Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Denier for Hire: Sick, crazy and weird - CO2 is plant food book touted at WUWT

Sou | 10:00 PM Go to the first of 21 comments. Add a comment

I'm not sure whether to describe this as sick or crazy or weird. Anthony Watts is touting a book written by three science deniers (archived here). They make an unlikely trio, united mainly by their desire to destroy the environment.

About the authors

Arthur Middleton Hughes is described as an economist, but I'm not sure if that's still the case. If it's the same chap then these days he's more of a marketer, and vice-president of some email marketing business.

Madhav Khandekar is apparently some retired Canadian meteorologist who is, or was, on the Heartland Institute payroll.

Cliff Ollier is listed as an honorary research fellow at the University of WA, meaning he used to be employed there but now he's probably no longer on the payroll. Cliff is a second-rate climate science denier from way back. He's not a climate scientist. He featured in one of the early articles here at HotWhopper

The sick - CO2 is plant food, they want more

The sick is that this trio apparently want to world to burn up. The book has the title: "About Face! Why the World Needs More Carbon Dioxide". It's promoted on Amazon as being published by a crowd that calls itself Two Harbours Press, which from the website looks to be a vanity publisher. It says it's owned by Hillcrest Media Group, which has a printing division and on that website it states that: "The year 2014 brings Hillcrest to Europe, setting us apart as one of the first US self-publishing companies to launch a UK division.", so I'd say I was right about that.

The blurb has lots of commendations from people that few would ever have heard of. You can Google some of them and you get a miscellany of odd bods, who mostly seem to be retired academics who have taken up science denial as a hobby in their old age.

Now we've got that out of the way, why on earth would anyone buy a book that no-one saw fit to back except the authors?  Here is how the book is described, according to WUWT:
About Face! is the product of two scientists and an economist. The scientists are Madhav Khandekar in Canada and Cliff Ollier in Australia, plus economist Arthur Middleton Hughes in the USA. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is essential to all life on earth. It is plant food. We believe that the more CO2 there is in the atmosphere the bigger and better plants will grow all over the world. Three million people die each year because the prices of food are too high for them. We want to increase CO2 in the atmosphere and reduce world malnutrition.

The crazy and the weird - sequestering CO2, Arthur wants less ... or more?

The crazy and weird is that the top-listed author, Arthur Middleton Hughes has a blog article at Harvard Business Review on which he has this idea for sequestering CO2. That's got to be good, eh? But wait a minute, hasn't he just published a book where the title says "why the world needs more carbon dioxide". Remember how the book's blurb is about how they want to "increase CO2 in the atmosphere"? Why then is he coming up with ideas to reduce carbon dioxide?

That's not the only thing that's weird. Arthur's article starts off with the following:
The world is increasingly concerned with the need to solve our carbon dioxide problem. There are three basic solution paths. We can reduce the use of fossil fuels, mainly by passing laws to restrict or discourage it. We can spend billions in public funds after the fact to capture and store the CO2 that is generated. Or we can plant trees in Australia.

I wonder if that's where Tony Abbott got his tree planting fantasy? There's more. In order to store CO2 in trees planted in Australia, Arthur Middleton Hughes is proposing to:
  1. Destroy the entire dryland regions of Australia, those regions which could be classed as desert - including all the native flora and fauna on that land, and presumably all the land owned by indigenous and other Australians who live on and/or lease that land. In other words, he wants to destroy most of the Australian mainland.
  2. Build enough desalination plants in Western Australia to pipe the water thousands of miles across Australia so that exotic trees can be planted.
  3. Have the Australian government compulsorily acquire all this land (much of it would be Crown Land anyway, but it doesn't look as if Arthur knows that.)
I bet the right wing extremists would love that last point in particular, not. Nor would they be enamoured by the first two points.

Arthur Middleton Hughes doesn't know if he's Arthur or Martha. One minute he's coming up with a crazy plan to sequester CO2 by destroying most of Australia's natural heritage. Next minute he's arguing that the world needs to increase atmospheric CO2 because CO2 is plant food.

