The Social Benefit of Carbon: $3.5 Trillion in Agricultural Productivity

October 18th, 2013 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

ThinkProgress cartoon on the Social Cost of Carbon: Maybe better used for Social Benefit of Carbon?

ThinkProgress cartoon on the Social Cost of Carbon: Maybe better used for Social Benefit of Carbon?

Craig Idso, an expert on the fertilization effects of elevated CO2 levels on various plant species, has done a new study of the positive externality (unintended economic consequence) of increasing CO2.

In the 50 year period, 1961-2011, he estimates that there has been a $3.5 trillion benefit resulting from increased agricultural productivity. The projected benefits in the coming decades are even larger.

Egad! How could any by-product of human activity possibly be good? That sure wasn’t what I was taught in school!

In our modern age of self-flagellating hand-wringing do-gooders with too much time on their hands and anxious to find some cause to convince others to pay for assuaging their self-imposed guilt (phew), it is seldom we hear any good news about anything related to climate change.

And if just the agricultural benefits of increasing CO2 is in the multi-trillion dollar range, what about the prosperity enabled over the last 100 years by access to abundant, affordable energy? How many gazillions of dollars would that be?

Yet, the government continues to try to justify a wide range of regulations punishing the use of fossil fuels based upon the silly idea of “social cost of carbon” (SCC), the supposed overwhelming negative externalities resulting from fossil fuel use.

When are real economists with some gonads going to stand up for the social benefits of carbon (SBC)? People like Matt Ridley are speaking out on the subject. Where are the economists? Have they (like most climate researchers) been bought off, too?

Until we get an unbiased accounting of BOTH costs AND benefits of using fossil fuels, there is little hope in getting rational public policy that won’t do more harm than good.

61 Responses to “The Social Benefit of Carbon: $3.5 Trillion in Agricultural Productivity”

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  1. Jim Cripwell says:

    I keep asking the same questions that you do. You ask “When are real economists with some gonads going to stand up for the social benefits of carbon (SBC)?” I ask “Who is going to bell the cat?”

  2. I thought that CO2 being a trace gas can therefore have no effect whilst increasing from 280 to 400ppm.

    No effect on temperature
    No Effect on Health
    No effect on Plant growth!!

    I have seen reports that state that the increase in growth is not always beneficial – more stem – more leaves – but not necessarily more crop

    Carbon ‘boosts crop growth but cuts yields’
    Science / 06 April 09 /by Jesse Sutton

    • John Owens says:

      A lot of green house growers will disagree with you and your article.

    • Scott Scarborough says:

      Yea, that’s why in green houses they release CO2 to increase it’s concentration. They make a little too much money running the green house so they have to waste it on something.

    • Jimbo says:

      Here are a few results just in. Some concern crops and some the biosphere. Most crops respond well to higher that 700ppm. Greenhouse growers regularly pump in 1,000ppm.

      Abstract – 31 May, 2013
      CO2 fertilisation has increased maximum foliage cover across the globe’s warm, arid environments

      [1] Satellite observations reveal a greening of the globe over recent decades. …….Using gas exchange theory, we predict that the 14% increase in atmospheric CO2 (19822010) led to a 5 to 10% increase in green foliage cover in warm, arid environments. Satellite observations, analysed to remove the effect of variations in rainfall, show that cover across these environments has increased by 11%.…..

      Abstract – May 2013
      A Global Assessment of Long-Term Greening and Browning Trends in Pasture Lands Using the GIMMS LAI3g Dataset

      Our results suggest that degradation of pasture lands is not a globally widespread phenomenon and, consistent with much of the terrestrial biosphere, there have been widespread increases in pasture productivity over the last 30 years.

      Abstract – 10 April 2013
      Analysis of trends in fused AVHRR and MODIS NDVI data for 19822006: Indication for a CO2 fertilization effect in global vegetation

      …..The effect of climate variations and CO2 fertilization on the land CO2 sink, as manifested in the RVI, is explored with the Carnegie Ames Stanford Assimilation (CASA) model. Climate (temperature and precipitation) and CO2 fertilization each explain approximately 40% of the observed global trend in NDVI for 19822006……

      Abstract – May 2013
      The causes, effects and challenges of Sahelian droughts: a critical review
      …….However, this study hypothesizes that the increase in CO2 might be responsible for the increase in greening and rainfall observed. This can be explained by an increased aerial fertilization effect of CO2 that triggers plant productivity and water management efficiency through reduced transpiration. Also, the increase greening can be attributed to ruralurban migration which reduces the pressure of the population on the land…….
      doi: 10.1007/s10113-013-0473-z

      Abstract – 2013
      A model-based constraint on CO2 fertilisation
      “…..,.,.the increase in gross primary productivity (GPP) in response to a doubling of CO2 from preindustrial values is very likely (90% confidence) to exceed 20%, with a most likely value of 4060%…..”

