Robert Fergerson, President
Science and Public Policy Institute
Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change
PO Box 209, 5501 Merchants View Square
Haymarket, VA 20169, 202 288-5699
How humanity and the rest of the biosphere will prosper from this amazing trace gas that so many have wrongfully characterized as a dangerous air pollutant!
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
So wrote Elizabeth Barrett Browning in a romantic poem that perfectly captures the all encompassing emotion of love. Though Miss Browning surely had humans in mind
when she wrote these words, she would not have been far off the mark had she attributed them to plants; for if plants could articulate their feelings, they too would
surely recite these same lines... to carbon dioxide.
Atmospheric carbon dioxide is the elixir of life. It is the primary raw material out of which plants construct their tissues, which in turn are the materials
out of which animals construct theirs. This knowledge is so well established, in fact, that we humans and all the rest of the biosphere are described
in the most basic of terms as carbon based lifeforms.
Nowadays, however, it seems that all we ever hear about atmospheric CO2 are the presumed negative consequences of its increasing concentration. Time and again,
world governments, nongovernmental organizations, international agencies, societal think tanks, and even respectable scientific organizations attempting to
assess the potential consequences of this phenomenon, have spent multiple millions of dollars writing and promoting large reports about it. Yet, nearly all of these
endeavors have failed miserably, by not evaluating, or even acknowledging,
the manifold real and measurable benefits of the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content. As a result, the many important and positive impacts of atmospheric CO2
enrichment remain underappreciated and largely ignored in the debate over what to do, or not do, about anthropogenic CO2 emissions.
The Many Benefits of Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment A new book written by Drs. C. D. and S. B. Idso and produced by the Science and Public Policy Institute
(Vales Lakes Publishing, LLC, Pueblo West, Colorado, USA) attempts to rectify this imbalance by outlining 55 ways in which the modern rise in atmospheric
CO2 is benefiting earth's biosphere, as reported in the peer reviewed scientific literature. And like love, carbon dioxide's many splendors are seemingly
endless. Order your copy now, and enjoy this guide to the wonderful CO2 enriched world of the future, made bright by the amazing molecule that the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency has had the audacity to so wrongly characterize as a dangerous air pollutant!
The 55 Benefits
1. Air Pollution Stress (NonOzone) As the CO2 content of the air rises, most plants reduce their stomatal apertures,
thereby decreasing their uptake of harmful air pollutants that might otherwise damage their tissues and, in the case of agricultural crops, reduce their yields.
As a result, enriching the air with CO2 tends to reduce and sometimes even more than compensate for the negative effects of real air pollutants on plant
photosynthesis and growth.
2. Air Pollution Stress (Ozone) Plants grown in CO2 enriched air nearly always exhibit increased photosynthetic rates and biomass production relative to plants
grown at the air's ambient CO2 concentration. In contrast, plants exposed to elevated ozone concentrations typically display reductions in photosynthesis and growth. Thus, it is
important to determine how major crops and forest trees respond to concomitant increases in the abundances of these two trace gases of the atmosphere, in case their
concentrations continue to increase in the years and decades ahead; and when such experiments are conducted, CO2 is found to be the perfect antidote for countering the
negative effects of increasing levels of ozone pollution.
3. Avoiding Human Starvation and Plant and Animal Extinctions Unless the air's CO2 content continues its upward trajectory, humans will experience mass starvation,
and untold numbers of plants and animals will face extinction over the last half of the current century.
4. Bacteria Rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations will likely allow greater numbers of beneficial bacteria (that help sequester carbon and nitrogen) to
exist within soils and anaerobic water environments, which two pronged phenomenon would be a great boon to both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
5. Biodiversity The ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content will likely not be a threat to ecosystem species richness, contrary to what some
have suggested, for a number of studies indicate that earth's increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration may actually increase the niche security of many of the planet's
different life forms, thereby helping to preserve both regional and global biodiversity.
6. Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds (BVOCs) Real world evidence indicates that (1) both rising air temperatures and CO2 concentrations significantly
increase desirable vegetative BVOC emissions, particularly from trees, which constitute the most prominent photosynthetic force on the planet, and that (2) this
phenomenon has a large number of extremely important and highly beneficial biospheric consequences.
7. Biomass Atmospheric CO2 enrichment nearly always significantly increases plant dry weight or biomass.
8. C4 Plants C4 plants can and do respond positively to increases in the air's CO2 concentration by exhibiting enhanced rates of photosynthesis
and biomass accumulation, especially under conditions of water insufficiency, in contrast to the erroneous view that such plants will not benefit from earth's rising
atmospheric CO2 concentration.
9. CAM Plants Some researchers have suggested that CAM plants will not respond positively to higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
However, a number of experimental studies show that they do.
