Milton Friedman’s critique of JFK’s “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country”

25 12 2012

Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” John F. Kennedy, Inaugural address, Friday, January 20, 1961. (see further info on JFK’s inaugural address here: )

President John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961

Americans of all political and personal persuasions need to sincerely appreciate the work and service and sacrifice of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy.  That said, in the introduction on pages 1-2 to “Capitalism and Freedom” (1962), Economist Milton Friedman gave his thoughts and constructive critique on how a free man in a free society should respond to former President John F. Kennedy’s famous quote in his 1961 inaugural address.

No disrespect is meant here regarding the statements of President Kennedy or his contributions to our country. But rather the ideas and thoughts of Milton Friedman regarding this famous statement are particularly relevant to the role of the individual citizen in relation to the government in the United States today (emphasis in terms of bold, underlined, or italicized text are mine)

   “In a much quoted passage in his inaugural address, President Kennedy said, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.’  It is a striking sign of the temper of our times that the controversy about this passage centered on its origin and not its content.  Neither half of the statement expresses a relation between the citizen and his government that is worthy of the ideals of free men in a free society.”

“The paternalistic “what your country can do for you” implies that government is the patron – the citizen, the ward, a view that is at odds with the free man’s belief in his own responsibility for his own destiny.  The organismic, “what you can do for your country” implies that government is the master or dietythe citizen, the servant or votary.” 

To the free man, the country is the collection of individuals who compose it, not over and above them. He is proud of the common heritage and loyal to common traditions, but regards government as a means, an instrumentality – neither a grantor of favors and gifts, nor a master or god to be blindly worshipped and served.  He recognizes no national goal except as it is the consensus of the goals that the citizens severally serve.  He recognizes no national purpose except as it is the consensus of the purposes for which the citizens severally strive.”

The free man will ask neither what his country can do for him nor what he can do for his country. He will ask rather “What can I and my compatriots do through government” to help us achieve our several goals and purposes, and above all, to protect our freedom?” 

And he will accompany this question with another: “How can we keep the government we create from becoming a ‘Frankenstein’ that will destroy the very freedom we establish it to protect?“”

“Freedom is a rare and delicate plant. Our minds tell us, and history confirms, that the great threat to freedom is the concentration of power.  Government is necessary to preserve our freedom – it is an instrument through which we can exercise our freedom; yet by concentrating power in political hands, it is also a threat to freedom. Even though the men who wield this power initially be of good will and even though they be not corrupted by the power they exercise, the power will both attract and form men of a different stamp.”



President Kennedy’s words were no doubt intended to call, inspire, and challenge we as Americans to more selfless service to our fellow citizens – and he and his legacy are to be commended for them.  However, here Milton Friedman provided a wary warning about the leeway that Kennedy’s words of challenge and inspiration allow for the misuse of concentrated government power in inhibiting and limiting the economic and political freedoms of free people in free societies – such as is the United States.

Recognizing (my) government subsidies

25 04 2011

The list of government subsidies that I benefit from is pretty lengthly.  Here are just a few of the DIRECT government subsidies that I can think of…

1) Tax deduction for interest paid on my house loan

2) Government payments on the small amount of farmland that my wife and I own

3) Crop insurance subsidies for a proportion of our crop revenue coverage as a crop share land owner

4) Income tax deductions for each of my children

5) State matching support for my government employee retirement account

6) Tax deductions for my church / religious charitable giving

On the surface, all else being equal, my family and myself have benefited financially from each of these elements of tax support.  But in a macro economic, wholistic systems sense, this level of government support is unsustainable (with millions of U.S. citizens all involved in receiving similar tax subsidies).   In my desire to protect my own government subsidies, am I unwilling to recognize the that the broader U.S. economy and the economic livelihood of my children for decades to come is put at risk by this much government support? Am I myself a “tragedy of the commons” in regards to my lack of recognition of how my portion of the government “pie” is a significant part of the cumulative budget problem here in the U.S.?

