Claim: CO2 causes plant viruses to spread more easily

Barley Yellow Dwarf Disease - public domain Wikimedia image, uploaded to Wikimedia by Mattflaschen

Barley Yellow Dwarf Disease – public domain Wikimedia image, uploaded to Wikimedia by Mattflaschen

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Scientists working in Victoria, Australia, have claimed that barley yellow dwarf virus spreads more easily, when wheat plants are subject to elevated levels of CO2.

Dr Piotr Trêbicki, speaking to the ABC;

Lead researcher Dr Piotr Trêbicki said the study found the spread of the disease in wheat increased more than 30 per cent under the test conditions.

“We need to understand what to expect in the future,” he said.

“This study was done on just one cultivar, which is the most commonly grown in Wimmera, but we really need to have [a] grasp on the mechanism.”

Victoria exported $1.9 billion worth of grain during the 2013/14 financial year.

The nation’s total cereal production generates about $8 billion in exports annually.

Previous research has found increased carbon dioxide levels could boost crop growth and yields, but reduce quality.

Read more: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-24/co2-viruses-climate-change/6416582

I find it a bit difficult to accept this is anything other than an experimental anomaly – as Dr Piotr Trêbicki admitted, the experiment was small scale, with just one cultivar.

Elevated CO2 levels of 1000ppm+, are used extensively in commercial greenhouses – the CO2 is usually generated on the spot, by burning natural gas in large special purpose CO2 generators, which keep the CO2, and discard the heat. If there was a general problem with plant disease and CO2, surely someone who owns a commercial greenhouse would have noticed by now.

Global wheat yields are soaring, despite, or more likely in part because of the rise in atmospheric CO2 levels, from 250 – 280ppm in the 1800s, to 400ppm today. Granted this growth rate is due to the combined influence of a lot of factors – better agricultural practices, more CO2, better pest control, better crop strains. However, if there is a negative “CO2 effect”, the negative effect is currently being more than counteracted by whatever we are doing to improve yields.

What if, despite all this evidence that CO2 is beneficial, wheat is a special case? What if wheat really is more vulnerable to insect borne diseases like barley yellow dwarf virus, when exposed to elevated levels of CO2? Time would solve this unlikely problem. Surely by 2050, someone will have developed a better bug spray to kill the aphids which spread the disease, or someone will have developed a genetically enhanced breed of wheat, with more resistance to pathogens like yellow dwarf virus.

Dr Trêbicki’s suggestion that we might be able to infer the problems people will face in 2050, based on his study, seems implausible. History is littered with embarrassing mistakes, made by people who tried to predict the problems which would be faced by future generations.

UPDATE

Just an engineer comments that a transgenic solution to barley yellow dwarf virus, which works in barley plants, was discovered in 2001.

…We have generated barley plants containing transgenes encoding a hpRNA derived from BYDV-PAV polymerase sequences. Over one-third of these independently transformed plants have extreme resistance to BYDV-PAV. Furthermore, some of the plants have a single transgene that is inherited, along with virus immunity, in a simple Mendelian manner. …

Read more: http://regional.org.au/au/abts/2001/m4/abbott.htm

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118 thoughts on “Claim: CO2 causes plant viruses to spread more easily

    • I would not be surprised if this was true (or untrue for that matter); CO2 increases plant growth and the virus could spread faster; though I’d expect the plant to grow better despite the virus infection. But I don’t know. I would not be surprised if there were some harmful effects from CO2 to certain kinds of wheat. In the end, it is not about if harmful effects exist, it is about do they matter and how do we cope with them.
      This is a matter of selecting the right varieties of cultivars to places where they are cultivated. And changing the cultivars when needed. Basic farming, all farmers doing it all the time.

      • On wheat there has been hundreds of studies with thousands of experiments, both in the field and in the lab. None, as in ZERO of the field studies reported any problem with an increase in wheat diseases.

