High CO2 boosts plant respiration, potentially affecting climate and crops

Here’s something you don’t see everyday: a university sending out a press release showing the potential benefits on crop yields of elevated atmospheric CO2 levels. – Anthony
Public release date: 9-Feb-2009

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-02/uoia-hcb020609.php
Contact: Diana Yates
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

High CO2 boosts plant respiration, potentially affecting climate and crops

The leaves of soybeans grown at the elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) levels predicted for the year 2050 respire more than those grown under current atmospheric conditions, researchers report, a finding that will help fine-tune climate models and could point to increased crop yields as CO2 levels rise. The study, from researchers at the University of Illinois and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, appears this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Plants draw CO2 from the atmosphere and make sugars through the process of photosynthesis. But they also release some CO2 during respiration as they use the sugars to generate energy for self-maintenance and growth. How elevated CO2 affects plant respiration will therefore influence future food supplies and the extent to which plants can capture CO2 from the air and store it as carbon in their tissues. While there is broad agreement that higher atmospheric CO2 levels stimulate photosynthesis in C3 plants, such as soybean, no such consensus exists on how rising CO2 levels will affect plant respiration.

IMAGE: Andrew Leakey and assistants at work in the Soy FACE facility at Illinois. Click here for more information.

“There’s been a great deal of controversy about how plant respiration responds to elevated CO2,” said U. of I. plant biology professor Andrew Leakey, who led the study. “Some summary studies suggest it will go down by 18 percent, some suggest it won’t change, and some suggest it will increase as much as 11 percent.” Understanding how the respiratory pathway responds when plants are grown at elevated CO2 is key to reducing this uncertainty, Leakey said.

His team used microarrays, a genomic tool that can detect changes in the activity of thousands of genes at a time, to learn which genes in the high CO2 plants were being switched on at higher or lower levels than those of the soybeans grown at current CO2 levels. Rather than assessing plants grown in chambers in a greenhouse, as most studies have done, Leakey’s team made use of the Soybean Free Air Concentration Enrichment (Soy FACE) facility at Illinois. This open-air research lab can expose a soybean field to a variety of atmospheric CO2 levels – without isolating the plants from other environmental influences, such as rainfall, sunlight and insects. Some of the plants were exposed to atmospheric CO2 levels of 550 parts per million (ppm), the level predicted for the year 2050 if current trends continue. These were compared to plants grown at ambient CO2 levels (380 ppm).

The results were striking. At least 90 different genes coding the majority of enzymes in the cascade of chemical reactions that govern respiration were switched on (expressed) at higher levels in the soybeans grown at high CO2 levels. This explained how the plants were able to use the increased supply of sugars from stimulated photosynthesis under high CO2 conditions to produce energy, Leakey said. The rate of respiration increased 37 percent at the elevated CO2 levels. The enhanced respiration is likely to support greater transport of sugars from leaves to other growing parts of the plant, including the seeds, Leakey said. “The expression of over 600 genes was altered by elevated CO2 in total, which will help us to understand how the response is regulated and also hopefully produce crops that will perform better in the future,” he said.

IMAGE: Illinois plant biology professor Andrew Leakey led a team that discovered that soybean leaves speed up their metabolism in response to rising CO2. Click here for more information.

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226 thoughts on “High CO2 boosts plant respiration, potentially affecting climate and crops

  1. Dang, I wish they had measured ambient temperature a few feet above the test plots.

    Somebody tell them to “go back and do it again.”

    REPLY: They probably have an agrimet station nearby, most ag experiment stations in the midwest do. – Anthony

  2. Boy does this bring back memories. My ex had to write a paper on soybeans for his final senior class in the Crops and Soils department at Oregon State University. Problem was, he was a pointer pecker. Could only type with his pointer fingers. He was also (and still is) a bit dyslexic. So I agreed to type his paper. That was back when there was no such thing as computer cut and paste. I used scissors and glue. By the time I was done, I could have read that paper back to him verbatim without looking. It is still a fond memory.

  3. OT, Anthony, what is that station in Wallowa County, Oregon that has not been surveyed yet? Is it in Wallowa? You want me to look at it?

  4. REPLY: They probably have an agrimet station nearby, most ag experiment stations in the midwest do. – Anthony

    Would most ag ex. stations have the soy FACE technology?

  5. The Beeville TX A&M Agrilife Research Center is a USHCN weather station.

    And Anthony, I re-emailed Jeff re photos and he quickly responded that he has to fill in a hole that he had dug to fix a water leak, before he takes the pix.
    Irrigation? Wet bulb?

  6. This might explain why huge tankers deliver CO2 to the greenhouses and then they pump it in those greenhouses, to make the plants grow larger. Would have been quicker and cheaper to ask a greenhouse farmer, they figured this out years ago.

  7. Well, I thought that the science was settled and CO2 was good for nothing whatsoever. It seems that the more we know, the better CO2 is for life on earth. Too bad so many believe that the science is settled. I’m sure that we will soon hear that there are problems with this study.
    Those who follow the science, instead of the money and politics, have known for a long time that increased CO2 increases and crop yields. This is more confirmation of the good that CO2 accomplishes.

  8. Ummmm! Didn’t Idso, et al already cover this??? …maybe starting 40 of 50 years ago??? CO2 is GOOD for us!!!

  9. This is another indication that plants that evolved when CO2 levels were higher grow better in CO2 rich air. Most of the plants on Earth today evolved when CO2 levels were about 5 times current levels. In fact, CO2 levels were at a record low before industrial activity began to replace atmospheric CO2 that had been sequestered in fossil fuel and the CO2 levels are now recovering to something closer to “normal” over geological time. Had we not begun releasing this CO2, it has been hypothesized that plant production would have begun to fall off and we would be facing a mass extinction of plant life on Earth.

  10. I learned about photosynthesis way back when I was in grade school. It utilizes CO2 and gives of O2. Is it just being rediscovered!?

  11. Not only soybeans but a study by Palanisamy in 1999 showed that as the CO2 content of the atmosphere rises Eucalyptus seedlings exhibit increased rates of photosynthesis even during times of water stress.

    The study showed that CO2-induced increases in photosynthesis will likely lead to greater biomass production, even when soil moisture is low, as during drought conditions. (Palanisamy, K. 1999. Interactions of elevated CO2 concentration and drought stress on photosynthesis in Eucalyptus cladocalyx F. Muell. Photosynthetica 36: 635-638.) http://www.co2science.org/articles/V3/N9/B1.php

    This study may have future implications for the terrible fires in SE Australia where Eucalyptus forests are the norm. Perhaps our increasing CO2 atmospheric concentrations will one day be blessed for the higher food and biomass production it will provide!

  12. The “Greening Earth” crew has been all over this for 20 years, I think…they were blasted for being tools of the oil industry.

  13. Tree cores aren’t much good as thermometers, but I bet they would be good for measuring ambient co2 content from a 1000 years ago.

  14. This seems like a really complicated, expensive, and not easily interpreted substitute for just weighing the plants after a season growing in either normal or increased CO2.

  15. “Understanding how the respiratory pathway responds when plants are grown at elevated CO2 is key to reducing this uncertainty, Leakey said.”

    Knowledge reduces ignorance.

  16. And they folded up their tent, I meant to add. As someone mentioned above, Idso’s have been doing this research for decades, too. The press release makes it seem original.

  17. Why are these people always experimenting with the odious soya bean? If we want to turn into a world of tofu-sucking, raffia-wearing, flatulent tree-huggers, the soya bean is just the thing. Far better is to encourage a proper diet in which flatulence is mainly emitted in the open air by animals that go moo, oink and baa rather than by us in our hermetically-sealed and insulated living rooms. I hate to think of the effect it has on those new twisty light bulbs that shed hardly any light but do so for decades.

    You science people should encourage your fellows to do these tests on good sturdy potatoes, carrots and, if they have to, the occasional cabbage or asparagus. Concentrating on the soya bean sets a very poor example to children. There’s quite enough hippification and lentilisation going on already without adding to the poison.

    REPLY: Soybeans are more than tofu, they are also a major source of a variety of industrial uses and derivatives. Being traded in future exchanges like the Chicago Board of Trade, it is not simply the “hippie food” you imagine it to be. – Anthony

  18. It’s pretty obvious to me that rising CO2 levels will result in catastrophic plant growth resulting in the violent intrusion of hyperbolic plants into cities, we won’t be able to cope with rampant plants over-running us all…

    Humans will have to migrate to small pockets of available habitation to preserve what’s left of civilization…

    The only hope is to stop burning fossil fuels immediately…

    Oh dang – I forgot that I’m not an alarmist…

  19. More recently, a group of scientists has set up one of the largest climate change experiments in Australia. They’re trying to mimic conditions trees will face in the next 50 years. By housing trees in gigantic chambers with elevated CO2 levels, the scientists are hoping to measure how they’ll grow in their new environment.

    They chose to use eucalypts in their experiments because Eucalyptus is the most important genus in Australia, and is probably most likely to be representative of how trees in Australia will respond to future climate change.

    Some of the preliminary studies have indicated that the trees are responding positively… “They’re growing at about 30% or 40% more than plants exposed to ambient CO2″ http://www.abc.net.au/rn/scienceshow/stories/2007/2001966.htm

  20. They use schrubbed industrial flue gasses with elevated CO2 content in the greenhouses in Holland. Produces mighty big juicy tomatoes!

  21. Now, wait just a minute! If higher CO2 levels increase plant growth, then will falling CO2 levels decrease them? Someone, please phone Arnold, our Governator of Kahl-ee-fohn-ya. He has the state embarked on a deadly path, it seems, through AB 32 aka Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. In it, CO2 will (note, that is SHALL) be reduced 30 percent by 2020! And furthermore, it SHALL be reduced another 80 percent by 2050!

    Sound the Alarm! Our California trees, grass, shrubs, and agriculture will all die off from a lack of CO2!

    Oh wait. What’s that I hear? In a sidebar, I was just informed that plants also need sunlight and water and nutrients to grow.

    Well, there is plenty of sunshine, and lots of BS (of all kinds), but in California we don’t have enough water to grow stuff, anyway… never mind!

    And to FatBigot, you are so correct in your analysis of soy products. It also appears they suppress testosterone, which could be a slight problem.

    Roger E. Sowell
    Marina del Rey, California

  22. We know that plants strive to maintain a constant temperature, year-round. Vegetation has to have a “cooling” effect (in summer) on the atmosphere. Bigger plants would have a Greater cooling effect. The question is, “Is it enough to effect the atmosphere?

  23. carlbrannen (20:53:31) : This seems like a really complicated, expensive, and not easily interpreted substitute for just weighing the plants after a season growing in either normal or increased CO2.

    Well, yes, but,… There is some value to all the genetic testing they did. It provides a very strong statement that the metabolism is on ‘snail pace’ at present CO2 levels and is just waiting for some CO2 juice to turn on all the machinery. And you get this with a clear genetic activity profile across the whole metabolism profile. Very nice.

    Consider the alternative: If it had been one or two genes that coded for, oh, sugar, you could make the case that the plant was being opportunistic and just storing away some sugar for future CO2 needs. You could say that higher CO2 wasn’t ‘normal’ or ‘better’, just available for a paranoid plant to put in the bunker. When the whole genome is kicking on, you can’t deny it: That is One Happy Plant! and it’s using the extra CO2 to “Kick it up a notch: BAM!” across the whole lifestyle.

    FatBigot (21:12:52) : Why are these people always experimenting with the odious soya bean? If we want to turn into a world of tofu-sucking, […] Far better is to encourage a proper diet in which flatulence is mainly emitted in the open air by animals that go moo, oink and baa …

    Don’t hang around farms much, eh?

    Almost no soy ends up in tofu. Most of it goes into “moo, oink” & cluck. (Baa mostly gets grass…) Now the soy I like most goes into “Clackty Clakity CLAK CLAk Vroooom” (my soy oil powered bioDiesel sucking Mercedes Full Sized Sedan or my Mercedes Turbo Diesel Full Sized Wagon). A tiny little bit is used in my cooking oil in which the oink, cluck and the occasional ‘splash’ gets fried and some goes into making the corn bread that goes with it and, via the cow, the butter (real stuff, margarine is crud) that goes on it… And a lot is in the mayo that is used to make the potato salad, macaroni salad, and a big dollop goes with the avocado in the guacamole …

    So just take a look at Purina Cow Chow, Pig Chow, Chicken mash, heck, even Trout Chow and you will see lots of soy beans and corn.

    I’d have guessed Chow : tofu was at least 1000 : 1 but these folks:

    http://extension.osu.edu/~news/story.php?id=2045

    Say it’s about 100:1 (1% tofu) but they also say most of the tofu is exported … tofu doesn’t sell all that much in the U.S.A.

    So next time you sit down for that big thick rack of BBQ ribs, with macaroni salad, and chips with avocado / guacamole dip, thank the soy bean growers. Especially if you get to the restaurant driving a Diesel Truck on bioDiesel instead of OPEC crack.

    See, you too can appreciate the ‘green soya bean’ ;-)

    Graeme Rodaughan (21:18:12) : It’s pretty obvious to me that rising CO2 levels will result in catastrophic plant growth resulting in the violent intrusion of hyperbolic plants into cities,

    My God Man! I think you’re onto something! The article said a 37% increase! Plot that as an exponential growth and the world is doomed! DOOMED! We’ll be overrun with soy beans and grass so fast there is no hope! I can only see one way out: We need to start an immediate program of “Bunny Offsets”. Each person can send me $100/year for each bunny rabbit to be released into the wide in their name. This will allow them to avoid the mandatory TOFU allotment that all others will be required to eat as part of the “Cut and Trim” program. ;-)

  24. FatBigot (21:12:52) : wrote

    You science people should encourage your fellows to do these tests on good sturdy potatoes, carrots and, if they have to, the occasional cabbage or asparagus.

    —————————–

    What about Brussels sprouts then?? I bet you flat earth-believing, creationist skeptic bigots haven’t calculated the carbon footprint balance associated with those capitalist agents of the devil, have you? They have been shown conclusively, in peer-reviewed studies, to assimilate excess anthropogenic, atmospheric carbon dioxide and through both bacterial and anatomical positive forcing mechanisms, to expel into the atmosphere the even more potent GHG, methane, in prodigious quantities.

    They should be banned immediately. Validated models have both demonstrated and shown demonstrably the positive feedback effects of methane production by sprout-consuming anthropogenic human beings. In fact, using a really, really validated model, the data was shown to be statistically significant to four decimal places, thereby clearly validating the already validated model. The study was published in a very peer-reviewed journal, the highly prestigious “Journal of Really Validated Models”.

    The consensus-validated results of the International Brussels sprouts (BS) study are fully and demonstrably consistent with validated consensus IPCC models showing that the enormously massive loss of sea ice in the Arctic is directly proportional to the consumption of BS by inhabitants of the Northern Hemisphere.

  25. Given that plants are green so that they can metabolise CO2.

    Is it not a little ironic that the ‘greens’ hate the stuff so much ?

  26. Graeme, My thoughts exactly. Expect a new disaster movie, “Attack of the killer soybeans” at a theater near you.

  27. Who’d a thunk — driving an SUV is Green or firing up a fossil fuel burning power plant is Green. This is similar to a story covered a few months back on these very pages:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/06/08/surprise-earths-biosphere-is-booming-co2-the-cause/

    Wait! I know how the AGW folk can stop this Green movement. All the CO2 is causing plants to become obese. It’s a plant obesity epidemic! It’s going to destroy the planet! Gaia must be saved.

  28. The British Botanist and Environmental warrior and anti global warmist has been saying that CO2 is good for plants for years now

  29. Heck I always wondered why the tunnel house vegetable growers here in New Zealand pumped copious amounts of CO2 into their enclosed environments.

  30. I read about research on elevated CO2 in corn back in the late 1960’s. They were working with 1000ppm and 2000 ppm in sealed greenhouses… The results showed elevated, beneficial growth and grain production. This was part of research on increasing grain production. They wanted to introduce CO2 into corn fields as atmospheric “fertilizer”.

