Earth. In the Balance.

 

Anyone who’s taken a middle-school science course knows that plants depend on carbon dioxide in much same way that we animals need oxygen to keep on living.

But what happens when the carbon dioxide levels start to rise? How does that affect the vegetation on the planet?

Well, as it turns out, they like it. They like it a lot.

Land plants are absorbing 17% more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere now than 30 years ago, our research published today shows. Equally extraordinarily, our study also shows that the vegetation is hardly using any extra water to do it, suggesting that global change is causing the world’s plants to grow in a more water-efficient way.

So the science is settled: If you want more food for the global community, you should drive a car that gives off more carbon dioxide, not less.

Do it today. Do it for the children.

There are 29 comments.

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  1. PHCheese Member
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    It is my understanding that sweet spot for CO2for plant growth is upwards of 2000 parts per million. Many greenhouses add CO2  at night to induce growth. CO2 is not a poison it is arguably the most important thing on the planet of course an argument could be made as well for H2O. Great post

    • #1
  2. Chris O. Coolidge
    Chris O.
    @ChrisO

    Ready!

    • #2
  3. aardo vozz Member
    aardo vozz
    @aardovozz

    PHCheese (View Comment):
    It is my understanding that sweet spot for CO2for plant growth is upwards of 2000 parts per million. Many greenhouses add CO2 at night to induce growth. CO2 is not a poison it is arguably the most important thing on the planet of course an argument could be made as well for H2O. Great post

    Agreed, but I’m a bit more of an oxygen fan myself. ?

    • #3
  4. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Amen.

    I used to joke that if leftists really cared about the planet, they’d harass developers to landscape with broadleaf plants and get a tax deduction for homeowners based on the trees in their yards.

    That’s how you go green.

    Yes, I’m a tree-hugger.

    • #4
  5. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    I read recently that a single hour of use with a commercial leaf blower emits more CO2 than driving a Camry 1,100 miles. So now I need to get me a leaf blower.

    • #5
  6. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    What you describe is called a negative feedback loop.  As a given parameter rises, a mechanism is in place (whether natural as plants, or as designed in a U.S. nuclear reactor) that mitigates (or even stops) the change in said parameter.

    Environmentalists would have us believe that CO2 increases would become runaway events, when the opposite is true.  The only truth close to what the whackos say is there is a point where the feedback loop mechanism is overwhelmed to the point an increase becomes runaway, but I’m willing to bet there’s no chance we could ever get close.

    • #6
  7. RyanFalcone Member
    RyanFalcone
    @RyanFalcone

    I for one welcome our new plant overlords and can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their CO2 camps.

    • #7
  8. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    RyanFalcone (View Comment):
    I for one welcome our new plant overlords and can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their CO2 camps.

    Plants…round up…I saw that. Brilliant.

    • #8
  9. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    iWe (View Comment):
    I read recently that a single hour of use with a commercial leaf blower emits more CO2 than driving a Camry 1,100 miles. So now I need to get me a leaf blower.

    That’s a bunch of baloney.  CO2 is a product of combustion of the fuel.  No way you can run a Camry 1100 miles on an hour’s fill for the leaf blower.  More likely that the emissions discussed were nitrogen oxides, which small engines notoriously emit at a greater rate than computer-controlled, fuel injected auto engines.

    • #9
  10. Misthiocracy, Joke Pending Member
    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending
    @Misthiocracy

    Chris O. (View Comment):
    Ready!

    Um, CO2 is a odorless, colorless gas.

    • #10
  11. Polyphemus Member
    Polyphemus
    @Polyphemus

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):

    Chris O. (View Comment):
    Ready!

    Um, CO2 is a odorless, colorless gas.

    I’m sure there’s some of that in there too.  ;)

    • #11
  12. Chris O. Coolidge
    Chris O.
    @ChrisO

    Polyphemus (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):

    Chris O. (View Comment):
    Ready!

    Um, CO2 is a odorless, colorless gas.