      • In the 70’s I was an enthusiastic aquarist. My main interest was trying to grow thru water plants in an artificial environment. After a lot of trial and error, if I had been funded they would have been called “experiments”, I discovered what made my plants bolt out of the tank.
        The only thing that tied all the various pieces of the puzzle together, things like light, subsoil etc., was CO2!
        With constant injections of CO2 in the water, nothing exceptional… just a plastic bottle with water, sugar and yeast, Plant growth was phenomenal! A couple of control tanks were set up in the same room, I could eliminate from the tanks everything and anything, provided I had CO2 and Light, the plants would grow not at the same speed, but close to the proper tank! No diseases, no die back no deficiencies just vigorous growth! CO2?? We need more not less!
        [Are you sure it was the Dissolved CO2 in the water – not the extra CO2 in the air of the hydroponics area coming out of the water? .mod]

    • It is hilarious to watch these so-called scientists contort their ethics to try to find some way in which CO2 is actually bad for plants.

  1. Why don’t these clowns make it easy on themselves and us by just telling us what carbon dioxide will NOT do.

    • I am supposing they will prove that CO2 isn’t really plant food but plant poison and thus, should be reduced to 0% of the atmosphere instead of 1%.

      • CO2 is much less than 1%; it is only 0.04%, which I usually write as “0.0004 of the air that we breathe” to show how tiny the concentration is. (That is the same as 400 ppm and 4 molecules in 10,000.)
        IanM

    • Well, there is of course simply nothing bad what devil CO2 can’t do. That’s inevitable by the books of wisdom of our current global CAGW “science” religion… 😉
      And by the way. With this study we understand why the poor dinosaurs became extinct at last: Forget killer comets and the Deccan traps volcanos -> the poor beasts were simply choked by too much plant viruses, given that they had to endure 4 times as much CO2 in the atmosphere than we…. 🙂

      • You absolutely correct, may I add that what CO2 cannot do our PM Abbott can! I am starting to think that CO2 destructive behavior has been increased by the evilness… of the PM or, if I was an apologist for the LNP the other way around, the evilness of the Government and it’s leader is a direct consequence of the “Dangerous” “destructive” “apocalyptic” levels of CO2!

  2. Elevated CO2 levels of 1000ppm+, are used extensively in commercial greenhouses

    If we project, like climate models and anything remotely having to do with climate likes to to do, this study means that commercial growers are in actuality hot houses for plant viruses which could eventually severely damage global food supplies. And to make it political as well we’ll recommend starting investigations into Koch brothers investments in commercial greenhouses.
    Or maybe not. Maybe studying the hubcap on a car we do not need to project the properties of the hubcap to all other facets of the automobile. Maybe we do not need to make it political or to project everything fancifully into the future.
    Maybe.

    • Certainly if this “experiment” was conducted in a greenhouse, then I do hope they kept the greenhouse DRY, like the atmosphere that wheat usually grows in.
      Viruses love a constant higher humidity !

  3. Increased CO2 in the atmosphere gives plants a reduced water need. I would have thought that dryer conditions would reduce fungus and other infections.
    Perhaps Dr. Idso will know through his extensive experiments on plants.

    • But that is the problem. He has looked at wheat bred to grow in the previous low levels of CO2 – almost too low for wheat to grow well, and found in higher CO2 environment it has some problems. Perhaps if he ran several generations of that type of wheat so it could evolve to thrive in higher CO2, fewer stoma for example, then the results could be different. This could be just a matter of poor experimental design.

  4. ” atmospheric CO2 levels, from 250 – 280ppm in the 1800s, ”
    DO not forget that the 80,000 direct chemical bottle CO2 readings from over 200 years, assembled by Ernst Beck, clearly showed that CO2 has gone up and down over the last two centuries, being higher than now during three periods, the latest being in the 1940s when it was as high as 550 ppm CO2. The other two period were in the early and mid 1800s. 400 ppm was not unusual.
    It was a case of cherry-picked data when Calendar took this wide-ranging data and chose only certain low values, as “he knew” CO2 has been low and the vast majority of the data, some collected by Nobel Laureate chemists, were discounted on no basis. From this false set of data, he published his false graph and essentially claimed, dishonestly, that CO2 had been historically low for hundreds of years, until humans started adding it to the atmosphere in 1950.

