Oh noes! More CO2 will cause plants to thicken their leaves

High CO2 levels cause plants to thicken their leaves, could worsen climate change effects

Plant scientists have observed that when levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rise, most plants do something unusual: They thicken their leaves.

And since human activity is raising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, thick-leafed plants appear to be in our future.

But the consequences of this physiological response go far beyond heftier leaves on many plants. Two University of Washington scientists have discovered that plants with thicker leaves may exacerbate the effects of climate change because they would be less efficient in sequestering atmospheric carbon, a fact that climate change models to date have not taken into account.

In a paper published Oct. 1 in the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles, the researchers report that, when they incorporated this information into global climate models under the high atmospheric carbon dioxide levels expected later this century, the global “carbon sink” contributed by plants was less productive — leaving about 5.8 extra petagrams, or 6.39 million tons, of carbon in the atmosphere per year. Those levels are similar to the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere each year due to human-generated fossil fuel emissions — 8 petagrams, or 8.8 million tons.

“Plants are flexible and respond to different environmental conditions,” said senior author Abigail Swann, a UW assistant professor of atmospheric sciences and biology. “But until now, no one had tried to quantify how this type of response to climate change will alter the impact that plants have on our planet.”

In addition to a weakening plant carbon sink, the simulations run by Swann and Marlies Kovenock, a UW doctoral student in biology, indicated that global temperatures could rise an extra 0.3 to 1.4 degrees Celsius beyond what has already been projected to occur by scientists studying climate change.

“If this single trait — leaf thickness — in high carbon dioxide levels has such a significant impact on the course of future climate change, we believe that global climate models should take other aspects of plant physiology and plant behavior into account when trying to forecast what the climate will look like later this century,” said Kovenock, who is lead author on the paper.

Scientists don’t know why plants thicken their leaves when carbon dioxide levels rise in the atmosphere. But the response has been documented across many different types of plant species, such as woody trees; staple crops like wheat, rice and potatoes; and other plants that undergo C3 carbon fixation, the form of photosynthesis that accounts for about 95 percent of photosynthetic activity on Earth.

Leaves can thicken by as much as a third, which changes the ratio of surface area to mass in the leaf and alters plant activities like photosynthesis, gas exchange, evaporative cooling and sugar storage. Plants are crucial modulators of their environment — without them, Earth’s atmosphere wouldn’t contain the oxygen that we breathe — and Kovenock and Swann believed that this critical and predictable leaf-thickening response was an ideal starting point to try to understand how widespread changes to plant physiology will affect Earth’s climate.

“Plant biologists have gathered large amounts of data about the leaf-thickening response to high carbon dioxide levels, including atmospheric carbon dioxide levels that we will see later this century,” said Kovenock. “We decided to incorporate the known physiological effects of leaf thickening into climate models to find out what effect, if any, this would have on a global scale.”

A 2009 paper by researchers in Europe and Australia collected and catalogued data from years of experiments on how plant leaves change in response to different environmental conditions. Kovenock and Swann incorporated the collated data on carbon dioxide responses into Earth-system models that are widely used in modeling the effect of diverse factors on global climate patterns.

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today hovers around 410 parts per million. Within a century, it may rise as high as 900 ppm. The carbon dioxide level that Kovenock and Swann simulated with thickened leaves was just 710 ppm. They also discovered the effects were worse in specific global regions. Parts of Eurasia and the Amazon basin, for example, showed a higher minimum increase in temperature. In these regions, thicker leaves may hamper evaporative cooling by plants or cloud formation, said Kovenock.

Swann and Kovenock hope that this study shows that it is necessary to consider plant responses to climate change in projections of future climate. There are many other changes in plant physiology and behavior under climate change that researchers could model next.

“We now know that even seemingly small alterations in plants such as this can have a global impact on climate, but we need more data on plant responses to simulate how plants will change with high accuracy,” said Swann. “People are not the only organisms that can influence climate.”