      But we are still doomed of course. 🙂

    • Jimbo says:

      Here is another related to higher temperature on flower and fruit production of the Arabidopsis thaliana which is a small flowering plant that is widely used as a model organism in plant biology.

      Abstract – October 2013
      David A. Springate et. al.
      Plant responses to elevated temperatures: a field study on phenological sensitivity and fitness responses to simulated climate warming

      …….We address this issue by exposing a set of recombinant inbred lines of Arabidopsis thaliana to a simulated global warming treatment in the field. We find that plants exposed to elevated temperatures flower earlier, as predicted by photothermal models. However, contrary to life-history trade-off expectations, they also flower at a larger vegetative size, suggesting that warming probably causes acceleration in vegetative development. Although warming increases mean fitness (fruit production) by ~ 25%, there is a significant genotype-by-environment interaction………..

      We are still doomed. 🙂

    • Lars P. says:

      Well you got the wrong information.

      You either have wrong informations sources and you have not searched long enough. You can look here by your beloved plant:

      The only place where there is a measurable effect of CO2 when increasing from 280 ppm to 400 ppm is actually plants growth – see satellites measurement showing an 11% increase in greening in the last 3 decades.

      In addition to what has been said plants are also more draught resistant with increased CO2 – they lose less water when they open their stomata to take in CO2 – effect that has been effectively measured and is about 20% less water loss.

    • Jimbo says:

      thefordprefect says:
      October 18, 2013 at 9:43 AM……….
      Carbon boosts crop growth but cuts yields
      Science / 06 April 09 /by Jesse Sutton

      Show me the peer reviewed evidence that shows global crop yields have been CUT? The article your pointed to was from WIRED MAGAZINE. Did the good professor give us global figures or reports from a field experiment? Go global.

    • Alicia says:

      A friend pointed this site out to me. Speaking as a greenhouse grower, I DO use CO2 injection to stimulate crop growth. In fact in the past 7 years, I have daily increased CO2 concentration under glass to 6% over ambient and seen VERY impressive increases in crop yields, particularly in leafy vegetables. With 20 acres under glass, this has become a huge booster to our production. Not to mention the economic benefits, We have increased profits of 48% annually, when the increased costs (12% more than previous) are factored in. Tell me again why CO2 is evil?

  3. Craig says:

    The CO2 effect is always working, especially so as it increases from glacial conditions (180 ppm) to interglacial conditions (280 ppm), and then onward to values today (390 ppm) and beyond (at least up to 2000 ppm). See the section of the paper titled “How CO2 is a Biospheric Benefit” and the Discussion too.

    Although CO2 is a trace atmospheric gas, it is an essential nutrient needed by plants during the process of photosynthesis to construct their tissues and grow.

  4. KR says:


    No credit to the work of Norman Borlaug and the Green Revolution? Nor any mention of the differences between C3 (which may have some ability to benefit from increased CO2) and C4 (which really don’t – examples such as sorghum, sugar cane, various grasses, and corn) plants? Or to relationships with other aspects of agricultural productivity, such as nitrogen and water availability?

    Or to the FACE experiments showing increased woody mass but decreased edible mass under CO2 enrichment, with nitrogen availability being the limiting factor?

    • Lars P. says:

      C3 plants account for more then 95% of plant species.

      “May have some ability to benefit” rofl, why this twisted way to ask the question and not recognise the reality?
      C3 plants developed in a world with much more CO2 and they need it.

      Is there in the world a plant gardener that seeks reduced CO2 concentration for its plants? Does anybody try to achieve 280 ppm?
      Or 180 ppm?
      I do not mean the ones that produce to sell, but a “green” gardener for himself? Why not? Come on, it is possible to achieve this very simple with a CO2 filter?

