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Junk Science: Cant See the Warming for the Trees

FoxNews.com – April 12, 2007

When I first read this article, I started laughing. Even now, as I write this post, I am really trying to hold back on my sarcasm in my comments. JunkScience is a blog type site that has developed a huge following.  The articles tend to be fairly well written and many of them are also published on FoxNews.com.  This article is very interesting in that it discusses a computer model that suggests forests north of 20 degrees lattitude in the Northern Hemisphere CAUSES climate change to the tune of 10 degrees F by the year 2100.  I guess I am confused – now climate change is caused by trees?

Either these models are messed up (in which case what is all the fuss about) or we need to go chop down a bunch of trees to save the environment.  Thankfully, I don’t believe this model is correct, just like I don’t believe that any of the climate models are correct.  There are simply too many variables for our present computer science to model to create an accurate model of the future.

If you need further evidence that hysteria is outpacing science in the global warming debate, consider the study published this week about Northern Hemisphere forests actually causing significant global warming.

Researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory reported in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” (April 17) that while tropical forests exert a cooling influence on global climate, forests in northern regions exert a warming influence and its not just a trivial climatic effect.  Based on the researchers computer modeling, forests above 20 degrees latitude in the Northern Hemisphere that is, north of the line of latitude running through Southern Mexico, Saharan Africa, central India and the southernmost Chinese island of Hainan will warm surface temperatures in those regions by an estimated 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100.

As the researchers explained in their media release, forests affect climate in three different ways: they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and evaporate water to the atmosphere (which increases cloudiness), both of which cool the planet. Forests are dark and absorb sunlight (the albedo effect), warming the planet. In tropical forests, the net effect of these phenomena is cooling, while in Northern forests, the net effect is warming.

First, its a stunning reminder that we still have a very steep learning curve when it comes to climate and how nature and man may impact it. In addition to this study, just over a year ago scientists discovered that plants emit as much as 30 percent of the annual global production of methane, the third most important greenhouse gas after water vapor and carbon dioxide.

…the United Nations projects that global temperatures may rise anywhere from 2.5 to 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. So exactly how does the 10-degree warming caused by Northern forests fit into the picture? Could Northern forests be a (the) major contributor to the supposed problem of global warming?

Then there are the eco-activist groups that have been spreading misinformation about Northern forests in their campaign against businesses that manufacture or sell products made from timber harvested from subarctic, or Boreal, forests. ForestEthics, for example, claims that Because the Boreal holds more carbon than any other terrestrial landscape, its conservation is imperative. Degrading the Boreal landscape threatens to transform the Boreal from one of the few healthy lungs of the planet into a net climate destabilizer.

Having completely overlooked the albedo effect in its report, ForestEthics seems to have the net climate effect of Boreal forests exactly wrong.

If global warming is the dreaded catastrophe advertised by the enviros, then Northern forests hardly seem all that eco-friendly insofar as they may cause 10 degrees Fahrenheit of warming by 2100.

For years, global warming opportunists (aka climateers) urged consumers to compensate for their so-called carbon footprints by paying to plant trees. But as the facts slowly emerged about reforestation, the carbon-offset industry quietly backed off planting trees and moved on to other offset schemes. One carbon-offset vendor, The Carbon Neutral Co., says on its Web site, In those early days, the icon of a tree and its emotional appeal were critical to attract audiences. But, thankfully, the market has grown in sophistication markedly over the last 4 years, and such obvious symbols are less necessary. Translation? Perhaps, the facts have caught up with us and so weve changed shell games?

Science is slowly, but similarly catching up with global warming alarmism. The only question is how the race will be won with facts or fear?

This article is posted on two sites so go to either one to read the full text.  I originally found it on FoxNews.com but it is also posted at the excellent JunkScience site.

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