Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Poison ivy study leads to rash conclusions

Tara Parker-Pope, writing today in the Wall Street Journal, leads off with an ominous pronouncement:
Poison ivy, the scourge of summer campers, hikers and gardeners, is getting worse.

New research shows the rash-inducing plant appears to be growing faster and producing more potent oil compared with earlier decades.
There's a word in the second sentence that should set off alarm bells, but let's set that aside for a moment and move along to the fingering of the culprit.
The reason? Rising ambient carbon-dioxide levels create ideal conditions for the plant, producing bigger leaves, faster growth, hardier plants and oil that's even more irritating.
Our old friend CO2! It is indeed a fact that CO2 levels have generally increased over the past century or two, and we know that plants love the stuff. The conclusion should be foregone.

So what did these researchers do? Did they send teams of scientists into the forests of America, collecting samples of increasingly aggressive poison ivy? No, of course not, silly! Climate researchers can form their conclusions based on computer simulations, so why should plant researchers have to go out into the field and actually observe the phenomenon their research purports to demonstrate?

No, what they did was gas a bunch of plants in a lab to see what would happen, and then used the results to assume what was happening in nature.
Although the data on poison ivy come from controlled studies, they suggest the vexing plant is more ubiquitous than ever.
The plant appears to be growing faster. The data suggest the plant is more ubiquitous. Unless I missed it, there's nothing in the article to indicate that the researchers have found a CO2-enhanced poison ivy plant in the Real World.

So why are they insulting us with the headline, Climate Changes Are Making Poison Ivy More Potent? Because AGW alarmism is not actually about science.

UPDATE: Here's a followup.