      How about increased Co2 concentration?


  5. Craig says:


    See the actual paper. I give full acknowledgement and recognition to the green revolution in what I refer to as the Techno-intel effect. Look at Figure 3, it shows that for sugar cane yields, the techno-intel effect accounts for between 85 and 95 percent of annual yields. The CO2 effect accounts for the rest.

    As for the difference between C3 and C4 responses to CO2, that is also accounted for in the estimates. Again, read the paper! The CO2 effect is derived from the plant growth database at These CO2 growth response factors are plant specific.

    Your concerns about nitrogen limitation are false: See and scroll down to Nitrogen, Progressive Limitation Hypothesis and view the links there. And as for FACE studies, they tend to UNDERESTIMATE the CO2 effect. See

    Lastly, as for the claim that the edible portion is decreased, that is not supported by the literature either. Using wheat as an example, where both total biomass and grain biomass responses are reported, the grain biomass is usually HIGHER than the total biomass. See

  6. OssQss says:

    LOL, its not everyday you see the descriptive terminology used in this post. Thanks for the info and terminology reminders.

    Sorry Doc, couldn’t resist the temptation on Friday afternoon 😉

  7. Hops says:

    I think this has been known for some time. Years ago I heard a lecture related to agriculture in Iowa, and the assessment was that for a few decades, longer growing seasons and more CO2 would increase production, but after that excessive heat would start to damage production.

    I know it’s anecdotal, but I swear the grass needs mowed more than it used to. So there’s a downside …

  8. 1. Hops says on October 18, 2013 at 12:04 PM:

    I know its anecdotal, but I swear the grass needs mowed more than it used to. So theres a downside

    = = = = = = =

    Concrete or tarmac it over like other (sensible) people do and then you can soon complain about flooding

  9. John K says:

    Hi Roy,

    Great post! Their remains other benefits from CO2 including the increased WARMING derived from it. I posted the statement below earlier:

    “… the last time the earth faced climate change that lead to MASS EXTINCTION during what many now label as the ICE AGE. Millions of mammoths and mastadons, untold numbers of woolly rhinoceros, wolves, vegetation (much of it tropical) and many more plant and animal remains became frozen in what we today call PERMAFROST. The permafrost regions (near the earths poles) of the world are far too cold to support such life now since we as a planet still suffer what can only be described as late ice age conditions. Nevertheless, politicians and the extremely gullible clamor to be saved from GLOBAL WARMING for which the evidence indicates should lead to more abundance of life on earth and better conditions. Last I checked no evidence exists of MASS EXTINCTION due to HEAT STROKE.”

    Unfortunately, I live in SUNNY California (not unfortunate due to climate). People familiar with the region know the COLD Pacific ocean lacks enough energy to produce storm clouds strong enough to transport a water mass sufficient to blanket much of the SOUTH WEST. This results in dry conditions and desertification throughout the Mojave desert and much of the south west. Of course, most people know the opposite occurs on the EAST COAST (Florida, the Carolina’s, etc.). The warm Atlantic waters (sometimes 90 deg F off the Florida coast) produces large hurricanes that bathe the East coast in water producing tropical/semi-tropical everglades in Florida and productive farm land throughout most of the region.

    In 1968 Dr. Paul R. Ehrlich and David R Brower authored “THE POPULATION BOMB.” In which they further claimed:

    “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate…” (Source Wikipedia)

    A friend loaned me another Ehrlich classic “THE POPULATION EXPLOSION.” That booked also mentioned GLOBAL WARMING, but the predictions nevertheless remained dire if I remember correctly.

