Typical newspaper and TV articles which refer to CO2, malign it as a pollutant and some sort of horrible gas that we should do our utmost to get rid of, by not making it, or burying it deep underground. It is inferred that we’d be far better off without it.
Therefore, as I am able, in any discussion on global warming and the ‘warming’ effect of CO2, I try to frame our perspective of CO2, making reference to the absolutely essential part it plays in the natural life cycles of both plants and animals. Simply put, without CO2 life would not exist. It is an essential part of both photosynthesis and respiration.
For instance, on 1 May I was privileged to be able to address a New Plymouth club on global warming. Early in the presentation, before getting into global warming, I made a few points about the importance of CO2. Here are the talking point bullets from the slide.
- CO2 is essential for life
- Solar energy, CO2 and water, photosynthesis
- Carbon atom is the building block of life
- Atmospheric CO2 is where plants get all their carbon
- Plant growth increases with increased CO2
- With increased CO2 plants require less water
- CO2 is not a pollutant, lemonade bubbles, cooking
Recently I was pleased to stumble across a few more instances along these lines. I recommend them to you.
On 8 May the Wall Street Journal, published an item titled Harrison H. Schmitt and William Happer: In Defense of Carbon Dioxide.
The article starts
“Of all of the world’s chemical compounds, none has a worse reputation than carbon dioxide. Thanks to the single-minded demonization of this natural and essential atmospheric gas by advocates of government control of energy production, the conventional wisdom about carbon dioxide is that it is a dangerous pollutant. That’s simply not the case. Contrary to what some would have us believe, increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will benefit the increasing population on the planet by increasing agricultural productivity.”
One of the points made by Schmitt and Happer is that increased CO2 causes increased plant growth. A week later, on 15 May, a post at The Hockey Schtick highlights a New paper finds a large CO2 fertilization effect greening the globe since 1982.
The abstract of the paper is here CO2 fertilisation has increased maximum foliage cover across the globe’s warm, arid environments.
“… Using gas exchange theory, we predict that the 14% increase in atmospheric CO2 (1982–2010) led to a 5 to 10% increase in green foliage cover in warm, arid environments. Satellite observations, analysed to remove the effect of variations in rainfall, show that cover across these environments has increased by 11%. Our results confirm that the anticipated CO2 fertilization effect is occurring alongside ongoing anthropogenic perturbations to the carbon cycle and that the fertilisation effect is now a significant land surface process.”
Lubos Motl at The Reference Frame added an interesting perspective with an article titled Why we should work hard to raise the CO2 concentration.
And Andrew Montford at Bishop Hill shared a video of Professor Happer being interviewed by CNBC.
So there you have it. The most maligned gas in our atmosphere; is essential for life, there is very little of it, and without doubt it ought to be treasured instead.