Could there be two Arthur Middleton Hughes? Does one have an evil twin and the other a stark raving mad twin? I looked further and found the answer is on his Linked-In profile. Right on top of each other on the same page, he has his proposal to get CO2 out of the atmosphere sitting right on top of his urging that we put as much CO2 into the atmosphere as possible.

There was this:

VP Director of Research and Strategy
CO2 Capture Corporation
September 2012 – Present (2 years)Fort Lauderdale, FL
Doing research on solving CO2 buildup by planting millions of trees in the deserts of Australia. Workiing with Australian firms and individiuals we have put together a plan to solve the world CO2 crisis by converting Australian deserts to profitable forests. The project involves conversion of sea water to fresh water used to grow fast growing profitable Paulownia trees for sale in the Far East. FOr information go to : 

Followed immediately after by this (excerpts):
January 2012 – Present (2 years 8 months)Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Author with Cliff Ollier and Madhav Khandekar of About Face! Why the world needs more carbon dioxide. This 315 page book explains that contrary to what many people believe, increased carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) does not and will not heat up the climate. CO2 is only 0.04% of the atmosphere ...Instead, CO2 is plant food. ...

What a doozy.  Talk about denier for hire.

From the WUWT comments

There aren't many comments yet. And even in those few there isn't universal acclamation.

M Courtney complains about the content, writing:
August 27, 2014 at 3:06 am
“The book also explains how, as an inhabitant of the Solar System, Earth’s climate is influenced mainly by our Sun, and that should come as no surprise.
But are changes to earth’s climate influenced mainly by our Sun?
Are we so desperate to get rid of dodgy science that we’ll clasp to our breasts any other dodgy science that comes along?
Is it still OK to say, “We don’t know?”

johnmarshall is one of WUWT's regular greenhouse effect deniers, who reckons the sun is causing global warming even though there's a bit less energy coming from the sun these days. In other words, it's magic.
 August 27, 2014 at 3:35 am
If you can think of another source of energy like the sun, but unseen, then carry o n your belief but if the sun is the only major input then it is the major influence.

Has SasjaL read the book already or is he or she judging by its cover?
August 27, 2014 at 3:36 am
This is basically a book that cover most of the stuff that should be tought/learned in late primary school (7th- grade), some even earlier. At least it used to, when I was at that age during late 1970’s …


  1. Some guy who make living from selling books has written some book - no surprise then - but why you make publicity for his book you no like ? Man who writes books for hire is a job for him - he do not need to believe what is wrote in them books.

    You not get so upset, I not think this a conspiracy theory by denier or like that

    1. Lee, would you write a book that sets out to misinform and spread lies for money? When does your integrity and ethics take over? In other words how far would you go just for money?

    2. Its the global warming religion that is immoral and controlled by the money. Everything they promote is an agenda driven lie, or inconsequential and irrelevant to what is naturally occurring. The so called deniers are the ones with the new reissuance and moral highgound and people like your self are insisting the earth is flat.

    3. Anonymous
      You have rather missed the point of this thread.
      No surprise there.
      Try to stay with the flow of the conversation. Or start another thread; preferably with a decent point in it.

    4. "Its the global warming religion that is immoral and controlled by the money."


  2. Well Jammy I would no write such a book but it no my job to write books for money. I think the people who just write book for money are the same as the prostitute who sell their body, The has no moral backbones like you think. They does no even think really like we do. Just this - write book - get money - no care what anybody think.

  3. A minor variation on "teach the the controversy," as evolved (!) by creationists. Doesn't matter what claptrap as long as some doubt can be maintained in the minds of the innocently credulous. "Some people say too much CO2 is bad, some say there can't be enough. I don't need to do anything."

  4. It's always odd to see such cognitive dissonance in deniers, simultaneously holding utterly contradictory opinions. While there are paid deniers who will say anything for pay (I'm thinking of folks like Marc Morano and Pat Michaels, paid lobbyists), there are plenty of people who go out of their way to promote contradictions without apparent renumeration.