    Per Wikipedia: “The Indian economist and Nobel Prize winner, Amartya Sen, has argued that nations with democracy and a free press have virtually never suffered from extended famines.[19] Nevertheless, in 2010 the UN reported that 925 million of the world’s population of nearly seven billion people were in a constant state of hunger.[20] The UN report notes that the percentage of the world’s population who qualify as “undernourished” has fallen by more than half, from 33 percent to about 16 percent, since Ehrlich published The Population Bomb.[21]
    Ehrlich writes: “I don’t see how India could possibly feed two hundred million more people by 1980.”[5] This view was widely held at the time, as another statement of his, later in the book: “I have yet to meet anyone familiar with the situation who thinks that India will be self-sufficient in food by 1971.” In the book’s 1971 edition, the latter prediction was removed, as the food situation in India suddenly improved. As of 2010, India had almost 1.2 billion people, having nearly tripled its population from around 400 million in 1960. India’s Total Fertility Rate in 2008 was calculated to be 2.6.[22] While the absolute numbers of malnourished children in India is high,[23] the rates of malnutrition and poverty in India have declined from approximately 90% at the time of India’s independence, to less than 40% today. Ehrlich’s prediction about famines were found to be false, although food security is an issue in India. However, most epidemiologists, public health physicians and demographers identify corruption as the chief cause of malnutrition, not “overpopulation”.[24] As Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen noted, India frequently had famines during British colonial rule. However, when India became a democracy, there have been no recorded famines.[25]
    Journalist Dan Gardner has criticized Ehrlich both for his overconfident predictions and his refusal to acknowledge his errors. “In two lengthy interviews, Ehrlich admitted making not a single major error in the popular works he published in the late 1960s and early 1970s the only flat-out mistake Ehrlich acknowledges is missing the destruction of the rain forests, which happens to be a point that supports and strengthens his world viewand is therefore, in cognitive dissonance terms, not a mistake at all. Beyond that, he was by his account, off a little here and there, but only because the information he got from others was wrong. Basically, he was right across the board.”[26]
    Jonathan Last called it “one of the most spectacularly foolish books ever published”

    Keep in mind all the additional atmospheric plant food (CO2)
    and subsequent warmth produced massive increases in vegetation and greater survivability. This increased vegetative biomass resulted in even greater CO2 absorption from said increase. As you pointed out Roy in an earlier thread regarding the Mona Loa data nature seems to take out half the additional CO2 man adds to the atmosphere each year.

    When will CO2 stop being demonized as a pollutant destroying the planet rather than the blessing it actually has been!

    • Fonzie says:

      John what a mouthful!!! If I may add to that imagine this: let’s assume for the sake of argument that the ipcc is right. That would mean that without human emissions we would have seen no warming in the eighties and nineties. And during the past fifteen years (the ‘hiatus’ or ‘pause’ if you will) we’d have presumably witnessed catastrophic cooling!!!

  10. Joe Madrid says:

    The link above seems to be busy however I can get to the front page It works perfectly….After watching the video by Dr. Idso ‘Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Interglacial Warmth’ I immediately added the site to my ‘Climate Gate’ book mark folder.

    It is mind boggling to me that any one can look at the data covered in the video and still insist CO2 and methane are going to be game changers. In fact the steepness of the descent into iceages should be truly terrifying as it looks like if anything we are teetering at the edge of that cliff.

    CO2 plants… I used to run a non vented gas heater in my patio green house in the winter for the plants. My Father RIP was a Botanist and told me about this technique.

    You cannot argue with people who have bought the religion…I just don’t understand it! Are they stupid? At the least have on blinders.

    I love this new site thank you Dr. Spencer.

    I have one question…I once suggested in a comment on The Economist (MSM)…that warming might open up farmland in Russia and Canada…and I was attacked with things like the soil is so poor there it will grow nothing…the glaciars pushed all the good soil into the Ukraine. It seems to me thousands of years of trees growth would have replenished it some during this last warm period? When I was a kid we in fact went up in the mountains in Wyoming to get soil for the garden. I am sure those areas were covered with as thick a glaciars as possible during the last ice age.

    • Aaron s. says:

      I have a phd and studied Paleosols, and I think the perfect parent material is there for prolific agricultural growth. Just my opinion.

  11. Joe Madrid says:

    If you haven’t read Crichton’s essays one of my favorite Climate Gate sites…. he goes into the politicization of science.

    You know Crichton who wrote Andromeda Strain when I was a teen.
    Still read science fiction am still 15 somewhere in my brain.

    • Bill Sparling says:

      You might also look up James Hogan’s “Kicking the sacred cow” for a discussion on the politicization of science (and it’s adverse effects). Hogan’s writing is interesting; while I don’t agree with some of his stuff (including his denial of past genocides), this is a good read.

