Friday, February 08, 2013

Nature, Reuters: Amazon forest will thrive due to CO2

Alister Doyle of Reuters, Green Optimistic,, and others dared to blasphemously discuss a heretical paper in Nature,
Sensitivity of tropical carbon to climate change constrained by carbon dioxide variability
by Peter Cox and 6 co-authors.

Their new modeling concluded that the Amazon forest will keep on growing throughout the 21st century, mostly due to the fertilization by carbon dioxide that is going to beat all hypothetical negative terms that some people may want to associate with CO2 or anything else (fires, release of carbon induced by warming, and so on).

It's great that some of these researchers in Earth sciences are slowly learning what an intelligent child knows before she leaves the kindergarten: that plants eat carbon dioxide as their food and given a sufficient access to water and a sufficiently high temperature, the availability of this nutrient is by far the most important factor that decides about the growth of plants.

The new paper is a sign of a good development especially because the lead author, Peter Cox, was also the leader of a team that published a 2000 paper in Nature that bizarrely predicted that "global warming"-related phenomena would actually shrink the amount of carbon stored in the Amazon forest.

The amount of carbon that will be added to the Amazon forest by 2100 is a multiple of tens or hundreds of billions of tons. It's estimated that one Celsius degree of warming releases 53 ± 17 gigatons of carbon to the atmosphere but this individual term is unobservable because it's added to – and beaten by – much larger positive terms related to fertilization.

Some other general science news

After 4 years, the new largest known prime number was found. It is a Mersenne prime with more than 17 million digits. The progress from the previous one doesn't look spectacular – four years ago, the record holder had almost 13 million digits.

Next week, a 45-meter asteroid will fly near Earth, just 17,000 miles away from us. This large or larger asteroid gets this close just twice or thrice a century.

A common ancestor of squirrels and humans is claimed to be found and it looks more like a squirrel. ;-) I am a bit skeptical about claims such as "this is it" because there seem to be too many other options in these detailed questions about the tree of evolution.

Some bacteria were found to "produce" gold. They extract it from ions and use this gold to build shields.


  1. The current geologically low levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide stress most plants (so-called C-3) and has led to the evolution of a modified form of photosynthesis (so-called C-4). This is an adaptation to low CO2 and low moisture.

  2. Re: the Peter Cox paper----Freeman Dyson has been saying similar things for years.

    Re: common human-squirrel ancestry---that should have been obvious----most humans are squirrelly. I guess some also belong to a genus of muroid rodents,
    Rattus :)

  3. Nature (magazine) seems to be slowly coming around. A recent paper in it also said that from deep ice cores, the Greenland glacier melted much much less than expected during past periods of warming and high CO2. Maybe political correctness is leaching out of the better journals.