Tell Me Again that CO2 is “Plant Food”..

August 8, 2019

New York Times:

The world’s land and water resources are being exploited at “unprecedented rates,” a new United Nations report warns, which combined with climate change is putting dire pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself.
The report, prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and released in summary form in Geneva on Thursday, found that the window to address the threat is closing rapidly. A half-billion people already live in places turning into desert, and soil is being lost between 10 and 100 times faster than it is forming, according to the report. 
Climate change will make those threats even worse, as floods, drought, storms and other types of extreme weather threaten to disrupt, and over time shrink, the global food supply. Already, more than 10 percent of the world’s population remains undernourished, and some authors of the report warned in interviews that food shortages could lead to an increase in cross-border migration.
A particular danger is that food crises could develop on several continents at once, said Cynthia Rosenzweig, a senior research scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the lead authors of the report. “The potential risk of multi-breadbasket failure is increasing,” she said. “All of these things are happening at the same time.”

The report also offered a measure of hope, laying out pathways to addressing the looming food crisis, though they would require a major re-evaluation of land use and agriculture worldwide as well as consumer behavior. Proposals include increasing the productivity of land, wasting less food and persuading more people to shift their diets away from cattle and other types of meat. 
“One of the important findings of our work is that there are a lot of actions that we can take now. They’re available to us,” Dr.Rosenzweig said. “But what some of these solutions do require is attention, financial support, enabling environments.” 
The summary was released Thursday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international group of scientists convened by the United Nations that pulls together a wide range of existing research to help governments understand climate change and make policy decisions. The I.P.C.C. is writing a series of climate reports, including one last year on the disastrous consequences if the planet’s temperature rises just 1.5 degrees Celsius above its preindustrial levels, as well as an upcoming report on the state of the world’s oceans.
Some authors also suggested that food shortages are likely to affect poorer parts of the world far more than richer ones. That could increase a flow of immigration that is already redefining politics in North America, Europe and other parts of the world. 
“People’s lives will be affected by a massive pressure for migration,” said Pete Smith, a professor of plant and soil science at the University of Aberdeen and one of the report’s lead authors. “People don’t stay and die where they are. People migrate.”

Between 2010 and 2015 the number of migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras showing up at the United States’ border with Mexico increased fivefold, coinciding with a dry period that left many with not enough food and was so unusual that scientists suggested it bears the signal of climate change.

Barring action on a sweeping scale, the report said, climate change will accelerate the danger of severe food shortages. As a warming atmosphere intensifies the world’s droughts, flooding, heat waves, wildfires and other weather patterns, it is speeding up the rate of soil loss and land degradation, the report concludes. 
Higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere — a greenhouse gas put there mainly by the burning of fossil fuels — will also reduce food’s nutritional quality, even as rising temperatures cut crop yields and harm livestock. 
Those changes threaten to exceed the ability of the agriculture industry to adapt. 
In some cases, the report says, a changing climate is boosting food production because, for example, warmer temperatures will mean greater yields of some crops at higher latitudes. But on the whole, the report finds that climate change is already hurting the availability of food because of decreased yields and lost land from erosion, desertification and rising seas, among other things. 
Overall if emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise, so will food costs, according to the report, affecting people around the world.


The report said that activities such as draining wetlands — as has happened in Indonesia and Malaysia to create palm oil plantations, for example — is particularly damaging. When drained, peatlands, which store between 530 and 694 billion tons of carbon dioxide globally, release that carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere.Carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas, trapping the sun’s heat and warming the planet. Every 2.5 acres of peatlands release the carbon dioxide equivalent of burning 6,000 gallons of gasoline. 
And the emission of carbon dioxide continues long after the peatlands are drained. Of the five gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions that are released each year from deforestation and other land-use changes, “One gigaton comes from the ongoing degradation of peatlands that are already drained,” said Tim Searchinger, a senior fellow at the World Resources Institute, an environmental think tank, who is familiar with the report. (By comparison, the fossil fuel industry emitted about 37 gigatons of carbon dioxide last year, according to the institute.)

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16 Responses to “Tell Me Again that CO2 is “Plant Food”..”

  1. Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

    We are on one world, not only in the ideological kumbyar sense, but physically. The massive refugee situation of today will seem trivial in the future. Expect, guarantee, that as things go to sht, strongmen (persons?) and dictators will proliferate on the claim that it ‘is someone else’s fault’. Then wars and conflict will become endemic. Whatever the first world countries do about it, it is unlikely to be pleasant.
    In short, our lovely wealth will not be a total shield from the consequences of a crapped out world.


  2. CO2 is plant food. That is a fact.

    • Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

      And at present concentrations is overheating the planet.

    • neilrieck Says:

      That is a grade-6 fact. Any college student who has studied photosynthesis at a chemical level already knows that the first stage of photosynthesis involves the photolysis of water. Without this step everything immediately grinds to a halt put this stage paces all the reactions that follow. Ice cores show that without humans on the planet, natural CO2 levels oscillate between 180 ppm and 280 ppm as Earth flips in and out of ice ages which is sufficient for plants. PUSH vs PULL: Just as consuming too many vitamins or too much protein does not make you muscular (we PULL nutrients), too much CO2 does not stimulate additional growth (well, it does in approximately 20% of plants which produce “more woody material” but are ~ 7% less nutritious as a food source). What I have always found more interesting are the different kinds of photosynthesis (eg. C3, C4, and CAM) produced by the engine of evolution. One good example of CAM is pineapple where the plant effectively takes a deep breath (inhaling) at night then closes its stomata (leave openings) during the day to limit water loss. Everything the plant uses is in that deep breath. BTW, most common plants employ C3 while C4 was a process exploited by grasses. And yes, C4 plants consume more CO2 than C3 plants.

      http://neilrieck.net/docs/world_population_limit.html#Loss_of_Biological_Productivity

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Yes, a “fact” that is greatly misused and misinterpreted by the deniers in order to confuse the science-ignorant.

    • rsmurf Says:

      plants require co2 to make food to grow. Just like your body needs water to grow. Did you know that if you drink 40 gallons of water a day you can grow taller, it works the same was as you describe with plants, MORE IS BETTER. That is a fact.

    • rsmurf Says:

      Got any other brilliant one liners. If you do keep them to yourself. You already got paid.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      deniers are generally so proud of remembering 5th grade science that they can scarcely imagine that anyone might have taken it further.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Heat and drought kill plants. That is a fact.

  3. Ron Benenati Says:

    So, survival hinges on human beings doing the right thing and make tough choices.
    And people wonder why I am a total apocalypticist?

  4. redskylite Says:

    Both mankind and plants managed through the holocene period, with the CO2 concentration being relatively stable.

    Now, with the CO2 trend continuing upwards as we unbalance nature with our continued fossil burning habits, we are making more and more problems for ourselves and other life on this planet.

    Monthly Average Mauna Loa CO2 – (NOAA: Earth System Research Laboratory
    Global Monitoring Division)

    July 2019: 411.77 ppm
    July 2018: 408.71 ppm
    Last updated: August 5, 2019

    “CO2 in bedrooms and offices may affect cognition and cause kidney and bone problems:

    The authors of the latest study – which reviews current evidence on the issue – say there is a growing body of research suggesting levels of CO2 that can be found in bedrooms, classrooms and offices might have harmful effects on the body, including affecting cognitive performance.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/08/indoor-carbon-dioxide-levels-could-be-a-health-hazard-scientists-warn


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