back to article Global warming is actually good for rainforests, say boffins

OK, so let's take it that global warming is coming: that temperatures are set to rise by easily 3°C by the end of the century. Disaster, right? The tropical rainforests - lungs of the planet - will die, CO2 levels will thus rise even faster, a runaway process will set in and planet Earth will be transformed into a baking …

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This is clearly bollocks!

We all know that the rainforests will die, all the glaciers will melt and puppies will drown!

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Stop

Fingers in ears, la, la, la, la

Just how long do you think it would take to establish rainforests in other latitudes, as existing ones wilt and die? I'd estimate this is on the order of many hundreds of years, if not longer.

Sure, the status quo a millenium from now might be hunky dory, but for the next few human generations....the outlook is not so good.

'Course this assumes temps will rise in line with climate change lobby predictions, and (for the record) I think the hyperbole and exaggeration seen in most press releases means this is rather unlikely.

(ahem. yes the fence has left some nasty splinters in my bum.)

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Happy

Ghostbusters!

Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes...

Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave!

Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!

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FAIL

RTFA

@Marky W "There is no evidence for enhanced aridity in the northern Neotropics." would seem to imply imply no significant "wilting and dying", don't you think?

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So just to clarify...

... global warming means more chocolate?

Excellent.

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Pint

Woo Hoo! Chocolate!

Looks that way =]

Another nail in the IPCC coffin.

If more plants and trees appear and spread when temperature increases because of carbon, then more plants and trees will soak up more carbon and again limit the temperature.

Green taxes make no difference and don't help the planet as it can clearly look after itself in this way.

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Or even...

There's a slight possibility that, as happened last time, some other delicious form of plant will evolve, maybe even surpassing chocolate...

So, when do we re-open the coal mines?

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And not only that

It will also be warmer! Really, it's just the gift that keeps on giving!

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Anonymous Coward

It gets even better than that.

If the sea rises just a couple of metres. my house will suddenly have a sea view.

I can sit in my garden, picking passion fruit and eating it with super chocolate while watching the sun go down over my private jetty.

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again

...with the 'planet' error.

I find it amusing that the climate change denial lobby and the crazy 'green' lobby speak as one when they talk about 'the planet'. No matter where you stand on the issue, let's make it clear: 'the planet' doesn't give a shit either way about global warming. 'The planet' is not the one with the problem. The one with the problem is *us*. Of course global warming isn't going to kill the planet. Of course 'the planet' will 'look after itself', whatever that means exactly; it's a pretty vapid question, because again, it depends on where you're standing. 'The planet' will continue to exist until it smashes into the sun or is destroyed by a giant asteroid or the Vogons or whatever else is going to happen zillions of years in the future. From the point of view of biological life, yeah, the planet will 'look after itself' in the sense that life adapts to changing conditions; raise the temperature by five degrees and over *the long run* life will continue, in some way. The temperate zones will move around a bit, grow, shrink, whatever. Different species will manage differently, some will thrive, some will die, some new ones will show up, etc.

The little problem is exactly what this 'adjustment' means for people, given that we're present all over the place and we are, as individual units, pretty goddamn vulnerable to the effects of environmental change. Yeah, as a whole, people would probably get by even through some pretty extreme environmental changes. But getting by in the long run can also be looked at as 'quite a lot of us dying and the lucky ones having to make rather drastic changes to their entire civilization, sharpish'.

So yeah, a biologist twenty million years in the future will probably say 'eh, big whoop, yeah, in the environmental adjustment period of the 21st century, blahblah' but if you're actually in the unfortunate position of *living through* said environmental adjustment period, things may look a bit hairier.

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Heart

OMG - The Beer!!

That icon of yours reminded me that there will be more hops, and barley, and wheat, Oh My!!!

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Well that's good news.

I'm sure that the 3 trees that will be left in the 'McDonalds Rainforest Memorial Museum' by the end of the century will be nice and green.