      • Bill Sparling says:

        You might also enjoy Mat Ridley’s famous Angus Millar Lecture (“Scientific Heresy”) of the Royal Society of the Arts. Edinburgh, 31 October 2011 on that topic. Highly readable and enjoyable for those with intellectual honesty.

  12. gbaikie says:

    “When are real economists with some gonads going to stand up for the social benefits of carbon (SBC)? People like Matt Ridley are speaking out on the subject. Where are the economists? Have they (like most climate researchers) been bought off, too?”

    I would to say economists which publicly known have tendency
    not to have gonads [cf ghostbusters].
    But lack gonads will probably not develop in any time as little as decades and pretty wishful when looks at history
    to imagine such change would occur within decade [such and slowness to change strangely similar to climate science broadly speaking].

    So I would not say bought off. I would say they only do stuff, which will cause them to get more money.
    They only like to pretend they are made of stiffer stuff.
    Nor are they particularly bright in general regarding most things [including economics].

    So we should be happy when we get people like Matt Ridley speaking truth to the power of the media establishment. And such media establishment as a rule, is what? Shallow. Dingbats. And whose who get tingling in the leg, when listen to a politician.

  13. Stevek says:

    Yes but c02 is created by evil industrialists and evil energy companies therefore by law it cannot be good. ALL things industrialists produce is bad.

    If you believe c02 can be good then you are a thought criminal and the thought police will be investigating you.

  14. Aaron s. says:

    Very interesting great post. I don’t think that co2 is as large of a forcing mechanism as ipcc models suggest, and I do think the sun is more of a driver than currently modeled. The co2 issue remains complex to me because I do wonder about the floral shift associated with the steep drop in co2 during the late Miocene to early Pliocene and the associated vegetation shift from c3 savannah to c4 grassland at mid latitudes. This concerns me because how will a rise in co2 affect crop patterns? Corn is a dominant crop that is a c4 plant. For example, If we rise above the threshold to shift plant types that preferably grow at mid latitudes, then will we have to shift agricultural styles to a c3 plant like soy? Nature is always a complicated system.

  15. lewis says:

    In response to Aaron S. Somewhere recently I read about CO2 requirements of C3 and C4 plants. Because of an increase in CO2, aspiration requirements to obtain the needed amounts are less, so less water is needed for the plant to grow. I don’t remember which was which, but either the C3 or C4 plants would have less requirements for water with an increase in CO2. etc.

    Otherwise, the politicization of climate change has to do with control and maintaining the status quo. By pointing out that Russia and Canada may benefit agriculturally from warming, one sees the problem of getting all countries to kowtow to the radical line.

    One thing further, the egocentric idea that man can control the weather/climate is amusing, sadly. If those who propose such ideas would go one step farther: why pick last centuries weather, why not the weather from 20,000 years ago, when man first arrived? If they were alive then, would that be the place they would want the climate to remain, with glaciers everywhere, but the sea level 200 feet lower than today?

    No, the climate change agenda is about control of your life, nothing more. With so much energy locked up in hydrocarbons of various types, we could live well for centuries. And then there is the question of where was that carbon before it became hydrocarbons???

    Anyway, thank you Dr. Spencer for maintaining your website.

    • Toneb says:

      “One thing further, the egocentric idea that man can control the weather/climate is amusing, sadly. If those who propose such ideas would go one step farther: why pick last centuries weather, why not the weather from 20,000 years ago, when man first arrived? If they were alive then, would that be the place they would want the climate to remain, with glaciers everywhere, but the sea level 200 feet lower than today?”

      We can control it but not at the wave of a hand – it’s taken ~150 years of pumping CO2 into the atmosphere at a rate that has increased it’s presence by an additional 40% with further damage locked in due thermal inertia and the long lifetime of that GHG in the atmosphere. And this with no real prospect of any slowing in human emissions.

      We pick the last centuries weather because we have an instrumental record of it, and to pick “the weather from 20,000 years ago” would be like comparing apples to oranges as the Earth’s orbital eccentricities made it a very different planet (look up Milankovitch cycles).

      If mankind lives into the next ice age several thousand years from now ( one is actually unlikely now as AGW will over-ride the cooling ), then that is a natural occurrence and we cannot place the Earth in a new orbit.