    • +1 higley7
      With my note added that Calendar published in the 30’s and did not claim that it was from 1950 that human emissions were significant. He claimed they were significant before 1940. I agree that there is measurement evidence that CO2 was 450-550 ppm in the early 40’s which is just what one would expect after such a significant warming in the 30’s.
      It is not often remembered that Keeling’s NDIR machine used since the 50’s was not all that accurate – it was continuous however because it is a real time instrument. The chemical measurements made before were a lot more precise and because of proper calibration, accurate to boot. These days an NDIR gas analyser is very accurate at a few ppm. The high end equipment used at Earth Monitoring stations, such as the SAWS unit at Cape Point is good to 0.2 ppm.
      See http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/gmd/wdcgg/cgi-bin/wdcgg/accessdata.cgi?index=CPT134S00-NOAA&select=parameter&param=201106240001
      under Sampling and analysis for the precision.
      The chemistry of the atmosphere was well understood decades ago. The fact that CO2 was regionally variable was well established. It was also higher 75 years ago than it is now because of the huge ramp in warming that occurred from 1920 to 1940. Just because so many are lying about it doesn’t mean it isn’t so. CO2 varies a lot with temperature, always following it. In the NH winter and summer it is the opposite because there is so much ice and snow involved in the water cycle.

      • Not to mention burning cities and massive fuel usage, beginning in the 30’s, as Japan ravaged China and Germany began to ramp-up for war. Just how much CO2 came from the fire-bombings of Dresden and Tokyo, plus all those burning ships, tanks, aircraft, etc.?

  5. Distressing to hear about the use of gas to generate extra CO2 – and then to waste the heat. Quite irresponsible. The disparaging of this information is not helpful either. More research is needed before we dismiss this data.

    • Who says the heat is wasted. Greenhouse operators are great at reuse and recycling everything they can. It’s called capitalism, you become more profitable by not wasting anything. Have you been to a large greenhouse operation?

    • “More research is needed before we dismiss this data.” Umm..more data needed before we can assess the first data? When does that chain ever end?

  6. I think to avoid barley yellow drawf virus we should cultivate our wheat in Antarctica. Voila; end of barley yellow drawf virus problem.

  7. The good news is that these tests require verification before wide-spread panic sets in, the researchers need to get a “grasp on the mechanism”, and science has overcome many crop issues in the past and will likely do so in the future.
    The report was as vague as it could possibly be and neglected to include a link to the actual study. Fill in your own ideas for possible motivation behind those failures.
    The phrase ” aphid-spread disease common in plants” would cause me to guess that the virus vector would be aphids. Did the “test conditions” simulate normal insecticide application? This looks like normal ag-school stuff, not a sign of the coming apocalypse.

  8. I have not yet checked to see if this is the latest “CO2-terror” newsflash on the BBC – i probably do not need to check.
    And of course it will be highlighted in Geoff Lean’s Saturday rant in the Daily Telegraph, probably after his usual opening paragraph praising China for its pioneering work on combating climate change. It is from reading such sources that our leaders decide on their policies I sometimes suspect – but I may be wrong .

  9. News flash from 2100.
    Following the implementation LENR in the 2020s CO2 levels have been falling.. Our robust model indicates we are near a tipping point and if we don’t start burning fossil fuel again by the end of the year, millions will die of starvation due to slower pant metabolism.

    • Love the concept of “slower pant metabolism”. I think it was Bart Simpson who said “Eat my pants”.

  10. Another alarmist article from the “lucky country”, Australia. This is just more attacks on the LNP Abbott govn’t. Universities, media, the ABC, SBS, Karoly, Hannam, Karl etc etc etc…it’s getting rather tired. Coldest wettest April in Sydney in 17 years?