My contention is that we in the U.S.  (me first) have to recognize that without the elimination or at least more effective targeting of these government subsidies (or changing them to a true safety net for the most needy instead of an entitlement program for all), the economic future of the country is at risk.  I want my children to have an opportunity to make an honest living in the future.  The subsidies for my house, my farmland, my crop insurance, my charitable giving, and yes, even my child tax credits likely need to go.  IF I had a lower tax rate with equitable application across the U.S. tax payer base, I may end up better off financially.  These subsidies from the government have made us weak, timid and fearful —- scared to independently take responsibility for our own finances apart from government support.

Thanksgiving Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln (1863)

23 11 2008

Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

Washington, DC—October 3, 1863
The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well as the iron and coal as of our precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.  No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the imposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 3d day of October, A.D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

Original Thanksgiving Proclamation by President George Washington (1789)

23 11 2008

General Thanksgiving

By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America

 The original Thanksgiving Proclamation (here)

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour;

and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLIC THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation;

for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;

— for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;

— for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;

— and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleafed to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in moft humbly offering our prayers and fupplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;

— to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord;

to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

Source: The Massachusetts Centinel, Wednesday, October 14, 1789

Of Climate Change Alarmism, CO2 Taxes (i.e. “Cap and Trade”), and Solutions to High Energy Prices

8 06 2008

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado, USA

“Climate Change Collapse” by the Wall Street Journal, June 5, 2008

The Wall Street Journal ( provided this commentary on the failure of “Climate Change / Cap and Trade” legislation in the U.S. Senate on June 5, 2008. Read the full article here. Following are some key quotes from the article titled “Climate-Change Collapse“. Please note that any underlining or bold text in the following article exerpts are added by myself as blogger-in-chief to highlight certain key points in the quoted sections of the article.


“Backers of the Warner-Lieberman cap-and-trade bill always knew they would face a veto from President Bush, but they wanted to flex their political muscle and build momentum for 2009. That strategy backfired. ….. Those groups spent millions advertising and lobbying to push the cap-and-trade bill through the Senate. But it would appear the political consensus on global warming was as exaggerated as the alleged scientific consensus. ….. Even John McCain, a cap-and-trade original co-sponsor, now says that this scheme won’t fly until China and India sign on – which could be never.”


“Senators also criticized Warner-Lieberman’s failure to clearly specify what would happen with the vast revenues the climate bill would generate – some $1 trillion over the first decade, which environmental groups wanted as a slush fund to finance “green technologies. …… The Natural Resources Defense Council desperately tried to persuade Congress in the 11th hour that the expensive price tag is a bargain because “the cost of inaction” would reach $1.8 trillion by 2100 due to increased hurricanes and rising oceans – an argument without a shred of scientific or fiscal credibility.”

//” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Mt. Harvard, Colorado (seen from Mt. Oxford) (here)


Conservative political columnist George Will wrote two articles for the Washington Post ( that are clearly spell out the related issues of “cap and trade” and “energy development”.” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. George Will, Conservative Political Columnist


“Carbon’s Power Brokers” by George Will, Washington Post, June 1, 2008

Will’s June 1, 2008 Washington Post article titled “Carbon’s Power Brokers” (read whole article here) identifies the Lieberman-Warner bill’s central feature that was make deliberately ‘less than obvious to the general public’. In so many words, “cap and trade” legislation is essentially a less transparent form of taxation upon business’ energy production and use, and would have accomplished greatly expanded control of the U.S. economy by the newly formed environmental/energy use-control bureaucracy within the U.S. government. Following are some key quotations from the article:


“Speaking of endless troubles, “cap-and-trade” comes cloaked in reassuring rhetoric about the government merely creating a market, but government actually would create a scarcity so that government could sell what it had made scarce. ……. Businesses with unused emission allowances could sell their surpluses to businesses that exceed their allowances. The more expensive and constraining the allowances, the more money government would gain.”


“If carbon emissions are the planetary menace that the political class suddenly says they are, why not a straightforward tax on fossil fuels based on each fuel’s carbon content? This would have none of the enormous administrative costs of the baroque cap-and-trade regime. And a carbon tax would avoid the uncertainties inseparable from cap-and-trade’s government allocation of emission permits sector by sector, industry by industry. So a carbon tax would be a clear and candid incentive to adopt energy-saving and carbon-minimizing technologies. That is the problem.”” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

A carbon tax would be too clear and candid for political comfort. It would clearly be what cap-and-trade deviously is, a tax, but one with a known cost. Therefore, taxpayers would demand a commensurate reduction of other taxes. Cap-and-trade — government auctioning permits for businesses to continue to do business — is a huge tax hidden in a bureaucratic labyrinth of opaque permit transactions.”

