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“….Back in 1908 Svante Arrhenius, a Nobel laureate and the father of the greenhouse theory, predicted something like this would happen. ‘By the influence of the increasing percentage of carbonic acid in the atmosphere, we may hope to enjoy ages with more equable and better climates,’ he wrote. The earth, he predicted, ‘will bring forth much more abundant crops than at present, for the benefit of rapidly propagating mankind’. This has proved to be the case. Environmentally, this is perhaps the best news you’ve
never heard about.

Four years ago, I came across an online video of a lecture given by Ranga Myneni of Boston University in which he presented an ingenious analysis of data from satellites. This proved that much of the vegetated area of the planet was getting greener, and only a little bit was getting browner. In fact, overall in 30 years, the green vegetation on planet Earth had increased by a rather extraordinary 14 per cent. He said this was occurring in all vegetation types — from tropical rainforests to arctic tundra.

What was responsible for this ecological good news? He credited rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere for half of the greening — rather than, say, the application of agricultural fertiliser, warmer temperatures or increased rainfall. Carbon dioxide, along with water, is the raw material that plants use to make carbohydrates, with the help of sunlight. So it stands to reason that raising its concentration should help plants grow.

I was startled by Myneni’s data. I knew that there had been thousands of experiments in which carbon dioxide levels had been increased over crops or wild ecosystems to find out whether it boosted their growth (it did). I also knew that commercial greenhouse owners now routinely maintain carbon dioxide levels in their greenhouses at more than double normal levels, because it makes their tomatoes grow faster….” Climate of ignorance