10. Carbon Sequestration Rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations lead to more numerous and more robust plants, which yearly remove
ever greater quantities of CO2 derived carbon from the atmosphere, storing it initially in their own tissues, eventually in the soil, and ultimately in the depths of the sea.
11. Diseases of Plants There are a number of CO2 induced changes in physiology, anatomy and morphology that enhance plant resistance
to disease at elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations; and in some cases, these benefits completely counterbalance the negative effects of pathogenic infections on overall plant productivity.
12. Early Growth Atmospheric CO2 enrichment is particularly important in helping plants get a good start early in their life cycles
(in the case of annual plants) and early each spring (in the case of perennials), often boosting their growth rates as soon as growth begins, which strong and early stimulation
is regularly found to be responsible for enhanced productivity throughout all subsequent stages of their lives.
13. Earthworms Earthworms respond to increases in the air's CO2 content via a number of plant mediated phenomena in ways that further
enhance the positive effects of atmospheric CO2 enrichment on plant growth and development, while at the same time helping to sequester more carbon more securely in the soil and
thereby reducing the potential for CO2 induced global warming.
14. Evolution The ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content will likely exert selection pressure on earth's naturally occurring terrestrial
plants, which should improve their performance in numerous ways in the face of changes in various
environmental stressors via the process of micro evolution.
15. Flowers At higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations, most plants generally produce more and larger flowers.
16. Fluctuating Asymmetry Higher concentrations of atmospheric CO2 tend to reduce fluctuating asymmetry in plant leaves, leading to
more symmetrical leaves that appear to be less susceptible to attack by herbivores.
17. Glomalin Atmospheric CO2 enrichment increases the production of a protein called glomalin by common root dwelling soil fungi; and
this protein provides a wide range of benefits, including (1) enhancing the stability of soil aggregates, which improves the capacity of soils to
store more carbon and better preserve it, and (2) decreasing the risk of potentially toxic elements to soil microorganisms and plants.
18. Health Promoting Substances Not only does atmospheric CO2 enrichment enhance the productivity of the crops grown by farmers, it
significantly increases the quantity and potency of the many beneficial substances found in their tissues (such as vitamin C and other antioxidants),
which ultimately make their way onto our dinner tables and help us better contend with the multitude of maladies that regularly afflict us.
19. Herbivory As the air's CO2 content continues to
rise, more productive and profuse terrestrial and aquatic vegetation will likely support a
proportional increase in plant herbivores, with both "the eaten and the eaters" benefiting alike.
20. Hormones Atmospheric CO2 enrichment has been shown to enhance plant growth and development by increasing the concentrations of plant
hormones that stimulate cell division, cell elongation and protein synthesis.
21. Human Longevity The last 150 to 200 years have seen a significant degree of global warming, as the earth has recovered from the global chill of the Little Ice Age and transited into the Current Warm Period. Simultaneously, the planet has experienced a rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration that has taken it to levels not experienced for eons. Yet these much maligned twin evils of the climate alarmist movement have had no discernible negative influence on human health, as
represented by perhaps the best integrative measure of their myriad possible influences, i.e., human lifespan. In fact, they may actually have helped to lengthen human lifespan.
22. Human Mortality (All Causes) According to the world's climate alarmists, rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations cause global warming, which temperature increase, they further opine, will lead to greater human mortality. However, upon examination of pertinent real world data, it becomes clear that warmer temperatures actually lead to a decrease in temperature related deaths, which phenomenon represents one of the many indirect benefits of atmospheric CO2 enrichment.
23. Human Mortality (Cardiovascular) Climate alarmists would have people believe that CO2 induced global warming will pose numerous challenges to human health, including premature death due to heat induced cardiovascular problems. However, the results of several studies demonstrate that global warming is actually beneficial to
humanity in this regard, in that it reduces the incidence of cardiovascular diseases related to low temperatures and wintry weather by a much greater degree than it increases the incidence of cardiovascular diseases associated with high temperatures and summer heat waves.
24. Human Mortality (Respiratory) Climate alarmists would have people believe that CO2 induced global warming will pose numerous challenges to human health, including premature death due to heat induced respiratory problems. However, the results of several studies make it abundantly clear that rising temperatures have a net positive impact on the respiratory health of the planets human population.
25. Iodocompounds A CO2 induced stimulation of marine emissions of iodocompounds provides a natural brake on the tendency for global warming to occur as a consequence of any forcing, as more iodocompounds lead to the creation of more abundant and more highly reflective clouds over greater areas of the world's oceans, which phenomenon results in more solar radiation being reflected back to space.