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Will’s June 5, 2008 Washington Post article titled “The Gas Prices We Deserve” (read whole article here) discusses the ramifications of political choices made by elected representative of the U.S. government in regards to energy resource development. Will discusses U.S. policy decisions to date relating to the development (or lack there of) of existing domestic U.S. energy supply sources and the ramifications upon current and future U.S. energy supplies and prices. Following are some key quotes from the article….

“Seventy-two of today’s senators (…39 Democrats and 33 Republicans)….. have voted to keep ANWR’s estimated 10.4 billion barrels of oil off the market. ….. Also disqualified from complaining are all voters who sent to Washington senators and representatives who have voted to keep ANWR’s oil in the ground and who voted to put 85 percent of America’s offshore territory off-limits to drilling. The U.S. Minerals Management Service says that restricted area contains perhaps 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas — 10 times as much oil and 20 times as much natural gas as Americans use in a year.”” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.


“Drilling is underway 60 miles off Florida. The drilling is being done by China, in cooperation with Cuba, which is drilling closer to South Florida than U.S. companies are.”

//” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Oil Exploration in Alaska, USA (

“ANWR is larger than the combined areas of five states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware), and drilling along its coastal plain would be confined to a space one-sixth the size of Washington’s Dulles airport.”” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Source:

“Offshore? Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed or damaged hundreds of drilling rigs without causing a large spill. There has not been a significant spill from an offshore U.S. well since 1969. Of the more than 7 billion barrels of oil pumped offshore in the past 25 years, 0.001 percent — that is one-thousandth of 1 percent — has been spilled. Louisiana has more than 3,200 rigs offshore — and a thriving commercial fishing industry.”

//” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Chevron “Jack #2” Well, Gulf of Mexico (here)

“In September 2006, two U.S. companies announced that their Jack No. 2 well, in the Gulf 270 miles southwest of New Orleans, had tapped a field with perhaps 15 billion barrels of oil, which would increase America’s proven reserves by 50 percent. Just probing four miles below the Gulf’s floor costs $100 million. Congress’s response to such expenditures is to propose increasing the oil companies’ tax burdens.”


Sterrenberg Castle, Europe (here)

  • Friends, my opinion is that while climate change is real, it is as or more likely due to natural cycles of the Earth’s Sun and other climatic / environmental factors than to Man-Made / Anthropogenic Global Warming.,0.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

  • Also, if “Cap and Trade” legislation were adopted into law, it would have resulted in the most far reaching and intrusive governmental regulatory control of the U.S. economy that has ever occurred. The inefficiencies of governmental control schemes are well known to any free market-oriented economist. Even with the aspect of “market-based trading of carbon credits”, the more essential and critical issue is that low cost, established energy resources would have been deliberately put aside for the sake of adopting high cost, as yet untested energy resources and technologies. Furthermore, with existing fossil fuel sources, the technology is either now available or relatively affordable to use that will allow plentiful supplies of U.S. oil, coal and natural gas to be used in a manner that is environmentally reasonable if not benign.” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

  • As an economist, I fail to see why we as a nation insist on disallowing ourselves of making use of domestic sources of energy that would a) lessen our need for military action and involvement in such places as the middle east, b) would lessen our foreign trade deficit, and c) would provide jobs and a higher standard of living for U.S. citizens.” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

  • At the core is these issues are the American people ourselves. As long as U.S. citizens fail to objectively perceive the fundamental economic issues involved, they/we/I will be continually missing the mark in regards to charting the best course for the economic future of our children and succeeding generations.” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. President (1911-2004), Pro-growth Conservative Leader

  • I just cant or wont accept the idea that the U.S. should step away from doing things that will secure a healthy, growing U.S. economy both now and in the future. Conservatives need to lead on these issues for the sake of people that cant shape the future for themselves.


