Cassavagate? Who knew…

Casava Growing

Casava Growing

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Well, I’m not one for Conspiracy Theories, but when you have a bunch of folks of similar political leaning all paying each other it’s hard not to see some kind of collusion, especially since that’s the whole purpose of group activity is to work together to an end.

But the Cassava? Really?

OK, I’m filching this from WUWT Tips & Notes simply because I can’t stand waiting for Anthony to have ‘first shot’ at it. But he needs to jump on it. With h/t to TimiBoy, From:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/tips-notes-to-wuwt-3/#comment-548624

TimiBoy says:

http://johnosullivan.livejournal.com/26669.html

Casava Gate?

Yup. Seems that some earthshaking science that overturns the consensus of settled Casava science might be more shaky that the earth was…

These new “findings” widely hyped on pro-green news outlets have come under closer scrutiny since discredited Climategate crank, Kevin Trenberth (see video here) rushed to the authors’ defense. Bizarrely the controversial study totally contradicts the findings of a large body of science that has told us for years that carbon dioxide (CO2) is an essential plant food and adding more of it increases organic growth.

Moreover, it is established practice in agriculture that enclosures using increased CO2 promote crop yields, is good for both agro-business and consumers in that it leads to increased cost efficiency and thus cheaper food prices.

But, as we shall see below, when the Aussie biologist was asked during an interview to explain why her conclusions contradicted the findings of such eminent scientists such as Katsu Imai (1984) and others, she dramatically ended proceedings.

But when Timothy Wells, a free-lance TV producer and interviewer sought to persuade Gleadow to answer detailed questions on this headline-grabbing story she turned nasty. Gleadow became edgy and evasive and just wouldn’t give a straight answer to explain her extraordinary conclusions; thus clearly failing to demonstrate the accepted standards of transparency and integrity expected in the wider scientific community.

From the moment it was published independent experts have questioned how this Aussie paper could so dramatically contradict Kimball (1983) and other earlier results.

Digging deeper, Wells then discovered that the source for the paper’s funding had been the Finkel Foundation. This organization is the brainchild of Dr. Alan Finkel who also finances a far left environmentalist magazine called “G.” Sat on the advisory board of “G” is Tim Flannery, Sir Richard Branson and several other staunch climate doomsaying activists with deep pockets.

But even more pointedly, Dr. Finkel was the Chancellor of Monash University at the time this “research” was done. We may not have a full-blown ‘Cassava-gate’ just yet but readers will no doubt draw their own conclusions; so expect to see more on this story as the plot thickens.

More in the story at the end of the link…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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6 Responses to Cassavagate? Who knew…

  1. Baa Humbug says:

    I read this on Sullivans blog some weeks ago. In a comment I asked John where the original report came from as I couldn’t find anything by googling Timothy Wells.

    Unfortunately a short time later my laptop died in the previous flood (sigh) and so I totally forgot about it.

    (I see now my comment has not been posted)

    I’d be careful about this chief.

  2. Jerry Franke says:

    For those of you who wish to wade through the Gleadow, et al 2009 paper, here is the link from the Monash site:

    Click to access gleadow-2009-cassava-online.pdf

    If the conclusions are falsifiable, I am sure that there are a number of biologists that are running experiments to see if they can duplicate the results. For my part, I would rather they didn’t dope the plants with nutrient solutions. Don’t biologists have greenhouses with plain dirt?

    Until the issue is settled, don’t be eating the leaves. You shouldn’t have been doing that anyway. Also, stop eating those almond pits!

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    From the referenced paper:

    “Plants were supplied with Hewitt’s nutrient solution containing either 1 mM or 12 mM nitrate three times a week”

    Well well well… From:

    http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/cropfactsheets/cassava.html

    The desirable indexes range from 0.5 to 0.7. Responses to macro-nutrients vary, with cassava responding most to P and K fertilization. Vesicular-arbuscular (VA) mycorrhizae benefit cassava by scavenging for phosphorus and supplying it to the roots. High N fertilization, more than 100 kg of actual N/ha may result in excessive foliage production at the expense of storage root development and a low harvest index.

    So they grew a plant with deficient N (the low N) and more normal N (the 12). They also grew a plant that depends on a commensal mycorrhizae to gather up phosphorus for it. They also limited nutrient availability to 3 times a week.

    Then juiced it with added CO2 that promotes more growth.

    OK, what I’d expect to happen is that the plant gets a growth spurt and depletes the K and P, then “has issues” (and in the low N case probably rate limits on the N as well) then gets another shot of nutrient juice and starts up again. Not exactly your regular regime for growing in the dirt.

    Malice? Well, they ought to have known how best to grow the target species before they began, and there are papers that grew it without issue published, so I’m thinking one of two things:

    The either were pretty darned poor about doing their homework ahead of time and just made a very bad choice of “growing conditions” for the plant. Or.

    They knew darned well that the high growth spurt would deplete nutrients and that the plant would then be ‘starved’ for a day or so before more were supplied.

    Plants can be very fickle about a nutrient outage and can shut down for long periods of time. I’ve had some that never did recover to normal growth when they had a brief outage early on and basically stunted.

    These folks have a good write up on it too:

    http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/30540

    So I’d rerun it with a constant nutrient supply and with K and P kept high and available. I’d also be very careful about growing a plant that depends on a commensal in a hydroponic bed that may be hostile to that commensal at times.

    Or, as noted above “Try it in plain old dirt”.

    FWIW, these folks found the usual and expected growth improvement:

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/k1233566mn43w1j7/

    FWIW, I’d expect the elevated cyanide levels to be ‘stress response’. Cyanide is common in plants and plants will often have a stress related tendency to increase their toxics. A recent study even found that a shrub being browsed will release a gas that tells nearby plants to raise their toxin levels…

  4. Chuckles says:

    Sounds like a trivial confirmation of Liebig’s Law of the Minimum. i.e. Botany 0.001.

    Similar misdirection regarding the cyanide, the damn stuff is toxic, full stop, in the bitter varieties until cooked. You can say the same thing about potatoes…
    And has anyone tasted the stuff?? One thing for sure, it must be good for you, because nobody would eat it for fun.

    Strange how much of the supposed basis and confirmation of the imminent AGW/CC apocalypse relies on trivial noddy science, concealed stating of the obvious, misdirection, straw men, assumed linear or equilibrium relationships, 100+ year old ‘science’ and bureaucratic ‘proof by definition’?

  5. If true it does not demonstrate anything but a particular case, as that of Fungi which breath oxygen instead of CO2.
    An exception which confirms the rule, that´s all.
    (Btw. that is why fungi are so difficult to treat when attack us, they have to be choked :-) )

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    FWIW, finally got to the bottom of the PDF about diatoms. Had an interesting paragraph that I can’t quote (as I’m on the PC and the ability to cut stuff from a PDF is a skill I can only manifest on the Mac ;-) so you’ll get a ‘short form’ here as a bit of re-typed text.

    From:

    Click to access abjc18feb0502.pdf



    It is now recognized that the supply of siliciic acid to diatoms may affect critical aspects of the ocean carbon cycle by regulating phytoplankton carbon fixation and the export of phytoplankton-derived organic matter to the deep sea over large regions of the ocean

    So 40% or so of carbon fixation is related to diatoms that are regulated by slicon availability in the ocean that is to some extent related to activity on the land (grasses and debris washing in). AND the specific Carbon isotopes sequested will vary with the concentration of CO2 in the oceans.

    Gee, and here we thought the science was all settled…

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