    This is one of the reasons I stopped believing this “CO2 is bad” foolishness over 40 years ago.

  31. CO2 is good for us. Hold the front page.

    Anyone willing to bet on the following?

    There will be the same level of sustained publicity, following a statement from some future senior scientist that anyone that previously claimed that “CO2 producers should be prosecuted” should themselves be the subjects of litigation, as there was when “the world’s top climate scientist” stated such errant nonsense.

    A (even if it is just the one) politician will make a detailed, prolonged public apology and explanation as to why they were suckered into creating legislation on the back of an alarmist agenda created from falsehoods.

    Al Gore will be asked to return his Nobel and sci-fi prizes.

    (sarcasm off)

    Plant growth, individually, entirely and daily, causes global cooling.

    (betting ends)

    Here be monsters (courtesy of Erl Happ);

    http://climatechange1.wordpress.com/

    Quote:

    “The atmosphere does not store warmth. Above 700hPa it has returned to base temperature after each warming episode between 1948 and 2008. It is the sea that stores warmth.”

    “Cooling of the stratosphere is not due to greenhouse gas warming of the troposphere. There is no temperature change in the lower troposphere except very close to the warmer ocean. Cooling of the stratosphere is due to ozone loss associated with surface warming.”

    Recommended reading in my humble opinion.

  32. Ian Pringle, unfortunately the Eucalypt is an incendiary device – it explodes in flames well in advance of the fire front, because of the alcohols etc in the leaves.

    The poor old gum tree is the culprit, as to why you cannot out-run or out-drive a proper Australian bushfire – the fire-front of exploding Eucalyptus trees travels at up to 100 Km per hour, depending upon wind.

    If you are really, really lucky, the fire-front (and bio-fuel conflagration) will rip by you so quickly, that the fire is gone down the valley in a few seconds. However, it is the incredibly intense heat (and of course embers sucked by cyclonic winds under eaves and into roof-spaces) that starts the fires in residences, and unfortunately kills people.

    A very sad time for my country.

  33. Here’s a press release from a 3 yr Stanford study –
    High carbon dioxide levels can retard plant growth, study reveals
    Of course, the title is a little misleading (natch). You read the article and it turns out CO2 in combo with other items increased plant growth by Only 40% .

    A few decades ago, the global warming of the moment was called the “Population Bomb.” The earth would never be able to feed the billions of new humans expected. Well, the billions have arrived, and lo, we’re feeding them. I wish I could say it were due to advanced genetically engineered plants varieties, but the Luddite lawyers have GM crops like Golden Rice all bottled up.

    The explanation for the approximately 15% increase in crop yield is the increased CO2 available to the plants. We can expect increases all the way up to 1000 ppmv. Here’s an Ontario, Canada govt paper on greenhouse CO2 enrichment.

    The AGW community is totally blind to this truly life-and-death issue.

  34. There is agenda at play even here.

    Soy, the way it is produced, processed and consumed by the majority of humans, is not good in any regard whatsoever. Worse are the claims made in praise of it. It is just about useful for animal feed, but if I ruled the world it wouldn’t even be allowed for that purpose.

    Hemp seed on the other hand…….,

  35. Did it ever occur to one that the AGW crowd is out to extinct us? They want to take all the CO2 out of the air so that agriculture will fail and so will Earth’s population. Then, having CO2 stored exclusively for themselves, they will release it so that they can live in the new Garden of Eden without us.

  36. Artificial CO2 generation has long been used in agriculture to promote growth at times of low ambient CO2 levels and a quick look at this web page can be quite informative http://www.gas-plants.com/co2-generator.html
    All encouragment, in my opinion, should be for promoting CO2 as a beneficial gas rather than the evil toxic devil that seems to be the model for the media.
    Witness the UK ITN’s News at Ten last night in a report of the horrific bush fires in Australia. They callously seized the opportunity to inform us that ” Because of unprecedented high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, the trees around Victoria have grown at a rapid and unchecked rate and provided the neccessary fuel for the local bush fires ” This is just stupid, unthinking and irresponsible journalism.

  37. E.M.Smith (22:26:34) :
    Don’t hang around farms much, eh?
    Almost no soy ends up in tofu. Most of it goes into “moo, oink” & cluck. . . . So just take a look at Purina Cow Chow, Pig Chow, Chicken mash, heck, even Trout Chow and you will see lots of soy beans and corn.

    Hi again, E.M. I’ve hung around farms and cows enough that the periodic terrorist anthrax scares don’t apply to me. I know Purina makes those Chows, but other than Trout Chow (or Catfish Chow), farmers would go broke if they tried to raise a herd on them. Starter feed, maybe, but most everything in the barnyard gets homegrown corn, cobs and all through the grinder.

    We raise a lot of ‘beans’ in the Midwest, but I think (no citation) most of it goes to feed hungry Asians (not as tofu, please), gets processed into yummy ‘texturized vegetable protein”, or goes to the ADM chemical plant where they make car bodies, tank armor, and other plastical wonders of modern science.

    I bought some toasted soy ‘nuts’ at the grocery the other day. Toasty, crunchy, oily, no flavor. Won’t buy more.

    One consideration that ought to cheer up the greens, is that the CO2 rise is producing more food for the same energy input, with no increase in CO2 emissions.

    Terry Ward (01:41:28) :
    We get some wild marijuana in the fields here and there. The cows eat the buds and leaves, but leave the stems.

  38. OT, but worth noting for the record, here are a couple of recent stories.

    1. “Harvard’s Holdren Wields Oscar-Worthy Climate Pitch for Obama

    Headline (Bloomberg): “John Holdren, the Harvard University physicist who helped Al Gore earn an Academy Award.”

    “Holdren’s dire predictions about global warming, illustrated in riveting charts and graphs, helped ex-Vice President Gore win an Oscar for his 2006 documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Holdren also helped persuade Ford Motor Co. and ConocoPhillips Co. executives to accept that climate change caused by gas emissions threatened to raise sea levels and harm crops. His slide presentations pop up frequently in other people’s speeches.
    “At age 64, Holdren now is taking on his toughest assignment: getting the American public and Congress to curb fossil fuel use. Barack Obama has named Holdren as assistant to the president for science and technology as well as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, a post for which he will face a Senate confirmation hearing on Feb 12.
    “The White House “is the place where he ought to be right now, trying to save the world,” said Paul Ehrlich, …”

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=aT9Qr0JjWycs&refer=home

    2. “Antarctic Bulge could Flood Washington” (from New Scientist)

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16545-antarctic-bulge-could-flood-washington-dc.html

  39. FatBigot (21:12:52) :

    “Why are these people always experimenting with the odious soya bean?”

    To study this, potato plants (Solanum tuberosum L.) cultivars Norland’, Russet Burbank’, and Denali’ were grown in controlled-environment rooms at different levels of CO2 and irradiance.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11537629

  40. E.M. Smith:
    “We need to start an immediate program of “Bunny Offsets”. Each person can send me $100/year for each bunny rabbit to be released into the wide in their name.”

    E.M….taking your lead from Al? Getting in on the ground floor?…building a “bunny offset trading market” all in the name of CO2-enhancement?

    Your true colors finally show!…you…you…evildoer, you!

    On the other hand…rabbits are quite tasty ;*)

    (Hey…someone had to do it…)

    JimB

  41. The genetic basis of this study points out that plants have probably evolved (over a very long time) the ability to adapt (over a very short period) to everchanging low and high CO2 global regimes.

    Hence temperature proxies based on yearly plant growth are maybe more unreliable than originally thought, whilst highlighting that plants are probably more robust in dealing with climate change.

    Further if adaption over short period is one of the natural ways for plants to deal with climate change, then it points that animal life may have the genetic facility to do so as well.

  42. On the ITN evening news last night (UK), the science editor did a small piece explaining why the Australian bush fires are so bad. I had expected that ‘global warming’ might get a mention as the culprit for the above average temperatures and drought, but no.
    Then he made the point that increased CO2 causes increased plant growth, which has made the bush denser and hence the fires more intense. It’s easy to see where this will go – another bad thing about CO2. The answer would seem to me to be some sort of forestry management. Irrespective of CO2 levels, this would seem to be common sense if you are going to build towns in proximity to woodland that is prone to burning.
    While on the subject, can I offer my greatest sympathy to any Aussie readers who have lost their homes, property or friends and relatives in this ongoing tragedy.

  43. Well said Kaboom. And if you look at some of the pictures of the fire damage, you will see the front of vehicles burnt out, while the rear is untouched.

    Green lobbyists won. They managed to get their foolish laws pased so that fire fuel cannot be cleared. Fire breaks could not be created in the name of “green environmentalism”. Aboriginals knew and know how to manage this land, by fire.

  44. PS. In the Gippsland region of Victoira, the fire WAS started by arsonists. At the start of this w/e, no significant fires other than those known. Starurday, and Saturday night, fire storm. Now, the Police consider 50% started by arsonists in Victoria.

    NSW, two fires confirmed started by arsonists. One man arrested on Saturday over one fire, was released. On Sunday, the same man arrested and confirmed arsonist for another. On Sunday, a young man arrested for starting a fire.

    I get the feeling that some arsonists would start fires, some ex-fire staff, knowing the risks. To me, IMO, I feel these have been politically motivated. Meaning some nutter wants action on climate change, so what better tool to use that a disaster.

    I live in Sydney.

  45. JimB (03:03:12) :

    E.M. Smith:
    “We need to start an immediate program of “Bunny Offsets”. Each person can send me $100/year for each bunny rabbit to be released into the wide in their name.”

    E.M….taking your lead from Al? Getting in on the ground floor?…building a “bunny offset trading market” all in the name of CO2-enhancement?”

    Think we have already started!
    Who is going to look after all your ill sick bunny rabbits?
    You did not think of that did you?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/edinburgh_and_east/7878548.stm

    Yes a special BUNNY DOCTOR.
    Edinburgh University has the first Bunny Doctor.

    Who are you going to call?
    Bunny Doctor!!!

    This was part of our news program last night.
    Well the weather is cold and there is snow about, so we cannot get the usual global warming alarmist warnings.

  46. Kaboom (01:23:58)

    “If you are really, really lucky, the fire-front (and bio-fuel conflagration) will rip by you so quickly, that the fire is gone down the valley in a few seconds. However, it is the incredibly intense heat (and of course embers sucked by cyclonic winds under eaves and into roof-spaces) that starts the fires in residences, and unfortunately kills people.”

    “A very sad time for my country.”

    I lived in Australia (NSW) for 24 years. They are great people but some times irritatingly naive. The bush is a beautiful place to live but extremely dangerous. I have seem wooden homesteads built on rising escarpments with trees above and below. These places are death traps.

    If you look at the destruction in Victoria you will see homes with Eucalypti in the surrounding garden and the bush. If you must live in these areas then planning and management of the risks is vital. No more crap from the greenies. Homesteads need a wide buffer zone and the surrounding bush regular burn back.

  47. “the billions have arrived, and lo, we’re feeding them” (Mike McMillan)

    Are you sure? I take your general point, but IIRC, about a third of the world goes to bed hungry.

    WRT CO2, greenhouse growers have been pumping extra CO2 to stimulate growth for decades. Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it…

  48. The greenies always told me that the increase of CO2 itself is not the problem but the RATE of increase since plants can’t adjust as fast. Never mind that in Holland the tomatoes grew better from the very moment CO2 was added to the greenhouses. No surprise that soy beans react the same.
    So yes, Malcolm (03:06:58) would you say makes sense.

  49. different plants react differently to raised CO2.

    different plants react differently to raised CO2 under different conditions.

    plants react differently in the open than under indoor conditions.

    in short, the effect of CO2 increase on food production is a MINOR one.

    ps: adding a tiny amount of CO2 in a greenhouse is just one of the MANY weird things they do there. i doubt that anyone will claim, that it is a major part of their success..

    REPLY: Gosh, it sounds then like we need a CO2 “surge”. – Anthony

  50. “MartinGAtkins (02:44:46) :
    FatBigot (21:12:52) :

    “Why are these people always experimenting with the odious soya bean?””

    Because this is the U of Illinois not Idaho. Soy and Corn were certainly the two most grown crops when I lived there.

    Interesting study, supplements all the greenhouse data on CO2 effects by doing it in the open air weather, plus the genetics side which I’m sure was not done 40 years ago. It also sounds like much of the research was aimed not at the normal CO2 in O2 out cycle but the CO2 out side of the equation.

  51. FatBigot (21:12:52) :
    “Why are these people always experimenting with the odious soya bean?”

    Soya is interesting (for farmers and scientists) because it does not need oil-dependent-high-priced N fertilizer (as Leguminosae) to grow.

    Bill McClure (02:21:16) :
    “Nice to see research related to CO2 that doesn’t have the typical global warming disclamer.”

    Indeed. But the study states in this conclusion:
    Although the effects of elevated [CO2] on photosynthesis are well represented in models, the simulation of respiration has been hampered by our poor understanding of the mechanisms of response. This is an important source of uncertainty in models of plant carbon balance and crop yield (3), and
    ecosystem carbon balance and the global carbon cycle (7). At the leaf and plant scales, stimulated respiration at elevated [CO2] will reduce net carbon balance.
    However, it is possible that enhanced respiration could facilate increased yield, by providing greater energy for export of photoassimilate from source leaves
    to sink tissues. Because leaf respiration is between 1/3 and half of global autotrophic respiration [20–30 PgCy-1 (6)], if many other species respond similarly to soybean, greater respiration at elevated [CO2] could offset the stimulation of photosynthesis and net primary productivity significantly.

  52. Nice to know (I think):

    Interesting it is, that not only are plants growing better at higher CO2 concentrations, but this extra-growth effect is especially big for areas in need for water. (See David Archibalds fantastic writings).

    But WHY?? Why is it that plant especially in deserts are having a good helping hand from CO2? The answer is, that to obtain CO2, plants need to open their pores. thereby they lose water… So, for these plants, more CO2 is a very needed help to save water!

    Nice, isn’t it?

  53. Can anyone see the tipping points here?

    a) Increased plant weight disproportionally “favors” the Northern Hemisphere which changes our orbital precession from the current 25,000 year period.

    b) Worse still is the disproportionately greater plant weight over Asia. This creates increased crustal stresses due to the eccentric force’ orbital imbalance impact. ..increased crustal stresses….increased volcanism…. more CO2…. more plant growth…more volcanism… It’s downright scary to think about.

  54. Falling CO2 levels will decrease plant growth. I think I read the threshold was 200 ppm. Another reason why global cooling is more difficult to adapt to than global warming. The cooling oceans will absorb immense amounts of atmospheric CO2.

    I also read that increase co2 will enhance initial plant growth but that an increased availability of nitrogen through the roots will be necessary to sustain growth. Plants will grow faster but not necessarily larger.

  55. Yesterday, in the Venus thread I talked about how since Cretaceous times plants will have evolved progressively more efficient mechanisms to utilize CO2 and this is the reason atmospheric CO2 levels have declined to current levels. CO2 levels stabilize around the lowest level plants can utilize CO2.

    What this study has found is mechanisms to utilize higher levels of CO2 are still in plants waiting to be switched on when higher levels of CO2 are available. Note these mechanisms do not function at ‘normal’ CO2 levels.

    This strongly indicates that substantially higher levels of CO2 were available in relatively recent times -less than a million years ago and perhaps less than 10,000 years ago.

    How quickly genetic mechanisms no longer of value get ‘discarded’ is poorly understood, but 90 genes of no value at ‘normal’ levels of CO2 that are ready to be switched on, means higher levels of CO2 were available recently on evolutionary timescales.

    It further indicates there are big surges of CO2 into the atmosphere. Otherwise, plants would consume the additional CO2 as fast as it is produced and the plant mechanisms that work at higher levels would never get used (and hence would be eliminated by natural selection).

