The alternative that will work is, as I posted, more smog. Plants will
have increased growth with increased CO2 but CO2 is released when the
plants burn or decompose. And our use of fossil fuels is not
More Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere is not necessarily good for plants.
An argument, made by those who deny man made Global Warming, is that the
Carbon Dioxide that is being released by the burning of fossil fuels is
actually good for the environment. Their argument is based on the logic
that, if plants need CO2 for their growth, then more of it should be
better. We should expect our crops to become more abundant and our
flowers to grow taller and bloom brighter.
However, this "more is better" philosophy is not the way things work in
the real world. There is an older, wiser saying that goes, "Too much of
a good thing can be a bad thing." For example, if a doctor tells you to
take one pill of a certain medicine, taking four is not likely to heal
you four times faster or make you four times better. It's more likely to
make you sick.
It is possible to help increase the growth of some plants with extra
CO2, under controlled conditions, inside of greenhouses. It is based on
this that 'skeptics' make their claims. However, such claims are
simplistic. They fail to take into account that once you increase one
substance that plants need, you automatically increase their
requirements for other substances. It also fails to take into account
that a warmer earth will have an increase in deserts and other arid
lands which would reduce the are available for crops.
Plants cannot live on CO2 alone. They get their bulk from more solid
substances like water and organic matter. This organic matter comes from
decomposing plants and animals or from man made fertilizers. It is a
simple task to increase water and fertilizer and protect against insects
in an enclosed greenhouse but what about doing it in the open air,
throughout the entire Earth?
What would be the effects of an increase of CO2 on agriculture and plant
growth in general? The following points make it clear.
1. CO2 enhanced plants will need extra water both to maintain their
larger growth as well as to compensate for greater moisture evaporation
as the heat increases. Where will it come from? Rainwater is not
sufficient for current agriculture and the aquifers they rely on are
running dry throughout the Earth (1, 2).
On the other hand, as predicted by Global Warming, we are receiving
intense storms with increased rain throughout of the world. One would
think that this should be good for agriculture. Unfortunately, when rain
falls down very quickly, it does not have time to soak into the ground.
Instead, it builds up above the soil then starts flowing to the lowest
level. It then quickly floods into creeks, then rivers, and finally out
into the ocean carrying off large amounts of soil and fertilizer.
2. Unlike Nature, our way of agriculture does not self fertilize by
recycling all dead plants, animals and their waste. Instead we have to
be constantly producing artificial fertilizers from natural gas which
will eventually start running out. By increasing the need for such
fertilizer you will shorten the supply of natural gas creating
competition between the heating of our homes and the growing of our
food. This will drive the prices of both up.
3. Too high a concentration of CO2 causes a reduction of photosynthesis
in certain of plants. There is also evidence from the past of major
damage to a wide variety of plants species from a sudden rise in CO2
(See illustrations below). Higher concentrations of CO2 also reduce the
nutritional quality of some staples, such as wheat.
4. The worse problem, by far, is that increasing CO2 will increase
temperatures throughout the Earth. This will make deserts and other
types of dry land grow. While deserts increase in size, other eco-zones,
whether tropical, forest or grassland will try to migrate towards the
poles. However, soil conditions will not necessarily favor their growth
even at optimum temperatures.
5. When plants do benefit from increased Carbon Dioxide, it is only in
enclosed areas, strictly isolated from insects. However, when the growth
of Soybeans is boosted out in the open, it creates major changes in its
chemistry that makes it more vulnerable to insects, as the illustration
Just wanted to make sure you weren't ignoring the general temporary
nature of carbon sequestration in plants, that extra growth we got
here in California from a wet spring is now a fire danger. But grasses
seem be be better for carbon seqestration in the soil, as long as the
soil doesn't erode. And I heard of a type of grass that could store
carbon in a more stable state. However even with genetic engineering,
which has it's own problems, I believe it would only account for a
fraction of our output which is increasing world wide.
Is there even any distinction (other than intent) between conventional
farmers [unintentionally] altering the biosphere, i.e., chopping down
rain forests, etc. and geoengineering [intentionally] altering the
The scale is not even necessarily larger with geo engineering if you
just want to tweak the climate by a miniscule amount. Nor does geo
engineering hinge on the burning of fossil fuels either. It just
happens to be the best escape from the current dire crisis.
So what is the distinction? Why is one activity bad while the other
Is it somehow preferable for humans to _not_ intentionally affect the
environment? Why not "get back to nature" on health care, housing,
and food production?
The only real distinction left between humans and animals is humans
IP got us into this mess and IP will get us out.
Humans are interfering with the self-balancing aspects of the
environment which functioned for millions of years before the human
zoo institutionalized nature.
Oxygen and fire - Why did oxygen remain at 21 per cent, and not rise
higher? I think the answer is fire. The correlation between oxygen
abundance and flammability is steep. Below 15 per cent, nothing will
burn: above 26 per cent combustion is instant and awesome fires would
rage, destroying all forests. Charcoal layers in the geological record
show that oxygen has long been above 15 per cent, and remains of
ancient forests show that it has not exceeded 25 per cent. But how
could the oxygen-fire relationship in practice act as a Gaian
regulatory mechanism? An answer could lie in the fire ecology of
forests: certain species, the conifers and eucalypts, do include fire
in their evolutionary strategy; others do not. As with the dark and
light daisies in Daisyworld, the competition for space between the
trees could provide a feedback control on oxygen and fire.
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