Most of the earth’s plant life evolved in an atmosphere of much more concentrated CO2. Indeed, some scientists have argued that, until quite recently, many plants were starving for CO2.
CO2 is essential to photosynthesis, the process by which plants use sunlight to produce carbohydrates – the material of which their roots and body consist. Increasing CO2 levels speeds the time in which plants mature and improves their growth efficiency and water use. Botanists have long realized that CO2 enhances plant growth, which is why they pump CO2 into greenhouses.
In addition, higher CO2 levels decrease water loss in plants, giving them an advantage in arid climates and during droughts. In 55 experiments conducted by U. S. Department of Agriculture research scientist Sherwood Idso, increased levels of CO2 dramatically enhanced plant growth.
For example, Idso found:
- With a CO2 increase of 300 ppm, plant growth increased 31 percent under optimal water conditions and 63 percent when water was less plentiful.
- With a 600 ppm CO2 increase, plant growth increased 51 percent under optimal water conditions and an astonishing 219 percent under conditions of water shortage.
Americans for Carbon Dioxide supports stronger healthy crops for America.
Eight years after the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned of mass starvation from global warming caused by high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), emissions of the greenhouse gas are at record levels. But so is worldwide crop production.
“By 2020, in some countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50%,” the report predicted. But last year, even a record level of atmospheric CO2 did not keep farmers from reaping record-breaking harvests worldwide, including a record opium crop in Afghanistan.
The monthly CO2 average in November 2014 was 397.13 parts per million as measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, which maintains “the longest record of direct measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The level of atmospheric CO2 was 315.97 ppm in 1959, when it was first measured, and is now about 40 percent higher than it was during the pre-industrial era.
However, according to a report also released in November by the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, “world cereal production in 2014 is forecast at a new record of 2,532 million tonnes… 7 million tonnes (0.3 percent) above last year’s peak.” That includes a record level of wheat production worldwide, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.