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I wonder how well that will go down with the treehuggers

So now GW is actually going to be good for the rainforests ? Well that sounds logical, given that it is a well-known fact that the dinosaurs lived in a much warmer period than today. And what did the vegetarian dinosaurs eat ? Tons of plants. Every day. Which obviously meant that there had to be tons and tons of the stuff lying around to support all that munching.

So yeah, rainforests will logically do fine.

But how will the eco-preachers spin this one ? Oh, I know, they'll say the report is not from a reliable source, or the data is wrong, or any other of a dozen ad-hominem attacks.

Still, the ripples continue to grow around the GW conflict without any end in sight.

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Grenade

Poor Logic

"So yeah, rainforests will logically do fine."

Good for the rainforests on a geological scale and assuming there are not lots of pesky humans chopping them down yes. Did that 5C warming and 1000ppm CO2 happen quickly or over thousands of years... Hmmm lets think?

How about good for our rainforests in the positions they are in now? Such a large global temperature change will surely massively effect the precipitation in rainforest regions? (Plus many other factors that might equalise to happy rainforests in a few millennia) I am no expert but a little common sense applied seems to change this from a global warming is good for the environment to err wait a moment lets think about it without the global warming blinkers on (Either kind)

And yes the ripples of the Global Warming conflict continue to propagate in the medium of a million commentards lack of logic.

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Grenade

Problem being...

...with what you say is that for rain-forests to flourish, there have to be rain-forests LEFT to flourish.

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RE: Pascal

Exactly what i was just thinking, and clearly they've already marked you down a bit.

Even with new evidence every week, people who don't believe we cause global warming are silenced by idiots who can spin anything the way they want with absolutely no evidence that people indeed cause global warming.

Despite so much evidence saying global warming is natural and not cause by people (the dinosaurs didn't have cars btw), the people who speak out are silenced by slurs and insults, including the ignoramus the other day who said they were tied to cigarette companies.

So bring on the red arrows anyone who believes the dinosaurs had cars and planes to cause the last ice age and the periods of global warming through history!

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Anonymous Coward

Do I really have to go through this crap again?

"Even with new evidence every week, people who don't believe we cause global warming are silenced by idiots who can spin anything the way they want with absolutely no evidence that people indeed cause global warming."

I love this idea. Those who claim ACC is true are stupid, yet also amazingly gifted at spinning an apparent nothingness into a veritable end of days. So gifted, that the towering group intellect of the skeptics are foiled at every turn.

It doesn't quite add up, does it.

Perhaps the truth of the matter is that, although you see new evidence every week supporting your thesis (as brought to you by the man who will suffer no debate, and what does that tell you children?), substantially more evidence to the contrary is also brought to light every week. Of course, you choose not to see that evidence, but that's your problem. Don't make it mine, eh?

"Despite so much evidence saying global warming is natural"

Blah, blah, cite me a meta-analysis showing that the naysayers have more evidence than the yea-sayers. Without recourse to the flaccid "climate people are so stupid and intelligent that they've sewn up all the journals".

"(the dinosaurs didn't have cars btw)"

Well that's a fair point fairly made. You have clearly considered all the differences between the two scenarios before painstakingly working your way towards a very solid conclusion. It is, after all, obvious that a body could not undergo changes in temperature for different reasons. There could only be one cause. And since the dinosaurs didn't have cars, well cars can clearly have no effect on temperature!

Of course things broke before there were cars, so I guess driving into something at 90mph is now considered to be perfectly safe too. Thank you, Brave Skeptical Thinkers, for saving us from the lying Newtonian idiot-scum.

"the people who speak out are silenced by slurs and insults, including the ignoramus the other day who said they were tied to cigarette companies."

I'd make a point about your lanaguage here, but I'd be Godwined. Suffice it to say that your trick of repeatedly casting the enemy as stupid and evil has historical precedent.

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WTF?

Oh just say Nazi and get on with it.

"Suffice it to say that your trick of repeatedly casting the enemy as stupid and evil has historical precedent."