    This study says to me that the Earth periodically experiences surges of CO2 into its atmosphere (likely from volcanos) comparable to the current CO2 amounts produced by human activity.

  56. E.M.Smith (22:26:34) :

    Graeme Rodaughan (21:18:12) : It’s pretty obvious to me that rising CO2 levels will result in catastrophic plant growth resulting in the violent intrusion of hyperbolic plants into cities,

    My God Man! I think you’re onto something! The article said a 37% increase! Plot that as an exponential growth and the world is doomed! DOOMED! We’ll be overrun with soy beans and grass so fast there is no hope! I can only see one way out: We need to start an immediate program of “Bunny Offsets”. Each person can send me $100/year for each bunny rabbit to be released into the wide in their name. This will allow them to avoid the mandatory TOFU allotment that all others will be required to eat as part of the “Cut and Trim” program. ;-)

    No, no – see the phrase “hyperbolic plants”? Those are plants that grow at an hyperbolic rate. Such curves look exponential but when the growth really takes of, you’ll see that the doubling starts to come down. When that happens it’s too late – you’re very close to the asymptote where the curve heads to infinity. This is called the singularity, see Vernor Vinge’s The Peace Wars or Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity Is Near. Now, this is nothing like a Hansian Tipping Point(tm), it’s more like a brick wall. You’ll be driving through that city, take a left turn toward the park, and run into a 6′ (2m) tree trunk. Before you can shift into reverse, a 3′ (1m) tree will grow up behind you.

    These are scary, scary times. Even if everyone buys paper versions of those books instead of the Kindle version, it will save us only a millisecond or two.

    -Ric

    P.S. The only edible form of tofu is Chinese Hot & Sour soup.

  57. “ps: adding a tiny amount of CO2 in a greenhouse is just one of the MANY weird things they do there. i doubt that anyone will claim, that it is a major part of their success…”

    I am hereby proclaimimg that CO2 IS a major part of the success of greenhouses.

  58. It seems like you just put some plants in an airtight room with known CO2 and watch rates of change? I wonder why they make it sound like a question of whether plant growth increases? This my favorite reason why AGW alarmists should settle down.

    —-
    I was able to run one of the Antaractic temp reconstructions last night. Since I don’t know the parameters used I was forced to guess. In most cases of my reconstruction the antarctic is cooling again.

    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/02/10/deconstructing-a-reconstruction-of-temperature-trend/

    It’s not my fault they refuse to give the data and code.

  59. If God had meant us to be vegetarian, he would not have made animals out of meat. Besides, if we did not eat all this meat, how much MORE methane would these uneaten living pork chops and beef patties produce?

  60. Jeff: ” was able to run one of the Antaractic temp reconstructions last night. Since I don’t know the parameters used I was forced to guess. In most cases of my reconstruction the antarctic is cooling again.

    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/02/10/deconstructing-a-reconstruction-of-temperature-trend/

    It’s not my fault they refuse to give the data and code.”
    —————————————————

    Yup and do they even acknowledge that the outcome of their flawed data and flawed calculations is the fact that the Antarctic has indeed been cooling after all? NOPE! and even if they were, reluctantly, forced into such an admission, would the mainstream media even report it? The BBC would avoid such an admission like the plague!

  61. Folks seem to be misreading this news release. The researcher was looking at plant respiration, not photosynthesis. Respiration in plants is essentially the same as in animals: it uses O2 and releases CO2. The chemical pathways may be somewhat different, but the final result is the same – release of chemical energy for cell-building processes and release of CO2. Plant respiration occurs continually, but is overwhelmed by photosynthesis during the day so there is a net uptake of CO2. At night without photosynthetic biochemistry going on (excepting some dark reactions) there is only respiration and a net release of CO2. This study is trying to figure out the genetic controls of respiration with elevated CO2 levels. It really isn’t too surprising that respiration would increase by 37% when the ambient CO2 is increased by 45%. An ultimate goal of such research would be to find plants with the most efficient photosynthesis:respiration ratio. Such plants could produce greater crop yields, although my guess would be that nature has pretty well worked out the optimum by now without human help.

  62. Philip_B (05:13:17) : re plants genetically being able to kick up a gear re the use of elevated levels of CO2.

    If this is indeed the case and plants can switch on a gene that allows greater uptake of CO2 when the level is correct, then we should soon start to see a leveling off of the current atmospheric concentrations of CO2 shouldn’t we? Or is this a process that takes a much longer time, and if so how long would it be before the atmospheric concentrations of CO2 start levelling off to a sustained level. (assuming that plants will not soak up more than the increased levels)

  63. At what level of concentration does this ability for plants to soak up more CO2 kick in? We are currently at approximately 380ppm of CO2. So how high would that figure have to rise for this natural mechanism to kick in?

  64. “We get some wild marijuana in the fields here and there. The cows eat the buds and leaves, but leave the stems.”

    WOW! I know Peta wants animals treated nicely, but getting cows stoned is going one beyand the call of duty. Luck cows though!!

  65. Strangely… on topic
    “As the year draws to a close, FAO’s latest estimates confirm that a new record high level of global cereal production was achieved in 2008, sufficient to cover the expected increase in utilization in 2008/09 and also allow for a moderate replenishment of world reserves.”

    …”As evidence of some improvement in the current season (2008/09), from the particularly tight market situation in 2007/08, the ratio of world cereal ending stocks in 2008/09 to the trend world cereal utilization in the following season is expected to increase significantly to 22.0 percent.”…

    http://www.fao.org/docrep/011/ai476e/ai476e01.htm

  66. This study is obviously flawed, and funded by Big Oil, since it makes no mention of how BAD our alarmingly-elevated C02 levels are for our planet, which will cause increasingly severe droughts, floods, fires, insect and pest invasions, and continued loss of eco-diversity and extinction. In addition to Big Oil and tobacco science skeptics, I blame the teachers for not sufficiently instilling in Mr. Leakey the concept that one must continually and diligently try to keep the public alarmed and informed of the likelihood of a climate catastrophe at all times, especially now since the people don’t seem to be getting the message. Sarc/off

    While I have previously been skeptical of the degree to which man has contributed to the rise in C02 levels, I have now changed my mind, and admit that we are 100% responsible. As such, we are also responsible for the resultant 15% increase in plant growth which has occurred, and will surely be responsible for continued increases in plant growth in the future, with the resultant increases in food supplies. Maybe we’re not so bad after all (though, of course, we do still need to continue our anti-pollution efforts).

  67. “…atmospheric CO2 levels of 550 parts per million (ppm), the level predicted for the year 2050 if current trends continue.”

    Is this really true? They must not know the earth is cooling and co2 is returning to the oceans.

  68. I Googled “greenhouse CO2 enrichment”

    As you may know, Google first looks for all the words, then some of the words, then any of the words. The result was 55,000 plus references.

    A careful review of the data presented showed 440 articles were actually about “greenhouse CO2 enrichment.”

    So, there may be evidence that CO2 has some beneficial value.

  69. Worked as surveyor in Sussex greenhouses 20 years ago for Dutch firm. We built large piston engine generators (can’t remember size) running on natural gas, produced electricity for the grid, hot exhaust gasses scrubbed for unsuitables, remaining WARM Co2 blown into greenhouses. Tomatoes loved it.

  70. Or is this a process that takes a much longer time,

    It should be rapid. From 1 year to say 200 years depending on the lifespan of the plant (ie one generation).

    then we should soon start to see a leveling off of the current atmospheric concentrations of CO2 shouldn’t we?

    Not necessarily. What will happen is the biosphere will takeup a progressively larger amount of human released CO2.

    and if so how long would it be before the atmospheric concentrations of CO2 start levelling off to a sustained level.

    It depends on how much CO2 humans release in the future. If current CO2 emissions stay stable then my guess would be somewhere between 10 and a hundred years.

  71. Sod,
    I may not be quick witted enough to catch your sarcasm, but in case you are serious, I would suggest you look at http://www.co2science.org/subject/c/c4plantbiom.php and other available studies. Not all studies have been indoors; it is possible to be outdoors and feed higher CO2 concentrations to plants. To be sure, we have had a green revolution in agriculture, boosting yields by providential amounts; however, conservatively, 15% of current yields are due to the increase in CO2 levels in the last hundred years.

  72. Shawn Whelan (19:54:21) :

    This might explain why huge tankers deliver CO2 to the greenhouses and then they pump it in those greenhouses, to make the plants grow larger. Would have been quicker and cheaper to ask a greenhouse farmer, they figured this out years ago.

    And the same reason plants tend to do well when talked to up close. They’re getting extra CO2.

  73. Way OT, but is there any chance of getting Leif to comment on the new paper by de Jager and Duhau expecting decades of global cooling from the action of the sun.

    With the particular machine and browser that I am presently using I can’t read the comments on this page, but I wonder if anyone has commented upon the fact that just as CO2 fertilizes plants on land, so does it in the ocean, too. As CO2 rises, the mechanisms in the ocean that fix the CO2 and virtually permanently sequester it from the carbon cycle will be stimulated, shortening the time any anthropogenic CO2 stays in the atmosphere.
    ====================================================================

  74. I hate to think of the effect it has on those new twisty light bulbs that shed hardly any light but do so for decades.

    The twisty light bulbs give off plenty of light. Been using them for years. Unless you’re buying the really cheap off brands….

  75. sod (04:19:09) :

    different plants react differently to raised CO2.
    different plants react differently to raised CO2 under different conditions.
    plants react differently in the open than under indoor conditions.

    Correct. C3 cereals, legumes, roots and tubers respond most favorably, with vegetables a close second, and fruits and melons responding about half as much. As temperatures increase, the growth enhancing effect of C02 is enhanced even further. Unfortunately, as temperature decrease, so does the enhancing effect of raised C02, and with anything below a daily mean of 18.5C (65.3F) an increased C02 level actually decreases plant growth, according to a study by climate physicist Sherwood Idso.

    in short, the effect of CO2 increase on food production is a MINOR one.

    Huh? So, to you, different effects = MINOR? We’ve seen an overall increase of 15% in plant growth with the some 100 ppm increase in C02, with some foods such as C3 cereals (wheat, etc.), legumes, and roots/tubers benefiting considerably more than that. I certainly wouldn’t call that “minor”.

    ps: adding a tiny amount of CO2 in a greenhouse is just one of the MANY weird things they do there. i doubt that anyone will claim, that it is a major part of their success..

    Typically, they boost C02 amounts to 1000 ppm in greenhouses, and that, to you is “tiny”? You need a new dictionary.

  76. “Ed Zuiderwijk (21:50:34) :

    They use schrubbed industrial flue gasses with elevated CO2 content in the greenhouses in Holland. Produces mighty big juicy tomatoes!”

    I did not know that – what an incredibly simple and yet powerful idea. Instead of spending billions researching how we can store CO2 in depleted oil and gas fields – just put some greenhouses next to the power plant and generating power suddenly generates food as well – neat. Why aren’t we doing that?

  77. CO2-phobia has reached new heights (so to speak) in the UK. I believe the government there has gone completely insane.

    The UK’s so-called “environment czar” last week raised the possibility of rationing air travel, limiting UK citizens to just a few vacation trips abroad by air per year in order to reduce the impact of carbon dioxide emissions.

  78. Why the surprise

    One study I read last year showed that the earths green cover is say 5% above levels 20/30 years ago ( due to co2?).

    It is a fact that co2 is piped from the Tate & Lyle plant in
    Wissington Norfolk to the greenhouse of UK’s largest tomato producer where it is released around the plants to increase production.

    There are many sites showing the benefit of co2 enhanced crop production.
    For example: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/00-077.htm#distr

    In theory more co2 equals more world green cover hence more co2 is absorbed.

    The earth cures itself.

    Anyway the latest from the writer of Gaia, James Lovelock, now says that there is nothing we can do. The earth will take the necessary action to counter the effect of 10 billion bodies breathing in its own way. Culling probably.

  79. Robert Bateman (02:20:42) :

    Did it ever occur to one that the AGW crowd is out to extinct us?

    Yes. I’ve mentioned it numerous times. Some of them want most of the human population gone, and us reverting back to a hunter/gatherer lifestyle. They apparently believe life should be short and brutal, yet they aren’t willing to volunteer for it.

  80. Bruce cobb: “Unfortunately, as temperature decrease, so does the enhancing effect of raised C02, and with anything below a daily mean of 18.5C (65.3F) an increased C02 level actually decreases plant growth, according to a study by climate physicist Sherwood Idso. ”

    Another reason we need a warmer Earth. Warmer is better.

  81. realitycheck (07:40:29) :

    ‘“Ed Zuiderwijk (21:50:34) :

    They use schrubbed industrial flue gasses with elevated CO2 content in the greenhouses in Holland. Produces mighty big juicy tomatoes!”

    I did not know that – what an incredibly simple and yet powerful idea. Instead of spending billions researching how we can store CO2 in depleted oil and gas fields – just put some greenhouses next to the power plant and generating power suddenly generates food as well – neat. Why aren’t we doing that?’

    This is one of the things being done in one test phase of algae biofuel. Although biofuels have problems, the idea of using vertical algae tanks located in and around fossil fuel based power plants seems like a good idea. The generated power becomes nearly carbon free and the algae has many uses including diesel oil. It’s far superior to corn, soy and other sources.

    The carbon eventually makes it to the atmosphere but only after being used twice, significantly reducing the amount released per unit of energy produced.

    Don’t get me wrong. Algae is not a single solution to energy needs. However, if used intelligently it could useful.

  82. Gary (05:59:30) :

    Respiration in plants is not the same as with animals. In fact, it is just the opposite. Plants take in CO2 & release O2.

    Ken Hall (06:04:26) : “If this is indeed the case and plants can switch on a gene that allows greater uptake of CO2 when the level is correct, then we should soon start to see a leveling off of the current atmospheric concentrations of CO2 shouldn’t we?”

    Not necessarily.

    Herbaceous plants primarily store carbon below ground. In order for it to remain there, the ground must be left undisturbed. With todays agricultural practices most of the ground is tilled which releases the carbon back into the atmosphere. Therefore, the increased uptake makes no difference.

    REPLY: I’m a little unclear on your idea that tilling releases carbon back into the atmosphere. Can you elaborate? – Anthony

  83. We’re unlikely to see 1000 ppm CO2. We have burned fuel or otherwise reduced vegetation representing about half of our recoverable fossil fuel reserves, which has raised atmospheric CO2 from around 280 ppm to the current 380 ppm. The carbon age is likely to end around 500-550 ppm CO2. The Oil Drum has a nice analysis on this.

  84. Gary says:

    Folks seem to be misreading this news release. The researcher was looking at plant respiration, not photosynthesis. Respiration in plants is essentially the same as in animals: it uses O2 and releases CO2. The chemical pathways may be somewhat different, but the final result is the same – release of chemical energy for cell-building processes and release of CO2. Plant respiration occurs continually, but is overwhelmed by photosynthesis during the day so there is a net uptake of CO2. At night without photosynthetic biochemistry going on (excepting some dark reactions) there is only respiration and a net release of CO2. This study is trying to figure out the genetic controls of respiration with elevated CO2 levels.

    So, what is driving that increase in respiration? Why would plants increase their respiration in the presence of increased CO2?

    It really isn’t too surprising that respiration would increase by 37% when the ambient CO2 is increased by 45%.

    Can you explain that a little more? I would have thought that it really isn’t too surprising that CO2 levels are going up when respiration is increasing.

    Indeed, I would have thought that photosynthesis, which creates carbohydrates during the day by using CO2, was making it possible for respiration both during the day and night.

    Perhaps I have this wrong, and if so, I imagine I will be corrected.

  85. As usual the law of unintended consequences operates in respect of soy. Fermentation is essential to render soya harmless to humans, but it is not a step taken by western food processing companies. Most people remain unaware that soy is known to contain an array of potent chemical toxins.

    Extract:
    The trouble with modern soy products is that fast industrial processing does not equate to historical methods of fermenting “for two summers” or boiling “for the length of an incense”. The method of modern get-rich-quick corporations is simply to leave these well-known natural toxins in our products.