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The San Juan Mountains, Southwestern Colorado, USA (here)

The Need for Joint Supply-Demand Oil-Energy Solutions

30 05 2008” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Focusing on the future

A recent Wall Street Journal ( article explains the current and projected petroleum production problems that the U.S. and the World are facing in dealing with oil supply-demand issues. While world and U.S. oil supplies are steady to decreasing, demand for petroleum is increasing sharply in places such as India and China. As we have experienced of late, World petroleum prices have risen sharply to attempt to ration demand.

The article discusses th concerns of both the International Energy Administration (IEA) ( and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) ( about the production of adequate quantities of oil to meet world energy needs. The May 22, 2008 article titled “Energy Watchdog Warns of Oil-Production Crunch” written by Neil King, Jr. and Peter Fritsch, can be accessed here. Following are a few key quotes from the article by King and Fritsch…” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.


Regarding the IEA’s pessimistic assessment of current oil supply-demand prospects for the year 2030…

For several years, the IEA has predicted that supplies of crude and other liquid fuels will arc gently upward to keep pace with rising demand, topping 116 million barrels a day by 2030, up from around 87 million barrels a day currently. Now, the agency is worried that aging oil fields and diminished investment mean that companies could struggle to surpass 100 million barrels a day over the next two decades.

“The oil investments required may be much, much higher than what people assume,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA’s chief economist and the leader of the study, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “This is a dangerous situation.”” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. An image associated with World oil imports


Here is mention of the pessimistic view of “Peak Oil,” i.e., a “topping out of available world petroleum supples, as is believed in by some…

“A growing number of people in the industry are endorsing a version of the “peak-oil” theory: that oil production will plateau in coming years, as suppliers fail to replace depleted fields with enough fresh ones to boost overall output. All of that has prompted numerous upward revisions to long-term oil-price forecasts on Wall Street.”

“…the IEA’s pessimism over future supplies has been building for some time. Last summer, the agency warned that OPEC’s spare capacity could shrink “to minimal levels by 2012.” In November, it said its analysis of projects known to be in the works suggested that the world could face a shortfall by 2015 of as much as 12.5 million barrels a day, unless there was a sharp drop in expected demand.”” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. “Rough Seas” in the oil exploration and development business

The political and technical realities and limitations are briefly discussed….

Meanwhile, politics and other forces are delaying projects that could bring more oil on-stream. Continued fighting in Iraq has stymied efforts to revive aging fields, while international sanctions on Iran have kept investments there from moving forward. Rebel attacks in Nigeria and political turmoil in Venezuela have cut into both countries’ output. Big non-OPEC producers such as Mexico and Russia, which have either barred or sidelined international operators, are seeing production slump. The U.S., with a legal moratorium barring exploration in 85% of its offshore waters, is struggling to keep its output steady.

—–” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Development of oil supplies in the Continental Shelf

Yet, there is some reason for optimism in terms of increasing world petroleum supplies to meet demand is found in these quotes…

A study released earlier this year by the Cambridge Energy Research Associates, a consulting firm and unit of IHS (, concluded that the depletion rate of the world’s 811 biggest fields is around 4.5% a year. At that rate, oil companies have to make huge investments just to keep overall production steady. Others say the depletion rate could be higher.

“We are of the opinion that the public isn’t aware of the role of the decline rate of existing fields in the energy supply balance, and that this rate will accelerate in the future,” says the IEA’s Mr. Birol.

Some analysts, however, contend that scarcity isn’t the issue — only access to reserves and investment in tapping them. “We know there is plenty of oil and gas resource in the world,” says Pete Stark, vice president for industry relations at IHS. He says the difficulties of supply aren’t buried in oil fields, but are “above ground.”

Mr. Morse at Lehman Brothers notes that there are plenty of questions about supply yet to be answered. “However confident the IEA may be about the data it has, they know nothing about the resources we’ve yet to discover in the deep waters or in the arctic,” he says.

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Question: So, what should we, in our generation and time, do to make progress on the oil-energy problem?