###

From the UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the UW.


Somehow, I just can’t let this disastrous news worry me, and did they consider that leaves that are 33% thicker store more carbon in the leaf?

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152 thoughts on “Oh noes! More CO2 will cause plants to thicken their leaves

    • And not providing enough data to the University of Washington, whose researchers are thus forced to rely on models.

    • Oh yes. It is CO2 that makes kale taste like crap. Without CO2 kale would be much thinner and thus less fattening.

      I see a real future for carbon reduced food in the diet and health food industry.

  1. The dinosaurs were brighter than these dimbo’s. They accepted things were good, food was abundant and climate change was something that just happened. Didn’t it take a meteor to wipe them out? If not, I don’t think it was climate change.

    • But think of the poor cows that will grow skinnier as they must now chew thicker leaves and wear their teeth out faster! All that chewing and getting less nutrition with each mouthful. OMG the poor bovines will starve to death with full bellies!

      • But that’s a good thing … right???

        ‘Cause aren’t cows one of the real problems we face today?

        At least when we move to our vego-diet because the cows are killing the planet, our salad will be as thick as these scientists.

  2. Doesn’t that mean that falling CO2 levels thin plant leaves? Maybe this means that cabbage prices are going to fall as the globe warms?

    Note to self: Short cabbage futures.

  3. Sounds like they are trying to get their snouts in the money trough. As you say greater thickness means greater mass which in my perspective means not only greater carbon capture in any one leaf but more of them and hence more nutritional value. These alarmists simply will not admit that carbon dioxide can have any beneficial effects. If it wasn’t so serious this would be laughable.

  4. Jack the skeptic cuts down the beanstalk of the giant alarmistas, they fall to their death and Jack lives happily ever after, be the leaves as thick as the latest IPCC assessment report.

  5. “Two University of Washington scientists have discovered that plants with thicker leaves may exacerbate the effects of climate change because they would be less efficient in sequestering atmospheric carbon”

    Faster, lusher and greater growth under high CO₂ levels and somehow these dimwits reach this conclusion?

    It’s not about science.
    It’s not about measurements.
    It’s all about belief and the fears they can instill into gullible people.

    Demand the Federal funding returned!

  6. “when they incorporated this information into global climate models under the high atmospheric carbon dioxide levels”

    Garbage In Garbage Out.

    Mathematical onanism. If they don’t stop they will go blind.

    • No but the thicker leaves will be only on certain places on the Eath and so it may fall over … the legendary tipping point strikes.

  7. Does this mean that greenhouse tomato vines have thicker leaves that the garden variety?
    Who come up with this garbage?

    • Ve2

      A phenomenon hitherto unheard of amongst commercial tomato growers who pump their greenhouses full of CO2.

      Yet another barmy study dreamed up by grant chasing ‘scientists’ with absolutely no foundation in the real world.

  8. The “we need more money” quote – “We now know that even seemingly small alterations in plants such as this can have a global impact on climate, but we need more data on plant responses to simulate how plants will change with high accuracy,” said Swann.

  9. “The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today hovers around 410 parts per million. Within a century, it may rise as high as 900 ppm. The carbon dioxide level that Kovenock and Swann simulated with thickened leaves was just 710 ppm. “

    You have to be spectacularly incompetent at math to think 900ppm by 2118 is possible.
    That would be of course require an average +5 ppm/year for *all* 100 of those coming years. Annual CO2 growth rates vary greatly due to the influence of the ENSO cycle and major volcanic cooling like 1991 Pinatubo eruption did to 1992 rise of just 0.46 ppm/yr. For the decade 2000-2010, the decadal average annual rate was +1.99ppm/yr. For the current decade 2010-2020, the decade average annual rise look like it’ll come in at/around +2.25(+/- 0.05) ppm/yr.