    It seems NZers are ahead of us all. http://www.soyonlineservice.co.nz/

    Perry

  86. Here is an interesting talk by Nobel winner Kary Mullis, speaking at TED, on scientific experiment. At about the 21:00 mark he lays into the IPCC and refers to papers that he claims refute the greenhouse capture effect. The papers are Here and Here.

  87. sod (04:19:09) :
    different plants react differently to raised CO2.
    different plants react differently to raised CO2 under different conditions.
    plants react differently in the open than under indoor conditions.
    in short, the effect of CO2 increase on food production is a MINOR one.

    Foolishness, indeed.

    tmtisfree (04:32:53) :

    Bill McClure (02:21:16) :
    “Nice to see research related to CO2 that doesn’t have the typical global warming disclamer.”

    Indeed. But the study states in this conclusion:
    Although the effects of elevated [CO2] on photosynthesis are well represented in models, the simulation of respiration has been hampered by our poor understanding of the mechanisms of response. This is an important source of uncertainty in models of plant carbon balance and crop yield (3), and ecosystem carbon balance and the global carbon cycle (7). At the leaf and plant scales, stimulated respiration at elevated [CO2] will reduce net carbon balance. However, it is possible that enhanced respiration could facilate increased yield, by providing greater energy for export of photoassimilate from source leaves to sink tissues. Because leaf respiration is between 1/3 and half of global autotrophic respiration [20–30 PgCy-1 (6)], if many other species respond similarly to soybean, greater respiration at elevated [CO2] could offset the stimulation of photosynthesis and net primary productivity significantly.

    That is the obligatory deference to AGW, and absolute hogwash.

    Some background information from a soybean physiologist:
    1. In the best years, soybeans abort or shed 50% or greater of flowers. They abort much greater if temps raise above 95F during R2-R8. Flower/pod abscission is significantly reduced, and indeed the main benefit to enhanced CO2 greenhouse yields in soybeans.
    2. The soybean seed is approximately 40% protein.
    3. The soybean and corn genomes are the best studied because of development of “roundup ready” genetically modified varieties. Only reason soybeans were selected.
    4. Corn is C4, soybeans C3. C4 plants don’t respond as well to increased CO2 because the CO2 incorporation apparatus is compartmentalized. Therefore a C3 plant with well understood genes was required for this study. Ergo-soybeans.
    5. The yield limiting factor(s) in soybean is the affinity of Rubisco for CO2 and the production of proteins for seed storage. From the paper (paraphrased): There were few differences in the abundance of transcripts encoding components of the RNA transcription of protein synthesis machinery.
    6. Recently isolated soybean varieties with one pod/plant having 4 beans versus three beans increased yields by approximately 1 bu/acre. This was a BIG deal.
    7. Increasing nitrogen assimilation in soybeans only increases yield 7% (Enhancing soybean nodulation in soybeans with exogenously applied flavonoids – Master’s thesis-me)

    Summation
    The only relevant finding in this paper is this: This meant that respiratory quotient (co2 uptake/o2 uptake) was 7% greater at elevated CO2, and the authors associated this with increased synthesis of carbohydrate metabolism transcripts and more mitochondria and mitochondrial transcripts. Its just a genetic study, very analogous to computer modeling in climatology. No yields were taken. I did bunches of these in growth chambers. The biggest fly in the ointment regards the proficiency of CO@ fumigation, which casts serious questions concerning actual CO2 concentration between plots. Same problem with field experiments on CO2 effect on temperature. Oh yeah, there are none.

    Increased yields from CO2 enhancement is most significant in plants with a low N/C ratio-C-3 cereals (grasses).

  88. Maybe a bigger question is whether CO2 fertilizes the production of calcium carbonate in water. One of my big reasons for being a skeptic is that while it is true we are releasing eons worth of carbon fossilized as coal and petroleum. The actual rock sequences show us that most carbon is sequestered as limestone not fossil fuels.

  89. Barry B. (08:31:12) :

    Gary (05:59:30) :

    Respiration in plants is not the same as with animals. In fact, it is just the opposite. Plants take in CO2 & release O2.

    Plants take in CO2 and convert it into carbohydrate, proteins, and derivatives. We eat carbohydrates and proteins and convert it into tissue and excrement. Respiration in plants is almost identical to humans, done in mitochondria.

    Ken Hall (06:04:26) : “If this is indeed the case and plants can switch on a gene that allows greater uptake of CO2 when the level is correct, then we should soon start to see a leveling off of the current atmospheric concentrations of CO2 shouldn’t we?”

    Not necessarily.

    Herbaceous plants primarily store carbon below ground. In order for it to remain there, the ground must be left undisturbed. With todays agricultural practices most of the ground is tilled which releases the carbon back into the atmosphere. Therefore, the increased uptake makes no difference.

    REPLY: I’m a little unclear on your idea that tilling releases carbon back into the atmosphere. Can you elaborate? – Anthony

    Carbon is “stored” in slowly degradable materials, collectively called soil “organic matter”. The soil organic matter of plowed soil is roughly 2-3%, whereas in no-till cultivation it is significantly greater 5-10%. Therefore, plowing the soil increases the biodegradation of OM and releases the C stored in the soil. However, soil OM can increase above that, and in fact is increasing (even in plowed soil) in response to modern higher yields. Note the usage of the word, herbaceous. This brief anaysis is not relavant to perennial species.

  90. I’m a little unclear on your idea that tilling releases carbon back into the atmosphere. Can you elaborate? – Anthony

    With all due respect Anthony, it is not my “idea”. It is a well established fact.

    Carbon is stored in the soil via organic matter, which is approximately 57% carbon by weight. Under semi-aerobic and anaerobic conditions, the organic matter is converted by microbes into a more stable form called humus. When the soil is tilled, the tillage aerates the soil which in turn causes an increase in microbial action. This increased microbial action causes the organic matter to break down more rapidly, thus the carbon escapes as CO2 rather than being converted into humus.

    Before being tilled, our natural prairie soils had a natural organic matter content of greater than 4%. Now, after decades of being plowed, we have lost between 30-50% of that organic matter.

    REPLY: I wasn’t jumping on you, and I’m sorry if that is how you viewed it. I was just curious how the mechanism worked. I’m not soils specialist. – Anthony

  91. Barry B. (08:31:12) :

    [In response to] Gary (05:59:30) :

    Respiration in plants is not the same as with animals. In fact, it is just the opposite. Plants take in CO2 & release O2.

    Respiration is respiration. Plants use photosynthesis and the glucose created by that metabolic pathway for two things. One is to make cellulose to get bigger, the other is to provide fuel for making cellulose, growing roots, bark, flowers, in short, all the energy consuming things plants have to do. Respiration is more than breathing in and out with lungs.

    Please reread the first paragraph of the press release.

    The net effect of a plant’s photosynthesis is to take in CO2 and H2O and release O2, but that’s just because plants have to do more photosynthesis than respiration.

  92. Barry B. (08:31:12) :
    Gary (05:59:30) :

    Respiration in plants is not the same as with animals. In fact, it is just the opposite. Plants take in CO2 & release O2.

    Actually it is the same, plants take in CO2, water and sunlight and produce sugars and O2, this is photosynthesis. At the same time they also consume the sugars using O2 and produce CO2 and water (this is the only process occurring at night), this is respiration. This report refers to a higher level of CO2 resulting in a higher level of respiration, i.e. consumption of the sugars.

  93. Tim Clark (09:45:17) :
    Yes, you are correct. But Gary said that plants take in O2 and release CO2. That is not correct, it is just the opposite.

  94. The Old Forester:
    There have been numerous studies on the positive effect of increasing CO2 concentrations on forest growth. I remember taking Plant Physiology at U.C. Berkeley in the early 1960’s where we learned that atmospheric CO2 is suboptimal for plant growth. About twice the current concentration is about optimal. Since 1/3 of the nation is covered in forests, I think that delving into these studies would be fruitful, especially considering that dry wood is about 50% carbon by weight. My calculations show that managed forests in the Sierra/Cascade can capture about one ton of carbon per acre per year. If this material is put into long term storage, such as houses and furniture, and the residue turned into energy replacing some fossil fuels, the reduction in atmospheric carbon could be substantial. Of course we, as a nation, have chosen to let our forests needlessly go up in smoke and decay releasing the stored carbon back into the atmosphere. For a people who are so emotionally driven by “global warming” it seems a bit incongruous.

  95. I’m amazed that WUWT would publish this and not explain it to the layman. This article is about latent genes that turn on to better handle CO2.

    Respiration is thus:

    C16H126O2 + 6O2 —> 6CO2 + 6H2O + energy

    Hope that clears up

  96. Re: Gary (05:59:30) :

    You said: “Folks seem to be misreading this news release. The researcher was looking at plant respiration, not photosynthesis.”

    Although their primary focus was photorespiration, they did address CO2-stimulated photosynthetic increases. From their paper:

    “Elevated [CO2] stimulated photosynthesis of soybean by 20% in 2005 (Fig. S2A) and 22% in 2006 (Fig. 1A), which is consistent with the observed response in soybean (11) and C3 plants in general (12). This photosynthetic response is primarily biochemical, resulting from greater rates of carboxylation and reduced
    rates of oxygenation catalyzed by Rubisco.”

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/02/09/0810955106.full.pdf+html

    I wish the authors had talked about soybean yield increases, but they didn’t (maybe that didn’t happen). So many of the studies of CO2 fertilization only address total dry matter changes. I would like to know if it produces more of the food portion, or just stems, roots and leaves.

  97. Oh, but the salamanders are all dying due to “Global Warming”!!!!!!

    But wait! The title of the article Salamanders “Completely Gone” Due to Global Warming ends with a question mark. In fact, in the article, the author of the study say quite clearly:

    “we have no evidence that either chytrid (a fungus) or climate change is responsible for the declines,”

    Yet at the end of the article you read this:

    Climate change and chytrid fungus don’t respect borders, Wake said. “We need to promote activities that reduce the impact of climate change.”

    .

    So if the study says it’s NOT Climate Change, why is that in the article? Why is GW even in the title? It’s the obligatory nod to the Evil Of Our Time!!!! This gets to be a game after a while.

    PS. If you roll your eyes too far, can they get stuck in the back of your head?

  98. I have NO idea how my 6 became 16..I seem to have fumble fingers today

    My previous post should have read

    Respiration is thus:

    C6H126O2 + 6O2 —> 6CO2 + 6H2O + energy

  99. Phil. (09:52:55) says:

    Barry B. (08:31:12) :
    Gary (05:59:30) :

    Respiration in plants is not the same as with animals. In fact, it is just the opposite. Plants take in CO2 & release O2.

    Actually it is the same, plants take in CO2, water and sunlight and produce sugars and O2, this is photosynthesis. At the same time they also consume the sugars using O2 and produce CO2 and water (this is the only process occurring at night), this is respiration.

    This is as I understand it and has been confirmed by Google, and commenters here.

    This report refers to a higher level of CO2 resulting in a higher level of respiration, i.e. consumption of the sugars.

    Can you provide a little explanation? How does higher levels of CO2 yield higher levels of respiration when CO2 does not seem to be an input to the chemical reaction? Also, wouldn’t the higher partial pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere tend to depress the reaction? (Of course, this is just pure speculation on my part.)

  100. From Answer.com,

    “C3 plants, accounting for more than 95% of earth’s plant species, use rubisco to make a three-carbon compound as the first stable product of carbon fixation. C3 plants flourish in cool, wet, and cloudy climates, where light levels may be low, because the metabolic pathway is more energy efficient, and if water is plentiful, the stomata can stay open and let in more carbon dioxide. However, carbon losses through photorespiration are high.

    C4 plants possess biochemical and anatomical mechanisms to raise the intercellular carbon dioxide concentration at the site of fixation, and this reduces, and sometimes eliminates, carbon losses by photorespiration. C4 plants, which inhabit hot, dry evironments, have very high water-use efficiency, so that there can be up to twice as much photosynthesis per gram of water as in C3 plants, but C4 metabolism is inefficient in shady or cool environments. Less than 1% of earth’s plant species can be classified as C4.”

    hmmmm, which species will grow better during the next ice age?

  101. Gee, and all the time I thought those giant tent farms down in the Fresno/Visalia area were just big barns to hold square dancing in; and the gas they were pouring in there was Nitrous oxide to liven the people up.

    You have to have a university study to figure out that plants need CO2 to grow?

    They knew over 20 years ago, maybe 40, that about 20% of the entire world food production cannot be explained, unless you take into account the fact the there’s an extra 100 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere. So which 1.2 billion people should we eliminate so we can go back to where we were?

    I bet if they got Michael Man to look into some Carboniferous age proxies, they would find that while they had all that CO2 in the air, that plants grew like crazy, and laid down all that lovely fossil fuel for us to find.

  102. James P (04:08:00) : “I take your general point, but IIRC, about a third of the world goes to bed hungry.”

    According to the UN Food and Agriculture organization, the proportion of world population “undernourished” was about 16% in 1990-92, 14% in 1995-96, and 13% in 2003-05. The absolute number of undernourished people fell for decades, until recent years when food prices went up. In some parts of the world a third or more of the people are considered undernourished.

    ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/011/i0291e/i0291e00.pdf

  103. Phil. (09:52:55) says:

    Barry B. (08:31:12) :
    Gary (05:59:30) :

    Respiration in plants is not the same as with animals. In fact, it is just the opposite. Plants take in CO2 & release O2.

    Actually it is the same, plants take in CO2, water and sunlight and produce sugars and O2, this is photosynthesis. At the same time they also consume the sugars using O2 and produce CO2 and water (this is the only process occurring at night), this is respiration.

    This is as I understand it and has been confirmed by Google, and commenters here.

    This report refers to a higher level of CO2 resulting in a higher level of respiration, i.e. consumption of the sugars.

    Can you provide a little explanation? How does higher levels of CO2 yield higher levels of respiration when CO2 does not seem to be an input to the chemical reaction? Also, wouldn’t the higher partial pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere tend to depress the reaction? (Of course, this is just pure speculation on my part.)

    (Arrgh … badly screwed up first attempt.)

  104. “Folks seem to be misreading this news release. The researcher was looking at plant respiration, not photosynthesis. Respiration in plants is essentially the same as in animals: it uses O2 and releases CO2. The chemical pathways may be somewhat different, but the final result is the same – release of chemical energy for cell-building processes and release of CO2. ”

    Hey Gary,
    Your Cell-building sequesters carbon as celulose (C6H12O6)n. That happens at an accelerated rate, thus accelerated absorbsion of atmospheric CO2.

    If you’re trying to say otherwise then, you’re wrong, thats all.

  105. This surely is old news???
    Carbon Dioxide In Greenhouses
    Publication Date: 12/02
    Order#: 00-077
    Last Reviewed: 05/03
    History: replaces OMAF Factsheet Carbon Dioxide in Greenhouses, Order No. 94-055
    Written by: T.J Blom; W.A. Straver; F.J. Ingratta; Shalin Khosla – OMAF; Wayne Brown – OMAF

    and species dependant
    1997: Grotenhuis T; Reuveni J; Bugbee B
    Super-optimal CO2 reduces wheat yield in growth chamber and greenhouse environments.
    Advances in space research : the official journal of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) 1997;20(10):1901-4.
    Seven growth chamber trials (six replicate trials using 0.035, 0.12, and 0.25% CO2 in air and one trial using 0.12, 0.80, and 2.0% CO2 in air) and three replicate greenhouse trials (0.035, 0.10, 0.18, 0.26, 0.50, and 1.0% CO2 in air) compare the effects of super-optimal CO2 on the seed yield, harvest index, and vegetative growth rate of wheat (Triticum aestivum L. cvs. USU-Apogee and Veery-10). Plants in the growth chamber trials were grown hydroponically under fluorescent lamps, while the greenhouse trials were grown under sunlight and high pressure sodium lamps and in soilless media. Plants in the greenhouse trials responded similarly to those in the growth chamber trials; maximum yields occurred near 0.10 and 0.12% CO2 and decreased significantly thereafter. This research indicates that the toxic effects of elevated CO2 are not specific to only one environment and has important implications for the design of bio-regenerative life support systems in space, and for the future of terrestrial agriculture.

