Wood for Thought

Written by Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser

2,000+ years old and counting, the giant redwood trees (Sequoiadendron giganteum) in California are having a great time – they are growing faster than ever before. A new study by UC Berkeley and Humboldt State University researchers finds them in a growth spurt that began about 100 years ago and began to accelerate in recent decades. 

giant redwood

California’s redwood trees are among the oldest living organisms on earth. Some are over 3,000 years old and still going strong. So what’s the cause of their recent growth spurt?

Tree Food

Apart from a beneficial climate, trees grow when they have an adequate supply of three vital nutrients: (i) water, (ii) soil minerals and – you may be surprised to learn – (iii) carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. Without plenty of each of these any tree will wilt or die.

With sufficient supplies of the first two key ingredients, depending on its location on earth, any kind of tree will grow at a rate determined by its ability to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and convert the sun’s radiation via the photosynthesis process to wood. The higher the level of CO2 in the air, the faster it will grow.

Carbon Dioxide

The dependence of tree growth on CO2 is well known to commercial enterprises growing tree saplings for reforestation in old mine shafts and similar facilities. The operators typically boost the CO2-level in the air from the current 400 ppm (parts per million) to 1,000 ppm and above. That’s still only half the CO2 concentration commonly found in submarines.

There is plenty of scientific evidence that such an increase in atmospheric CO2 increases the rate of growth of tree saplings; P. Driessen recently called it the “gas of life.” Why should it be any different for old-growth California redwoods?

Contrast that knowledge with EPA’s (the Environmental Protection Agency’s) claim that CO2 is a “harmful” gas. Well, in excess, anything is “harmful.” Whether life-sustaining oxygen in the atmosphere or water flowing down the river – too much at a time is simply too much. Any certified diver or first-aid volunteer learns that breathing oxygen above its natural partial pressure in the atmosphere can cause “oxygen poisoning” and may be detrimental to your health. Too much water is no different, you can drown in it.

Politics

EPA’s problem is the political pressures put on it by the current administration. Its recently appointed administrator has been quite vocal about “carbon pollution.” Along the same vein, the Interior Secretary is quoted as recently saying “I hope there are no climate-change deniers in the Department of Interior.” It is obvious, scientific discussion is not in vogue these days, in fact is not tolerated. However, this sham will eventually come to an end. There are many scientists who recognize it, but they are afraid of losing their research grants or even their jobs if they were to speak up. The system is currently rigged in favor of alarmism but just give it some time and it will change.

In the meantime, enjoy California’s redwood forests. Its trees may well live for another 1,000+ years, especially now when they can grow more easily – due to the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels over the last 100 years.

 

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Comments (9)

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    ewiljan

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    Whops!!!
    endothermic but mostly also isothermic process
    The endo is transfomed to latent heat. sorry!

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      ewiljan

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      I repeat what is important:
      AFAIK not eveh one square meter of earth surface, anywhere on the surface of the earth, has ever been measured for “emissivity” at each
      wavelength interval, and in each direction from normal
      The Clowns are “spouting” with absolutly no knowledge.;

