If "warmer is better" and "CO2 is plant food", can you explain these studies?

Here are several studies related to plant growth and CO2 enrichment and/or higher temperatures (all links have spaces to avoid poison link problems, please remove them):

news.stanford. edu/pr/02/jasperplots124.html

www. springerlink.com/content/ 34237j8lu211506n/fulltext.pdf

www. nature.com/nclimate/journal/ v1/n1/full/nclimate1043.html

onlinelibrary. wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ j.1438-8677.2009.00230. x/abstract

www. life.illinois.edu/ delucia/PUBLICATIONS/ April%202008%20pub.pdf

onlinelibrary. wiley.com/doi/10.1046/ j.1365-3040.1998.00296. x/pdf

onlinelibrary. wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ j.1365-2486.2011.02584. x/abstract

All of these articles suggest to *me* that a warmer world, with more atmospheric CO2, may not be nearly the boon to agriculture that certain parties seem to think.

If I'm wrong about this, please, do explain how. If you agree with me, and have other similar resources, feel free to chime in with those.


Harley: I will point out that 1. gains in arable land near the poles may be negated by *losses* of arable land closer to the equator (or in low-lying coastal areas), and 2. the newly arable land may have poor soil, and will almost definitely have less *sunlight* than areas closer to the equator. Both of these are important factors in crop growth.

Update 2:

Maxx: read up on carbon cycling, *please*, before you make any more *completely* ignorant statements...

Update 3:

Pindar: People do often spend winters in Florida. But how many people want to spend summers in Phoenix, if they have a choice? There is a *range* of temperatures we like to be in, above or below that range we're not happy. Just like pretty much every other species out there...

On the CO2 question, *read* the first link... it involved an actual study, with actual plants and actual CO2, in an actual field...

Update 4:

Maxx: try reading the Wikipedia article about, surprise surprise, the *carbon cycle*. If you don't fully understand the Wikipedia article, try the simple wiki article.

Update 5:

Crash: I'm not trying to say that more CO2 is *never* beneficial to plants, just that it's not *always* beneficial.

Update 6:

Maxx: analogy time. You have a jacuzzi, bubbling away at full blast. You have a tiny stream of water (think dripping faucet) coming into said jacuzzi. (assume no evaporation) The bubbles are obviously moving a lot more water than the stream, but which one could potentially make the jacuzzi overflow? The air we exhale is just moving around carbon already in the carbon cycle, like those bubbles. The carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is like the dripping faucet.

Like I said, *read the freaking wiki article*. You might, you know, *learn* something.

Update 7:

Oh, and I tend to adopt an insulting, condescending tone when someone is acting like a *moron*, especially when I offer a remedy for their ignorance and they ignore it to snipe at me for adopting an insulting, condescending tone. A remedy like, you know, saying where you can learn about where your statement is incorrect. And the "try the simple wiki" comment was not intended as an insult, someone without a background in the relevant sciences may not be able to properly follow the regular wikipedia article, it gets a bit technical.

Update 8:

Maxx: the "breathing" comment was not the entirety of it, no. More in the vein of the straw that broke the camel's back.

Update 9:

Moe. Read the studies. Particularly the first one. Most of the plants with extra CO2 did *worse* than the plants with normal CO2...

And, all else being equal (which it never is), I would move somewhere cooler every summer in a *heartbeat*. 100-+-degree weather is *not* fun.

12 Answers

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Personally I haven't heard anyone produce a valid argument for the "warmer is better" or "CO2" arguments.

    The "warmer is better" argument is too broad. Sure will benefit some areas, such as those where crops are not viable. However civilisation has established itself based on climate belts of present (not to mention soils play a very important part in crops too ... which won't change as "drastically" as the climate). So although the climate may be dynamic (even if natural only) human civilisation is very static nowadays. The cons definitely outweigh the pros from a crop production and environmental prospective.

    The "CO2" argument ignores the fact that plant distribution is rarely (if ever) determined by CO2. The climate has far greater influence on plant distribution, and this is changing ... it doesn't matter if a plant has more CO2 available. It still requires certain levels of irrigation (water), temperature ranges (some require frosts, some require intervals between fire regimes etc.) and many can only sustain certain extreme events. So yes CO2 may assist plant growth, however this would require all other aspects that influence plant growth to remain constant (which isn't happening in the real world).

  • Moe
    Lv 6
    9 years ago

    The science is settled, CO2 is plant food and increasing it does increase growth. There is always an optimal level, and maybe if it is warmer, and maybe if there is more nitrogen, and maybe if there is more water, the percentage of growth increase varies.

    As far as Phoenix goes, how about everyone that chooses to live there?

    I read and understand the link, you may have read this "Writing in the journal Science, researchers concluded that elevated atmospheric CO2 actually reduces plant growth when combined with other likely consequences of climate change -- namely, higher temperatures, increased precipitation or increased nitrogen deposits in the soil.." and ignored the lie that is later clarified. ""The three-factor combination of increased temperature, precipitation and nitrogen deposition produced the largest stimulation [an 84 percent increase], but adding CO2 reduced this to 40 percent," Shaw and her colleagues wrote." It's simple math that a first grader can accomplish, 84% increase minus a 44% decrease is still a 40% increase. So as usual the facts are lied about in the conclusion. What other combinations result in a higher increase? What will actual real world values be fror these 4 factors? We don't know because the purpose of the study is to claim CO2 is bad for the environment.