      The Earth and it’s ecosystems are in a delicate balance – one that we have developed this complicated global society within … and any disruption of it ( yes it can be caused by just a few ppm of a GHG ), will cause a massive headache for us. It is NOT a natural variation. In the past CO2 followed temperature. Today man is the driver and CO2 is leading it. We can therefore step in and mitigate things.

      • John K says:


        You hilariously claimed:

        “We can control it but not at the wave of a hand its taken ~150 years of pumping CO2 into the atmosphere at a rate that has increased its presence by an additional 40% with further damage locked in due thermal inertia and the long lifetime of that GHG in the atmosphere. And this with no real prospect of any slowing in human emissions.”

        Hmmh! Maybe I just missed precisely how you plan to control the weather. As I’ve mentioned on previous posts spotty 19th century CO2 measurements in the ~1880’s came in around 280ppm. When consistent Mona Loa measurements began in 1958 atmospheric CO2 measured ~350ppm. Today they fall around 400ppm. From what I’ve seen, humans have never recorded declining atmospheric CO2 levels over any significant time period (say over a 2 year period) since measurements began. Simply to halt the growth of CO2 in the atmosphere earth’s entire human population of 7 billion people would have to reduce carbon emissions to levels not seen since their great great grand parents roamed the planet in the century before last. At that time (~1880’s) earth’s population fell ~1.3 billion estimated and at most the United States, Great Britain and Germany may have been somewhat industrialized. Even if you miraculously manage to induce 7 billion people to reduce human emissions to this level say in the next century that may only halt the atmospheric growth in CO2 at something over 400ppm, assuming of course atmospheric CO2 levels actually stop rising. If you plan to reduce CO2 levels further to 280ppm as measured in the 1880’s, how do you even begin to propose to do this? We’d all love to see the plan. From past experience asking such questions, my guess is you like many other faux climate savior’s haven’t any clue.

        BTW, I don’t disagree with you that humans impact CO2 levels or that humans will one day likely reduce their carbon output. One cannot expect a linear increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations to go on forever lest the earth’s carefully balanced oxygen/nitrogen ratios unravel. We ar nowhere near such levels now. However, since each barrel of oil (not to mention other hydrocarbon inputs) represents ~25000 man hours of labor and since much work needs to be done to build and reinforce an energy efficient infra-structure this simply will not happen anytime soon. Moreover, it won’t happen without new technological development (Mag air fuel cell’s, molten salt reactors, solar etc.) and the smart use of capital. Based on past experience with they Kyoto Protocol and government action in general, IPCC intervention and government legislation up til now has only wasted billions and accomplished nothing. Just as the automobile replaced horses and the accompanying biological wastes in city streets helping to prevent the spread of communicable diseases and the age of petroleum saved the whales from slaughter due to man’s thirst for oil different means of utilizing available energy must be introduced to WORLD markets at price levels affordable to the masses. Stripping them of their access to the world’s hydrocarbons or other coercive measures will only result in inevitable frustration and possibly violence.

  16. ren says:

    CO2 is even more important, mainly because it is produced by photosynthesis atmospheric oxygen we breathe. Oxygen also protects us by ozone. CO2 we also needed in the process of breathing the oxygen saturation in the blood.
    You can increase the production of oxygen, even if the supply of shallow seas of the iron compounds.

  17. Dr No says:

    Let me withdraw my congratulations about writing a thoughtful article.
    This one is a real doozy.

    Let me ask one question. If you think co2 fertilisation is a net benefit , then you must be advocating for an increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases (including methane etc.).??

    i.e. we should be encouraging the burning of fossil fuels.
    That is the logical course of action implied by this article.

    If you believe so, say so.
    You have every right to be crazy.

  18. wayne says:

    Still scared of co2 are you? Dive into some real physics of molecular thermalization, it will ease your fright. And no, Dr. Spencer is not crazy but still a bit too attatched to the equations and concepts used within all IPCC’s documents IMHO.

    • wayne says:

      That comment was addressed to Dr. No. and should have appeared underneath his comment. (wordpress malfunction?)

    • Toneb says:

      Dr No is on the button IMO:

      Is it not obvious that there are things that may be beneficial arising from something that is overall very bad?

      There is rarely a one-way street.