    And not always good:
    In research to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Plant Biologists in Chicago (July 7-11, 2007)
    Many plants have inherent enzyme-based defenses that are released during insect attack. This study found that when soybeans (Glycine max) were exposed to elevated amounts of CO2 the plants became more susceptible to attack by Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica). Furthermore, as these beetles consumed the weakened soybeans, the insects invasive abilities were intensified.
    Mike

  106. pat (22:21:03) :

    “Wow. We are almost back to 7th Grade Science. Wonderful. Shouldn’t this be classified?”
    Not surprising. GW´rs ignore 3rd degree science. They just ignore the water cycle: They say a warmer climate means drier lands..and it is just the other way.

  107. “Terry Ward (01:41:28) :
    We get some wild marijuana in the fields here and there. The cows eat the buds and leaves, but leave the stems.”

    Ummmmm….is any of that beef for sale?

    JimB

  108. Barry B. (09:50:59) :

    Before being tilled, our natural prairie soils had a natural organic matter content of greater than 4%. Now, after decades of being plowed, we have lost between 30-50% of that organic matter.

    I must add, as a farmer who switched from tilled to no-tilled practice in intensive farming 11 years ago, that recovering the loss of organic matter/humus is reversible and rather fast, 4-8 years (depends on the soil) because of a much greater (micro)biological life and life diversity in non-tilled fields.

  109. I’m a little unclear on your idea that tilling releases carbon back into the atmosphere. Can you elaborate? – Anthony

    The Carbon Cycle: plants fix it, then they burn or rot and back goes the carbon into the air. Tilling or no tilling (worms, moles, and gophers do a lot more tilling than people do).

    Exceptions: peat bogs, Carboniferous swamps, biochar (terra preta), antique furniture.

    If it wasn’t for the Carbon Cycle, the thatch on suburban lawns would be 12 feet deep and we’d have to tunnel in to our front doors. Our forests would mile-deep in dead wood. But they aren’t; carbon build-up in forests is principally above-ground and transitory (until the next fire).

  110. attn Tim Clark

    Question. In 6 above you quote an increased yield of 1 bu/acre.

    What does bu represent? If it is a bushel it hardly seems to be very much over an acre as it were: although it might as a percentage of yield I suppose if soybeans yield only a few bushels per acre. Which does not seem a terribly profitable sort of agriculture.

    But it could mean something else entirely.

    Could you please clarify this for a simple minded physicist?

    Kindest Regards

  111. Scientists losing war of words over climate change
    Excerpt from:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16576-scientists-losing-war-of-words-over-climate-change.html

    Who understands the probabilities of climate change? Certainly not the general public, if psychological tests on volunteers in the US are to be believed.
    The public, it seems, thinks climate scientists are less certain about their conclusions than they actually are. The results could explain why the minority views of “climate sceptics” get proportionally more attention from the general public than those of climate scientists.
    Scientists are by their nature reluctant to express results as absolutely certain, and climatologists are no exception. Future projections based on climate models always come with error bars – an indication of how likely the data is to be accurate.
    Spelling it out
    In an attempt to make this tool clearer to policymakers and the general public, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) adopted in its last report, published in 2007, seven verbal expressions of certainty:

    • “Virtually certain” (considered more than 99% likely to be correct)

    • “Very likely” (more than 90%)

    • “Likely” (more than 66%)

    • “More likely than not” (more than 50%)

    • “Unlikely” (less than 33%)

    • “Very unlikely” (less than 10%)

    • “Exceptionally unlikely” (less than 5%)

    They also used the expressions “very high confidence” and “high confidence” to modify statements that had at least a 9 out of 10 (very high) or an 8 out of 10 (high) chance of being correct. The numerical translations were included in a footnote at the beginning of the summary for policymakers. The degrees of confidence then trickle down to the public through media coverage.

  112. Photosynthesis (carbon fixing) in green plants exceeds respiration or else plants would shrink. But they don’t shrink; they grow. Ergo and thusly, increased respiration means even greater rates of photosynthesis.

  113. The Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that the Ca increase alone could stimulate terrestrial carbon (C) sequestration by 350–980 Gt (1 Gt = 1x 10^15 g) C in the 21st Century (Houghton et al. 2001).

  114. Peter (23:36:14) :

    Graeme, My thoughts exactly. Expect a new disaster movie, “Attack of the killer soybeans” at a theater near you.

    Already done

    Day of the Triffids (1962)

    Heard it as a radio play many years ago. Unforgettable.

  115. vukcevic,

    Interesting find. I like the example they use for “very likely” (more than 90%):

    “It is very likely that hot extremes, heat waves and heavy precipitation events will continue to become more frequent.”

    Looks like it’s virtually certain that the IPCC was wrong again.

    Also, there seems to be a big gap between 33% and 50%. Is that part of the certainty spectrum unimportant? Maybe the IPCC deliberately left it out because that’s the general public belief in AGW.

  116. Art

    Thanks for that link to Kay Mullis. Interesting how all the naysayers in the comments go straight for ad hom, rather than deal with his points. I love the one who describes him, a Nobel science Prize winner, as a “moron.”

  117. “”” • “Virtually certain” (considered more than 99% likely to be correct) “””

    Rather odd use of language if you ask me; “virtually certain” that is. Almost the exact opposite of what one would want to say.

    Virtual means imaginary, unreal, and the like. Particularly in optics, a virtual image is quite unreal; no light at all passes through a virtual image on its way to a final result. So virtually essentially means not in your wildest dreams.

    But then it is like sophistication; which has led me to observe that people who consider themsleves sophisticated, usually are.

    Why not simply use the word “nearly”, instead of a word that actually has the opposite meaning.

  118. I wonder if future studies will show the affects of nutrient uptake due to decreased (or increased) respiration. Being in the Green Industry myself, many of the chemicals I use also rely on cellular respiration to be effective (i.e., certain herbicides and adjuvants).

  119. Tim, Phil, AJ, & Others:

    Thanks for the correction.

    My (evidently wrong) understanding was that CO2 release during respiration was minimal, with the bulk of the carbon going into the plant tissue. I guess I need to dig out my old plant physiology textbook when I get home :-)

  120. Nothing to worry about, skeptics! [snip]

    Reply: You’re welcome to post here as long as you have something constructive to contribute. Your pejorative attack on skeptics in general is over the top. ~ charles the moderator

  121. Don’t forget that we consumers are all part of the carbon cycle. Carbon sequestration has been a viable technology for centuries, a.k.a. “six feet under.”

  122. vukcevic,
    “Future projections based on climate models always come with error bars – an indication of how likely the data is to be accurate.”

    The problem with the article in the post is that it’s barking up the wrong gum tree. Climate modelers may express confidence in those terms (and I won’t quibble with that) of how likely the model’s result will occur, but here is the rub.
    the outcome probabilities are based on the input to the model.

    This article is – either with intent or just missing the point – obscuring the skeptical view often stated that the input is messed up and the models aren’t accurate to begin with.

    It doesn’t matter that I’m Virtually Certain I’ll be hit by a bus tomorrow if I have a model that says a bus will come through my front yard 80% of the time, and my input is 1000 busses travel the road in front of my house each day. The facts are the busses usually stay on the road and there are only about eight of them a day. My model and input are messed up

    Mike

  123. Quoting Tamara:

    “Don’t forget that we consumers are all part of the carbon cycle. Carbon sequestration has been a viable technology for centuries, a.k.a. “six feet under.””

    Interesting. So Al Gore’s Carbon Offset industry should pay me not to have myself cremated. Say, I’ve got some deceased ancestors. How much will you pay me not to dig them up and burn them?

    I also had the brilliant idea to cut down all the forests around the Great Lakes and sink them in the cold depths, thus sequestering megatons of carbon. The forests will grow back but the logs will sit on the bottom till the next ice age. Think I’m wrong? There is a thriving industry that lifts old timber out of the lakes to make high end lumber!

    You want a really great way to sequester carbon? Just spread a trickle of iron fertilizer in the iron poor regions of the oceans. It makes blooms of plankton, whose carbonate skeletons sink to the -4 C depths to be buried for Eons. Fish feast on the plankton (and each other) and make more fish. It happens all the time when iron rich dust blows off the Sahara into the Atlantic.

    Don’t let Greenpeace hear about it, though, because you’d take away their reason to exist. They recently finked on their former member who was trying to do that. Said he was attempting to spread toxic waste.

    But, when the New Ice Age gets going you’ll all sing a different tune, won’t ya?

    I’ll be expected to pay for that, too, I bet.

  124. Richard Sharpe (11:35:24) :

    Can you provide a little explanation? How does higher levels of CO2 yield higher levels of respiration when CO2 does not seem to be an input to the chemical reaction? Also, wouldn’t the higher partial pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere tend to depress the reaction? (Of course, this is just pure speculation on my part.)

    More CO2 means more sugar production during photosynthesis during the day, so there’s more for the plant to burn day and night. The partial pressure of CO2 remains so low that it’s no obstacle to respiration.

  125. Michael Mann Unleashed: Defends ‘Hockey Stick’ – Slams Writer as ‘fuel industry shill’

    http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/8283

    [Note: Also see this report for a thorough rebuttal to ‘Hockey Stick’ claims: – The increasingly “thin-skinned” RealClimate.org gang must have had a meeting over the past two weeks and decided to go on the offensive. Gavin Schmidt has spent his time recently expressing outrage any critiques and he has been throwing around terms like ‘slander’ and ‘abuse’ and demanding critical analysis be removed from websites. Not to be outdone, Antarctic co-author and Real Climate activist Eric Steig, like Schmidt, has also been recently throwing phrases as “fraud” and “libel” after receiving critical analysis of his work. See: First Author of ‘Antarctic Warming Paper’ Claims Libel – Here is a past email alert on the unfolding Gavin Schmidt/RealClimate.org comedy show. – Real Climate does not appear to like criticism. Schmidt understandably does not wish to do any more climate debates with his scientific critics, as he was beaten, and beaten badly, in 2007. Schmidt blamed his failure to win the debate on his team’s lack of persuasive ability. “We were pretty dull,” Schmidt wrote in 2007. [ See: Tough New York City Crowd Reverses opinion on man-made warming following debate—March 2007 -—Also see: See: Prominent Scientist ‘Appalled’ By Gavin Schmidt’s ‘lack of knowledge’—‘Back to graduate school, Gavin!’—Climate Science Blog ]

  126. This makes me wonder if we can genetically modify plants to uptale more CO2, turbo charging them. That should make the plants store more sugar. Hrm maybe not such a good idea, we’d all get fat from eating salad. What were the caloric differences like?

  127. “The increasingly “thin-skinned” RealClimate.org gang must have had a meeting over the past two weeks and decided to go on the offensive. ”

    They must have found a parry for the dscovery phase of libel suits: The sea kitten ate my GCM!

  128. I’m amazed that WUWT would publish this and not explain it to the layman. This article is about latent genes that turn on to better handle CO2.

    That’s incorrect and misses the important point of this study.

    This article is about latent genes that turn on to handle higher atmospheric levels of CO2.

    Such genes could only have evolved at higher CO2 concentrations than pre-industrial levels. There is absolutely no question about this. Which means the Earth must have had (much) higher levels of CO2 in relatively recent times. This is directly contrary to currently accepted theory, and blows a very large hole in the tipping point ‘theory’.

    To date I had assumed that plants grew better in higher CO2 levels, because the mechanisms that work at pre-industrial levels, work better at higher concentrations of CO2. To see there are so many genes waiting to be switched in response higher CO2 levels was a real surprise.

  129. Completely off topic, but I thought this would interest a few people:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/7878399.stm

    Sammy Wilson is the Northern Irish environment minister and has stated many times he does not believe in man made climate change.

    Recently, he has blocked an UK government advert about energy efficiency on the grounds that it has an AGW alarmist agenda.

    It seems the tide is turning, even for those in government with a bit of spine!

  130. Add another fact to the AGW list. When Arctic birds show up in southern areas, that’s weather, but when birds show up in northern areas, that’s global warming. Snowy owls showed up in the Willamette Valley in the 70’s. But I digress. That cold decade was just weather.

  131. Philip_B said:

    To date I had assumed that plants grew better in higher CO2 levels, because the mechanisms that work at pre-industrial levels, work better at higher concentrations of CO2. To see there are so many genes waiting to be switched in response higher CO2 levels was a real surprise.

    Absent purifying selection, one would also expect such genes to degrade and become non-functional over time, indeed, over relatively short times. Only a few hundred generations would be enough … I would think.

  132. Expert on UK ITV news states Australian bush fires are in part due to the increase in levels of CO2 which have caused substantial extra growth in the wooded areas surrounding Melbourne.

  133. What is increased CO2 going to do to Kudzu. That plant is already a world class invader. The South East U.S. may disappear under a green wave of Kudzu. I hope increased CO2 doesn’t improve it’s ability to handle low winter temperatures. If it does, the world is doomed.

  134. Ric Werme (15:00:51) said:

    Richard Sharpe (11:35:24) :

    Can you provide a little explanation? How does higher levels of CO2 yield higher levels of respiration when CO2 does not seem to be an input to the chemical reaction? Also, wouldn’t the higher partial pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere tend to depress the reaction? (Of course, this is just pure speculation on my part.)

    More CO2 means more sugar production during photosynthesis during the day, so there’s more for the plant to burn day and night. The partial pressure of CO2 remains so low that it’s no obstacle to respiration.

    Hmmm, I was not clear. I was responding to the implication that I read in the posting that higher levels of CO2 were responsible for higher levels of respiration directly without the mechanism being:

    Higher levels of CO2 allow higher levels of photosynthesis which allow higher levels of respiration.

  135. What good are increased crop yields if plants can’t grow because the weather patterns are too erratic?

  136. Oh I beg to differ on no-till prairie humus and carbon levels. That is a fantasy. Think buffalo. Think bizillions of them. Think goats. The wild kind. They tilled the soil, ate the grass, payed it back with fertilizer, and kept the brush down, and also created great clouds of dust (along with CO2). Indians also burned vast areas of prairie as well, releasing more particulates and CO2.

    We whites always think the prairie was at one time devoid of anything but grass waving in the wind. Wrong. That is why I get all riled up with BLM and city folks when they get their knickers in a twist about grazing.

    BLM lands (before they were BLM) used to be grazed HEAVILY! Just not by domesticated animals. Then ranchers put cows, goats and sheep out there in the forest and prairies, at first for free and then after paying a nominal fee. But the folks that have never herded anything other than dust under the bed, thought it was a travesty that farm animals (gawd forbid) were eating the forest and prairies! So they severely limited the practice and made us pay through the nose to put a few animals out. Grazing decreased dramatically. As a result, brush has carpeted the once cleaned up forest floor. We don’t have acres of buffalo and other wild grazers to till the soil and keep the carpet cleaned of twiggy brush, and now we don’t have domesticated animals to do it. The result? We have more problems than a dog has fleas.

    However, the BLM, in its infinite wisdom, is now paying, yes I said paying, farmers to put sheep out there to clear the brush away and spread poop around. The wisdom demonstrated by government programs is stellar. Just blindingly stellar.

  137. Animals and plants have all kinds of interesting genes that don’t get expressed till conditions are right. Some of our unused genes are from tree swinging times. Do you think that dinosaurs ate tiny little ferns? The ferns, trees, shrubs, flowers, leaves, and anything else that was edible, were as big as the animals. They were that big because they figured out a way to outlast a grazing dinosaur with a very empty stomach. The plants still have the genes necessary to grow that big. When conditions are right.

  138. I LOVE PAMELA

    respectfully: we have two groups…..

