December 19, 2008 [LINK / comment]

Global warming update

Yesterday I came across what seems to be a thorough scientific paper that reviewed the research on Global warming: "Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide" by Arthur B. Robinson, Noah E. Robinson, and Willie Soon, published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (JPANDS).* (It is available at; hat tip to Connie.) The authors are associated with the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. Since the only book I have on the subject of atmospheric science is dated 1997 (the year in which the Kyoto summit took place), it's good to have more current data. Among the key findings of the paper:

During the past 50 years, atmospheric CO2 has increased by 22%. Much of that CO2 increase is attributable to the 6-fold increase in human use of hydrocarbon energy. Figures 2, 3, 11, 12, and 13 show, however, that human use of hydrocarbons has not caused the observed increases in temperature.

The increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide has, however, had a substantial environmental effect. Atmospheric CO2 fertilizes plants. Higher CO2 enables plants to grow faster and larger and to live in drier climates.

I often wondered why more people don't take note of the benefits for plant life from increased atmospheric carbon dioxide, and the self-regulating potential for the global eco-system that this offers.

According to the often-reliable Wikipedia, the The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which publishes JPANDS, is politically conservative and its research standards have been criticized. An anonymous blogger called "Orac" at argues that JPANDS's "claim of peer review is a sham," pointing out their "antivaccine agenda" and "far right wing politics." Until I know more about these people, I would hesitate to endorse this study in particular or the organization behind it, but for now I would say it's at least worth taking seriously.

NOTE: The fact that there was a heavy snowfall in Las Vegas yesterday is merely a coincidence, and has nothing to do with this blog post.