    My working theory is that they are subject to an overwhelming ideological distortion wherein _any_ argument that supports their ideology (and very importantly, their selfimage and perceived place in the universe) is hewn to, regardless of its connection to reality. And pointing out the inherent errors is taken as a personal and existential attack...

  5. This piece of propaganda is crying out for some hefty comment in the customer reviews that includes long lists of papers rebutting this simplistic and misleading meme.

    To save reinventing the wheel it might be worth creating here a list of links to detailed rebuttals, so that such comment can be quickly and efficiently added. I seem to remember that there was a long post on Deltoid a month or two ago that did this - does anyone know which it was?

    1. Not last year but Tim did endorse Peter Sinclair's article of 2010 with this:

      The “CO2 is Plant Food” Crock

      which may yield some nuggets.

      I'll keep digging.

  6. the comments at amazon are even more nutty than watts, never thought that possible

  7. You seem to be missing the link between his apparently contradictory feelpinions. He is allegedly currently "working with Australian firms....." so....

    1. Co2 = plant food
    2. More Co2 = more plants
    3. Co2 needs to be sequestered by plants
    4. I am in business with the companies that will grow the trees
    5. I am rich

    It's perfectly logical. The only thing missing in this neat little sequence is his apparent lack of knowledge of law ........oh and insanity.

  8. If you accept the meme that CO2 is plant food, is this not just endorsing book burning? Where have we seen that before?

    1. Who suggested book burning? Oh, you.

      How does accepting the meme lead to endorsing book burning? If you do not accept the meme then you do not endorse book burning?

    2. And water is plant drink. Therefore more water is good. Therefore floods are a good thing. Therefore if some fossil fuel industry shill wrote a book saying that floods are a good thing we'd be book burners if we said it wasn't right.

      Oh noes toooooo muuuuch craazzzy.

    3. And don't forget cake is good. Yummy yummy. Let's cover the world in cake. With icing.

      We could put icing at the poles and model glaciers with icing. And build little gingerbread houses that need no heating. That would fix it all.

    4. NO you cannot. Those communist EC commissars removed are right to live in whatever confectionary house we desire by enforcing this diktat:
      Directive 2002/91/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2002 on the energy performance of buildings.
      You can of course live in an already constructed gingerbread house. But yet another infringement on our personal rights prevents us buying 10kW vacuum cleaners to pick up all those gingerbread crumbs.

      I believe CO2 is plant food causes greater growth in height of some plants but can cause many problems in others e.g.

      "Cassava is an important food for millions of people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. When grown in conditions of increased CO2, however, its cyanide levels jump". (WikiCommons: Amcaja)

      CO2 and Wheat: How We Get Less Protein, More Sugar
      Without question, wheat is a staple crop. With the help of corn and rice, wheat provides about 60 percent of the world’s food. Therefore, how wheat responds to enhanced CO2 is a big deal, and FACE study results (for example here and here) are not encouraging: while wheat yields increase, its protein content drops.

      and for all you cow-eaters:
      A recent study led by Gleadow, published in the Journal of Chemical Ecology, found that while cyanide levels in clover grown under ambient (360 ppm) and elevated (700 ppm) CO2 levels did not rise, protein content dropped some 25 percent — in other words, the cyanide-to-protein ratio increased.

    5. thefordprefect

      I think you will find that gingerbread houses meet all the energy performance requirements specified in Directive 2002/91/EC.

      We would not hoover up the gingerbread crumbs - we would carefully recycle them for our tea.

    6. Hmm - what is the R-value per thickness for gingerbread?

    7. KR
      If you look up the R-value specified as a minimum in Directive 2002/91/EC then it exceeds that.

  9. Sou I went looking for the book 'About Face! Why the World Needs More Carbon Dioxide'

    and turned up this Facebook page into which I have chipped, just an opener to see what happens.


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