26. Isoprene Based on a number of experimental findings, the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content will likely lead to significant reductions in the air's concentration of isoprene which is responsible for the production of vast amounts of tropospheric ozone thereby helping to reduce the atmospheric presence of the latter noxious trace gas that negatively impacts earth's plant and animal life.
27. Light Stress Under less than optimal light intensities, the benefits of atmospheric CO2 enrichment on plant growth are often greater than when light conditions are ideal.
28. Lipids Hydrophobic molecules consisting of fats, oils and waxes that possess long non polar hydrocarbon groups arranged in fatty acid chains called lipids are major components of plant and animal membranes that
are extremely important to the well being of nearly all living organisms; and their quantity and quality are both significantly enhanced in the presence of elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations.
29. Medicinal Plants Atmospheric CO2 enrichment positively impacts the production of numerous health promoting substances found in medicinal plants, many of which have been demonstrated to be
effective in fighting a number of devastating human maladies, including tumors, cancers, fevers, heart disease, and other ills.
30. Monoterpenes Monoterpenes constitute a major fraction of the biogenic volatile organic compounds or BVOCs given off by plants; and they help protect earth's terrestrial vegetation by acting as scavengers of reactive oxygen species that are produced within plants experiencing significant heat stress. They also function as deterrents of pathogens and herbivores, and are known to aid plant wound healing after damage
inflicted by herbivores. In addition, monoterpenes
may attract pollinators and herbivore predators.
31. Nectar Greater concentrations of atmospheric CO2 tend to boost nectar production by flowers, which improvement can increase the attractiveness of the flowers to bees and other pollinators, thereby increasing pollination activity and fruit set and yield.
32. Net Primary Productivity Just as there is incontrovertible evidence that the vitality of mankind has increased dramatically over the course
of the Industrial Revolution, in tandem with the increases in air temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentration concomitantly experienced, so too is there irrefutable evidence that the vitality of earths plant life has done the same.
33. Nitrogen Fixation Increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration stimulate nitrogen fixation in most of the world's legumes, i.e., plant species that form symbiotic relationships with nitrogen fixing soil bacteria; and this phenomenon will likely lead to increased nitrogen availability in earth's soils as the air's CO2 content continues to rise, ultimately generating large increases in crop and natural ecosystem productivity.
34. Nutrient Acquisition Most species of plants respond to increases in the air's CO2 content by displaying enhanced rates of photosynthesis and biomass production, both above and below ground. In the latter instance, there are typically significant increases in fine root numbers and surface area; and this phenomenon tends to increase total nutrient uptake under CO2 enriched conditions, which further stimulates plant growth and development.
35. Phosphorus Acquisition Many people have long presumed that the growth stimulation due to the aerial fertilization effect of atmospheric CO2 enrichment will not be sustained as time progresses, due to insufficient amounts of soil phosphorus. However, several studies conducted over the past decade or so suggest that a CO2 enriched atmosphere actually enables plants to obtain the extra phosphorus they may require under such circumstances.
36. Photosynthesis Atmospheric CO2 enrichment typically increases the photosynthetic rates of nearly all plants, while almost never lowering it.
37. Progressive Nitrogen Limitation Climate alarmists have long contended that the striking CO2 induced growth enhancements initially experienced by long lived plants in scientific studies will gradually disappear with the passage of time, as the plants slowly deplete the soils in which they are growing of their initial store of nitrogen. However, long term atmospheric CO2 enrichment experiments show that this progressive nitrogen limitation (or PNL) hypothesis is not supported by real world data, as even soils that were low in nitrogen at the start of many long term atmospheric CO2 enrichment experiments have continued to supply sufficient nitrogen to continually maintain the initial high level of the CO2 induced stimulation of plant growth.
38. Reactive Oxygen Species Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are generated by the normal metabolism of cells; and they create oxidative stresses in organisms that tend to shorten their lives. This negative consequence of ROS is largely counteracted by a CO2 enhanced antioxidant defense system that increases resistance to stress, leading to anti ageing benefits and enhanced life span.
39. Root Exudation At the same time that elevated CO2 increases plant growth, it stimulates the exudation of nutrients and carbon from plant roots into the soil. This phenomenon typically enhances biotic activity within the rhizosphere, or plant root zone, which often increases the availability of mineral nutrients to plants.
40. Root Production Elevated CO2 nearly always increases root biomass often even more than shoot biomass by increasing the size of taproots and the number and size of lateral roots, along with fine root biomass and a number of other important root properties.
41. Salinity Stress Atmospheric CO2 enrichment has been shown to stimulate the growth of agricultural crops, woody plants and halophyte species growing under stressful conditions of high salt concentration, demonstrating that such an environment does not thwart the growth promoting effects of elevated CO2.
