Saturday, November 13, 2010

Warming, rain forests and alarmists.

The left-wing British paper The Guardian has reported that trees in rainforests "may be hardier than previously thought." As the Guardian explains it warming won't cause as much "damage" as previously thought.

That is almost close to what the article actually reports. Studies conducted by Carlos Jaramillo, of the Smithsonian Tropical Rearch Institute, investigated the claims of warming "models" which indicate that a small amount of warming will mean that "most of the forest is going to be extinct." What he found "was the opposite of what we were expecting: we didn't find any extinction event [in plants] associated with the increase in temperature, we didn't find that the precipitation decreased."

The Guardian started out saying that "rising temperatures will not do as much damage as feared..." That clearly implies that damage will still be done, but it won't be as much as feared originally. But a couple paragraphs down the article says something entirely contradictory to this:

Contrary to expectations, [Jaramillo] found that forests bloomed with diversity. New species of plants, including those from the passionflower and chocolate families, evolved quicker as others became extinct. The study also shows moisture levels did not decrease significantly during the warm period. "It was totally unexpected," Jaramillo said of the findings.

What is the "complete opposite" of damage? It is not damage, but benefits.

Let us start with who Carlos Jaramillo is, other than a reseacher with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. He was also president of the American Association of Stratigraphic Palynologist. He specializes in the study of tropical biodiversity. Perhaps it isn't the most exciting field but he's a top expert and shouldn't be ignored. Jaramillo's article, along with 28 contribution authors, wrote a piece in the current issue of Science magazine entitled "Effects of Rapid Global Warming at Paleocene-Eocene Boundary on Neotropical Vegentation." (Hey, I told you it wasn't exciting.)

Here is how the article is summarized:
Temperatures in tropical regions are estimated to have increased by 3° to 5°C, compared with Late Paleocene values, during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM, 56.3 million years ago) event. We investigated the tropical forest response to this rapid warming by evaluating the palynological record of three stratigraphic sections in eastern Colombia and western Venezuela. We observed a rapid and distinct increase in plant diversity and origination rates, with a set of new taxa, mostly angiosperms, added to the existing stock of low-diversity Paleocene flora. There is no evidence for enhanced aridity in the northern Neotropics. The tropical rainforest was able to persist under elevated temperatures and high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, in contrast to speculations that tropical ecosystems were severely compromised by heat stress.
Less damage? This doesn't sound like less harm, as the Guardian implied, but like thriving instead. The assumption made by the warming alarmists is that warming will destroy the rainforests. The Guardian article noted how the alarmist Hadley Centre previously made claims very much the opposite of these actual studies. They report:

Last year, researchers at the Met Office Hadley Centre reported that a 2C rise above pre-industrial levels, widely considered the best-case scenario, would still see 20-40% of the Amazon die off within 100 years. A 3C rise would see 75% of the forest destroyed by drought in the next century, while a 4C rise would kill 85%.

So the warming theory, based on the models used by the alarmists said that as much as 85% of the rainforests could be destroyed by warming. Jaramillo and his team of researches decided to look at what actually did happen in rainforests in the past during a previous warming period. According to The Scientific American the studies shows that: "In the past, rising atmospheric carbon dioxide and higher temperatures actually drove the evolution of far greater numbers of new rainforest plant species than were wiped out."

By studying fossilized pollent from the Palaocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum they were able to study how plants responded to temperatures that were 3-5 degrees warmer than they are today, and when cardon dioxide levels were 2 to 2.5 times higher than now. Jaramillo said, "The diversity of the tropical forest increased really fast over a very short amount of time." Jaramillo admits he is worried that "some people will look at this and saw 'we shouldn't care about global warming,' but this is what the fossil record is telling us."

Just last year well-known alarmist Chris Jones, of the Hadley Center was claiming that a 2C increase in temperatures would mean that "between 20 and 40 per cent of the forest could die." He told the world that the die out had probably already started and that just a 3C increase in temperatures would kill 70% of the rainforest.

Those were what the models told him and the models drive climate policy. The evidence, unfortunately said that under a warmer, more CO2 rich environment plant life actually didn't die out, but thrived.

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