      If you think that increased atmospheric CO2 is overall beneficial – then I suppose you don’t think that acidifying oceans, rising sea levels and global temperatures, with further +ve feed-backs, caused by diminishing Arctic ice and decreased albedo. Of the increased variability/quantity of rainfall, both the Monsoon and temperate frontal variety ( with a more sluggish jet-stream ). Is this not of any concern?

      Fertilizer is no use without water!

      Also, as far as I know much of any land in northern parts of Canada and Russia is of little use agriculturally – it’s tundra, with thin soil overlying rock (this once methane/CO2 is released from the melting permafrost.

      Eg from:

      “The podzolic soils of northern Ontario are extremely thin and are low in fertility, although sufficient to support BOREAL FORESTS. There are only a few areas, such as the clay belts in northeastern Ontario or the Rainy River area in the northwest, where enough farming is possible to create the impression of an agricultural landscape.”

      Here is one such study on a +ve feedback caused by increased CO2 uptake by vegetation:

      ~150 years of knowledge re the GHE of CO2 is what is the basis of the IPCC forecasts along with climate simulations of the past.

      • wayne says:

        Tonyb, sorry, but it is my opinion you are mistaken and mistaken at nearly every point your just raised.

        First, this topic is not on ≈150 years of correct science, this is more accurately on ≈75 years of science and it seems to have all began with the Callender(1938) paper. That it was co2 the culprit that had caused the 1910 to 1938 seemingly unstoppable rise in overall global temperatures at that time. Arctic ice was disappearing, places that had historically been frozen in the winter were no longer frozen, as normal science had to find why and he laid out the bedrock that it was man burning carbon substances that caused their 1910-1938 rise due to IR from co2 and it would continue. Well, that ‘warming’ didn’t in fact last and instead started to retread back into the colder years of 1910 as the ’70s showed.

        That brings me to the ‘adjustments’ to the temperature records themselves. Starting in approximately 1939-1941 we today see something that in fact has never ceased since that date according to modern datasets. As the years past beyond 1938 temperatures began to fall in conflict with Callendar’s famous logarithmic co2 paper that said this should not be so, it should be going upward since man was burning more and more carbon based fuels. It was then assumed that since that paper was deemed correct it must be in the way temperatures were being measured. Every modern dataset of global temperatures have an approximately +0.75C/century artificial ‘warming’ added to the temperatures beginning very near January 1940.

        These adjustments have been carefully tuned, based on TOBS, station movements, station deletions, UHI, and homogenization processes to maintain what Callendar in 1938 proposed about co2. I don’t buy the story-line right at that point. If you remove these ‘adjustments’ to the temperature records and look at the real raw data you see a graph approximated by this one:

        We are beginning to cool again, it seems to have began within the last ten years and if the same damn mistake is made this time (2013) that was made back following 1938 then finally the real science may dig in and take a serious look at the atmospheric physics to get it right this time, in all the glory of line-by-line measurements, not merely HITRAN, MODTRAN and other like assumed programs from lab experiments but actual measurements in a real atmosphere of multiple mixtures of gases and particles over very long distances that labs cannot provide. It is my current opinion that in the end we will learn that co2 has a very small influence at these concentrations and very likely even that o2 and n2 components have a much larger role than is currently assumed (that is basically zero thinking them virtually transparent to IR). Due to the geometry, angles of path, mass attenuation, and the local temperatures the rule them all. If I had to describe my forty years of study it would be that it has always been in astronomy and astrophysics including atmospheres and none of the current ‘climate science’ even touches on the facts of mass attenuation, mass absorption, the geometry and why all frequencies are absorbed in situations such as viewing the sun at high zenith angles (up to 34x) and the reverse for IR. All is ignored and in that ignorance lies the real answer and that is my opinion.

        Don’t you see Tonyb, all that you rely on is only in the “adjustments”, that +0.75C/century you see artificially imprinted over the raw temperature data, every single point you have made. We no doubt just passed a peak in temperatures as that graph shows but I wouldn’t rely your entire thought process on just those adjustments, just my opinion but more time will tell.

        I’m still digging back into the past so I do reserve the fact I may change my opinion as more information becomes apparent.

        No need to reply, I assume you disagree with my current view.

  19. Fonzie says:

    Test one, two test…

  20. CameronH says:

    Just thinking about this increase in biomass with respect to the “missing” energy. Dr Spencer mentioned in a previous post that there is still a decrease in out going radiation and I assume that is as compared with the incoming solar energy. Is it possible that this energy imbalance is caused by more solar radiation being converted into the chemical bonding energy for the long chain molecules that the plants construct from CO2 rather than hiding out in the deep oceans?