    Making the big (unrealistic) assumption that 0.026ppm/yr^2 is the annual growth’s growth rate (i.e. acceleration), it is simple to see that by 2118, the annual growth rate in CO2 will be V(100years) = V(today) + (acceleration x time) = (2.25 + 0.026×100) ppm/yr = +4.85 ppm/yr growth rate in 2118, short of entire 5 ppm/yr century average needed to get to 900 ppm.

    These numbers tell us that under the continued acceleration of CO2 growth rate scenario seen for the past 20 years (mostly due to China and India acceleration of CO2 output) by 2118, pCO2 will be 765 ppm. That should be the real upper limit on assuming an accelerating CO2 scenario, not the fake 900 ppm.

    The reality is global coal and petroleum use will likely be falling by 2068 (50 years from now) as fracking for gas continues upwards (as more shale plays comeonline around the world) and more countries are forced to ramp-up nuclear power if they want to maintain reliable grid power. This will occur for economic and resource scarcity reasons having nothing to do with ridiculous artificial treaties like Paris or Kyoto.

    The last 20 years have seen China and India output of CO2 massively accelerate, which is the bulk of what is driving global CO2 output acceleration (the US is going down due to increasing natural gas use). That could continue (the acceleration above, i.e. 0.026 ppm/yr^2) until probably 2040 to 2050, when availability of coal starts to get restricted based on availability. Then the acceleration will begin falling for the next 20 years, so that by 2075 pCO2 will peak at ~580 ppm before starting a slow descent.

    As things stand now, given the reality of easy coal depletion and the increasingly difficult oil output growth by 2065 (not the fake assumption of continued acceleration for all 100 years) is that the 2x pre-industrial CO2 of 570 ppm will likely arrive around 2072. By 2100 it will be 626 ppm (or less). And by 2118, the pCO2 will be 662 ppm (or less). These numbers are far short of the 720 ppm number that Kovenock and Swann used here to get their fat leaves.

    Those guys can’t allow themselves to do the simple maths to see that CO2 growth numbers under RCP8.5 or any pCO2 numbers above 765 ppm by 2118 are fiction, just like a Marvel movie CGI superhero flying through the air under the power of thought. Just because you can imagine it and put it in computer model, doesn’t make it real. But then fat grants don’t come to researchers who report no reason for concern in their results.

    • Even the prediction of 575 is optimistic. Where will they find fuel to get to 700+?

      We have about 100 years to solve the energy problem. After that, it will be difficult toasted use coal and oil for most energy requirements. Gas is probably forever as it is manufactured by natural processes in the lower lithosphere.

      We gave down quite well technically in the past 100 years. We can continue for the next 100,000.

      • Somewhere around 560 to 600 ppm will be the turning point. Mostly from estimates of people who actually understand the global biogeochemical carbon cycle, and atmospheric evolution.
        CO2 never “accumulates” in the atmosphere, the amount is determined by naturally occurring and overhwhelming amounts of global source and sink fluxes. Both biological and abiotic sources and sinks are many times larger than the amount due to fossil fuel burning.

        • “CO2 never “accumulates” in the atmosphere, the amount is determined by naturally occurring and overhwhelming amounts of global source and sink fluxes. Both biological and abiotic sources and sinks are many times larger than the amount due to fossil fuel burning.”

          Of course it “accumulates”, and of course natural sources out-way human ones.
          But try looking at this …

          https://scripps.ucsd.edu/programs/keelingcurve/wp-content/plugins/sio-bluemoon/graphs/co2_10k.png

          Does that look like it “never accumulates”??

          The carbon cycle should be in balance, in terms of sinks sources, and is to natural ones However mother nature did not reckon on mankind adding ~ 40 Gt/year to the atmosphere.