    • Sorry for that – we do our best but the gravy train remains active – roll on the next glaciation I say

      • I am sure you have seen day after day articles at The Age, The SMH, the ABC and SBS relating to Abbotts “failure” to promote climate policy and drive towards more renewables to meet Australia’s RET targets. Opposition to Hunt’s approving the Abotts point project and claiming the Barrier Reef will be destroyed by dredging, dumping and shipping, never mind that ALL the environmental studies/approvals were conducted/secured by the ALP/Green Govn’t. Hunt approved the project overall AFTER the LNP came to power. It will get worse as we get closer to Paris gabfest.
        I guess now that we have the adults running the show in Canberra they realised that reducing Australia’s emissions of CO2 by 5%-20% is rediculous. 5%-20% of the ~2% Australian contribution of the ~3% human contribution to the ~400ppm/v total CO2 consentration is futile and simply destroys industry. Ford and Holden, under the ALP/Green boondoggle, announced they were pulling out of Australia in 2016 citing energy costs as one factor. It’s not a surprise really given cars, and almost everything else sold here, are made cheaper in just about every other country in our region.

  11. All this stuff is coming out of Australia because their funding is being cut by gov. It is a crescendo of activity before the Paris hysterics. I think the gov should give Lomborg an increased budget to hire climate scientists to begin the repair job on this fungus of a science.

    • There is a rumour that EPA funding is being hacked away by a disbelieving bunch of Republicans. Whole departments are closing. Is that possible? Certainly not in the news.

  12. My question about this research is this – would it have been published had they found no effect or a positive effect of carbon dioxide on the virus growth? I would have to assume that this combination of wheat and virus are of considered concern for where it is being grown, and I have to assume that is the reason for the research, but again, had there not been a negative to report – or a positive to report instead, would they have published?

    • Yes it is strange that they only studied a single cultivar. Maybe that is the only one where they found a harmful effect, and they simply discarded all the beneficial results.

  13. I noticed the same thing.
    The wheat thrived at 390 ppm, but failed miserably at 391 ppm.

  14. The wheat grown in 2015 is quite a bit different than the wheat grown 35 years ago. Similarly, with the advances in genetic engineering and plant breeding, it can be expected that wheat grown 35 years in the future will be quite a bit different genetically than wheat grown today.
    The study is misleading because it doesn’t test what happens after multiple generations. CO2 is rising slowly. It will take many generations of wheat before CO2 levels reach the test levels. During that time farmers, geneticist and seed companies will select wheat that perform best with the increasing CO2. They will not be growing 2015 wheat in 2050.
    What the scientists have done is a bogus study. It assumes that human beings are too stupid to take advantage of increasing CO2. Rather we will all sit around in ivory towers with our thumbs up our bums, lamenting on how change means the end of the world.

  15. Hmmm….. Lysenko and pals, in pushing the communist promoted Lamarck ideas of evolution, would inject ink spots into the legs of dead frogs to fabricate supporting evidence. Science today is riddled with corrupt practices and false claims, many of which pass peer review. It would not be surprising at all to find this study falls into that sorry trash heap.

  16. Given the methods used in this present study, there are two ways to put your finger on the scales when measuring the results of your research. One is to use too few subjects on accident. The other is to use too few subjects not on accident.

  17. So how do they explain that yesterday was quite warm here, 17 degC .. Tomorrow is expected to be 10 degC .. So yesterdays ‘global warming’ was bad because the plant virii spread? so what about tomorrow ?