    “Green Acres” or “Beverly Hillbillies”

  139. I just saw this at another website (back issues) and thought it amusing

    “For example David Evens who was a consultant to the Australian Greenhouse Office from 1999 to 2005 says of himself:

    “I am the rocket scientist who wrote the carbon accounting model that measures Australia’s compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, in the land use change and forestry sector.”

    In this tremendous article in last Fridays Australian Newspaper David says:

    It was great. We were working to save the planet. But since 1999 new evidence has seriously weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause of global warming, and by 2007 the evidence was pretty conclusive that carbon played only a minor role and was not the main cause of the recent global warming. As Lord Keynes famously said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

    “There is no evidence to support the idea that carbon emissions cause significant global warming. None. There is plenty of evidence that global warming has occurred, and theory suggests that carbon emissions should raise temperatures (though by how much is hotly disputed) but there are no observations by anyone that implicate carbon emissions as a significant cause of the recent global warming.”

    http://www.agmates.com/blog/2008/07/23/governments-climate-change-ads-just-blatant-propaganda/

    Al Gore eat your heart out. Another warmer becomes a denier.

  140. one would also expect such genes to degrade and become non-functional over time, indeed, over relatively short times. Only a few hundred generations would be enough

    In recent years we have discovered that mechanisms have evolved to ‘conserve’ genes not currently of selective value to the organism (ie species).

    A simple analogy is you storing stuff in your attic in case you need it in the future.

    Clearly it’s difficult to give precise times for a process whose underlying mechanism is random mutations. But your hundreds of generations is probably out by a couple of orders of magnitude (a real expert might be able to give you a better estimate).

    Otherwise you are correct. To continue my analogy, eventually old stuff in your attic that hasn’t been used for a while will be thrown out to make room for new stuff.

    To pull a number out of the air – 100,000 generations, which for an annual plant would be a 100,000 years. About the length of the recent glacial/inter-glacial cycles. This points to a CO2 surge as the mechanism that pulls us out of the glacial phase of ice ages.

    That’s what is so fascinating about climate. Clues come from the most unexpected places.

  141. ” DocWat (06:58:46) :
    So, there may be evidence that CO2 has some beneficial value.”

    I don’t know if this was meant as dry humor but I sure did laugh as if it was.

  142. Interesting article, vukcevic.

    “Virtually certain” (considered more than 99% likely to be correct)

    • “Very likely” (more than 90%)

    • “Likely” (more than 66%)

    • “More likely than not” (more than 50%)

    • “Unlikely” (less than 33%)

    • “Very unlikely” (less than 10%)

    • “Exceptionally unlikely” (less than 5%)

    They also used the expressions “very high confidence” and “high confidence” to modify statements that had at least a 9 out of 10 (very high) or an 8 out of 10 (high) chance of being correct. The numerical translations were included in a footnote at the beginning of the summary for policymakers. The degrees of confidence then trickle down to the public through media coverage.”

    This shows the importance, when propagandizing, of the public understanding the language you use, particularly if you are going to start re-defining words to suit your agenda. The AGW Ministry of Truth needs to do better.

  143. Philip_B (16:54:07) said:

    one would also expect such genes to degrade and become non-functional over time, indeed, over relatively short times. Only a few hundred generations would be enough

    In recent years we have discovered that mechanisms have evolved to ‘conserve’ genes not currently of selective value to the organism (ie species).

    If genes are involved in important metabolic or developmental pathways they will be strongly conserved.

    However, there can be many ways that cave fish lose their vision, including switching off genes that regulate the development of those eyes. Over time, though, those genes are going to experience drift and are likely not to work if they were switched back on.

    A simple analogy is you storing stuff in your attic in case you need it in the future.

    You are moving into teleological territory with remarks like that.

    If the genes are already involved in switching on and off across fluctuations like 50ppm over a few thousand years that is one thing, but to talk about keeping genes around incase they are needed in the future is another thing altogether.

  144. “A simple analogy is you storing stuff in your attic in case you need it in the future.”
    “You are moving into teleological territory with remarks like that.”

    I moved into teleological territory once and I STILL haven’t unloaded all the boxes in my attic…

  145. The only way genes change, or die, is if they mutate. Even identical twins do not have identical genes. There are tiny differences that occur every time the DNA strands zip apart. Small tears here and there. Broken bits and pieces. Inadvertent duplications of segments instead of straight copies. Then when they zip back up, more tiny changes happen. Sometimes these changes result in the holder of said changes reproducing better, or living longer, or recovering better from bad conditions, or thriving to a greater degree under good conditions. And sometimes these changes result in the holder not doing so as well as before. But just because genes aren’t being used does not mean they die from such neglect.

  146. Carsten Arnholm, Norway (12:50:35) :

    Already done

    Day of the Triffids (1962)

    Heard it as a radio play many years ago. Unforgettable.

    Actually the AGW fiasco is more like this one:

  147. “I’m amazed that WUWT would publish this and not explain it to the layman. This article is about latent genes that turn on to better handle CO2.”

    I don’t think that Anthony’s stated purpose is to tell people what to think. In fact, he wrote that he will provide some “commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology, and recent news by Anthony Watts.” It says nothing about explanations.

    Mike

  148. You are moving into teleological territory with remarks like that.

    I was going to include a comment along the lines of;

    While I talk about evolution as if it were purposeful, it’s just a convenient way of describing a wholly mechanistic process driven by random events.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  149. Richard Sharpe (16:05:09) :

    Absent purifying selection, one would also expect such genes to degrade and become non-functional over time, indeed, over relatively short times. Only a few hundred generations would be enough … I would think.

    Maybe not. There are plenty of opportunities for plants to take advantage of “CO2 bursts” so to speak. Vulcanism, animal herds passing by and breath lots of localized CO2, stuff like that. Maybe it’s a simplistic view, but it might explain why the genes are still there.

  150. But just because genes aren’t being used does not mean they die from such neglect.

    It does.

    Once a gene is no longer of longer of (selective) value to a population, detrimental mutations are no longer selected out, and over time, the gene (coding) drifts to point where no functioning versions are left in the population.

    At which point, the gene and whatever capability it codes for are irretrievably lost to the population (species). The gene is dead.

    Which was my point about the 90 genes in the study that were switched on and still (apparently) function at higher CO2 levels. They must have been under selective pressure in a higher CO2 atmosphere in the relatively recent past and on a regular basis prior to that.

    Whether a higher CO2 atmosphere means 50 ppm or 250ppm over pre-industrial levels would appear to be an open and very interesting question.

  151. I havn’t read through all the comments on here, so it might have been covered already. Of course CO2 is helpful to plants, it’s plant food. We can think of it like fertilizer. It is helpful, the only problem is that if you use too much it becomes detrimental to the plants. So we get a bell-shaped curve. So how do we know how much is too much, or have we already gone past that? That is why they are doing these studies. They’ve been doing the tree one for years now, and I havn’t read much about it, but the last time I checked they still didn’t have a good idea.

  152. Philip_B (15:37:33) :

    This article is about latent genes that turn on to handle higher atmospheric levels of CO2.

    To date I had assumed that plants grew better in higher CO2 levels, because the mechanisms that work at pre-industrial levels, work better at higher concentrations of CO2. To see there are so many genes waiting to be switched in response higher CO2 levels was a real surprise.

    The article, at least what is posted here, doesn’t say that genes that are normally off are switched on, it says they work “at higher levels” than in low CO2 environments.

    I.e.:

    The results were striking. At least 90 different genes coding the majority of enzymes in the cascade of chemical reactions that govern respiration were switched on (expressed) at higher levels in the soybeans grown at high CO2 levels.

    “The expression of over 600 genes was altered by elevated CO2 in total, …”.

  153. Philip, I have to disagree. We have genes (and even some body parts) that serve no purpose whatsoever to our survival. Yet they stick around. It isn’t just the unused genes that mutate out of function. Even good genes randomly mutate. In fact, genes can mutate from good to bad and back again. The other thing about genes, is that most of our genes do not have selective value. Good thing. If all of our genes were, we would not have survived. Mutations would have killed us off faster than an eyeblink. Taken together, genes are pretty hardy over all. They can continue to function even with missing parts here and there. So once again. Disuse does not equate to disappearance.

  154. I’m seconding Pamela on the grazing. The early explorers noted after a herd of buffalo moved through that there was *nothing* green left, and that the streams were flowing with urine.

  155. Richard Sharpe (10:50:21) :
    Phil. (09:52:55) says:

    Barry B. (08:31:12) :
    Gary (05:59:30) :

    Respiration in plants is not the same as with animals. In fact, it is just the opposite. Plants take in CO2 & release O2.

    Actually it is the same, plants take in CO2, water and sunlight and produce sugars and O2, this is photosynthesis. At the same time they also consume the sugars using O2 and produce CO2 and water (this is the only process occurring at night), this is respiration.

    This is as I understand it and has been confirmed by Google, and commenters here.

    This report refers to a higher level of CO2 resulting in a higher level of respiration, i.e. consumption of the sugars.

    Can you provide a little explanation? How does higher levels of CO2 yield higher levels of respiration when CO2 does not seem to be an input to the chemical reaction? Also, wouldn’t the higher partial pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere tend to depress the reaction? (Of course, this is just pure speculation on my part.)

    According to their paper “At least 90 different genes coding the majority of enzymes in the cascade of chemical reactions that govern respiration were switched on (expressed) at higher levels in the soybeans grown at high CO2 levels.” There’s no reason to expect that CO2 would inhibit the reaction, it’s not equilibrium.

  156. That nice Miss Gray said: (18:32:13) :
    “We have genes (and even some body parts) that serve no purpose whatsoever”

    The few ladies of my intimate acquaintance have told me that.

  157. Here is another little goodie. Seems some greenies got sued over global warming!

    “…A group of Spanish homeowners and real estate developers have filed suit against Greenpeace for its global warming campaign, which they say has caused a steep decrease in the price of their beachfront properties.

    The suit — which the developers plan to present unless Greenpeace agrees to a settlement of nearly $50M — is over resort properties in La Manga del Mar Menor, in Southwest Spain. Greenpeace, in their recent book Photoclima, prominently featured digitally altered photographs of the resort, with only the tops of apartment buildings, hotels, and palm trees barely visible above a flooded sea. The book also showed before-and-after photos of Spain’s lush lemon and orange growing region of Valencia, transformed into an arid desert. “We want[ed] to create alarm and a call to action”, said Juan Lopez de Uralde, Greenpeace’s director in Spain.

    The photos created a sense of alarm in La Manga, with property values dropping by 50 percent after the book appeared….”

    http://www.dailytech.com/Greenpeace+Sued+Over+False+Global+Warming+Claims/article12070.htm

  158. Pamela Gray says:

    The other thing about genes, is that most of our genes do not have selective value. Good thing. If all of our genes were, we would not have survived. Mutations would have killed us off faster than an eyeblink.

    I think I detect a case of survivor bias here.

    Quite a number of fetuses spontaneously abort. The number of male fetuses that do so is larger than the number of female fetuses.

    Then there are mutations and problems that allow the fetus to get to term but fail to survive to adulthood or have no offspring. Then there are the mutations that are useful in the presence of malaria but come with a disadvantage if you don’t live in a place with high malaria, and so on.

    I think that, in fact, pretty much all of our genes have selective value, and there is good evidence that selection on humans has sped up over the last 10,000 years (See The 10,000 Year Explosion, for example). Just try to tell all the lineages that are no longer around that most of our genes do not have selective value. I think they would disagree with you if they could.

    Secondly, random mutations in non-functional genes are going to quickly lead to a situation where those genes cannot be switched back on again.

    As to non-functional body parts, many of those are because of higher level pathways that are hard to switch off. The only male mammals without nipples that I am aware of are horses, and without a penis most males find it hard to reproduce (to cite just another example of an oft claimed useless appendage).

  159. Phil. (19:02:39) says:

    According to their paper “At least 90 different genes coding the majority of enzymes in the cascade of chemical reactions that govern respiration were switched on (expressed) at higher levels in the soybeans grown at high CO2 levels.”

    I know you are not involved with writing the paper, but the next question is why are respiration genes being switched on in the presence of higher CO2 levels?

    Perhaps because higher levels of photosynthesis are occurring producing more food for the plant. (I like to tease these implications out …)

  160. Richard Sharpe (19:30:05) :

    I think that, in fact, pretty much all of our genes have selective value, and there is good evidence that selection on humans has sped up over the last 10,000 years (See The 10,000 Year Explosion, for example).
    ___________________________________________________________

    Richard, there is a huge amount of excellent literature on our genes having selective value – at pre-reproductive ages (not surprisingly). Similarly, the evolutionary biology of aging literature demonstrates how and why the lack of selection of post-reproductive beneficial genes leads to our individual (early, in my opinion) demise. Darwinian evolution has not come even close to keeping up with brain development with respect to the potential life span of today’s human. Given the ability to fight off/kill/avoid predators, and also kill bacterial, viral and parasitic pathogens, the normal human life span could easily average 1,000 years (at a guess, by me). Unfortunately, the genes and gene products we currently own will not cooperate, so we should be looking to the Kurzweil singularity for immortality (with a low carbon footprint, I might add) if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

    And to the guy who thinks Kary Mullis is a moron. I know the guy, and have had the pleasure of having a “couple” of beers with him on more than one occasion. He’s on the opposite end of the Gaussian distribution re. intelligence. Some people !! Just because you have a Nobel Prize DOES NOT automatically mean you are a moron. That kind of thinking is true only in the AGW field !! Jeeeez.

  161. Given the ability to fight off/kill/avoid predators, and also kill bacterial, viral and parasitic pathogens, the normal human life span could easily average 1,000 years (at a guess, by me).

    Ugh! Can you imagine having to pay taxes for a thousand years??? Especially carbon taxes…

  162. Ric Werme, you may well be right. Although in my defence I’d say the phrasing is somewhat ambiguous.

    And like most good science the study raises interesting questions, which I hope are pursued, despite the threat to AGW orthodoxy.

    For anyone still reading this, here is a short description of how genes have ‘on/off’ and ‘dimmer’ switches.

    http://www.fabinet.up.ac.za/featuredpublication/creux2006

  163. thefordprefect (11:48:11) :

    from the study (1997?) that purportedly puts a lie to the one being discussed here:

    “maximum yields occurred near 0.10 and 0.12% CO2 and decreased significantly thereafter.”

    They’re speaking in terms of percentage, not PPM. Shifty. since co2 is currently 0.03% of the atmosphere, 0.12 represents about 1500PPM!!! So when are we going to reach those levels? ever?

    mark b (18:22:25) :

    “Of course CO2 is helpful to plants, it’s plant food. We can think of it like fertilizer. It is helpful, the only problem is that if you use too much it becomes detrimental to the plants. So we get a bell-shaped curve. So how do we know how much is too much, or have we already gone past that?”

    See above

  164. We have miles of genes that are not necessary for successful longevity of our species. They may have been closely connected with (IE physically near to) another gene that was. But that means that in the first case, the unnecessary gene just came along for the ride. I hate to burst bubbles but lots and lots of human (and other animal and plant kingdom) genes are just not that important to our survival. They are simply the vagaries of gene duplication and the mutation process that is a random occurrence for the most part. Survival-important mutations are far and few between.

  165. Can you provide a little explanation? How does higher levels of CO2 yield higher levels of respiration when CO2 does not seem to be an input to the chemical reaction?

    You are thinking in terms of a chemical/biochemical chain of reactions.

    What happens is through some biochemical pathway higher CO2 levels are detected and as a result genes are switched on or switched on at a higher level. These genes then express whatever it is they do. Their only relation to higher CO2 levels is their expression is useful at higher CO2 levels.

    Which environmental triggers result in which gene expression is the result of random mutations and natural selection. Often the mechanisms seems strange and not a relationship between trigger and expression that one would rationally choose.

    Someone yesterday used the phrase ‘Good enough for evolutionary work’ to describe how the mechanisms often look kludged together to us rational beings.

