Published on Saturday, January 05, 2013, updated Saturday, January 05, 2013
Satellites confirm that green vegetation is increasing
My latest Mind and Matter column in the Wall Street Journal is on the greening of the planet:
Did you know that the Earth is getting greener, quite literally? Satellites are now confirming that the amount of green vegetation on the planet has been increasing for three decades. This will be news to those accustomed to alarming tales about deforestation, overdevelopment and ecosystem destruction.
This possibility was first suspected in 1985 by Charles Keeling, the scientist whose meticulous record of the content of the air atop Mauna Loa in Hawaii first alerted the world to the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Mr. Keeling's famous curve showed not only a year-by-year increase in carbon dioxide levels but a season-by-season oscillation in the concentration.
During summers in the Northern Hemisphere, the Earth breathes in carbon dioxide as green plants (most of which are north of the equator) absorb the gas and turn it into carbohydrate. In the northern winter, the Earth breathes the gas out again, as the summer's leaves rot.
Mr. Keeling and colleagues noticed that the depth of the breathing had increased in Hawaii by 20% [by 1995] since the 1960s: The Earth was taking in more carbon dioxide each northern summer and giving out more each winter. Since the inhalation is done by green leaves, they reasoned, the amount of greenery on the planet must be growing larger. In the 1980s forest biologists started to report striking increases in the growth rates of trees and the density of forests: in Douglas firs in British Columbia, Scots pines in Finland, bristlecone pines in Colorado and even tropical rain forests.
Around the same time, a NASA scientist named Compton Tucker found that he could map global vegetation changes by calculating a "Normalized Difference Vegetation Index" (NDVI) from the data produced by a satellite sensor. The data confirmed Mr. Keeling's suspicion: Greenery was on the increase. At first, this was thought to be a northern phenomenon, caused by faster growth in the great spruce and birch forests of Siberia and Canada, but the satellites showed it was happening all over the world and especially strongly in the Amazon and African rain forests.
Actually natural gas is so clean that with greener the carbon levels are likely to drop. Same is true of methanol which lowers co2 far below corn ethanol which increases co2.
The issue of rationality is not an economic one. If Obama stopped wildly abusing the EPA methanol and ethanol should be allowed to compete for an orderly elimination of Progressive corruption.
Ah but Progressive do love their crony capitalist corruption and make no excuses for theirs. Solybdra, 123 Battery and those unlike the feeder tariffs hidden in our electricity bills were the cheap way out for Americans.