  18. So … every commercial greenhouse is doing it incorrectly. Go figure.
    Plants become susceptible to viruses when they are weakened for some reason, typically because of some limiting factor.
    Increasing plant food — CO2 — without adjusting the many other factors, such as nutrient strength, temperature, and humidity, will make the plant much more susceptible to viruses, molds and mildews, pests, and so forth.
    The Days
    by Daniel Bambaata Marley
    (Bob Marley’s grandson)

      • I was once mixing for a band , when the cops came into the pub with sniffer dogs.
        The lead singer immediately went to Ben Harper’s “Burn One Down”
        Was quite funny. Even a couple of the cops had a bit of a smile. 🙂

      • Back when pot was still thought to be EVIIIIL, beagles were used to sniff off-boarding passengers coming from a trip to Jamaica. It was quite funny seeing folks suddenly bring their hands up to their face to blow their nose, put lipstick on, comb their hair, anything to keep their hands away from sniffing dogs. Not that it mattered. Dogs can detect it on one tiny little strand of hair on the top of your head. But it was still funny to watch. And nearly every passenger did it.

      • Been there too Pam, spent a couple of weeks touring out of Whitehouse with a local who has an american wife. Got to see Peter Tosh’s family “farm” and sample the produce with his cousin. Hit Pirate’s Cave bar and Rick’s Dive in Negril. When we went through US customs on our arrival home one of the women in our group was wearing a clothing item that she wore on our tours. The dog sat and the couple was questioned and searched. Quite a welcoming experience!

    • Really ?
      The internet is awash in these type photos.
      Do you think you are expanding our horizons with this ?
      Hell, it certainly caught my eye, but maybe take it elsewhere.
      Imagine you are in Anthony’s living room, the wife and kids are all watching the screen…….

    • uk(us)
      Exactly what part do you have a problem with?
      Do you have a problem with marijuana? Recreational marijuana is legal here in Oregon. People are allowed to grow plants, and to possess buds. Plus, marijuana is infinitely safer and healthier than alcohol; do you rail on posters when they talk about “enjoying a cold one”? I’ve read numerous posts here referring to alcohol — in fact, one accused me of being drunk, and I don’t even drink. Where was your Temperance League then?
      Do you have a problem with the female form? Is this photo really that far away from a bikini top? Do you lecture women at the beach or the swmiming pool? In my town, it’s perfectly legal to walk around completely nude. Would you be telling naturists to “take it elsewhere”?
      Perhaps you have a problem with the moderators? With a couple of clicks, they can remove any material they find not in keeping with this site’s standards. Yet … there it is … (or rather, there they are).
      I simply posted this for entertainment value. If you do not find it amusing, fine, but that’s your problem. I’ve never really felt you have much of a sense of humor anyway.
      Max
      P.S.: The internet is not awash in these photos. I actually had to search for quite a while to find it.

    • Max @ marijuana is infinitely safer and healthier than alcohol, mmmmm maybe not so much infinitely, I think more like a wash. Breathing smoke is breathing smoke, not a good thing, and when you are behind a guy at a stop light who is so slow on the draw he can’t figure out which color means go, it’s still a problem. Which do you want to screw up the most, your liver or your thinking. My guess it will probably be a little bit of both.

  19. Well. Why not. For sure, nothing is all-good, so CO2 must , as everything, have some bad effects. Easier time for some virus, in some conditions ? why not…
    Now I want them to tell us how to cope with the (alleged) bad effect, instead of just ranting. Or their “research” will have been useless.

  20. No mention about how CO2 was controlled.
    No mention about how insects were controlled.
    No mention about how the size of the plots.
    No mention about local insect populations.
    No mention about whether local insects were high or low density disease vectors.
    No mention about how the control groups fared.
    No mention or description of day by day plant and disease samples.
    Why do I have a suspicion that the insects were purposely introduced without controls.
    Hopefully the full paper and additional materials will be released soon; otherwise treat this as meritless claims.

    • The purpose of the press release is to make simpletons believe something as fact, not to give details or ask questions. Giving the details is dangerous to pseudoscience.

  21. A small sampling under controlled conditions with knee-jerk results, yet another result of publish by the numbers, not by the quality.