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    ewiljan

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    [quote name=”Pierre Latour”]I made no comment about Gus.[/quote]
    I know Your comment was about the current mistaken ideas of what Gus wrote. See Kirchhoff, G. (1862).Über das Verhältniß zwischen dem Emissionsvermögen und dem Absorptionsvermögen der Körper für Wärme und Licht, to Untersuchungen über das Sonnenspectrum und die Spectren der chemischen Elemente, Ferd. Dümmler’s Verlagsbuchhandlung, Berlin.
    The current interpretation is idemtical to Planck’s Law, not that of Kirchhoff. Gus himself was writing about the emissivity, and absorptivity of a radiating surface (in the writing the interior walls of a cavity), now misinterpreted as a black body cavity. to wit “for any surface the emissivity and absorptivity are equal at each wavelength interval, and in each direction”. You can read about the false interpretation here at PSI in “A Heat Transfer Textbook, 4th edition” by The father and son team John H. Lienhardt, IV,and V.PP 535-536. There are other big mistakes.
    [b]Kirchhoff’s Law is derived from energy balance on a body assuming no other heat transfer mechanism involved, only radiation. No electric, no conduction, no reaction, no gravity.[/b]
    Only in the new Climate clown version.
    [b]Since photosynthesis occurs at surface of every green leaf, the emissivity of leaf its absorptivity and Kirchhoff’s Law does not apply there. You can see and feel green grass does not radiate as intensely as sand dunes.
    [/b]
    Not at all, the enectromagnetic radiation is absorbed, most of it converted to latent heat of evaporation of water as the exothermic but mostly also isothermic process of riping water molecules apart for the hydrogen, both the exess O2 and converted gaseus H2O are expired
    by the leaf maintaning a sutable temperature for the leaf to continue later woth CO2. However there is no data that indicates a difference in emissivity and absorptivity of the leaf surface at any wavelength or any direction. The leaf radiates little or nothing because it is still at the same or lower temperature than its neighbors.
    [b]It is wise to check the assumptions, premises, terms, conditions and fine print before applying laws of nature that may not be valid when assumptions are not.[/b]
    I agree it is wkise to check if the emissivity and absorptivity are equal at each wavelength interval, and in each direction”. Can you demonstrate otherwise?
    [b]I concede you might find some wavelength that is absorbed by a leaf and emitted with absorptivity = emissivity, like uv. The photosynthesis reaction has an absorption and emission spectrum predominately in the visible. My comment applies to the bulk radiation properties.[/b]
    Emissivity abd absorptivity are surface qualities not radation properties in or out.
    [b]My main point is my understanding of GHGT is all about radiant energy transfer, mostly among black bodies, a rather large simplification. Which is why I liked this article. I trust you agree CO2 is green plant food, hardly a pollutant.[/b]
    The GHST is a lie and a vicious attack on the intellegence of all people. I like those that truly want to help others understand, not those that deliberate confuse all and make them fearful.

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    Pierre Latour

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    Kirchhoff’s law does not apply to a burning leaf or raging forest fire either. Photosynthesis is an endothermic reaction; oxidation is exothermic.
    You and your car are oxidizers.

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    Pierre Latour

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    I made no comment about Gus.

    Kirchhoff’s Law is derived from energy balance on a body assuming no other heat transfer mechanism involved, only radiation. No electric, no conduction, no reaction, no gravity.

    Since photosynthesis occurs at surface of every green leaf, the emissivity of leaf < its absorptivity and Kirchhoff's Law does not apply there. You can see and feel green grass does not radiate as intensely as sand dunes. It is wise to check the assumptions, premises, terms, conditions and fine print before applying laws of nature that may not be valid when assumptions are not. I concede you might find some wavelength that is absorbed by a leaf and emitted with absorptivity = emissivity, like uv. The photosynthesis reaction has an absorption and emission spectrum predominately in the visible. My comment applies to the bulk radiation properties. My main point is my understanding of GHGT is all about radiant energy transfer, mostly among black bodies, a rather large simplification. Which is why I liked this article. I trust you agree CO2 is green plant food, hardly a pollutant.

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    ewiljan

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    Dr.Latour, wiuld you please explain this,
    [b]The significance of this is GHGT neglects photosynthesis and its stabilizing effect. Earth’s surface is not a black body and doesn’t obey Kirchhoff’s law; [u]its emissivity is not equal to its absorptivity,[/u] both are less than 1.0. This explains why empirical, statistical GHGT models don’t predict T; they are wrong.[/b]

    Especially this one, [u]its emissivity is not equal to its absorptivity,[/u] I thisk that the statement of Kirchhoff’s law; by Gus himself, only said for any surface the emissivity and absorptivity are equal at each
    wavelength interval, and in each direction. Gus never implied that radiative absorption equals radiative emission in any of the wavelength intervals, or any on then directions. Gus was speaking only of a surface property not of any thermal radiation.
    Would you please agree that the earth’s surface, at any point does indeed obey Kirchhoff’s law of radiation exactly?
    The Climate Clowns mistaken interpretation of Kirchhoff’s law; will certainly never result in a correct temperature.
    AFAIK not eveh one square meter of earth surface, anywhere on the surface of the earth, has ever been measured for “emissivity” at each
    wavelength interval, and in each direction from normal
    The Clowns are “spouting” with absolutly no knowledge.;

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    Pierre Latour

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    No Dev, I did not neglect temperature. It’s right there in the rate equation, T, and I mentioned it in line 9. I agree with the rest of your comment.