    BTW, he was referring to the fact humans don’t have a mechanism to detect when O2 levels in our lungs fall to levels that would kill us. All we can detect is high levels of CO2. This is because evolution would never have encountered pure N2 or Argon environments.

    And if someone finds we do have an unexpressed gene to detect pure N2 then that would be compelling evidence of space flight in our evolutionary history. :-)

  166. Phillip, the article you referred to regarding on/off and dimmer functions has to do with an active gene segment that gets turned on and off as will as dims by regulatory genes near them. I think we were talking about what happens to genes that are never used, which translates to body parts/functions we don’t use or that are not essential to survival. Think of all the things about us that serve no survival function. Yet we keep getting born with these things. The article I included in my above post does a very good job of explaining that the belief, if you don’t use it you lose, is a myth.

  167. Pamela Gray (21:27:31) :
    I hate to burst bubbles but lots and lots of human (and other animal and plant kingdom) genes are just not that important to our survival. They are simply the vagaries of gene duplication and the mutation process that is a random occurrence for the most part. Survival-important mutations are far and few between.
    __________________________________________________

    Housekeeping genes may not have great selective pressures, but survival important mutations, i.e. pre-reproductive genes have already been mutated for millions of years to be currently-accepted as “normal” 85-years-to-death human genes. At the time they were mutated, they were just planning on, directing even, getting through 4 or 8 or 10 pregnancies (by the age of 20 or so), not 85 years. For us post-antibiotic, post predator-death folks, the long, but not long enough life span encoded by our gene collection is just a bonus.

    I’m intrigued by the fact that big trees can get through 100,000 years of Ice Age cycles. I wonder if there are vestiges of appropriate, reactivatable genes carried through such time scales, or if they have to start all over. Or if their progeny just moving closer to the tropics for the odd 100,000 years or so, and then migrating back, is the evolutionary mechanism.

    If only Al Gore’s brain could assimilate what piss-ant creatures we are …..

    … him in particular

  168. Pamela, every gene and every capability expressed from a gene has a cost (you can think of cost as finding food to fuel it). Natural selection over time will select those genes and capabilities that deliver the most value for the least cost and lose all other genes and their expressions.

    In your link above, the fact that cave dwelling fish always loose their sight is compelling evidence of this principal operating. Eyes have no value in the dark, so natural selection gets rid of them.

    BTW, I don’t buy the writer’s argument that eyes are lost in cave dwelling fish due to the development of some other hunting capability. Although, evolution frequently reuses some existing capability in a new way, Read Dawkins on the evolution of the eye.

    Eyes will be lost. New hunting capabilities will develope. Eyes may be reused for the new hunting capabilities. There is no necessary relationship.

    Anyway we are getting OT for Anthony’s blog.

    Although we did manage to discuss evolution without the vitriol and personal denigration that occurs in another prominent contender for Best Science Blog.

  169. Kaboom (01:23:58) : Ian Pringle, unfortunately the Eucalypt is an incendiary device […]The poor old gum tree is the culprit, as to why you cannot out-run or out-drive a proper Australian bushfire – the fire-front of exploding Eucalyptus trees travels at up to 100 Km per hour, depending upon wind.

    Topping eh? Hang on a mo… i drive closer to 75 mph which my spread sheet says is about 120 km/hr so can I move to Australia mate?

    Best vacation I ever had…

    Loved my trip from Sydney to the Back ‘O Burke where I bought a round for the whole bar (3 guys) and never bought another beer all day… then back out through what you blokes call mountains and we call hills; to Melbourne where I saw 100 yards of people on “90 mile beach” with 89.99 miles of empty white sand the other direction… and a fond memory of bar hopping with great food and entertainment downtown… Sigh. ( If you meet anyone named “Sumner” they may be relatives, so ask them if they have a great uncle or great grandad sailor named Joseph Sumner, if so I’d appreciate if you bought ‘em a beer… about 1900 my great uncle moved down under…)

    So can I come? Can I can I can I huh????

    I even have a great love of Eucalyptus! We have lots of them here in California even though rabid greens have gone on a jihad trying to get them all cut down as ‘foreign’… (Greens with saws? Yup. Fascists know a movement when they see one.) Frankly, I can’t imagine California without 100 foot tall blue gums and the ironbarks lining the boulevard… but what do I know, I’m only a native son here…

    But yeah, they burn well. Berkeley learned that a few years ago when the hills went up in flames. Good luck with the fire… I did a stint as a fire fighter here one summer; it’s not easy. ( I lasted about a week, till the fire was out, and never went back. Something about working 16+ hours a day in the full summer sun, near a fire, with pasty white skin and a sack lunch… I’d have probably stuck it out, but my boots didn’t fit well and the blisters got to me…)

    So take care and be well… and remember that it’s only nature. you can beat it. Even if the CO2 is making them grow 40% faster…

  170. Terry Ward (01:41:28) : It is just about useful for animal feed, but if I ruled the world it wouldn’t even be allowed for that purpose.

    Curious… Why? Isn’t a plant just a plant? Near 50% oil and most of the rest protein that’s a great animal food…

    Yes, I’d grow more sorghum, millet & amaranth, and if in a cold area, kale or peas, but soy is, well, just another high oil content legume.

    Hemp seed on the other hand…….,

    Decent oil & protein content. Good fiber production. Wide climate range. Decent crop. Superior to soy? Depends on the turf…

  171. Is this really fair? The soybeans haven’t had 40 more years of gradual CO2 increases to acclimate themselves. This is like taking the soybeans and growing them in a green house that’s 10°C above normal to see how they’ll grow in the year 2100. Everything will adapt and so sudden changes cannot really show what will happen in 40-90 years from now.

  172. Mike McMillan (02:24:19) : Hi again, E.M. I’ve hung around farms and cows enough that the periodic terrorist anthrax scares don’t apply to me.

    Ah, the fond memories of biology class in a small farm town… pictures of black spots on skin and the discussions of ‘wool sorters disease’ (aka topical anthrax). Yeah, been there… (About 2 years ago there was a report of a ‘local’ with a half dozen cows one of which got anthrax from the local dirt where it lives… Not a big deal when you grow up with it – and have a bottle of doxycycline in the fridge.)

    I know Purina makes those Chows, but other than Trout Chow (or Catfish Chow), farmers would go broke if they tried to raise a herd on them.

    Purely a rhetorical device. “Rolling your own” feed is always more efficient for a family farm. (I’ve started making my own cat food. Something in the commercial stuff is making the cats ‘not quite right’ – chinese melamine? Anyway, cooked bird with juices and 1/3 cooked rice through the sausage machine. But I digress…)

    I bought some toasted soy ‘nuts’ at the grocery the other day. Toasty, crunchy, oily, no flavor. Won’t buy more.

    http://www.unitedsoybean.org/FileDownload.aspx?file=United%20States%20Soybean%20Domestic%20Consumption%20Presentation%20(USB.ppt

    Says most goes to chickens, pigs, cows, etc. who luckily don’t seem to care much about the low flavor, estrogen analogs and impact on thyroid function… Eat it myself? Rarely if I can avoid it, sometimes in an asian dish if it’s a small part. I kind of like the green ones served with sushi though… Edamame? But bottom line is you will get no argument from me about it being chicken feed first and foremost! (And Diesel feed second ;-)

  173. Net Ecosystem Carbon Exchange (NEE) using Eddy Covariant Flux Measurement is interesting… (checking the balance between Co2 going in due to photosynthesis, and the Co2 going out due to respiration).

    I’m no scientist, but looking at some of the data from Duke University it shows that more Co2 is going in to the vegetation than is coming out, and that over time the amout of Co2 taken out of the atmosphere by the vegetation is increasing.

    NEE* 2000 -760 g C m-²
    NEE* 1999 -630 g C m-²
    NEE* 1998 -580 g C m-²
    *Net Ecosystem Carbon Exchange

  174. JimB (03:03:12) : E.M….taking your lead from Al? Getting in on the ground floor?…building a “bunny offset trading market” all in the name of CO2-enhancement?

    Well, I can learn.. if slowly!

    Your true colors finally show!…you…you…evildoer, you!

    On the other hand…rabbits are quite tasty ;*)

    (Hey…someone had to do it…)

    Snicker… Yeah, someone, I guess…

    As a child we raised rabbits ‘for the pot’ and I’ve dispatched and consumed many (Dad wanting me to be ready with all skills needed for the next Great Depression). I now have a ‘dozen head’ of freeloading free range bunnies in the back 40 — square yards; that I serve dinner to nightly but just can’t quite bring myself to dispatch; sometimes I wonder if evolution has dealt me a bum hand… They are so cute and intelligent… and tasty… (WHACK!)

    Chickens on the other hand, I’ll ‘dispatch’ in a moment… even if I’m not hungry… the mean little b[self snip]’s …

  175. B Kerr (03:46:55) : Yes a special BUNNY DOCTOR.
    Edinburgh University has the first Bunny Doctor.

    This actually makes sense… bunnies have some peculiarities that the typical vet may not know about. Things like an antibiotics can kill them by killing off the normal ‘gut flora’ that they need as a ruminant… It took me a while to find a vet who knew how to care for mine. (Yes, i’ve been turned from farmer to ‘servant to bunnies’… Oh the shame….)

    So you all really really do need to send me your bunny offset payments very soon so that I can buy more bunny kibble… and avoid the terrible Were-Rabbit visiting your back yard ;-)

  176. Pamela Gray (21:36:08) :

    Phillip, the article you referred to regarding on/off and dimmer functions has to do with an active gene segment that gets turned on and off as will as dims by regulatory genes near them. I think we were talking about what happens to genes that are never used, which translates to body parts/functions we don’t use or that are not essential to survival.

    When I was growing up tonsils and the appendix were considered not essential to survival and were routinely cut off to “avoid possible troubles”. It took the AIDS scare and the enormous attention to immunity issues that high lighted their function as antibody factories. In a similar way, many genes that are thought “not to be used” might prove to be quite useful. Our ignorance is much larger than our knowledge in these issues, imho.

  177. Gary (05:59:30) : Folks seem to be misreading this news release. The researcher was looking at plant respiration, not photosynthesis. Respiration in plants is essentially the same as in animals: it uses O2 and releases CO2.

    While you are correct, the implication is that the plant is growing more. More photosynthesis leads to more growth (so more respiration) and since most folks are focusing on that growth, the difference between photosynthesis and respiration is a bit pedantic in this context …

    @Ken Hall (06:04:26) : “At what level of concentration does this ability for plants to soak up more CO2 kick in? ”

    Any.

    CO2 is clearly a ‘rate limiting nutrient’. As such, any increase will result in increased plant growth. It ought to be ‘concentration proportional’ up to the full utilization level. Elsewhere I’ve seen this reported as about 1000 to 2000 ppm. This, IMHO, is clear evidence that most life on this planet evolved to expect 1000ppm+ and has had it for most of evolutionary history (and would want it again…)

    That, to me, is the strongest possible argument that added CO2 is a very good thing…

  178. Tom in Florida (08:11:28) :
    Bruce cobb: “Unfortunately, as temperature decrease, so does the enhancing effect of raised C02, and with anything below a daily mean of 18.5C (65.3F) an increased C02 level actually decreases plant growth, according to a study by climate physicist Sherwood Idso. ”

    Another reason we need a warmer Earth. Warmer is better.

    This will be wildly dependent on crop type. Kale & Turnips, for example, are best after frost (with Kale even living in snowfall…) while many kinds of tomato need over 80F to set fruit… I would not trust a ‘climate physicist’ to do my agronomy research…

    But yes, warmer is better. ( I like citrus, avocado, coconuts, cocoa, coffee, tomatoes, …)

  179. Gary Hladik (11:20:35) :
    James P (04:08:00) : “I take your general point, but IIRC, about a third of the world goes to bed hungry.”

    According to the UN Food and Agriculture organization, the proportion of world population “undernourished” was about 16%

    The difference is the 17% that go to bed hungry because they are on a diet trying to lose weight…

  180. Philip_B (22:22:42) : Pamela, every gene and every capability expressed from a gene has a cost (you can think of cost as finding food to fuel it). Natural selection over time will select those genes and capabilities that deliver the most value for the least cost and lose all other genes and their expressions.

    Is that why I still have an appendix (that is functional in the rabbit but not so much in primates…) after all these years not being a rabbit?

  181. E.M.Smith (01:20:03) :
    CO2 is clearly a ‘rate limiting nutrient’. As such, any increase will result in increased plant growth. It ought to be ‘concentration proportional’ up to the full utilization level. Elsewhere I’ve seen this reported as about 1000 to 2000 ppm.

    Increased CO2 can only increase plant growth if the plant has extra water, nitrogen and trace elements to support this extra growth. Availability of water throughout the growing season seems to be a problem in many parts of the world. Rapid climate shifts and increasing temperature extremes as predicted by AGW would increase this problem and more than negate any benifits of extra co2.

    This, IMHO, is clear evidence that most life on this planet evolved to expect 1000ppm+ and has had it for most of evolutionary history (and would want it again…)<blockquote

    If this was the case why is the recent era (shortly before the presence of Homo sapiens) the most biologically diverse the earth has ever been? As long as changes happen at ‘normal’ speeds then organisms will adapt via evolution by natural selection. Rapid changes in atmospheric constituents have previously resulted in mass extinctions and recovery times for biodiversity of millions of years.

    That, to me, is the strongest possible argument that added CO2 is a very good thing…

    Then your ‘strongest possible argument’ is extremely flawed, you might want to take another look.

  182. Animals that live past productive life tend to be in herding or social group species. The wisdom of age and the ability to fend off threats without having to stay near offspring is advantageous to the survival of herds and social groups. There are probably plants that do this same thing, by possibly keeping the area physically crowded or surrounded with its own reproducing species so that competing plants can’t move in.

    However, there are still lots and lots of genetic code, expressed as traits or long silenced, that are just there, and continue on, riding on the coattails of genes nearby that improve species survival in the current environment. Gene coding is a chaotic system for most of it, and a selective process for some of it.

  183. E.M.Smith (22:50:08) :

    “Terry Ward (01:41:28) : It is just about useful for animal feed, but if I ruled the world it wouldn’t even be allowed for that purpose.

    Curious… Why? Isn’t a plant just a plant? Near 50% oil and most of the rest protein that’s a great animal food…”

    Rather than rant about it I offer one of the best soy debunk sites;

    http://www.soyonlineservice.co.nz/

  184. Breaking News: Trees Love Greenhouse Gas

    They can’t get enough of it, in fact they need it to survive and grow. The more CO2 there is the more they convert it into Oxygen for us to breath. It’s a beautiful symbiotic realtionship between man and plants called Photosynthesis.

    In 2003 scientist set out to prove the effect of greenouse gasses on trees. They planted trees in New York City and trees way out in the woods. To their suprise, the trees planted in the city grew twice as rapidly as the ones in the country.
    link to article.

    “In the country, the trees were about up to my waist. In the city, they were almost over my head — it’s really dramatic,” said Jillian W. Gregg, the study’s lead author.

    “No matter what soil I grew them in they always grew twice as large in New York City,” said Gregg, who said she was initially perplexed by the unexpected results.

    Full Article

  185. I wonder if marine crustaceans have similar relic genes that switch on in reponse to recreation of ancient local conditions. I believe the fossil record shows crustaceans evolved or lived through periods with higher pH, CO2, and temperatures- even thrived. If such a genetic reponse was observed, manmade CO2 driven ocean acidification may not be so dire either.

  186. Mary Hinge

    You missed the point that it is not necessary to wait for evolutionary changes for plants to adapt. It’s already built in. As is the ability for humans to choose what to plant where and when. Scaremongering by use of model output that is based on unproven assumptions was a nice tactic that is rapidly losing its persuasive power.