          • Over simplistic. Your chart is just a level cherry picked to support your propaganda.
            Show the last million years, with the Y-axis from 0 to 4000 ppm.
            That link shows nothing regarding the global biogeochemical carbon cycle.
            All atmospheric contents are fluxes to and from surface pools that are orders of magnitude more massive. Just as water never accumulates in a river, CO2 never accumulates in the atmosphere, it just flows from sources to sinks. The river level will rise and fall as the relative influxes rise and fall. The sinks are essentially infinite, just as the Nile flows into the Mediterranean sea, no matter how much you add to the sources, the river will always outflow into an infinite sink.
            Thermal energy never accumulates in the atmosphere, it just flows from surface to space.
            Water never accumulates in any river. It just flows.
            CO2 never accumulates in the atmosphere, it just flows.
            If you add 4 percent to the flow of a river, the river will never accumulate that new flow, the amount will remain 4 percent higher until it reaches the ocean.
            So the fossil fuel concentration of CO2 is also 4 percent of the natural flow rate.
            4 percent of 400 ppm is 16 ppm. It can never get higher because it is flowing along with the rest of the CO2 into the infinite sink. If anthro-CO2 ever reaches 5 percent of the natural flow rate, the concentration will become 5 percent of whatever the measured concentration is at that time. If that amount is 500 ppm, then the anthropogenic portion will become 5 percent of that 500 ppm or 25 ppm.
            None of the CO2 that existed in the Earth’s atmosphere 100 years ago remains there today. It has all passed into the abyss, oceanic, geological and biological sinks, replaced by a similar amount of deep CO2 from the overwhelming deep sources that operate on very long time scales.
            Most of the fossil fuel CO2 entering the Earth’s atmosphere in 2018 will be gone within 50 years, at rate of about 5 percent per year. It’s just an observed facts.

          • “Show the last million years, with the Y-axis from 0 to 4000 ppm.”

            OK ….

            https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/ContentFeature/CarbonCycle/images/epica_CO2_temperature.png

            Nothing above 300ppm.

            “CO2 never accumulates in the atmosphere, it just flows.”

            Correct – but you should think of “flux”.
            As in more is flowing in than is flowing out.
            The carbon cycle has a fixed flow rate, which it has settled at over millenia.
            Antho GHG emissions have exceeded that.
            Hence the build up which is there in the observations.

            “That link shows nothing regarding the global biogeochemical carbon cycle.”

            Of course it does – it shows it’s behaviour in human time-scales.

            “Most of the fossil fuel CO2 entering the Earth’s atmosphere in 2018 will be gone within 50 years, at rate of about 5 percent per year. It’s just an observed facts.”

            About 50% of it will be gone in 50 years yes (but ONLY if emissions became zero today)
            You forget that the capacity of CO2 sinks will decrease as they take up the anthro excess …

            https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/pics/1210_ZHfig5.jpg

            https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2010/12/common-climate-misconceptions-atmospheric-carbon-dioxide/

            “The simplest way to approximate the time it will take to reabsorb the anthropogenic flux is to calculate how long it would take for the atmosphere to revert to preindustrial levels of 280 parts per million if humans could cease emissions immediately. If the current net sink of around 4 gigatons of carbon per year remained constant over time, it would take about 50 years for the atmosphere to return to 280 ppm. However, there is no reason to think that these sinks would remain constant as emissions decrease. Indeed, it is more realistic to anticipate that the net sink would shrink in proportion to the decrease in emissions.

            Scientists can approach this problem in a number of different ways. They can use models of carbon sink behavior based on their best knowledge of the physics of ocean carbon absorption and the biosphere. They can also use records of changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide during glacial periods in the distant past to estimate the time it takes for perturbations to settle out.

            Using a combination of various methods, researchers have estimated that about 50 percent of the net anthropogenic pulse would be absorbed in the first 50 years, and about 70 percent in the first 100 years. Absorption by sinks slows dramatically after that, with an additional 10 percent or so being removed after 300 years and the remaining 20 percent lasting tens if not hundreds of thousands of years before being removed.