Yes, it does, I've seen Monbiot's columns. Oh, and LOVING the irony - not to say hypocrisy and circular logic - of you using up all that text to call someone ignorant because they don't agree with you and then ending it all by suggesting they're a nazi, as though that were some kind of crushing QED.

Priceless. This issue really does bring out the worst in all of us.

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Go

Have a clue.

1. I attacked his argument, not his intelligence. But since his entire argument is pretty much, "you're too stupid to understand", I attacked it with the heavy dose of sarcasm it deserved. I did nevertheless attack his argument. I did not call him stupid for disagreeing with me. I think you have the two of us confused. Or perhaps you just don't take the time to read properly.

2. Hypocrisy is pretending to have a set of qualities that you don't. Where do I claim to be something that I'm not?

3. Right. So having complained at someone for having an argument that consists of "you're stupid", I'm not allowed to remind him that he shares that technique with a lot of unsavoury characters, but you are?

4. As a man who regularly wades in with "The IPCC are all liars", I have to wonder why you think you can get away with an attack like this at all.

So thanks for playing, Steve. In falsely accusing me of hypocrisy, stupidity and circular reasoning you have exhibited alll these qualities yourself.

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RE: John Dee

"So thanks for playing, Steve. In falsely accusing me of hypocrisy, stupidity and circular reasoning you have exhibited alll these qualities yourself."

I've argued with him many a time for attacking random things in posts, whether debatable or just petty.

And the first point in your argument is the opposite of what i did, i was saying people aren't stupid but just need to do their own research into this before listening to everyone else.

I was basically saying Sheep! Sheep! Sheep! rather than Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

I'll state fairly John Dee that i don't believe people cause global warming because the IPCC can't prove it and still call for us to tax things without being able to predict the effects.

There will after all with 99% certainty be another of these stories in the next month calling the IPCC into dispute over fudging numbers.

And i would bet on that

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Belief vs Science

>i don't believe people cause global warming because the IPCC can't prove it

Can you prove E=MC2? Can you prove Darwinian evolution? No, you can't (science doesn't work that way). I presume that means you reject the Einstein conspiracy & the biology conspiracy too?

Science works by proposing hypotheses, and by testing them. At any given moment, nothing in science is proven - we merely work with the best available hypothesis. That is its strength.

The best available hypothesis on climate is that it is changing, and this is largely due to anthropogenic effects. Thos who dismiss this hypothesis, merely because it is unproven, display their ignorance of science.

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RE: Strum

"Thos who dismiss this hypothesis, merely because it is unproven, display their ignorance of science."

No, it's you being arrogant and insulting.

Get off your high horse and prove people cause global warming

Do you also believe people can live off paint thinner or eating tarmac because i'm sure that's unproven aswell?

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Anonymous Coward

Science

"And the first point in your argument is the opposite of what i did, i was saying people aren't stupid but just need to do their own research into this before listening to everyone else."

I used to be a practising scientist. I had books. If I wanted to know the answer to things, I would look in those books. Day in, day out. I did not run my own experiments to test the validity of Newton's Laws, I did not deduce everything from first principles.

That. That is science. Actually doing science. Not having wet dreams about science because you have a few A-levels and an MSCE. Actual fucking science. Standing on the shoulders of giants. It's no wonder the IT wheel is reinvented fifty times over. It's not truth. It's not trying to be truth. It's trying to get shit done. And we have got shit done. We gave you computers. We put you on the moon. We invented the frickin laser.

What so many of you here are trying to contend is that all those scientists with PhD's and MSc's and years and years of hard fucking work trying to understand these very complex issues are somehow just deluded fools beholden to the BBC (WTF? Where did that twattery come from?) whilst you, a bunch of tech support staff, junior devs and sysadmins exhibiting group think on an intrernet forum, are somehow clued in to The Grand Truth Of All Things.

No one with an ounce of life experience, humility, or wisdom could think like that. By your own stupid mouths you are damned.

