New Study: The Recent CO2 Increase Has Had An Even Greater Earth-Greening Impact Than Previously Thought

The Earth has been rapidly greening in recent decades, and CO2 fertilization may explain 70% of the trend (Zhu et al., 2016). A new study finds models have significantly underestimated the greening effect of rising CO2.

Image Source: Winkler et al., 2019

CO2 is a pollutant?

In recent years, carbon dioxide (CO2), an essential ingredient in plants’ food-making processes (photosynthesis), has been unscientifically cast as a villainous pollutant.

This colloquial development has been fomented by climate activists like Dr. Michael Mann, an atmospheric scientist who routinely characterizes rising CO2 concentrations as “global warming pollution.”

Image Source:

CO2 characterized as the primary (70%) driver of Earth’s greening trends

Scientists who apparently lack the political agenda of activists like Mann write glowingly about the biosphere-enriching effects of rising CO2 concentrations.

Elevated CO2 is considered to be the primary driver of the observed global-scale greening in recent decades, especially in arid regions where soil water is in limited supply (Lu et al., 2016).

Satellite observations indicate that between 25 to 50% of the globe’s vegetated regions are greener today than in the 1980s, whereas less than 5% have sustained a browning trend (Zhu et al., 2016).

Image Source: Lu et al., 2016 and Zhu et al., 2016

Models underestimate the greening effects of elevated CO2 by 60%

In a new study published in Nature Communications, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology’s Alexander J. Winkler and colleagues find that the 120 ppm increase in CO2 concentration since 1850 “has resulted in enhanced GPP [Gross Primary Productivity, photosynthesis] due to its [CO2’s] radiative and physiological effects.”

Updating trends in satellite-observed GPP enhancement, Winkler et al. (2019) cite a statistically significant 52% greening trend during 1981-2016, outpacing the observed changes in browning (12%) by more than a factor of 4.

The key finding of their study, though, is that Earth system models have been categorically underestimating CO2’s critical role in enhancing GPP.

The physiological effects of elevated CO2 in invigorating photosynthesis processes (greening) was found to be 60% higher than previous estimates, leading the authors to conclude:

“Our central finding is, the effect of ambient CO2 concentrations on terrestrial photosynthesis is larger than previously thought.”

Image Source: Winkler et al., 2019

Scientists project global greening will continue unabated due to rising CO2 concentrations

Earth’s greening trends are expected to intensify as CO2 concentrations continue rising.

Wenzel et al. (2016) project a ~35% increase in global GPP (greening) in the coming century, or as CO2 levels double (to 560 ppm).

It would not appear that these scientists would agree with Dr. Michael Mann’s characterization of CO2 as “pollution”.

Image Source: Wenzel et al., 2016

13 responses to “New Study: The Recent CO2 Increase Has Had An Even Greater Earth-Greening Impact Than Previously Thought”

  1. rah

    “We must transition to 100 percent renewable energy, with net zero emissions of global warming pollution by 2050”

    Now wait a minute here. When introducing the “green new deal” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Monday said she thinks that there is an urgency needed in addressing man-made climate change, warning that it will “destroy the planet” in a dozen years if humans do not address the issue, no matter the cost.

    So the plant will be destroyed by 2031.

    1. BobW in NC

      What I love – and every AGW alarmist ignores – is that human activity is only responsible for about 4% to 5% of the CO2 emitted each year. But glad we can contribute to the continuing greening of the earth!

    2. lucklucky

      I am sorry, but did you really wanted to say “man-made” 😉

  2. sasquatch

    AOC’s Green New Deal is nothing more than a scorched earth policy in disguise. Her nose will grow to the size of a Sitka Spruce before it’s all over. In twelve years, her nose will be a forest thousands of hectares in size.

    People will prefer death instead of another second with AOC nipping at their heels, all the while she’ll be growling and snarling with those horse teeth of hers. lol

    Besides, you need chloroplasts and a porphyrin ring if you want CO2 to green up the planet. Can’t just depend upon CO2 alone to get the greening job going.

