Sep 21 2007

Will Global Warming Save The Rain Forest?

Published by at 1:43 pm under All General Discussions,Global Warming

Will Global Warming Save The Rain Forest? Possibly – but it definitely will help them, and biodiversity as well:

Climate change may lead to lush growth rather than catastrophic tree loss in the Amazonian forests, researchers from the US and Brazil have found. A study, in the journal Science, found that reduced rainfall had led to greener forests, possibly because sunlight levels are higher when there are fewer rainclouds.

But scientists cautioned that while the finding raises hopes for the survival of the forests, there are still serious threats. Climate models have suggested that the forests will suffer as the region becomes drier and will release huge quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

These poor “the end of the world is here” types keep looking for the Apocolypse, and it just never shows up. Here is the problem – they models were wrong on what would happen, thus their shock at the results they are seeing:

Researchers identified the greener regions of the Amazon after analysing satelite images and comparing them to rainfall records. The 2005 drought provided them with “a unique opportunity to compare actual forest drought response to expectation”.

They said: “Large-scale numerical models that simulate the interactions between changing global climate and terrestrial vegetation predict substantial carbon loss from tropical ecosystems including the drought-induced collapse of the Amazon forest and conversion to savanna.

“If drought were to have the expected negative effect on canopy photosynthesis, it should have been especially observable during this period.

“The observations of intact forest canopy ‘greenness’ in the drought region, however, are dominated by a sgnificant increase, not a decline.”

To put it back into simple English are models were wrong again. I have to note some “science” for these people to ponder. Since their models are wrong, and the so called drought (actually reduced rainfall, not so much a drought) produced more greenery, then the Rain Forests are now producing MORE oxygen and consuming MORE of the atmospheric CO2. Somehow the fact more CO2 was available for the plants to thrive on (they consume CO2 like we consume O2, making plants and animals balanced compliments in Earth’s ecosystem) also seemed to be missing from these models. One of the things many have been saying is the Earth’s capacity to consume CO2 is not fixed, but it doesn’t adjust immediately. It may to take a few years for the plant biomass to adjust to the new CO2 levels, but it can adjust

So what do we know? They alarmists were wrong again. They went looking for signs of the pending disaster and found just the opposite. And while admitting they were wrong and their models were wrong, they still claim their models will be right some day. We know the increase in Rain Forest greenery will help the Rain Forests return, they will consume more CO2, and the ecosystem will blossom with more life. At least that is what we see so far.

There is global warming, but it is not man made or something new for our planet (it has happened many, many times before). It is a beautiful day here in the DC area. And the sky is not falling and the end of the world is not coming.

7 responses so far

7 Responses to “Will Global Warming Save The Rain Forest?”

  1. Soothsayer says:

    Some possibly good points here, with one caveat. The Amazon rain forest is being clear-cut in myriad locations:

    In the Brazilian Amazon, the rate of deforestation was around 6200 square miles per year (1.8 x 106 ha/yr) from 1978-1986, but fell to 4800 sq. miles per year (1.4 x 106 ha/yr) from 1986-1993 (Skole and Tucker 1993). By 1988, 6% of the Brazilian Amazon had been cut down (90,000 square miles, about the area of New England). However, due to the isolation of fragments and the increase in the boundaries of the forest and clearings, a total of 16.5% of the forest (230,000 square miles, nearly the size of Texas) was affected by deforestation. NASA-funded scientists are currently analyzing rates of deforestation for the current decade, as well as studying how deforestation changes from year to year.

    If they cut it all down, it won’t matter if global warming makes it greener.

    The 1.5-million-square-mile Brazilian Amazon, larger than the entire nation of India, contains more than 40 percent of the world’s rain forests, and about a fifth of it already has disappeared, mostly in an “arc of deforestation” along the forest’s southern and eastern edges. Every year, another chunk of forest the size of Connecticut or larger disappears as farmers, illegal loggers and others clear jungle, mostly without government approval. Violent clashes over land are common, as are murders of environmentalists.