First, some thoughts on addressing oil-energy demand issues, then supply issues, and then an exhortation for the conservation-minded and those in favor of supply development in the short run to work together.” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. In need of some scientific innovation” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Addressing U.S. Domestic Oil-Energy Demand Issues: The ideas of those who focus heavily on energy conservation measures as the solution to these impending problems are important to consider. Energy conservation will need to be a critical part of the long term solution. Transition to other energy sources will be needed at sometime in the intermediate to long run future given that world petroleum reserves dont appear to be “infinite”. So, strategies of limiting petroleum demand and/or transitioning to other energy sources for our economy, focusing on more energy efficient technology in the areas of transportation and homes/businesses, etc. certainly have to be part of the long term solution. And it would be better for the U.S. to lead in transitioning to these more efficient energy using technologies rather that to follow and suffer economically.” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. The result of economic hardship for many as the economy would struggle with an extreme petroleum supply shortfall.

However, the more extreme energy conservation-focused among us to who favor policies of no development of domestic oil supplies, preferring rather to let high petroleum / fuel prices serve as a demand rationing mechanism are either not cognizant of the economic and personal hardship these high prices will bring upon their fellow citizens, or are apparently willing to see their fellow man suffer economic and social hardship in order to achieve the “greater good” of a “renewable energy” world.” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. The Alaska Oil Pipeline

Addressing U.S. Domestic Oil Supply Needs: Information from the International Energy Administration and the U.S. Energy Information Administration point toward critical and perhaps even catastrophic supply shortfalls in petroleum availabilty in the short to intermediate term. If the U.S. and world economy were to be severely damaged in the short to intermediate term, we may not have the financial where-with-all to be able to develop the crucially important alternative energy technologies we will need to have to survive in the long run in a petroleum-less or at least severely petroleum limited world. It is not irrelevant to ask the question “How much technical and scientific advancement is accomplished in impoverished or 3rd world countries?” Not much – those needy people are reliant on the leading world economies to provide the technical, scientific advances to help them to improve their lot in life.” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. The Collegiate Peaks, Colorado, USA

Therefore, there is a great need in the short to intermediate time frame for the U.S. to further develop and make use of available domestic oil supplies in areas that are now off limits to such development (i.e., the remaining 85% of the U.S. coastal / continental shelf area, in Alaska at ANWR and other places, through our abundant coal / oil shale supplies), etc.. Without question, this should be done in an environmentally responsible manner. The technology is available to enable safe oil supply development and utilization in the short and intermediate term, so that the U.S. economy can remain healthy enough to be in a position to develop and make use of alternative energy sources in the long run.” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Grand Mesa, Colorado

The technology is not now available to quickly and dramatically reduce gasoline – diesel use without serious, serious negative impacts upon the U.S. economy, i.e., upon the economic well of our country and fellow citizens. From the above article you can see that U.S. domestic oil production needs to be enhanced and increased as soon as possible to avoid catastrophic economic impacts from severely tight oil supply-demand balances in the near future (i.e., 2015 and 2030 ARE the near future!).

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“Working Together” image

A final thought – What is needed is a willingness to come together to develop joint solutions for these and other problems in our country. To be in a position to move away from petroleum to other energy sources in the long run the country has to remain economically prosperous in the short and intermediate run. Our ideological divisions and positional inflexibility in the area of energy development, if unchanged, will cause great harm to our economy and the well being of our desendents. Workable solutions are possible to these energy problems, but they must involve action and a willingness to work together on both the supply and the demand side of the equation. The energy utilization technology is not available at this time to allow us to ignore development of supplies in the short and intermediate term. It likely will be in the long run, but we as a nation have to survive and remain economically strong long enough and be in an economic position to be able to act in the long run.

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Mountain peaks of the Himalayas

Evidence of Positive Effects of Increased CO2 on Earth’s Plant Growth

27 05 2008

An accurate understanding of the natural processes associated with the fertilization of plants by carbon dioxide are critical in forming one’s opinion about the “man-made global warming” hypothesis. Do increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 ultimately have a positive or negative impact on plant growth? As is true in point after point in this debate about global warming and climate change, there is one school of thought that predicts increasing CO2 concentrations as damaging to plant growth, and another sees it as a positive. What you will read below is evidence for the “positive CO2 impact” point of view.” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Uncompagre Peak (14,309 ft.), Colorado” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

This is the third post in a series presenting information from an academic paper by Arthur Robinson, from the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine ( In this paper Robinson and his co-authors address the “Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide ” (click here for a downloadable copy). The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (2007) published this article (see the following reference)…..