    I’m sure there’s some of that in there too. ;)

    I figured, given that discharge, there must be a boiler under the hood. Just think of it as soot and sweet, sweet, CO2.

    • #12
  13. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Stad (View Comment):
    Environmentalists would have us believe that CO2 increases would become runaway events, when the opposite is true. The only truth close to what the whackos say is there is a point where the feedback loop mechanism is overwhelmed to the point an increase becomes runaway, but I’m willing to bet there’s no chance we could ever get close.

    Well there are reasons for thinking about CO2 begetting higher levels of CO2. The models that are in vogue have both positive and negative feedback loops calculated into them. The assumption though is that the positive loops will be more dominant.

    I should also point out that the idea of carbon sequestration in plant biomass has been an idea for combating rising levels of CO2 in the early part of the Obama years I know many plant labs were writing grants about carbon sequestration. What we have to remember though about plant bio mass is that pretty much all of it is eventually digested and respirated as CO after the plant dies.

    • #13
  14. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    Matt Ridley has been making this case for a while now and has been attacked as a global climate change denier even though he accepts the concept that increased CO2 are due to human emissions and is causing global warming.

    The problem is that the consequences of rising CO2 are nearly as dire as the alarmists will have you believe. The evidence of global greening is very well established.

    • #14
  15. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    What we have to remember though about plant bio mass is that pretty much all of it is eventually digested and respirated as CO after the plant dies.

    Unless is goes into a peat bog!

    • #15
  16. Kevin Creighton Contributor
    Kevin Creighton
    @KevinCreighton

    Also in the news… could the “experts” be wrong on global climate change?

    Could the science be this unsettled?

    • #16
  17. Don Tillman Member
    Don Tillman
    @DonTillman

    Stad (View Comment):
    What you describe is called a negative feedback loop.

    Yes.  Exactly.

    And, a system cannot be stable for a significant length of time without a negative feedback loop.  Otherwise, any drift or any random external force would throw it off kilter.  One volcano, or one infestation, and kapow, all would be gone.

    So the fact that we’re here, and we’ve done fine for so long, is consistent with a system that has been correcting itself.

    • #17
  18. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Locke On (View Comment):

    iWe (View Comment):
    I read recently that a single hour of use with a commercial leaf blower emits more CO2 than driving a Camry 1,100 miles. So now I need to get me a leaf blower.

    That’s a bunch of baloney. CO2 is a product of combustion of the fuel. No way you can run a Camry 1100 miles on an hour’s fill for the leaf blower. More likely that the emissions discussed were nitrogen oxides, which small engines notoriously emit at a greater rate than computer-controlled, fuel injected auto engines.

    Or perhaps the article compared carbon monoxide emissions?  In the Camry the catalytic converter will convert the carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide, where the leaf blower will not have a CC.

    • #18
  19. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Locke On (View Comment):

    iWe (View Comment):
    I read recently that a single hour of use with a commercial leaf blower emits more CO2 than driving a Camry 1,100 miles. So now I need to get me a leaf blower.

    That’s a bunch of baloney. CO2 is a product of combustion of the fuel. No way you can run a Camry 1100 miles on an hour’s fill for the leaf blower. More likely that the emissions discussed were nitrogen oxides, which small engines notoriously emit at a greater rate than computer-controlled, fuel injected auto engines.

    Or perhaps the article compared carbon monoxide emissions? In the Camry the catalytic converter will convert the carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide, where the leaf blower will not have a CC.

    That could also be.  Many portable gas powered tools use two-stroke engines, which have long-chain molecules (lube oil) mixed with the gasoline, and are therefore more prone to incomplete combustion.

    • #19
  20. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Locke On (View Comment):

    iWe (View Comment):
    I read recently that a single hour of use with a commercial leaf blower emits more CO2 than driving a Camry 1,100 miles. So now I need to get me a leaf blower.

    That’s a bunch of baloney. CO2 is a product of combustion of the fuel. No way you can run a Camry 1100 miles on an hour’s fill for the leaf blower. More likely that the emissions discussed were nitrogen oxides, which small engines notoriously emit at a greater rate than computer-controlled, fuel injected auto engines.