            As University of Washington scientist David Archer explains, this “long tail” of absorption means that the mean lifetime of the pulse attributable to anthropogenic emissions is around 30,000 to 35,000 years.”

            “CO2 never accumulates in the atmosphere, it just flows.”

            Correct – but you should think of “flux”.
            As in more is flowing in than is flowing out.
            The carbon cycle has a fixed flow rate, which it has settled at over millenia.
            Antho GHG emmissions have exceeded that.
            Hence the build up which is there in the observations.
            Or don’t you belive the observations.

            “That link shows nothing regarding the global biogeochemical carbon cycle.”

            Of course it does – it shows it’s behaviour in human time-scales.
            Actually much longer. Unless you think mankind can survive longer that 10000 years on this planet.

            “Most of the fossil fuel CO2 entering the Earth’s atmosphere in 2018 will be gone within 50 years, at rate of about 5 percent per year. It’s just an observed facts.”

            But no it’s not.
            ABout50% of it will be gone in 50 years (but ONLY if emmissions beacme zero today)
            You forget that the capacity of CO2 sinks will decrease as they take uou the anthro excess …

            https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/pics/1210_ZHfig5.jpg

            https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2010/12/common-climate-misconceptions-atmospheric-carbon-dioxide/

            “The simplest way to approximate the time it will take to reabsorb the anthropogenic flux is to calculate how long it would take for the atmosphere to revert to preindustrial levels of 280 parts per million if humans could cease emissions immediately. If the current net sink of around 4 gigatons of carbon per year remained constant over time, it would take about 50 years for the atmosphere to return to 280 ppm. However, there is no reason to think that these sinks would remain constant as emissions decrease. Indeed, it is more realistic to anticipate that the net sink would shrink in proportion to the decrease in emissions.

            Scientists can approach this problem in a number of different ways. They can use models of carbon sink behavior based on their best knowledge of the physics of ocean carbon absorption and the biosphere. They can also use records of changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide during glacial periods in the distant past to estimate the time it takes for perturbations to settle out.

            Using a combination of various methods, researchers have estimated that about 50 percent of the net anthropogenic pulse would be absorbed in the first 50 years, and about 70 percent in the first 100 years. Absorption by sinks slows dramatically after that, with an additional 10 percent or so being removed after 300 years and the remaining 20 percent lasting tens if not hundreds of thousands of years before being removed.

            As University of Washington scientist David Archer explains, this “long tail” of absorption means that the mean lifetime of the pulse attributable to anthropogenic emissions is around 30,000 to 35,000 years.”

      • How about thawing permafrost, methane emissions from livestock, outgassing from oceans? And less carbon sequestration due to thicker leaves.

        How do you know what they took into account?

        “Gas is probably forever as it is manufactured by natural processes in the lower lithosphere.” As fast as we use it? From what material? Gas is a fossil fuel, too.

        “We have about 100 years to solve the energy problem.”

        So, technology will make everything fine. Meanwhile, renewable energy isn’t worth pursuing because we already have so much cheap energy – so who cares if our progeny run out? They’ll think of something…hydrogen, or uranium recycling – just as long as it’s not solar or wind generation, it’s OK. Huh. Interesting perspective.

        • Kristi demonstrates the way leftists “think”.
          The problem is that energy will be expensive for our kids.
          The solution, make energy expensive now.

          No, the solution is to get rich now, so that our kids will have the resources they need to solve the problems that they face.

    • That reminds me of James Lovelock’s article that did the rounds with reprints and his 400 foot sea level rise.
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/5153722.stm

      None of the CAGW believers had enough intelligence to ask “what is the maxium possible sea level rise”.

      Apparently the number comes from an IPCC projection which doesn’t include an upper limit and so you get a ludicrous number that exceeds all the water on the entire planet.

