A Dead Climate Denial Meme is Dead Again

July 27, 2022

Endlessly marveling at the recycling of climate denial memes from the past even as we are living the climate-changed future, which is, well, not so great.
One of the oddest practitioners is “philosopher” Alex Epstein, aka “The smartest guy at the Frat House Kegger”, the most recent fresh-faced darling of the climate denial media. Today, he discovered the “CO2 feeds plants” meme.
If that reminds you of “Brawndo has what plants crave”, well, me too.

The CO2 meme has had a long life in science denial circles, the Competitive Enterprise Institute tried to recycle it in 2006, below.

The science?


  • Higher CO2 levels can affect crop yields. Some laboratory experiments suggest that elevated CO2 levels can increase plant growth.  However, other factors, such as changing temperatures, ozone, and water and nutrient constraints, may counteract these potential increases in yield. For example, if temperature exceeds a crop’s optimal level, if sufficient water and nutrients are not available, yield increases may be reduced or reversed. Elevated CO2 has been associated with reduced protein and nitrogen content in alfalfa and soybean plants, resulting in a loss of quality.  Reduced grain and forage quality can reduce the ability of pasture and rangeland to support grazing livestock.[1]
  • More extreme temperature and precipitation can prevent crops from growing. Extreme events, especially floods and droughts, can harm crops and reduce yields. For example, in 2010 and 2012, high nighttime temperatures affected corn yields across the U.S. Corn Belt, and premature budding due to a warm winter caused $220 million in losses of Michigan cherries in 2012.[1]
  • Dealing with drought could become a challenge in areas where rising summer temperatures cause soils to become drier. Although increased irrigation might be possible in some places, in other places water supplies may also be reduced, leaving less water available for irrigation when more is needed.
  • Many weeds, pests, and fungi thrive under warmer temperatures, wetter climates, and increased CO2 levels. Currently, U.S. farmers spend more than $11 billion per year to fight weeds, which compete with crops for light, water, and nutrients.[1] The ranges and distribution of weeds and pests are likely to increase with climate change. This could cause new problems for farmers’ crops previously unexposed to these species.
  • Though rising CO2 can stimulate plant growth, it also reduces the nutritional value of most food crops. Rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide reduce the concentrations of protein and essential minerals in most plant species, including wheat, soybeans, and rice. This direct effect of rising CO2 on the nutritional value of crops represents a potential threat to human health. Human health is also threatened by increased pesticide use due to increased pest pressures and reductions in the efficacy of pesticides.[3]

I treated this meme long ago in 2010 video:

My recommendation?
Much better movie of almost the same vintage, (1991) –
Dead Again by Kenneth Branagh has an incredible cast, and a great twist ending. With CO2 we already know how it ends.


4 Responses to “A Dead Climate Denial Meme is Dead Again”

  1. ubrew12 Says:

    “All things being equal, more CO2 is better for plants”
    Do you mean, like, Lake Powell being equal to what it was 30 years ago?

  2. al mar Says:

    Don’t you just love it that every high school dropout, with a afternoon to kill on Google, thinks they’re the one that can disprove decades of work done by tens of thousands of scientists?

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