  21. David South says:

    When are real economists with some gonads going to stand up for the social benefits of carbon (SBC)? Well….if ignoring the energy benefits of ancient carbon… here are two publications.

    Mendelsohn, Robert, and James E. Neumann, eds. The impact of climate change on the United States economy. Cambridge University Press, 2004.

    Climate Change and Agriculture: An Economic Analysis of Global Impacts, Adaptation, and Distributional Effects. Robert Mendelsohn and Ariel Dinar, Edward Elgar Publishing, England,

  22. gallopingcamel says:


    Thanks for reminding us that burning fossil fuels has had unintended consequences such as increasing agricultural productivity.

    Richard Tol is not a “Climate Scientist”. He is an economist who sometimes gets it right:

  23. Brian H says:

    Consider that free O2 cannot persist in a planetary atmosphere for long — it is too reactive, and ends up bound in various compounds and minerals.

    Were telescopes to detect it on another planet, there would be an open and shut case for life there. So ALL of the free O2 in our atmosphere (~20%) has been released, and its losses made up continuously, by life (plants). CO2 is the major, perhaps sole, source of useful carbon, and is utilized by plants with water to make hydrocarbons. In that combination, CO2 + H2O, O2 is the waste product; in effect stripped from CO2 and released. For each O2 molecule in the air, there was once a CO2.

    IOW, 20% of the Earth’s atmosphere used to be CO2. Plants have “eaten” it down to 0.04%.

    • wayne says:

      Very well stated Brian.

      From a scientist’s viewpoint, yes I am one, my primary major in physiology (human life and the molecular processes involved) with minor in chemistry and a long love of particle physics, astrophysics, radiative physics, the AGW proponents following the path they seem to want mankind to follow is death to some large portion of all species, animal and plant, it is simply insane.

      All life is primary water and carbon based and they are coming after both, that is life itself, and I will fight them to my very last days and refuse to be very P.C. along the way. Those bastards, all of them. Most don’t even realize they were bastardized by the universities they attended and received their letters from in recent decades as the misnamed ‘socialists’ have overtaken the process of learning.

  24. David L. Hagen says:

    Extracts from:
    Craig Idso The Positive Externalities of Carbon Dioxide: Estimating the Monetary Benefits of Rising Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations on Global Food Production Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, 21 October 2013
    Page 3. Abstract

    The present study addresses this deficiency by providing a quantitative estimate of the direct monetary benefits conferred by atmospheric CO2 enrichment on both historic and future global crop production. The results indicate that the annual total monetary value of this benefit grew from $18.5 billion in 1961 to over $140 billion by 2011, amounting to a total sum of $3.2 trillion over the 50-year period 1961-2011. Projecting the monetary value of this positive externality forward in time reveals it will likely bestow an additional $9.8 trillion on crop production between now and 2050.

    Page 11

    Table 3. The total monetary benefit of Earths rising atmospheric CO2 concentration on each of the forty-five crops listed in Table 1 for the 50-year period 1961-2011. Values are in constant 2004-2006 U.S. dollars. . . .
    As can be seen from Table 3, the financial benefit of Earths rising atmospheric CO2 concentration on global food production is enormous. Such benefits over the period 1961-2011 have amounted to at least $1 billion for each of the 45 crops examined; and for nine of the crops the monetary increase due to CO2 over this period is well over $100 billion. The largest of these benefits is noted for rice, wheat and grapes, which saw increases of $579 billion, $274 billion and $270 billion, respectively

    Page 17

    Table 4. The total monetary benefit of Earths rising atmospheric CO2 concentration on each of the forty-five crops listed in Table 1 for the period 2012-2050. Values are in constant 2004-2006 U.S. dollars. . . .
    The results of the above set of calculations once again reveal a tremendous financial benefit of Earths rising atmospheric CO2 concentration on global food production. Over the period 2012 through 2050, the projected benefit amounts to $9.8 trillion, which is much larger than the $3.2 trillion that was observed in the longer 50-year historic period of 1961-2011.

  25. Hi, Neat post. There is a problem with your website in web explorer.

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