I know, I know, a few scientists disagree. But again, if you had actually done any science beyond A-Level, even just a year of shitology at The Croydon Institute of Excellence, you'ld know that ALL scientific theories have dissenters. I myself disagreed vehemently with the mainstream on EPRB and CHSH. I never once tried to call them stupid. I don't try to piss it all over the internet.

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Anonymous Coward

Science

"Science works by proposing hypotheses, and by testing them. At any given moment, nothing in science is proven - we merely work with the best available hypothesis. That is its strength."

Strum's description of science is an accurate one. Anyone who talks of truth in science betrays the fact that they left it post A-level to follow an easier vocation.

"Do you also believe people can live off paint thinner or eating tarmac because i'm sure that's unproven aswell?"

The models predict that anyone attempting such a thing is likely to die. Happy now?

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the data

It's hard to make a GW decision based on data because there's always some more data a long in a month or so to make you change you mind.

It's easier to make a decision based on the behaviour of the preachers.

Naturally, those I dis- agree with are ignorants repeating the doctrines of the dishonest.

Of course, they think the same about me; so what was my real reason for my decision, I wonder...

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Facts, figures and things people forget

Twenty years ago, a friend of mine completed her Environmental Science degree. She was somewhat disappointed, however: She wanted to do a thesis on weather cycles, but these were, apparently, too complex to map and intersections were too unpredictable. Instead she studied deer shitting in woods. Turns out they do. And in fields and anywhere else they happen to be.

But she did note something, even back then. Actually, she noted several things:

1) We are currently in an Ice age. We have been for a very long time and are due to emerge from it any day now. Seriously, we're actually overdue. Bit worrying there's no sign, isn't it? I mean, icecaps have to melt completely for us to be out of the ice age. (Just for reference, we're interglacial - the glaciers retreat, exposing the land. If they advance again, we're in trouble: They'll want their land back. And the lawn mower...).

2) When we hit the 'flip' from ice age to temperate, we could well see Sabre toothed cats reappear. She likes cats. So do I. It would be fun watching people's reaction to the appearance of Sabre toothed cats again.

More recently, with all this C02 business and 'Global warming' panic, she noted:

3) They (the environmental scientists, that is) have been expecting this. It's in the course books, after all, so it's been published for 20+ years, along with predictions as to what we might see (refer to 2, above). Gee, I wonder what the Sabre toothed cats will look like this time. Are house cats teeth growing? Or are the ABC's our new feline overlords...

4) Someone's having a laugh: Panic over C02? It's nothing: Methane is a more dangerous 'greenhouse' gas...

5) Greenhouse gasses. How are they going to work, exactly? Oh, they hold heat in? But won't they reflect heat, too? After all, the normal temperature of the planet is 6 C. Anything above that is from the sun. Look, clouds at night keep the land beneath them warmer, but during the day they provide shade that keeps it cool. Won't greenhouse gasses do the same but on a global scale? Won't it all balance out in the end?

6) Where are those Sabre toothed cats!

And me? I sit there and listen and I wonder... all this data: Is it correct? What factors have they taken in to consideration. They are scientists, aren't they: They haven't changed anything or missed anything out. But it always bothered me that they don't mention this thing about the ice age: That permanent icecaps are actually bad for the planet, and at some point they really need to melt. That we need to move into a temperate age. Well, the planet does, anyhow: Man really isn't that important as far as the planet is concerned. Little more than an infestation, an irritation, a pest to be exterminated it when the time comes. And then I wonder about these claims about how much impact man has on all this... you know, I'm not convinced we're not seeing a natural change to the planet's temperature, and that the worst thing man could be doing is just making it happen a little faster...

But hey, someone has to preach about the end of the world. Someone has to make money by scamming people through scare tactics. Someone has to be declared a heratic for pointing out the claims don't quite add up. And the bulk of us sit on, bemused, as people argue the world is flat/round/rhomboid/doomed.

Anyway, I'm off to go look at those cats. They seem to be smiling. Big smiles with big teeth...

