Rupert Murdoch has been known to use Twitter to voice controversial social and political opinions – and recently the media tycoon made several sweeping statements on climate science. Citing an article in the Wall Street Journal (which it should be noted is owned by Murdoch), the media mogul tweeted, “World growing greener with increased carbon. Thirty years of satellite evidence. Forests growing faster and thicker.” The piece he referenced was by Matt Ridley, who stated that “green vegetation on the planet has been increasing for three decades.” This conclusion is based on a summarized lecture by Ranga Myneni of Boston University and NASA images of global vegetation. Members of the scientific community have accused Murdoch of misinterpreting some very complicated science to further his known disdain for environmentalism.
Murdoch’s comments are inflammatory because they suggest that CO2 is actually helping the planet, and that deforestation is not a problem. Earlier in the day, he had tweeted, “Why not switch from useless renewable energy investments to real job creating infrastructure projects. Many great possibilities waiting.”
Ridley, who Murdoch referenced, has already faced criticism for his work, with leading scientists asserting that some of his previous publications were “so riddled with basic math and science errors it raises the question of how the Journal can possibly maintain its reputation as a credible source of news and financial analysis.” While it is true that increased levels of CO2 may make vegetation greener in a phenomenon known as the “CO2 Feritilization Effect‘, it does not mean that there is a proportional amount of greenhouse gasses being captured by the plants. There is also evidence that it may be a short-lived occurrence. Studies by groups such as the Global Carbon Project have shown carbon emissions to outpace the the ability of leafy carbon sinks. Also, many regions of the world have been suffering from desertification and drought that is strongly linked to forest decline, climate change, and higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions.
So, if you are looking to shed a little light on the current climate fate of our planet, it’s best to look towards a peer-reviewed journal or organization of established researchers – instead of a tweet from Rupert Murdoch. The explanation will be longer than a sound-byte, but at least it will be based in study and sound logic.