  • Rio
    Lv 6
    9 years ago

    What I get... Co2 may determine (in part) the development and number of the stoma, while humidity, and the type of plant determines the time and rates of gaseous exchange. You don't see that? As far as I'm concerned any increase in CO2 could just as well be minimized. Larger/more leafs and less stoma? Could be why most gardeners prefer higher plant yields with less watering.

  • Pindar
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    Warmer is better than colder,have a logical think about why we don't live at the North Pole and why people spend winters in florida and I think you'll figure this one out for yourself.

    Point 2, yes co2 is converted to sugars and oxygen within plants and this is our source of oxygen and the starting point of every food chain on Earth. Given enough light, heat, nutrients and water a lack of co2 is the current limiting factor for plant growth.This IS a scientific fact,well proven and taught in every biology class in every school. Amazingly this why commercial indoor growers usually treble the amount of co2 available.

    You're gonna have to realise that carbon is not a bogey man, you are made of it and without it life on Earth wouldn't be possible ,so get a grip.

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  • 9 years ago

    (similar resources" ? OK heres a couple that don't agree with your premise.



    one more 88 year long study(concerning trees) from the International Journal of Biometerology


    also the warming you're talking about is not spread evenly over all Earths growing zones.

    the warming is primarily in the arctic where very little now grows, much less so in the antarctic & its practically undetectable in the verdant equatorial regions.

  • Maxx
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    Chem, the estimates I've seen for the amount of CO2 that humans produce of the total is something like 3 percent. Wiki says current atmospheric concentration is about 390ppm.

    Let's assume people could cut ALL CO2 production (totally impossible of course, we still have to breath) but if we could, then that would bring us down to about 378ppm. But if we continue for awhile longer with these slightly elevated temperatures, then the oceans are going to continue to warm somewhat, and in turn release far more CO2 then we could ever control.

    It's totally futile to try and control atmospheric concentration by reduction in human activities like driving or burning coal. We need something that takes it out of the air, like trees or some kind of machine that vacuums it out.

    But as I've stated on this site maybe a hundred times now, we know that CO2 does not drive temperature, so why worry about it?


    Chem - I've made an ignorant statement? Then please explain to dumb old me what is so ignorant about what I've just said, rather than your giving me the typical insulting condescending tone that Warminst frequently run to when they don't know what else to say.


    Chem - It's a shame that you are so disingenuous and the readers see that clearly.


    Chem - Is that what you were fixated on, the comment that we still had to breath? That's what all the drama was about? And now you've decided to throw a temper tantrum and act like a five year old. So very typical of Warmints and Leftist, no reason, no logic, just emotion out of control.


  • 9 years ago

    Both are popular denier catch phrases which ignore some basic physics, a warmer world means ice melts, that is already being observed.


    The second CO2 is plant food is true but that is not all plants need to survive, a warmer world also means higher evaporation and increased desertification. Deniers usual come back with the snappy answer "oh we can grow crops further north like Canada" an interesting statement as they have admitted permafrost is going to melt by making the statement which will release vast amounts of Methane/CO2. In their ignorance they also ignore the fact that in the Arboreal zone just below the permafrost is the so called "Taiga forest"


    A region until now left pretty much untouched because it is to cold to grow most crops, the forest in this region covers much of the North of North America and a good deal of Northern Europe, it releases more oxygen into the atmosphere than does the Amazon.

    Another thing this glib denier statement ignores is all the infrastructure that currently is used to support the food industry farms, roads, rail, transport & storage all this would have to be recreated, funny I seem to recall one of the deniers grumbles about AGW is it would cost to much to fix, the kind of shift of infrastructure they are talking about would easily cost as much and in reality it has taken centuries to get the current system in place. If such a move where necessary then AGW would be the cause and we would still have to fix that as well.

  • 9 years ago

    a warmer world would give much greater growing area for crops to feed the expanding population, the increased crops would soak up additional CO2 in growing the only problem which is easily solved with nuclear power and de-salination plants is distribution of water, I can't believe that in the 21st century california doesn't have a chain of them down the coast, shame on the state government

  • 9 years ago

    It is a safe bet that

    1) Agriculture in some areas will benefit from AGW (more CO2 and longer growing seasons)

    2) Other areas will suffer due to extreme weather

    3) Cases (2) will exceed in impact cases (1)

    4) We don't know and never will exactly how big the net negative effect will be

    5) Liar-deniers will cherry-pick to try to trick people into believe that cases (1) exceed cases (2)

  • Jeff M
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    Maxx: Your ignorant statement concerns where you states we still have to breathe. Look up the differences between the biological carbon cycle and the geological carbon cycle and where breathing and fossil fuels fit in to those cycles.

    And whoever gave me a thumbs down should look up the differences as well. Chances are they are as confused as poor Maxx here.

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