Deserts: Are They Expanding Or Shrinking?

By | October 7, 2015


[Illustrations, footnotes and references available in PDF version]


Back when the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration was approximately 340 ppm (up from a preindustrial value on the order of 280 ppm), Idso (1982) stated in a small self-published book (Carbon Dioxide: Friend or Foe?) that if the air’s CO2 content continued to climb, it would ultimately enhance plant growth and water use efficiency to the point that semi-arid lands not then suitable for cultivation “could be brought into profitable production,” further stating that “the deserts themselves could ‘blossom as the rose’.” A few years later he advanced essentially the same thesis, but this time in the pages of Nature (Idso, 1986) in a brief paper entitled “Industrial Age Leading to the Greening of the Earth.