    If solar power should increase, temperature of atmosphere, surface and ocean increases. Solubility of CO2 in water decreases, so oceans effervesce more CO2 to atmosphere with an 800 year lag due to ocean circulation. So CO2 lags T. Solar power is input disturbance and CO2 and T are dependent responses. Which is why they are correlated with lag. Which is why CO2 does not cause T.

    Further, flora consume sunlight and CO2 by photosynthesis at increased rate, stabilizing CO2 and T and increasing flora growth and consumption capability.

    One cannot prove cause and effect from data analysis alone, only correlation. Just because the rooster always crows 3.1459 minutes before sunrise with perfect predictability and reliability does not prove roosters cause sunrises.

    GHGT is falsified. No need for government data collection & analysis. This explains why Prof Michael Mann & Al Gore 1999 hockey stick is really a pile of sawdust.

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    Dev Bahadur Dongol

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    NO. You have neglected one vital factor, temperature. With necessary ingredients like water, minerals and CO2 and sunlight, plants’ growth in the warmer places would be faster than in the cold regions, that’s the regions why vegetation is thicker and faster in tropical regions. If necessary percentage of ingredients is available, variations of the ingredients wouldn’t make any difference as the temperature can make instant effect. Plants take food as they can or need by osmosis process which is entirely controlled by quantity of water available, drier finished and more it wouldn’t or can’t absorb. Similarly CO2 is also mainly absorbed through tiny holes in the green parts of the plant, stomata. Their opening is also controlled by the food contents in the guard cells.
    The ingredients are necessary but keeping them constant, the growth rate is totally controlled by the temperature. That’s the reason why plants grow faster during warmer seasons. Rising temperature is causing plants growth faster, not only ‘redwood trees’ but all in general.

    Regards,
    Dev

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    Pierre Latour

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    I wholeheartedly concur with your Wood for Thought.

    For decades Walt Disney World, Orlando, demonstrated plant growth from spiking their real greenhouse with CO2 in Epcot, Living with the Land attraction. Horticulture knows.

    Photosynthesis reaction consumes CO2, water and sunshine to produce oxygen, wood, cellulose, starch, sugar and hydrocarbons.

    The rate of photosynthesis reaction, plant growth, is
    R*A*I*[CO2][H2O]exp(-k/T).

    As sunshine intensity, I w/m2, increases, growth rate does too, proportionally. Duh. (Increased solar energy conversion will eventually cool Earth.)

    As CO2 concentration, [H2O], increases, growth rate (and CO2 consumption) does too, proportionally. Duh. (Increased consumption will eventually stabilize [CO2] and T, not hockey stick it.)

    As humidity, [H2O], increases, growth rate does too, proportionally. Duh.

    As surface area, A, of leaves increases, growth rate does too, proportionally. Duh. (Increased forests will eventually stabilize [CO2] and T.)

    As temperature increases, growth rate does too, exponentially. Duh. (This is a stabilizing cooling effect.)

    I have the original 1923 chemistry research that determined the two photosynthesis rate constants, R and k.

    Fossil fuel combustion and fauna are oxidizing reactions that consume starch, sugar and oxygen to release work, heat and CO2.

    Of course if any factor decreases, rate goes down. In fact everything interacts with the atmosphere’s mass and energy balance, so external changes affect everything else. Deforestation, concrete paving, roofs, solar panels and city expansion decrease A which decreases photosynthesis, increasing the other factors, like [CO2] and T.

    The significance of this is GHGT neglects photosynthesis and its stabilizing effect. Earth’s surface is not a black body and doesn’t obey Kirchhoff’s law; its emissivity is not equal to its absorptivity, both are less than 1.0. This explains why empirical, statistical GHGT models don’t predict T; they are wrong.

    The significance of this is governments and researchers are studying and publishing enormous literature that either ignores or confirms this little essay, known by biology, chemistry and chemical engineering since 1923.

    Which is why I wholeheartedly concur with your Wood for Thought.

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