  10. One the face of it, thicker leaves would make for healthier plants and more robust be able to survive drought much better as we already know from increasing CO2 making crops less thirsty. Plus more stores of chlorophyll making plant stores of sugars & starches. The opposite is true that when CO2 levels drop to dangerously low levels such as at the peak of the ice age, at 180 ppmv, the leaves get much thinner with much less chlorophyll as they are that much closer to death and extinction. As everyone knows, plants are healthier with more CO2, and in a warmer climate. That is why greenhouses are at optimum levels for growth, which is a lot of the vegetables we eat already. This study is full of holes, notwithstanding they preface everything with ‘may’ or ‘might’ causing all kinds of side effects adding to the climate change blues. Same old same old alarmism.

    • Hi again, Earthling2 (is there an Earthling1?)

      ” Leaf trait acclimation drives declines in productivity and evapotranspiration by reducing leaf area growth in response to elevated carbon dioxide, as a one‐third increase in leaf mass per area raises the cost of building leaf area and productivity fails to fully compensate.”

      PRODUCTIVITY FAILS TO COMPENSATE.
      https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2018GB005883

      Why is it that people jump to conclusions based on press releases?

      “As everyone knows, plants are healthier with more CO2, and in a warmer climate.”

      It depends on the plant, but many vegetables decrease their growth rates over a certain temperature. Greenhouses are typically kept at 50-70F, sometimes up to 80F, beyond which yield tends to decline (especially at night, when they like cooler temps). High temps also lead to more soil water evaporation. Plus there are all kinds of soil microbial interactions, which can determine nutrient cycling.

      Plant growth in nature is much more complex than CO2 levels.

      “May” and “might” are typical science-talk. Scientists don’t like to be definite.

      You don’t know that it’s the same old alarmism, especially without reading the paper. You’ve been taught to distrust scientists. It’s the psychology of skepticism at work.

  11. When I was a kid I had lots of models. They were fun to play with cuz they could be anything I wanted them to be.

  12. Did these guys even go into a vegetable greenhouse where CO2 levels are above 1000ppm to see the effects?

    Probably too easy.

    • Me too, though there are some good people who, while being semi-alarmist in the CliSci way, still seem to have their heads screwed on the right way.

      Also, I used to walk past the university greenhouses on the Burke-Gilman trail near Physics/Chem/Atmospheric sciences and noticed that there never actually seemed to be any activity in them. Perhaps they were too busy tinkering with their computer models to spare any time for experimental science.

  13. So, this is something that “will” happen according their fairy tale carbonastrophic models. Riiiiiight. And we should believe them because…..

  14. Branches will fall off trees because of the extra weight. If they fall on your head, they may damage your intellectual capacity. Unless you’re a climate scientist, of course.

  15. Mower blades – must stock up on mower blades before the price goes through the roof.

    More disaster!

  16. I’m missing where any actual science was conducted here. Is this how elusive press releases need to be now in order to hide the BS?

  17. Jeez, as if human obesity wasn’t the only problem, now we have to worry about plant obesity as well.

  18. Elevated CO2 is a plant stressor (abiotic) that upregulates some gene transcription factors & down regulates others. For example: thick leaves have increased levels of the enzyme glutamate de-hydrogen-ase, which confers tolerance to water stress.

    Growing leaves’ mesophyll cells divide faster than leaf outer (epidermal) cells. While thick
    leaves’ mesophyll palisade cells grow more than mesophyll spongy cells. So elongation of
    the palisade cells involves triggering specific
    niche(s) of meri-stem cell(s) & thick leaves show certain up-regulated plant hormones.

    While thicker leaves may mean CO2 has more
    issues getting through the denser packaging of larger mesophyll cells (more distance to move) I think this over-simplifies
    the circumstances. The greater palisade cells’
    height (elongation) confers better light access & thus improved photosynthetic efficiency; while there is also proposed a better enzymatic activity of carbonic
    anhydr-ase. But in low light eCO2 has been demonstrated to cause reduced mesophyll conductance of CO2.