  22. The intermediate disease vector is various aphids; there is no plant to plant transmission as with the much more serious fungal cereal ‘rusts’. (Want to wory about something, Google UG99.) The virus can infect barley (hence name), oats, wheat, rice, and other ‘grasses’. The farming solution is pyrethrin insecticide, plus plowing under ‘green bridge’ plant cover harboring infected aphids. Asserting plants would be worse affected with AGW overlooks the disease fundamentals. Plain silly.

  23. And lack of CO2 causes photosynthesis to slow to such a low level, that the next bolide strike will bring the mother of all extinctions. And once that shoe drops, then come the fungi. Unlike past instances, fungi-world may simply go on forever, and photosynthesis world may never again live.

  24. I’m a hobby gardener who grows about 400 hot pepper plants of various kinds, mostly from seed. Ever since I started coming to this site I’ve been fascinated with the idea of growing my plants in elevated CO2 concentrations. Commercial generators are expensive and I toyed with the idea making my own with plastic sheeting and a propane burner. However I came up with a much simpler solution. I burn one properly adjusted stove burner on near full power and grow the seedlings on my kitchen counter. My kitchen is 750 sq ft. I don’t have instrumentation so I can’t measure CO2 concentration, but the results are as impressive as that U-Tube time lapse video with different CO2 concentrations that has been posted several times on WUWT in the past. I planted the seeds 49 days ago and some of the plants have eight sets of true leaves and Many of them are beginning to flower. And it costs almost nothing. We are still in heating season and the heat from the burner just delays the regular thermostat from calling for more heat. The other amazing thing is that the lighting is all 19 watt Par 38 LED lighting. My only problem is that I might have to cut off the stove to slow growth down. The plants are ready to go and I have three weeks to kill until frost free date.

    • Wouldn’t cost much to monitor this, just get a meter from http://www.co2meter.com. You might find that your kitchen is running at around 1,000ppm anyway 🙂
      I have started monitoring the outdoor airflow again recently. CO2 levels currently around 380 – 390ppm during daylight hours. Starts to rise at about 7pm, well over 400 by 9pm, highest levels around midnight (420 – 460), levels off at about 410 from 1am to about 5:30am, drops below 400 after 8am. Sunrise 6:25am, sunset 5:55pm. Location is shoreline SW Coral Sea, airflow is 60% off the ocean, predominant source is natural, “open savanna” type coastal tree-line and extensive mangroves.

  25. this reminds me of the so called joke from when I was a teen: “scientist stuck 20 toothpicks in a lab rat and it died, therefore they concluded toothpicks cause cancer!”
    Cheers!
    Joe

  26. Further evidence that the LPU* virus is now an epidemic in academic circles.
    * Least Publishable Unit, a measure use for preliminary internal pal review of academic papers, the quantum required to attract funding.

  27. Then we have this,
    Climate Change and Wheat Crop Responses—
    FACEing the Future
    ““Results
    Crops grown under high CO2 gave, on average, about a 50% increase in yield. This increase occurred irrespective of the sowing time or year (Figure 3). The May to November rainfalls were a dry 148 mm in 2008 and a more normal 264 mm for 2009. The harvest index of these crops—the proportion of growth that goes to grain—was not reduced with high CO2 so the plants were actually operating more effi ciently with the extra carbon available to them in the atmosphere.
    The yield response suggests that CO2 will help reduce the impact of higher temperatures and lower rainfalls, even in the low rainfall regions of Australia.”
    http://www.ipni.net/publication/bettercrops.nsf/0/D147F350B34E12E78525797C007959B1/$FILE/Better%20Crops%202011-4%20p12.pdf

    • The “even” is misplaced, since higher CO2 especially, preferentially, helps increase yields in low rainfall areas. The less time that plants need to keep their stomata open to take in the CO2 they need, the less H2O they lose to the atmosphere.

  28. Besides CO2 increase, wheat yield & acreage have been helped by, among other factors, natural gas-derived fertilizers, gas & diesel-powered cultivation & new varieties better able to take advantage of these factors (the Green Revolution), such as shorter stalks to hold up the bigger heads. Most wheat yield increase in the 20th century is from fossil fuels & chemical stock, plus the beneficial CO2 side effect. Higher CO2 also makes growing crops & feeding livestock possible in drier areas.
    I grew up on a wheat ranch & have seen the remarkable yield increases in person.