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Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, 2251 Dick George Road, Cave Junction, Oregon 97523 []. Published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (2007) 12, 79-90.


Following are some direct quotations from the paper by Robinson, Please go to the original paper for supporting figures and references, all of which have not be included in post. Any highlighting, underlined or bold text, or other attempts to emphasize particular parts of the text are of my doing (and not of the original authors).


FERTILIZATION OF PLANTS BY CO2: pp. 8-9 of original article

How high will the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere ultimately rise if mankind continues to increase the use of coal, oil, and natural gas? At ultimate equilibrium with the ocean and other reservoirs there will probably be very little increase. The current rise is a non-equilibrium result of the rate of approach to equilibrium.” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. A simplified diagram of the carbon cycle

One reservoir that would moderate the increase is especially important. Plant life provides a large sink for CO2. Using current knowledge about the increased growth rates of plants and assuming increased CO2 release as compared to current emissions, it has been estimated that atmospheric CO2 levels may rise to about 600 ppm before leveling off. At that level, CO2 absorption by increased Earth biomass is able to absorb about 10 Gt C per year. At present, this absorption is estimated to be about 3 Gt C per year.

About 30% of this projected rise from 295 to 600 ppm has already taken place, without causing unfavorable climate changes. Moreover, the radiative effects of CO2 are logarithmic, so more than 40% of any climatic influences have already occurred.

As atmospheric CO2 increases, plant growth rates increase. Also, leaves transpire less and lose less water as CO2 increases, so that plants are able to grow under drier conditions. Animal life, which depends upon plant life for food, increases proportionally.” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Just want to visit there some day


(Following are examples from a large body of scientific studies showing increased plant growth in the last half century) …… (L)ong-lived 1,000- to 2,000-year-old pine trees have shown a sharp increase in growth during the past half-century. Figure 22 (in the paper) shows the 40% increase in the forests of the United States that has taken place since 1950. Much of this increase is due to the increase in atmospheric CO2 that has already occurred. In addition, it has been reported that Amazonian rain forests are increasing their vegetation by about 900 pounds of carbon per acre per year, or approximately 2 tons of biomass per acre per year. Trees respond to CO2 fertilization more strongly than do most other plants, but all plants respond to some extent.


Wheat growth is accelerated by increased atmospheric CO2, especially under dry conditions. Figure 24 (in the paper) shows the response of wheat grown under wet conditions versus that of wheat stressed by lack of water. The underlying data is from open-field experiments. Wheat was grown in the usual way, but the atmospheric CO2 concentrations of circular sections of the fields were increased by arrays of computer-controlled equipment that released CO2 into the air to hold the levels as specified.” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. A Great Plains wheat field


Figure 23 (paper) summarizes 279 experiments in which plants of various types were raised under CO2-enhanced conditions. Plants under stress from less-than-ideal conditions – a common occurrence in nature – respond more to CO2 fertilization. The selections of species …… were biased toward plants that respond less to CO2 fertilization than does the mixture actually covering the Earth, so (these results) underestimate .. the effects of global CO2 enhancement.

….(T)he green revolution in agriculture has already benefitted from CO2 fertilization, and benefits in the future will be even greater. Animal life is increasing proportionally, as shown by studies of 51 terrestrial and 22 aquatic ecosystems. Moreover, as shown by a study of 94 terrestrial ecosystems on all continents except Antarctica, species richness – biodiversity – is more positively correlated with productivity – the total quantity of plant life per acre – than with anything else.” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. A neat biodiversity poster from our friends in Canada, British Columbia

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*****************************” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Fort Robinson State Park, Northwest Nebraska

To me the most valuable contribution of this section of the paper by Robinson, is the documentation of the large number of credible scientific studies that provide evidence for increased levels of plant and animal growth on the earth during the last half century – approximately the same time period over which atmospheric CO2 levels have been increasing.

Of particular interest to someone from western Kansas such as myself is evidence that increased levels of CO2 would lead to increased wheat production in the face of dry / drought-prone crop production conditions.

Churchlayman” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. “The heavens declare the glory of God”