A highlight of recent research supporting the climate realist perspective #6

I have come across a scientific paper published recently, which supports the climate realist perspective, and thought it of such significance that I should share it here, in my climate realist paper update series of blog posts.

The paper in question (press release here) has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and it makes an interesting point regarding droughts and climate change. It argues that the beneficial effects from rising CO2, such as modified plant water usage, can offset much of the negative effects from droughts caused by rising CO2. Because of rising CO2, plants need less water, keep more of it on land, and thus are less affected by the projected rise in frequency and intensity of droughts, argues Swann et al. 2016. In fact, the paper argues that though 70% of the earth is projected to experience increases in droughts over the 21st century, this number drops to 37% if you include the positive effects of CO2 on plants. This is great news, especially for the places which the paper finds will not be affected by the rise in droughts very much: Central Africa, China, the Middle East, East Asia, and most of Russia. This most certainly supports the climate realist perspective, as do so many other papers, by again showing that at least some of the alarm associated with climate change is not deserved. Furthermore, projected drought and precipitation patterns may not necessarily correspond with observations, as shown by multiple independent studies.


Changes in global drought patterns since 1950. Note the lack of a strong trend. From Sheffield et al. 2012.