow in most of the surface: they just have too low a density to do that.

This is one of the claims of effects of CO2 that I find plausible: but note that it may only be detectable in some regions, not all regions; and it may only become detectable because we're talking about a direct effect of CO2, a gas that is food for plants, not because of some convoluted indirect effects involving the infrared radiation and other players.

I also think that after all those years of deforestation (and deforestation scare), such a reforestation would seem like a good thing to me.

Via Benny Peiser

Bonus video: Czech president Václav Klaus' speech at the Heartland Conference.


  1. John F. HultquistJul 2, 2012, 5:21:00 PM

    The press release is substantially short on facts and overly
    infused with the adjectives of CAGW. [I
    am not sufficiently worried that I will pay 32 dollars to read the full
    paper. I might pay 32 cents.] This “forcing” seems not about warming,
    rather it is CO2 concentration directly.
    So it would be good to know how they learned what they think they know. Then, what level of CO2 increase do they
    assume and for how long do they expect it.
    We are at about 400 ppm now – will we get to 1,000 or even 600? And for how long. (You did a post on this issue awhile back.) The
    press release says nothing about water.
    Perhaps naively, I am under the impression that a forest requires more
    water than a grassland. While the trees
    of a savannah could be expected to be healthier with a higher CO2, why expect
    more of them. Then there is the issue of
    grazing to which young trees respond poorly compared to grasses. Thus, an interesting issue, but hardly a
    catastrophe in the making.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~Fox News mentions the God particle

  2. It's perhaps worth noting just how astronomically insane the world gets
    when the terrible triumvirate of 'green' energy needs, defense spending,
    and government largesse come together. Why should we worry about paying
    for $4-a-gallon gas down at the local Shell station when the US Navy
    (in all her glory) is willing to pay a staggering $26-a-gallon for
    'green' synthetic biofuel.

    As Reuters reports (see link below), the 'Great Green Fleet' will be
    the first carrier strike group powered largely by alternative fuels; as
    the Pentagon hopes it can prove the Navy looks just as impressive
    burning fuel squeezed from seeds, algae, and chicken fat (we did not
    make this up). The story gets better as it appears back in 2009, the
    Navy paid Solazyme (whose strategic advisors included TJ Gaulthier who
    served on Obama's White House Transition team) $8.5mm for 20,055 gallons
    on algae-based biofuel - a snip at just $424-a-gallon. While this is of
    course stirring all kinds of Republican rebuttal, Navy secretary Ray
    Mabus believes it vital to diversify as the Navy has been at the
    forefront of energy innovation for over 100 years (from sail, to coal,
    to oil, and then to nuclear from the 1850s to 1950s). Indeed, "Of course
    it costs more," he told the climate conference. "It's a new technology.
    If we didn't pay a little bit more for new technologies, we'd still be
    using typewriters instead of computers." Easy when it's other people's
    money eh?

    [I have news for you, Mr Secretary Mabus, you just paid 10 times the
    price for an old typewriter. Bio-feul is nothing new, just a more
    expensive "technology" to produce an old product.]

  3. Unrelated directly to this post, but I have an interesting book, if you find some time to read it
    It is written by a Nobel prize winner Konrad Lorenz and translated by Peter Příhoda, whom I know personally. It should be an essential reading at schools imho.