    • To right! I now live in Australia, but I spent many an hour on a tractor in Kansas growing up, laying down anhydrous ammonia fertilizer so these Green bast*rds had food in their mouths.

  29. Dawtgtomis April 24, 2015 at 8:20 am
    goldminor April 24, 2015 at 9:24 am
    milodonharlani April 24, 2015 at 4:37 pm
    Ladybugs (lady beetles, ladybirds) and their larvae are voracious aphid gobblers.

    I was frustrated. I had been searching for years for the so-called “lost ladybugs,” but hadn’t found any.
    It was 2008, and only a few had been found by anyone in the last three decades, although they were once common in many areas, especially crop fields such as wheat and alfalfa.
    There are actually hundreds of kinds of ladybugs, but three in particular — the two-spotted, nine-spotted, and transverse ladybugs — had seemed to vanish from the landscape of eastern South Dakota.
    […]
    These findings raise questions as to why lost ladybugs are more easily found in western than eastern parts of North America, and why their populations have declined in general.

    http://www.livescience.com/8211-lost-ladybugs-south-dakota.html
    Native N. Americans planted corn, beans, and squash – the famous “Three Sisters” – together on small mounds presumably without resorting to any chemical fixes, but then, they probably weren’t killing their ladybugs either.

    • I question their ‘findings’.
      I live in the Eastern United States, Virginia to be explicit. There is an abundance of ladybugs here, so much so that every winter hundreds sneak through cracks in my supposedly sealed house. There are thousands more ladybugs happily hibernating in my local clump of pine trees.
      All winter long, ladybugs in my house wake up out of hibernation to entertain me and search my orchids for pests, usually fruitlessly. The most entertaining ladybug this past winter was one lady bug’s fascination with my computer’s mouse. For several hours she insisted on returning to and climbing about my mouse, over and under my hand. I kept moving her to the side of my desk. When I took my hand away she headed right back to the mouse; I gave up and left her alone with my mouse.
      There were ladybugs where I lived in Louisiana and ladybugs where I lived in Pennsylvania. There are ladybugs at all of my friends and family’s houses from South Carolina through to Massachusetts.
      Ladybugs can control populations of vermin, they do not eliminate the infestations. So long as you don’t mind eating aphids within your broccoli buds, ladybugs are sufficient for bug control.
      Suburban areas whose denizens insist on weekly chemical treatments for their lawns may lack ladybugs. Abundance depends strongly on where and when you look for them. To truly identify declining ladybugs, researchers would have to perform a thorough ladybug census at all ladybug hibernation sites over a large area.

      • Yes, those lady beetles you’ve described – at least the invasive ones – are likely Harmonia axyridis, which has many names and also many forms, or color variations. It is commonly known as the Harlequin ladybird, Multi-colored Asian lady beetle, and Halloween lady beetle.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmonia_axyridis
        The most reliable way of identifying H. axyridis is to look for a bold W or M pattern on the beetle’s pronotum, which covers the thorax, and also offers protection to the beetle’s head.
        These ladybirds were imported from Asia to the UK, the US, and probably elsewhere to control aphids, which they seem to do in some situations, but at a cost to the local lady beetles.

        This species is widely considered to be one of the world’s most invasive insects, partly due to their tendency to overwinter indoors and the unpleasant odor and stain left by their bodily fluid when frightened or squashed, as well as their tendency to bite humans.
        In Europe it is currently increasing to the detriment of indigenous species, its voracious appetite enabling it to outcompete and even eat other ladybirds.The harlequin ladybird is also highly resistant to diseases that affect other ladybird species and carries microsporidian parasite to which it is immune but that can infect and kill other species.
        Native ladybird species have experienced often dramatic declines in abundance in areas invaded by H. axyridis

        –Wiki, ibid
        So, more unintended consequences. Quick fixes may work over the short haul, but the long-term consequences of upsetting local balances are difficult to compute.