    If I didn’t make a dumb calculation error, a 2018 Camry L model going 1100 miles emits about 83 times as much Co2 as a back-mounted leaf blower operated for one hour.  It’s not hard for a layman to figure out, using just the Internet, because a gallon of fuel being burned emits basically the same amount of CO2 regardless of how it is burned.  The slightly lower CO2 emissions from a low performance motor like a leaf-blower are due to it emitting more unburned hydrocarbons, and more carbon monoxide (I would guess).  Both are further processed to CO2 in the atmosphere anyway.

    • #20
  21. aardo vozz Member
    aardo vozz
    @aardovozz

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):

    Chris O. (View Comment):
    Ready!

    Um, CO2 is a odorless, colorless gas.

    Unlike what is normally emitted in Washington, D.C.

    • #21
  22. Ruthenian Member
    Ruthenian
    @Ruthenian

    PHCheese (View Comment):
    It is my understanding that sweet spot for CO2for plant growth is upwards of 2000 parts per million. Many greenhouses add CO2 at night to induce growth. CO2 is not a poison it is arguably the most important thing on the planet of course an argument could be made as well for H2O. Great post

    Since light is required by plants to convert carbon dioxide and water to oxygen (and to fix carbon in the plants), what is the reason for adding carbon dioxide to greenhouses at night?  As plants use oxygen (and “exhale” carbon dioxide) at night, it would make more sense to add CO2 when the sun is up… Unless we are talking about the use of artificial lighting at night?

    • #22
  23. RyanFalcone Member
    RyanFalcone
    @RyanFalcone

    Z in MT (View Comment):
    Matt Ridley has been making this case for a while now and has been attacked as a global climate change denier even though he accepts the concept that increased CO2 are due to human emissions and is causing global warming.

    The problem is that the consequences of rising CO2 are nearly as dire as the alarmists will have you believe. The evidence of global greening is very well established.

    I wonder about this myself. There were warmer periods in Roman times as well as the the dark ages and in both those periods there were coastal settlements that are where current cities are now. In other words, the seas were right where they are now. Greenland even had Vikings trying to grow crops at one time.

    I even question the human cause of any CO2 levels when one volcanic eruption like Mt. St. Helens can equal over 100 years of the US output of soot and GG.

    • #23
  24. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    What we have to remember though about plant bio mass is that pretty much all of it is eventually digested and respirated as CO after the plant dies.

    Actually, no.

    Thought experiment: A world that is all green has a LOT more sequestered CO2 than one that has no life. Counting all the life in the ocean, that is a vast amount of CO2 that is tied up with living things.

    And then when the green things are eaten by other things, the CO2 becomes carbon and not a greenhouse gas at all.

    • #24
  25. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    My apologies!!! It did not refer to CO2, but to “smog-forming pollution”.

    I found the source.  Quoted here.

    Meanwhile, the state Environmental Protection Agency notes that the best-selling commercial leaf blower “emits smog-forming pollution comparable to driving a 2016 Toyota Camry about 1,100 miles” after just one hour of use.

    I still want me one.

    • #25
  26. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    iWe (View Comment):
    My apologies!!! It did not refer to CO2, but to “smog-forming pollution”.

    I found the source. Quoted here.

    Meanwhile, the state Environmental Protection Agency notes that the best-selling commercial leaf blower “emits smog-forming pollution comparable to driving a 2016 Toyota Camry about 1,100 miles” after just one hour of use.

    I still want me one.

    So, nitrogen oxides as I first suspected.  That’s down to the difference between the simple carburetor-fed small engine and the by-now immensely sophisticated fuel injection, charge ignition and closed loop control system on the auto engine, as well as cat converters.  (My brother does IC engine design and test for a living, I get to hear about this stuff frequently.)  The rubbish cars of the late 70s and 80s are what happens when you try to do this without FI and computer control (Vega, Pinto, or Gremlin ring a bell?)