    Don’t forget about the sunshine.

    Stop burning fossil fuels, the amounts of CO2 will begin to decrease. If you want to know what can be done, well, that’s it.

    Far too much greening going on, the plants are greedy, using too many nutrients, too much air, water, sunshine, land.

    It is very troubling to any careful observer, it is a plan to deprive other living things of their rightful allotted sustainability and survival, their place in the sun is at risk, the plants are taking over.

    It is a real possibility that the plants, all of them, are conspiring to wrest control of the Earth’s climate systems from the clutches of the knaves and fools in charge of the IPCC.

    The plant kingdom knows that some humans are conspiring against them, lower levels of CO2 in the atmosphere is the goal, translates to fewer plants on the earth. Humans are waging a war on plants, never ends.

    It was resolved at the Plant Kingdom Convention last year in Siberia, where most plants dwell, Terra firma, and the ineluctable conclusion was to institute a control mechanism to limit human life on a planet that definitely needs saving from human encroachments everywhere, even the Moon and Mars.

    Something must be done, if it means fewer humans to save the planet, so be it.

    Next year’s International Panel for the Survival of the Plant Kingdom will convene to plan an agenda for the reduction of populations of the human species. Just too many of them making a mess of everything.

    They have become a serious threat to all life on earth.

    Something must be done to prevent the earth from being continually beaten until Mother Earth’s morale improves.

    These humans don’t know when to quit.

    The plants and the rest of life on Earth have had enough.

    If you want to save the earth, then become a part of it, you’ll never be in control, no matter how much you know or how hard you try.

    The end, lol.

  3. CO2isLife

    NoTricksZone, there is a battle of the sexes over at the TeenAge Super Sleuths. The Girls of STEM videos are getting more views than the Boys. Please help encourage these youngsters to keep up the good work.

    The TeenAge Super Sleuths are trying to change all that by creating videos by children for children. They are also having a battle of the sexes because the girl’s videos are getting more views than the boy’s videos. Please visit their site, view and share their videos, and leave encouraging comments. Here are the videos.

    Main Index:

  4. John F. Hultquist

    Eco-activists have confused the UN Agenda 2030 with Armageddon.
    2030 – 2018 = 12 years.

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    Regarding this: “Earth system models have been categorically underestimating CO2’s . . .

    Satellite maps (remote signatures from plants) have shown greening. Do those maps differ from the models, or is it current models differ from models a few years ago?

  5. The Recent CO2 Increase Has Had An Even Greater Earth-Greening Impact Than Previously Thought – Truth is difficult but essential…

    […] No Tricks Zone – New Study: The Recent CO2 Increase Has Had An Even Greater Earth-Greening Imp… […]

  6. Reasonable Skeptic

    It’s worse (for alarmists) than we thought….

  7. Henry Huse

    We only have to look up seven miles where jet aircraft fly to find the source of global warming. Each year aircraft deposit over 800 million tons of CO2 plus NOX which has 300 times the greenhouse effect of CO2. Because of the elevation, approximately 35,000 feet, these gases can remain for up to 100 years.

    The layer of greenhouse gas reflects back nighttime radiation causing an imbalance between energy in and energy out with resultant global warming’
    This explained in my blog, Tune In.

  8. Steve

    ” Man made global warming” will go down in history as the greatest folly ever foisted on humans.
    In saying that I have no qualms about alternative energy sources…( we will run out of oil someday)…
    provided that those who foster it get NO government subsidies.

  9. Warren McLaughlin

    Since there have been periods in the past when the concentration of CO2 has been greater than it is now… and periods when it has been much warmer… WHY this proposition that we are facing catastrophe? CO2 is NOT pollution… nature deals with it very well. Pick on any of the other pollutants made by man… but NOT CO2. Suggest you bone up on the effects of the Milankovitch cycle effects before attributing scaremongering about CO2

  10. Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #358 | Watts Up With That?
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