  2. crosspatch says:

    In the last interglacial period (the period between the last two glaciations) temperatures got much warmer than in this interglacial. They got so warm, in fact, that the equator could not support rain forests. It was just too hot. That area became savanna grassland and two belts of rain forest emerged above and below the equator around the tropics.

    The current temperatures are not unprecedented even in recent geological history. In the last few hundred thousand years it has been both much warmer and much colder than it is now. In the last interglacial period, sea levels rose so high that they submerged the Bahamas.

    Have a look at this

    The warm spell in that interglacial (stage 11 of the current overall ice age which we are still in, by the way) was much warmer than this one, sea levels were much higher than now, and it was “only” 400,000 years ago, a very short time in geological history.

  3. WWS says:

    Ironically, the rain forest is being clear cut to provide acreage for Brazil’s sugarcane plantations, which are the backbone of their homegrown ethanol industry. Brazil’s ethanol industry is often held up as a model of how a nation can lesson its reliance on foreign supplied oil; but very few realize that they’re sacrificing the Amazon and all of it’s biodiversity in order to do it. As the saying goes, there’s never a free lunch and that’s certainly true in energy production.

    AJ – if you haven’t read “The Black Swan” by Nassim Taleb, run to the bookstore and get it immediately. It’s the most insightful analysis of probabilities, statistics, and forecasting in general that I’ve ever seen. The book is *not* about global warming, which is never discussed; however, you will learn why any computer model which attempts to predict the future, whether it’s in economics, culture, or weather, is nothing more than coin tossing dressed up to fool people into thinking that it’s science.

  4. AJStrata says:


    You may not be aware I work on programs for NASA and we know the limits of computer simulations. People may find it strange but we cannot predict a satellite’s orbit around the earth (Low Earth Orbit and a platform pointing at a target in this example) for more than about 7-10 without having to go back and track it again. I think the update rate on GEO birds is on the order of a month or so. The models just get too much noise in them for the pointing or orbit maintenance requirements.

    If we cannot predict an orbit in space for more than 1-6 weeks, what makes people think we can predict the weather in 20-50 years? Only “true believers” do, not us heathens.

  5. crosspatch says:

    Look at the computer models for any current tropical storm. There will be several tracks presented from several different modeling programs and each path will be different. The path the storm takes will be completely different from any of today’s model forecasts. We can’t even predict with any certainty the path of a storm or it’s intensity for more than 24 hours let alone the climate of the entire planet.

    Also … none of the long-term climate models take water vapor into account. The Earth has a large natural refrigeration system that uses water as its working fluid. Water evaporates at the surface of the ocean and then condenses at altitude releasing that heat well above most of the CO2. None of the models take cloud cover into account either.

    There has not yet been a single model whose climate prediction even 5 years out has proved correct. The earth’s climate is just too complex. For example … what is the difference in impact on the climate if a square mile of water vs. a square mile of land is shaded by clouds? And what is the difference between daytime and nighttime cloud cover? None of this is in any of the models. A 1% change in cloud cover can completely change the weather globally.

  6. WWS says:

    AJ, hope you didn’t think I meant to disparage all modeling across the board. When used by people like you, who understand the limitations, it is a valuable tool like any other tool. As you have pointed out, they only become ridiculous when they are trotted out and used to seduce people who don’t understand the limitations.

    And orbital mechanics is, relatively speaking, a closed problem. Most of the variables are definable and measurable. (Not all, of course, which is why even the best forecast goes off track in a short time) The problem with weather, or economics, or any other truly complex phenomena is that the variables are for all practical purposes infinite, meaning that accurate modeling is theoretically impossible.

    And one of the central themes of “Black Swan” is that even the best system of prediction can never predict the impact of the “unknown unknown”, the factor(s) which the predictor never factored in because it was unknown to him or most likely, left out because his understanding of the actual physical system was flawed.

  7. AJStrata says:


    I took your comments as you meant them – models are tools of value, but limits. And you keyed in on why I used the orbit models as an example, they are a very well understood physical process. Yet the models lose their way in a matter of days or weeks (depending on the requirment for orbit knowledge).

    Just trying to add my voice to yours!