    • #26
  27. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Ruthenian (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):
    It is my understanding that sweet spot for CO2for plant growth is upwards of 2000 parts per million. Many greenhouses add CO2 at night to induce growth. CO2 is not a poison it is arguably the most important thing on the planet of course an argument could be made as well for H2O. Great post

    Since light is required by plants to convert carbon dioxide and water to oxygen (and to fix carbon in the plants), what is the reason for adding carbon dioxide to greenhouses at night? As plants use oxygen (and “exhale” carbon dioxide) at night, it would make more sense to add CO2 when the sun is up… Unless we are talking about the use of artificial lighting at night?

    So I think the answer is the following.

    Plants respirate through these openings on their leaves called stomata, which open and close allowing for the free exchange of gasses. The catch is that when the stomata are open the plant will also lose moisture to the atmosphere. So it is always a balance between getting the CO2 you need and keeping precious water. During the day evaporation of water is more likely because of the sun. So I think for many plants gas exchange happens at night when the risk of water loss is less. Of course in a green house plants are watered regularly. The other reason to pump in the CO2 at night is to not give the staff light heads. We humans do less well (though I can’t imagine they put that much CO2 in), still this is the land of lawyers. I wouldn’t risk it.

    • #27
  28. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    iWe (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    What we have to remember though about plant bio mass is that pretty much all of it is eventually digested and respirated as CO after the plant dies.

    Actually, no.

    Thought experiment: A world that is all green has a LOT more sequestered CO2 than one that has no life. Counting all the life in the ocean, that is a vast amount of CO2 that is tied up with living things.

    And then when the green things are eaten by other things, the CO2 becomes carbon and not a greenhouse gas at all.

    Your thought experiment isn’t actually accurate, because the primary location of carbon on the planet depends on geological factors. On a planet with vast oceans, even without life a lot of CO2 will dissolve into solution. And by our best estimates the height of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere was during the Devonian age, when we had both higher CO2 and higher O2. This is the era during which plants colonized land and in fact most of our oil and coal I think comes from this age. The planet was on average several degrees warmer and wetter. A paradise for plants.  But, we also had far more volcanic activity which is what made the CO2 levels so high. So bio mass can impact CO2, but much of it just gets recycled. I think the levels of CO2 dissolved in the oceans today dwarf the sum of all carbon trapped in living organic matter.

    • #28
  29. Ruthenian Member
    Ruthenian
    @Ruthenian

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Ruthenian (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):
    It is my understanding that sweet spot for CO2for plant growth is upwards of 2000 parts per million. Many greenhouses add CO2 at night to induce growth. CO2 is not a poison it is arguably the most important thing on the planet of course an argument could be made as well for H2O. Great post

    Since light is required by plants to convert carbon dioxide and water to oxygen (and to fix carbon in the plants), what is the reason for adding carbon dioxide to greenhouses at night? As plants use oxygen (and “exhale” carbon dioxide) at night, it would make more sense to add CO2 when the sun is up… Unless we are talking about the use of artificial lighting at night?

    So I think the answer is the following.

    Plants respirate through these openings on their leaves called stomata, which open and close allowing for the free exchange of gasses. The catch is that when the stomata are open the plant will also lose moisture to the atmosphere. So it is always a balance between getting the CO2 you need and keeping precious water. During the day evaporation of water is more likely because of the sun. So I think for many plants gas exchange happens at night when the risk of water loss is less. Of course in a green house plants are watered regularly. The other reason to pump in the CO2 at night is to not give the staff light heads. We humans do less well (though I can’t imagine they put that much CO2 in), still this is the land of lawyers. I wouldn’t risk it.

    Thanks @valiuth! There may be other reasons for doing it at night that take into consideration the safety of humans. I found this gem in Wikipedia “At very high concentrations (100 times atmospheric concentration, or greater), carbon dioxide can be toxic to animal life, so raising the concentration to 10,000 ppm (1%) or higher for several hours will eliminate pests such as whiteflies and spider mites in a greenhouse.”

    • #29

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