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Anonymous Coward

Look, we did in this junior school, okay?

"Greenhouse gasses. How are they going to work, exactly? Oh, they hold heat in? But won't they reflect heat, too? "

Let me put it in thick for you. The incident energy is light. The radiated enrergy is heat.

Everything else you wrote was shit too, but that really took the biscuit.

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Stop

I too...

... was taught stuff in junior school that turned out to be completely wrong, John Dee. The difference is, I know when to step back from it and move on.

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"Twenty years ago, a friend of mine....

....completed her Environmental Science degree....."

She might know what she's talking about - but the words you are putting into her mouth are nonsense, and if "she" really exists she clearly doesn't understand her subject well.

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Anonymous Coward

So ...

... which part of the of CO2 as a greenhouse gas is wrong?

The difference between us, is I grew up enough to not waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah because someone disagrees with me.

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Change for SIX BILLION

Right, climate change might be good for some rainforests?

At the same time when you discuss change in the climate, you need to factor in the SIX BILLION people that need to adapt.

If there were a thousand people on this earth, you can move them around when climate changes. But with SIX BILLION+, you do not get the option.

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Ermmm

The whole reason why human beings are the dominant life force on the planet is BECAUSE of their ability to adapt....

Human beings have always found a way, I don't think they'll stop any time soon...

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Linux

Make that 6.8 billion

The population hasn't been 6 billion for a decade. We're likely to top out at about 9-10 billion. This is itself a huge problem which gets little air time.

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WIde-eyed optimist

>Human beings have always found a way,

Some humans have found a way. Some haven't.

Out of ~7Bn, how many do you reckon? Will this number include you & those you care about?

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I didn't think anyone was saying high temperatures would kill things

but that the rate of change of those temperatures would lead to conditions that would make it difficult for such things to survive. A pertinent question might be "how long did it take for the temperature to reach that level?" Go look at an estimated graph of the temperature variation for that period and look at just how long it took to get to that level.

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Not the issue

Climate Change is not even close to the biggest threat to the rainforests nor can the rapid loss of rainforest habitat and subsequent loss of species be significantly attributed to climate change.

It can be significantly attributed to chainsaws and JCBs for both legal and illegal logging and clearing.

I'm a believer in climate change and that mankind's activities are contributing, at least in part. I also believe that our scientific models need a lot more work if we're to understand the mechanisms of CC and make reasonably accurate assessments of impact.

I also believe that CO2 emissions and contributions to climate change are the least of the ways in which we are fucking up the planet and causing extinctions. Let's have some more noise made about those, please.

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Anonymous Coward

What does it matter?

Whether you believe it is happening or not? Whether I believe it is happening or not? The word belief keeps coming up time and again as it were a religion.

What matters is whether it IS happening, not who believes it. If enough people believe in it, it won't start to happen if it wasn't before. I'm not having a go, I just find it curious.

I wonder what the people who argued in the middle ages about whether the earth was round and whether it went round the sun would make of our discussions on climate change if they could be here today. There are similarities - the irrational belief (on both sides) of those who ought to know, the legions of people who can't know but who swing their allegiance between one side or the other based on who they like the most or will give them the lowest tax bill or biggest incentive, the vested interests (on both sides)

Mine's the one with the imprint of the fence on the backside.

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Hear hear, Sir

Exactly... the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle of the extremes of opinion. However there are more pressing thing that worrying about CO2. Rainforests, preserving more biodiversity and actual pollution are a little more important I would have thought.

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Boffin

Totally irrelevant

It doesn't matter how good (or bad) global warming is for tropical rainforests if they've all been chopped down before the change in climate anyway.

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We'll have to chop the stuff down

CO2 is plant food. Plants grow faster when it is warmer. It strikes me that if we don't keep chopping the forests down we'll soon end up with the world overrun with trees.