    {Am posting this in case lose wifi. To be cont}

    • Thicker leaf degree even among the same kind of plant can vary. In other words some genetic characteristics in any one plant will work out to more elongated mesophyll palisade.

      In the plant strain with comparatively “longer”
      palisades it will have relatively slower leaf initiation, vegetative growth & lower seed weights (also often lower number of seeds).

      When comparing the same kind of plant to
      another of it’s own kind in this context the strain that has higher (& wider) mesophyll palisade cells is that way because it’s chromosome set(s) divided more times (endo-ploidy) than the thinner leaf cell.

      Plants can have more than 2 full sets of chromosonme in a nucleus; called poly-ploidy.
      In terms of leaf thickness variation among the
      same kind of plant strains the greater ploidy number then the greater leaf thickness possible. The leaf mesophyll cell in this comparison is a result of endo-poly-ploidy.

      I mention this because many cite greenhouse
      grown plants when discussing eCO2. A lot of
      greenhouse plants are poly-ploidy, as are field
      plants. So whenever making comparisons about aspects like leaves or eCO2 performance it really should take into account any ploidy number difference (ex: when researchers report varied response to eCO2 of the same kind of plant).

      Just for orientation, here are a few examples
      of how human’s selected for plant poly-ploidy.
      Seedless grapes are tri (3)-ploid, while jumbo grapes are tetra(4)- ploid; other poly-ploid crops commercialized are strawberries, bananas, kiwi fruit & seedless watermelon to name only a few.

      I’ll address the often commented fact that CO2 was higher in the past & plants thrived. In nature plants can also become poly-ploidy, so
      the specific plant we may be discussing at any time can have aspects (like leaf thickness) we don’t think about. When I say eCO2 is a stressor I am considering the poly-ploidy evolution of many plants we grow has in some
      aspects made some of a specific plant’s response to CO more intricate than it was long ago.

      What should be understood about plant poly-ploidy is that just the fact a plant has gained any extra dual set of chromosomes the way that plays out in that plant may be quite different than any extra dual set of chromosomes in another plant. Sometimes the
      change is worse for the plant – but this is not
      to say eCO2 is undesirable, maybe more non-linear an actor than commonly described.

  19. Shrinking glaciers I am good with that. Longer more productive growing season I am good with that. Rising oceans I live at 7500 feet I think I am good. However thick leaves has me a bit scared. I mean if plants put all there energy into leaves, instead of seeds we will starve.

    • Nah, we wouldn’t starve — with all the humans on Earth, there’s plenty of meat to go around — it’s just a matter of changing one’s tastes, ethics, and morals a bit. But, hey, cannibalism would be for a good cause — population reduction, etc.

      Then the survivors could finally build their dream world ,with massive expanses of noisy, bird-killing windmills and bright, landscape-metallized solar panels.

      Humans — the new white meat.

  20. when I read this article, my pet bull started to cry, he just can’t keep up to these “scientists”

  21. “a fact that climate change models to date have not taken into account.”

    Excuse #387 on why the models don’t work well.

  22. Gee – I always observed that the leaves of plants where water is scarce are thicker because they survive better: eg the California deserts. Perhaps the U0f W researchers forgot to tell those plants that lack of water is OK but the forthcoming disaster in CO2 causes leaf thickening [I HATE it when my leaves get thick!]

  23. Gee – I always observed that the leaves of plants where water is scarce are thicker because they survive better: eg the California deserts. Perhaps the Uof W researchers forgot to tell those plants that lack of water is OK but the forthcoming disaster in CO2 causes leaf thickening [I HATE it when my leaves get thick!]

  24. As one of the letters says, “Go into a Greenhouse which has the higher levels of CO2 and observe. But no, thy much prefer to instead use “Models”and their PC’s, the modern Chrystal ball. And like the fortune tellers they can then make up the stories about anything.