42. Seeds Atmospheric CO2 enrichment often increases seed mass, yield, germination success, and other qualities that bode well for the future of earth's biosphere.
43. Soil Erosion As a result of the direct effects of atmospheric CO2 enrichment upon the primary plant
processes of photosynthesis and transpiration, which lead to dramatic increases in plant water use efficiency, many plants are greatly expanding their ranges
and the amount of soil surface they cover, thereby stabilizing more soil and better protecting it from erosion by their presence both above and below ground.
44. Soil Toxicity Increases in the air's CO2 content help plants to better withstand the deleterious effects of harmful elements that may be present
in the soil at toxic levels.
45. Starch As the air's CO2 content continues to rise, nearly all of earth's vegetation will respond by exhibiting enhanced rates of photosynthesis
and greater production of carbohydrates. Many of these carbohydrates will be exported from leaves to ultimately provide energy or carbon skeletons to facilitate further
plant growth, after which any remaining carbohydrates are generally converted into starch and stored within leaves or roots for future use.
46. Tannins Numerous studies indicate that elevated concentrations of atmospheric CO2 tend to increase leaf and fine root tannin concentrations of plants,
and that this phenomenon tends to (1) protect the plants' foliage from predation by voracious insect herbivores, (2) protect the plants' roots from
soil borne pathogens and herbivores, (3) enhance the sequestration of carbon in forest soils, and (4) reduce methane emissions from ruminants that might nibble on
the plants' foliage.
47. Temperature Stress The optimum temperature for plant growth and development typically rises with increasing concentrations of atmospheric
CO2. This response, coupled with expected increases in plant photosynthetic rates from the concomitant rise in the airs CO2 concentration, is more than enough
to totally compensate for any temperatureinduced plant stress that might be caused by most scenarios of climate model predicted CO2 induced global warming.
48. Thylakoid Membranes The results of several studies suggest that atmospheric CO2 enrichment may be a
powerful "treatment" for all sorts of environmental ailments that afflict earth's plants and have
their origin in stress induced problems associated with the thylakoid membranes of chloroplasts.
49. Transpiration Under conditions of atmospheric CO2 enrichment, stomatal apertures typically decrease, thereby reducing stomatal conductance and
transpirational water losses from plants.
50. UV-B Radiation Stress The ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content is a powerful antidote for the deleterious biological impacts that might be caused by an
increase in the flux of UV-B radiation at the surface of the earth due to any further depletion of the planet's stratospheric ozone layer.
51. Vegetative Storage Proteins In CO2 enriched air, these special nitrogen storing proteins are created in greater amounts in the leaves of perennial plants,
where they are stored over winter and from whence they are transferred to newly developing second year leaves to give them a huge boost in their initial development.
52. Water Stress When plants are growing under less than optimal conditions of soil water availability, the percent growth enhancement due to atmospheric CO2
enrichment is generally greater than it is when water is readily available to them. Elevated levels of CO2 thus tend to compensate for less than optimal water supplies;
nd they help plants recover, both more quickly and more completely, when they have experienced a period of severe water stress.
53. Water Use Efficiency With higher concentrations of CO2 in the air, greater photosynthetic carbon uptake typically occurs. In addition, less water is
lost via transpiration, as many plants exhibit decreased stomatal conductances at elevated CO2. Hence, the amount of carbon gained per unit of water lost via
transpiration or water use efficiency generally increases substantially with atmospheric CO2 enrichment, sometimes even doubling with a doubling of the air's CO2 content.
54. Weeds Elevated CO2 typically stimulates the growth of nearly all plant species in monoculture, including those deemed undesirable by humans, i.e., weeds.
Consequently, it is important to determine how future increases in the air's CO2 content may influence relationships between weeds and non weeds when they grow
competitively in mixed species stands. Fortunately, the results of several such studies suggest that the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content likely will
not favor the growth of weedy species over that of crops and native plants. In fact, it may well provide non weeds greater protection against weed induced decreases
in their productivity and growth. Thus, future increases in the air's CO2 content may actually increase the competitiveness of non weeds over weeds, which would be a
great boon to agriculture.
55. Wood Density Elevated CO2 often increases wood density in trees, thereby increasing a number of strength properties of their branches and trunks.
55 Benefits of Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment
Air Pollution Stress (NonOzone)
Air Pollution Stress (Ozone)
Avoiding Human Starvation and Plant and Animal Extinctions
Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds
Diseases of Plants
Health Promoting Substances
Human Mortality (All Causes)
Human Mortality (Cardiovascular)
Human Mortality (Respiratory)
Net Primary Productivity
Progressive Nitrogen Limitation
Reactive Oxygen Species
UV-B Radiation Stress
Vegetative Storage Proteins
Water Use Efficiency