A highlight of recent research supporting the climate realist perspective #7

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.

The paper in question (press release here) has been published in Science Advance. It argues that recent unprecedented tree growth in the Tibetan Plateau is due to CO2 increases. The paper finds that the direct effects of increased CO2 on plant growth, from fertilization, and indirect effects, from melting of permafrost caused by CO2-induced warming, which makes more nutrients and water from the snow available to the trees, work in tandem to increase forest growth and thus defy predictions that climate change will have a negative impact on forests worldwide. This is great news, and the increase in forest growth will also help to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, providing a negative feedback. This work is especially interesting in light of recent papers (press releases here and here) arguing that humans are greening the earth, the former of which, corroborating the results of Silva et al. 2016, finds that the Tibetan Plateau is greening mainly because the indirect effects of CO2 (as opposed to most of the rest of the earth): those effects resulting from CO2-induced warming. And as always, it’s important to remember other beneficial effects (while also considering the negative effects, since some beneficial effects simply offset some negative effects from rising CO2!), be they direct or indirect, of rising CO2 levels, leve such as offsetting much of the negative effects of projected drought increases.


Rate of tree growth over time. Note the recent, rapid increases. From Silva et al. 2016