Friday, August 1, 2008

CO2 IS Not A Pollutant?

1) Breaking news folks. Apparently the Earth's biosphere (that's stuff that grows) is actually expanding Scientists use the term Gross Primary Production, a measure of the daily output of the global biosphere, the amount of new plant matter on land. NPP is Net Primary Production, an annual tally of the globe’s production. Biomass is apparently booming!! The planet is the greenest it’s been in decades, perhaps in centuries.

2) In the 1980s, ecologists realized that satellites could track production, and enlisted NASA to collect the data. For the first time, ecologists did not need to rely on rough estimates or anecdotal evidence of the health of the ecology: They could objectively measure the land’s output and soon did on a daily basis and down to the last kilometer. The results surprised scientists. They found that over a period of almost two decades, the Earth as a whole became more bountiful by a whopping 6.2%. About 25% of the Earth’s vegetated landmass — almost 110 million square kilometres enjoyed significant increases and only 7% showed significant declines. When the satellite data zooms in, it finds that each square metre of land, on average, now produces almost 500 grams of greenery per year.

3) Why the increase? Their 2004 study, and other more recent ones, point to the warming of the planet and the presence of CO2, a gas indispensable to plant life. CO2 is nature’s fertilizer, bathing the biota with its life-giving nutrients. Plants take the carbon from CO2 to bulk themselves up. (carbon is the building block of life) and release the oxygen, which along with the plants, then sustain animal life. As summarized in a report released along with a petition signed by 32,000 U. S. scientists who vouched for the benefits of CO2:(Bet you didn't see this in the NY Times!) “Higher CO2 enables plants to grow faster and larger and to live in drier climates. Plants provide food for animals, which are thereby also enhanced. The extent and diversity of plant and animal life have both increased substantially during the past half-century

4) Unlike the many scientists who welcome CO2 for its benefits, many other scientists and most governments believe carbon dioxide to be a dangerous pollutant that must be removed from the atmosphere at all costs. Governments around the world are now enacting massive programs in an effort to remove as much as 80% of the carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere. Amazingly, although the risks of action are arguably at least as real as the risks of inaction, Canada and other countries are rushing into Earth-altering carbon schemes with nary a doubt. Environmentalists, who ordinarily would demand a full-fledged environmental assessment before a highway or a power plant can be built, are silent on the need to question proponents or examine alternatives.
Earth is on a roll. Governments are too. We will know soon enough if we’re rolled off a cliff.