Tuesday, September 20, 2016

New Study Undercuts Favorite Climate Myth ‘More CO2 Is Good for Plants’

A 16-year study found that we’re at a point where more CO2 won’t keep increasing plant production, but higher temperatures will decrease it.

Composite image of Earth from the ring of geostationary satellites in orbit high above above the Earth. (Photograph Credit: 2016 EUMETSAT) Click to Enlarge.
A new study by scientists at Stanford University, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, tested whether hotter temperatures and higher carbon dioxide levels that we’ll see post-2050 will benefit the kinds of plants that live in California grasslands.  They found that carbon dioxide at higher levels than today (400 ppm) did not significantly change plant growth, while higher temperatures had a negative effect.

The oversimplified myth of ‘CO2 is plant food’
Those who benefit from the status quo of burning copious amounts of fossil fuels love to argue that more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will benefit plant life.  It’s a favorite claim of climate contrarians like Matt Ridley and Rupert Murdoch.
So far, as contrarians like Rupert Murdoch love to point out, the plant food effect has won out. Earth has become greener in recent decades (although that trend may now be reversing). The situation is not unlike a human diet – at relatively low calorie levels, more food is beneficial. But as calorie intake continues to rise, at a certain point it’s no longer benefiting the human body. More food is good, but only up to a certain point, as the global obesity epidemic makes clear.

Read more at New Study Undercuts Favorite Climate Myth ‘More CO2 Is Good for Plants’

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