  30. https://www.flickr.com/photos/splinx/8370565921/sizes/l
    The Aphid’s Demise
    photo: Steve P
    Zeke, those LB instars are downright fearsome-looking little critters, but they’re just as good as the adults at eating aphids.
    sciguy54 April 24, 2015 at 5:39 am
    The phrase ” aphid-spread disease common in plants” would cause me to guess that the virus vector would be aphids. Did the “test conditions” simulate normal insecticide application? This looks like normal ag-school stuff, not a sign of the coming apocalypse
    Hence the aphid riff.

  31. Coleoptera Calling
    Flashing back to the late ’50s…

    Lucky Ladybug
    Billie & Lillie
    #14 1959

  32. Realistically THE dioxide will not directly promote viruses. After all, they are respirators like us. Increased partial pressure just slows them down, again like us. THE dioxide will promote plant virus hosts, and thus their client base.
    Increased temperature, from whatever cause, WILL promote viruses and all manner of ice age suppressed microbes. We may be venturing into territory whether from human warming, or far more likely natural warming, that modern humans and plants have never seen.

    • Land clearance of trees is a ‘no-no’ in Australia. One of the problems with rising salinity levels in soils, die -back in gum trees, water retention is reduced, etc. Last year a farmer shot and killed an EPA agent. His son was fined for clearing huge amounts of native trees, to make room for pastures. Haven’t they learned from what happen in the Amazon basin, that trees cleared in huge areas, affect precipitation patterns, and the soils get depleted even with the adding of chemical fertilizers. Anyway must go and tend to my plants with the change of seasons, I have got to bring in some bonsai, that don’t like the cold.

  33. Having gained my Diploma in Organic Agricultural production, not once did we consider atmospheric CO2 to be a danger to plants. However, soil chemistry can be changed to the detriment of plant growth, be it pastures or just plants and trees. The motto is ‘Feed the soil not the plant’ as microorganisms in the soil are necessary for good plant health and vigor. They feed on bacteria and the rhizosphere feeds the plants through the hair roots. So if the soil is too wet all the time, destructive micro-organisms thrive while others die or too much salinity, plants die or get diseased.
    Virus’ in wheat and other crops can be the result of air borne but mostly passed on from contaminated soil and tools used. And wheat can be genetically changed to be resistant.
    Interesting studies are that healthy plants and crops, are pretty stubborn against locusts.
    One instance was locusts passed over healthy fields, because the richness(sugar) in those plants can not be digested by locusts. They require good drainage as well as sufficient water or moisture conservation. Ideally soils should be 45% minerals, 25% water, 25% air and 5% organic material. An imbalance can effect plant growth and be a breeding ground for destructive micro-organisms and viruses. A study at UNE (Armidale) was to help discover what damage nitrous oxide did in soils and how to remedy it. Easy – add Gypsum that breaks up the clay content and allows better drainage. I bet Monsanto are behind this research with their seed licenses and geo-genetic research. Making plants and crops free from Roundup, and their attempts to develop the terminator seeds. (Won’t bear seed for next years supply). But CO2 as plants need it and return oxygen to the atmosphere, without them we would not have the atmosphere we breathe today. All carbon based organisms need CO2, in minute .3% otherwise we could not exist. We are naturally Nitrogen junkies, if you like, not CO2 junkies or even oxygen.

  34. Obesity spreads faster the more food there is available for humans to eat. Using CAGW logic, the answer is starvation. /sarc

  35. As one who leads in growing soil soil-carbon elements in deserts I can confirm you are part right. 2-4% of Earths plants sequester CO2e and generate soil soil-carbon and elements. You are discussing the 96% that take biomass carbon and elements from the soil. Your immediate problem might well be like 65% of the Earths soil it is missing elements and likely clear air

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