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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Contra Kopp, Climate Change Stunts Global Flora

Remember Don Kopp? You know, the Rapid City Republican legislator who made us South Dakotans look like meatheads with his anti-science resolution about "astrological" forces causing global warming? (Oh yeah, HCR 1009, the crazy resolution GOP House candidate Kristi Noem voted for, too. Thanks for reminding us, Badlands Blue!) Rep. Kopp backpedaled madly from that embarrassing mistake, but he averred in other interviews that global warming, if it happened would be a good thing. Knowing just enough science to be dangerous, Kopp talked about carbon dioxide as the gas of life and suggested that increased CO2 would make more plants grow.

Too bad any green gains in currently marginal areas are wiped out by drought decimating plant life elsewhere:

Research over the past two decades had shown terrestrial plant growth on the rise, with higher temperatures and longer growing seasons linked to a 6 percent increase in global plant productivity from 1982 to 1999. Between 2000 and 2009, terrestrial plant growth declined by 1 percent.

“This is a pretty serious warning that warmer temperatures are not going to endlessly improve plant growth,” Steven Running, a biologist at the University of Montana in Missoula and co-author of the report, said in the NASA statement [John Collins Rudolf, "Earth’s Plant Growth Fell Because of Climate Change, Study Finds," New York Times: Green, 2010.08.23].

My plan to haul seed corn north and buy a quarter section in the Yukon might still work... but I'll be competing with a few hundred million refugees from the new South American desert. Dang.
Learn more (yes, I'm talking to you, Don and Kristi):
  1. NASA's statement on the research (with map, chart, and video!)
  2. Read the abstract: Zhao, Maosheng, and Steven W. Running. “Drought-Induced Reduction in Global Terrestrial Net Primary Production from 2000 Through 2009.” Science 329.5994 (2010): 940-943. (Silly academic journals, charging people to read science When will they learn?)

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