Sunday, May 28, 2006

Global Warming = More Life on Earth?

I have been reading the Skeptical Environmentalist, and one graph just blew me away. On page 300, he cites research that estimates the total amount of life on earth will greatly increase over the next 100 years due to increased carbon dioxide levels in the air and elevated temperatures.

Net Primary Productivity is estimated to increase 40% over the next 100 years from 60 billion tons to 85 billion tons. NPP is a measure of the amount of sunlight that plants and plankton capture and turn into biomass. See this previous post for a video of NPP in action.

As NPP increases, there is more food at the bottom of the food chain, which allows for more life higher up. Total biomass will increase 35% from 700 billion tons to 950 billion tons. I haven't been able to confirm this number elsewhere (but I did email NASA, so we will see if they respond), but if true, it is a very positive thing for people who like life on earth and want more of it.


Anonymous said...

That book is a fun fiction. Have you noticed that there's nothing in the news about any of his predictions coming true?

Probably because he skewed the researchers' data so much to prove his point.

Which is why so many of the people whose research he used are angry that he would misinterpret their findings.

The controversy rages at Scientific American.

mping said...

If you have reason to discredit this graph, I would love to hear it.

As for calling the book fiction, I would disagree. There are tons of footnotes, so you know exactly where he got his information. But, each person will need to make up their own mind. Here is a list of some critiques to the book and how the author addresses them.

As for the Scientific American dispute, I looked into it and came to favor the author over Scientific American. The author tried to respond to his critics point by point, but Scientific American threatened to sue him if he put SciAm's copyrighted material on his site. Fortunately, the co-founder of Greenpeace put it up on his site for all to read.

SciAm seems to be much more interested about protecting copyrights and making money then they are about spreading knowledge. I would like to blog on their articles but they won't allow access to their articles for free (and their digital prices are crazy, much higher than the print version).

As for his predictions not being in the papers, I am not sure what predictions you are talking about. He definitely was wrong when he guessed that oil prices would stay low. On the other hand, the point of his book is to refute the doom sayers, such as Paul Ehrlich, whose ideas in the Population Bomb, (such as India would collapse due to its inability to feed itself; and "inevitable" mass starvation would sweep the globe) have definitely been refuted.

He points out that forests in much of the world are growing larger, which the UN data supports.

As for global warming, he doesn't say it doesn't exist, or it isn't a problem as much as he says the impact predicted by the consensus science of the moment does not make it dire and issues like combating AIDS or fighting poverty are more important.

If you have specific problems with his book that you can refute with good science, please share.

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