  187. Just wanted to give one last parting shot regarding the mess we call genes. Hansen’s code looks positively obsessively compulsively ordered compared to DNA coding. This is a quick and layman-like read on the utter chaos some people think is ordered. And yes, the author is right. We have lots and lots of junk DNA. It’s never used. It serves no function. And our own bodies know it because it cuts and pastes around the junk segments. Could the junk segments be the result of constant mutations of once used but now useless genes? So, they don’t die. They just get confused.

    http://psych.colorado.edu/~carey/hgss/hgsschapters/HGSS_Chapter03.pdf

    REPLY: Maybe the secret to conquering aging is to take out the trash. – Anthony

  188. As an analogy, our genetic code operating system never seems to throw out anything it no longer uses. Kind of like the code used between the old MS DOS and windows. The Y2K problem could not be readily fixed because the original code writers were no longer alive to help pinpoint the area of the code that needed to be fixed. Old codes were never thrown out. They were just added onto or patches developed. No one ever (or rarely) when back into the code and actually tried to fix it. And finding all the attached and looped codes that depended on old codes was a nightmare. Which is why patches were devised and then sacrifices made. There was absolutely no assurance that the fixes would work. Apple and McIntosh systems running on OS did not have this problem because the code was of a more recent vintage, thus it was originally written with 2000 in mind (which I believe might have a problem in 2030-something).

    Our genes are a lot like the old original computer code that just kept getting added on to without getting rid of the old stuff. In other words, we are pack rats…not to mention piss poor code writers.

  189. Syl (15:52:35) :
    You missed the point that it is not necessary to wait for evolutionary changes for plants to adapt. It’s already built in. As is the ability for humans to choose what to plant where and when.

    You, I and every member of the human race has the genes for a prehensile tail ‘built in’. It does’t mean that it will switch on readily (which is good news for tailors)! The ‘switches’ that turn on or off the genes have also evolved so that the organism is adapted to the current conditions. Like the genes for the tail, these will not switch on or off readily so it becomes immaterial that the genes ‘built in’ arestill around somewhere. The plants that were around during the higher CO2 levels of the early Carboniferous are very different to the plants alive today (with the usual odd exception that always happens with biology!)

  190. Mary Hinge

    Increased CO2 can only increase plant growth if the plant has extra water, nitrogen and trace elements to support this extra growth. Availability of water throughout the growing season seems to be a problem in many parts of the world. Rapid climate shifts and increasing temperature extremes as predicted by AGW would increase this problem and more than negate any benifits of extra co2.

    It appears that your belief is that AGW will cause more droughts everywhere, and will cause droughts which will negate any benefits from increased atmospheric CO2.

    Since the amount of rainfall is more or less constant globally, that particular scare tactic fails. If one area experiences drought conditions, then another marginal area will get additional rainfall, which will result in better growing conditions in that area if CO2 is abundant.

    What will it take for you to understand that “climate change” is composed of changing local weather patterns around the globe? An epiphany?

    At some point the scales will fall from your eyes. If not, everyone will realize that your beliefs are based on a politically based AGW agenda, rather than on a desire to understand the true reason for global warming, which is a natural result of the planet’s emergence from the last Ice Age.

    Maybe I’m the crazy one, but I think there is hope for you. If rising CO2 levels do not result in rising global temperatures, and if CO2 triggers plant growth, then the conclusion is obvious to even the most casual observer: higher levels of CO2 are beneficial to life. Therefore demonizing CO2 is anti-life.

  191. Smokey (06:11:15) :
    It appears that your belief is that AGW will cause more droughts everywhere, and will cause droughts which will negate any benefits from increased atmospheric CO2.

    My actual belief in itself won’t cause an increased probability of droughts in many prime agricultural areas, but the effects of AGW will.

    Since the amount of rainfall is more or less constant globally, that particular scare tactic fails. If one area experiences drought conditions, then another marginal area will get additional rainfall, which will result in better growing conditions in that area if CO2 is abundant.

    Sorry Smokey but that is a ridiculous statement. If agricultural areas experience drought conditions then that certainly reduces any benefits of additional CO2, especially if the marginal areas consist of mountains, forest or oceans. A small change in rainfall in some areas will undoubtally have major effects either regionally or even globally.

    What will it take for you to understand that “climate change” is composed of changing local weather patterns around the globe? An epiphany?

    Errr, of course climate change is composed of changing local weather patterns, that’s why it’s called ‘change’. The important factor is the rate of change and how fast we and the rest of life on Earth can adapt to this.

    At some point the scales will fall from your eyes. If not, everyone will realize that your beliefs are based on a politically based AGW agenda, rather than on a desire to understand the true reason for global warming, which is a natural result of the planet’s emergence from the last Ice Age.

    I do not belong to any political party not do I have any interest in the politics of global warming discussions. I care about this planet and the people and life that inhabits it. It is obvious to anyone that reads the literature and other data we have available that there are major climatic changes happening, it is also obvious that your own theory is flawed in that you haven’t described a particular method nor an explanation for the very rapid rise in the last 100 years.

    Maybe I’m the crazy one,

    At last a grain of truth from you ;-)

    ….but I think there is hope for you. If rising CO2 levels do not result in rising global temperatures, and if CO2 triggers plant growth, then the conclusion is obvious to even the most casual observer: higher levels of CO2 are beneficial to life. Therefore demonizing CO2 is anti-life.

    Lots of ‘ifs’ in that statement. CO2 will/has result(ed) in an increase in global temperatures, try that scale remover yourself!

  192. OK, try this ‘if’ on for size:

    If the planet warms, evaporation increases.

    If evaporation increases, precipitation [rain] increases.

    If rain increases, droughts decrease.

    Unless, of course, down is up, black is white, evil is good, a warmer climate decreases evaporation, and global warming causes global cooling.

  193. Smokey (09:32:37) :
    OK, try this ‘if’ on for size:
    If the planet warms, evaporation increases.
    If evaporation increases, precipitation [rain] increases.
    If rain increases, droughts decrease.

    The problems are not so much the quantity of rain globally but where it does or does not fall. Increased rainfall in areas not accustomed to this as well as decreased rainfall in areas used to it WILL cause problems in food producing regions. You seem to think that rainfall is pretty evenly distributed?

  194. Mary Hinge (11:26:24) :

    The problems are not so much the quantity of rain globally but where it does or does not fall. Increased rainfall in areas not accustomed to this as well as decreased rainfall in areas used to it WILL cause problems in food producing regions. You seem to think that rainfall is pretty evenly distributed?

    Has happened before, will happen again, regardless of whether humans even exist.

  195. A warmer planet tends to be a wetter planet, a colder planet tends to be drier one from what I’ve read. Weather patterns change as climate changes, see the ‘Greening of the Sahel’ for a nice example.

  196. Jeff Alberts (12:19:57) :
    Has happened before, will happen again, regardless of whether humans even exist.

    The big problems occur when these rapid changing events happen when over 6,000,000,000 people live on the planet.

  197. Mary Hinge (06:14:26) : Increased CO2 can only increase plant growth if the plant has extra water, nitrogen and trace elements to support this extra growth. Availability of water throughout the growing season seems to be a problem in many parts of the world.

    I can only assume that you are unaware of the studies that showed increased plant growth with higher CO2 despite no increase in water. The plants are more efficient in water use with more CO2. More CO2 mitigates drought issues for plants.

    Many sources of nitrogen fixation exist, including plants that fix their own nitrogen. A red herring. Ditto trace elements. Yes, each individual soil may have some element that becomes rate limiting. So what. Most soils most of the time are not rate limited on trace minerals. If you have a problem, add some volcano dust… Trace is just another red herring.

    This, IMHO, is clear evidence that most life on this planet evolved to expect 1000ppm+ and has had it for most of evolutionary history (and would want it again…)

    If this was the case why is the recent era (shortly before the presence of Homo sapiens) the most biologically diverse the earth has ever been?

    A rather bald assertion with nothing to back it up. That’s just a large rat hole to go explore. Does diversity matter? How to determine ‘diversity’? Does the precambrian variety of major body plans outweigh the minor species variations of today? How well does the fossil record record soft bodied critters? What was the impact of the development of sex on the rate of species creation? What is the impact of entering an interglacial on species diversity?

    All very interesting questions, and all very irrelevant to this blog. So no, I will not indulge in Rat Chasing; down rat holes or otherwise.

    If plants were fully satisfied with their CO2 needs at 200 ppm it would not be rate limiting. If they had had time to fully evolve toward a 200 ppm norm, they would not be rate limited on CO2. The development of C4 metabolism seems to be a partial step in that direction, so plants have been stressed ‘for a while’, but most are still C3 and even C4 is not fully adaptive.

    Yes, there is an atmospheric environmental stress on plants, but that stress is too low a CO2 level; as the plants themselves testify by their growth.

    BTW, if you are really interested in the problems of drought, perhaps you ought to switch ‘sides’. Drought increases dramatically during ice ages because cold air holds less water than warm air. Warmer air will bring more rains, not less. (Which, unfortunately, is why during this current couple of year cold spell California is having one heck of a drought. Though for the last week my accidental ‘prayer to the rain Gods’ has resulted in some much needed rain…)

    Pessimums with poor crop growth are cold. Optimums with good plant growth are warm. Fact of history. Fact of life.

    The simple fact is that plants want and need more CO2 to work at full efficiency including the efficiency with which they use water. This holds up to about 1000 to 2000 ppm CO2. That is not an accident, that is the result of directed design via evolution. It’s not gonna change ’cause you don’t like it.

    That, to me, is the strongest possible argument that added CO2 is a very good thing…

    You might want to take another look.

  198. Pamela Gray (07:00:07) : There are probably plants that do this same thing, by possibly keeping the area physically crowded or surrounded with its own reproducing species so that competing plants can’t move in.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allelopathy

    Plants make a bunch of ‘chemical weapons’ to kill off intruder species. That’s why the lawn dies under the walnut tree. There is a whole art to ‘companion planting’ to find which plants ignore each others attacks… (Be careful where you plant sunflowers… and don’t plant peas and onions together..)

    However, there are still lots and lots of genetic code, expressed as traits or long silenced, that are just there, and continue on, riding on the coattails of genes nearby that improve species survival in the current environment. Gene coding is a chaotic system for most of it, and a selective process for some of it.

    Absolutely! My favorite example of this is the experiments that have shown birds still have the genes for teeth. They are just back in the ‘tool chest’ portion and not in the ‘active’ portion…

    Transplant ‘gum’ tissue to a different part of the bird embryo and it makes teeth…

  199. Terry Ward (08:10:32) :
    E.M.Smith (22:50:08) :”Curious… Why? Isn’t a plant just a plant? Near 50% oil and most of the rest protein that’s a great animal food…”

    Rather than rant about it I offer one of the best soy debunk sites;

    http://www.soyonlineservice.co.nz/

    First, I have to correct my statement quoted above: That ought to have been 30% oil and 50% protein.

    Terry, I agree with the things on that site! But ruminants are not humans!

    I’m quite happy to feed soy meal to chickens and soy oil to my car. But don’t you dare try to feed me a soy burger! Soy has many ‘issues’ as a human food and ought to be consumed in quantities of no more than a couple of grams a day (and most of that processed like soy sauce to remove the ‘bad stuff’!)

    So I think we are ‘in violent agreement’ on soy as human food…

    BTW, most foods have some toxic issues to deal with. Red Kidney beans will make you very sick or even kill you if not cooked at boiling (learned each year around christmas with new slow cookers and old chili recipes… ) Onions are lethal to many animals (dogs, cats) by hemolysis, but not to humans (why? don’t ask why…). Green potato skins (and the potato under them) have solanine toxin in them. Rhubarb leaves, parsnip tops, etc.

    Plants don’t really want to be eaten!

    So the ‘problems’ with soy are not unique. And the solutions are largely the same. Eat less than a toxic dose. Find a process that removes the toxin (boil kidney beans, chop rhubarb leaves off the stems). Feed the plant to an animal that can eat it, then eat the animal (acorns to goats). Eat only the non-toxic parts (parsnip roots are great, but wear a chem suit when harvesting, the tops give rashes…)

    Because of this I see no reason to ‘ban’ soy beans; just use them wisely like all the other ‘toxic’ plants we depend on… That a whole industry is thriving on doing exactly the opposite,… well, yes, you are right, and they ought to stop it.

  200. Mary Hinge (11:26:24) :
    “Smokey (09:32:37) :If the planet warms, evaporation increases.
    If evaporation increases, precipitation [rain] increases.
    If rain increases, droughts decrease.”

    The problems are not so much the quantity of rain globally but where it does or does not fall. Increased rainfall in areas not accustomed to this as well as decreased rainfall in areas used to it WILL cause problems in food producing regions.

    Can you say ‘existence proof’?

    We don’t need to speculate about this with ‘ifs’. Nature has already run the experiment. Look at the Roman Optimum, the Medieval Optimum, heck, all the Optimums. During times of increased warmth, the world gets increased crop production.

    Now look at all the Pessimums. Migration Era Pessimum, Iron Age Cold Epoch. etc. When the climate turns cold, crops fail and production falls. Social chaos follows.

    The notion that we are doomed via crop failure if we warm up is, er, unhinged…

  201. Let’s try this again with a proper /i close of the italics…

    Mary Hinge (06:14:26) : Increased CO2 can only increase plant growth if the plant has extra water, nitrogen and trace elements to support this extra growth. Availability of water throughout the growing season seems to be a problem in many parts of the world.

    I can only assume that you are unaware of the studies that showed increased plant growth with higher CO2 despite no increase in water. The plants are more efficient in water use with more CO2. More CO2 mitigates drought issues for plants.

    Many sources of nitrogen fixation exist, including plants that fix their own nitrogen. A red herring. Ditto trace elements. Yes, each individual soil may have some element that becomes rate limiting. So what. Most soils most of the time are not rate limited on trace minerals. If you have a problem, add some volcano dust… Trace is just another red herring.

    This, IMHO, is clear evidence that most life on this planet evolved to expect 1000ppm+ and has had it for most of evolutionary history (and would want it again…)

    If this was the case why is the recent era (shortly before the presence of Homo sapiens) the most biologically diverse the earth has ever been?

    A rather bald assertion with nothing to back it up. That’s just a large rat hole to go explore. Does diversity matter? How to determine ‘diversity’? Does the precambrian variety of major body plans outweigh the minor species variations of today? How well does the fossil record record soft bodied critters? What was the impact of the development of sex on the rate of species creation? What is the impact of entering an interglacial on species diversity?

    All very interesting questions, and all very irrelevant to this blog. So no, I will not indulge in Rat Chasing; down rat holes or otherwise.

    If plants were fully satisfied with their CO2 needs at 200 ppm it would not be rate limiting. If they had had time to fully evolve toward a 200 ppm norm, they would not be rate limited on CO2. The development of C4 metabolism seems to be a partial step in that direction, so plants have been stressed ‘for a while’, but most are still C3 and even C4 is not fully adaptive.

    Yes, there is an atmospheric environmental stress on plants, but that stress is too low a CO2 level; as the plants themselves testify by their growth.

    BTW, if you are really interested in the problems of drought, perhaps you ought to switch ‘sides’. Drought increases dramatically during ice ages because cold air holds less water than warm air. Warmer air will bring more rains, not less. (Which, unfortunately, is why during this current couple of year cold spell California is having one heck of a drought. Though for the last week my accidental ‘prayer to the rain Gods’ has resulted in some much needed rain…)

    Pessimums with poor crop growth are cold. Optimums with good plant growth are warm. Fact of history. Fact of life.

    The simple fact is that plants want and need more CO2 to work at full efficiency including the efficiency with which they use water. This holds up to about 1000 to 2000 ppm CO2. That is not an accident, that is the result of directed design via evolution. It’s not gonna change ’cause you don’t like it.

    That, to me, is the strongest possible argument that added CO2 is a very good thing…

    You might want to take another look.

  202. CO2 may increase the rate of plant growth, but the same FACE facility also finds that increased CO2 also leads to increased damaged through insect attack as the plant’s defences become less effective.

    Combined with the projected phenological change of pest insects surely this is not the “very good thing” that is being touted here?

    http://news.illinois.edu/news/08/0325plantdefense.html

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