What takes the biscuit is that so many Europeans - particularly Poms - complain about how the tropics is being deforested yet they killed off all their trees hundreds of years ago. If the UK wants to really reverse deforestation then they should start in their own back yard and restore the forests to what they were. Rip up the cities, farms etc and replant with trees. Oh, then reintroduce wolves and bears.

Of course the UK won't do that. They want to keep what they've got and have the third world make all the sacrifices.

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Should have asked...

... the geologists way back before all these short-termist, GW panickers got the media attention....

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Anonymous Coward

well

there's fast warming and slow warming; a fast transition to a higher temperature may well cause enormous disruption to human and ecological systems before this bright green rainforest future a few millennia hence, when the ecosystems have adapted.

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Happy

I knew it!

Isn't this just evidence that GW is actually the plants fighting back against the evils of vegetarianism?

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Joke

Oh they're fighting all right

The best hypothesis I've heard is this:

Trees like CO2 levels higher than grass does. The trees and grass have been in a war for millions of years, each side trying to alter the environment to their preferred cO2 level. The trees have recently deployed their ultimate weapon (humans) to drive up the CO2 levels and defeat the evil grass once and for all.

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This challenges my preconceptions

I shall therefore shriek "Denialist! DENIALIST!" at it until it goes away.

Thus is ManBearPig defeated once again. Excelsior!

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Flame

Both sides are right here

Rainforests in general should flourish all right. That is from the realm of the bleeding obvious. Co2, heat, water, what else can a tropical plant dream of.

However nobody said that they will be the where the rainforests are now and nobody said that the humanity will allow them to grow where they would have naturally grown in the absence of Homo Sapiens and its industrialised civilisation.

So if there will be a real disaster from global warming it will not be because of it per-se, but because of Humans fighting desperately for the Earth to stay the same instead of looking for a way to adapt to the new environment. It is the law of nature that species which refuse to adapt to a change in their environment go extinct. Some food for thought here...

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Anonymous Coward

Wow

"It is the law of nature that species which refuse to adapt to a change in their environment go extinct."

Interesting choice of words.

When you say refuse to adapt, are you talking about the plants that refuse to get up and move when the valley they are living in gets too hot? Or are you talking about the penguins and walruses (I'll leave the polar bears alone today) refusing to move into the nearest commercial freezer when the poles become temperate?

Changes in environment occur over a long time period (well, long for you and I, actually quite short in terms of geological timescale), certainly long enough for animals to breed, mutate and the mutants survive to breed and further mutate, adapting the species to survive in the new environment (this, of course, occurring over many generations).

The problem with GW is that this change now appears to be occurring very rapidly and maybe too rapidly for many species to have the multiple generations needed to potentially survive the change. This has nothing to do with people trying desperately to stop the earth from changing. It has everything to do with recognising that change is occurring, identifying where human industrial activity is speeding up the process and trying to prevent those activities from speeding up the process too much.

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Alien

All that CO2 is good for plants

That would be the Paleocene era wich started with the extinction off the dinosaurs. All that CO2 may be good for our plants, but that doesn't mean it's healthy for larger vertebrates. Not a threat to "life on earth" then.. but probably not good news for us humans either.

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Adapting to the environment...

Ummm - this is news ?.. The proliferation of new flora variants and adaptation of existing ones to higher levels of temperature and CO2 is a given, has been for.... umm pretty much as long as I can remember - and I wasn't aware that it was being disputed now by anyone - regardless of their stance on anthropogenic climate change.

It also only a small part of the debate about possible global changes - some beneficial to some areas, some not.

Interesting, for sure, but what was the point that i've missed ?

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Coat

self managing feedback

CO2 goes up

Therefore temperature goes up

So more trees grow

And trees take CO2 from the atmosphere

FEEDBACK! The panet is selfsustaing.

Provided, of course, we all stop using wood for paper and stop decimating the rain forest. Did I mean decimate or anhilate? oh, this is the wrong story for that debate, sorry I'll my coat. Its the paper one with Feedback for Fun and Profit in the pocket.

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