    And of course at the root is the usual indirect cry for yet more funds. We are so close to a major breakthrough, if only we had more research funds.

    MJE

  25. Makes sense to me. Current CO2 levels are still near starvation for plants. To get enough CO2 to grow, they need thin leaves so the scarce gas gets to the chloroplasts. Raise CO2 and leaves can be thicker and more efficient. This might be one reason plants need less water with more generous carbon dioxide.

  26. Funny how these activists, I mean ‘scientists’, got off their duffs in order to find anything bad with the extra CO2 in the air that is fertilizing plants and causing the world to get greener.

    So far, I’ve seen 3 different recent studies that said the extra CO2 is causing plants or trees the following maladies:
    1) Food is less nutritious.
    2) Wood in tress is a little weaker.
    3) Leaves are thicker resulting in the tress being less efficient in taking in CO2.

    Hmmm, I wonder what other bad things the extra CO2 is doing to plants and trees that these activists, I mean ‘scientists’, are going to ‘scientifically find” out? Anybody want to take any guesses at it?

    I also predict ANY OTHER THINGS (if any come along, such as lower heating bills) that are bettered by extra CO2 in the air are going to eventually ‘found’ out to be worse than the benefit by ‘science’ studies.

    Meanwhile, The Break Through Institute, a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Inc. (at least as of around 2013), thinks that we public simpletons and maggot scourges of the earth, follow the opinions and views of the elites:
    “…years of research also suggest that public opinion follows elite opinion. The public is divided because elites are divided. A better future for people and the environment will require better elites.”
    https://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/dialogue/ecomodernism-2018-achieving-disagreement

    Maybe we ‘follow’ the opinions of the elites because the Rockefeller foundation has both spent a fair amount of money on how to sway public opinion and because they helped create the International Press Institute (around the end of WWII) and at which point, they had around 1,400 editors under it. They say it was created to spread democracy. Maybe. Or maybe it was created so that they could make the world a safer place for rich people…

  27. Plant structures and chemical physiology have been evolving to changing climates and environments since the origin of life on Earth.
    The Earth’s surface, oceans, etc. are part of that evolution, along with soils and microscopic life interacting and co-evolving with each other, resulting in an atmosphere that is entirely of biological origin (except Argon)
    That’s why a Biologist understands how the Earth evolves compared to a physicist.
    http://www.plantphysiol.org/content/125/3/1198

    • Your answer shows why you need a physicist and how biologist can fail so badly it hurts.

      Perhaps type “source of all the elements on earth” into a search engine and come back and adjust your answer. Even wikipedia will give you the answer in a nice coloured table first one down is elements by source (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abundance_of_the_chemical_elements)

      You would need to have a perverse definition of the word “origin”.

      • Obviously life on Earth now exists under an atmosphere that has physical properties. Solar energy is obviously abiotic. The point is the primacy of how global biogeochemical cycles have evolved biologically over geological time. Physical properties then respond to biological changes.
        Life changes, physical properties respond to those changes.
        The N2, O2, O3, H20 and CO2 in the atmosphere are not elements, they are molecules, and are considered abiotic in the most basic sense.
        Atmospheric Argon gas is entirely of radioactive decay
        http://www.accuracyingenesis.com/atmargon.html

        Earth’s atmosphere has evolved over geological time due to biology. It’s called atmospheric evolution. Anyone can find an overwhelming amount of published science papers and reviews on the subject.
        For example
        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5019231/

        Or,from the point of view of the individual global biogeochemical cycles, N2, O2, CO2.
        For example, the global biogeochemical nitrogen cycle
        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5412885/

        Molecular oxygen and molecular carbon dioxide also have well established and quantitative global biogeochemical cycles that have evolved since life began.
        Phosphorus and sulfur also have global biogeochemical cycles, but are not usually considered important atmospheric components, with some exceptions, such as volcanic and submarine sources.
        Water has such a huge impact due to Earth being an ocean planet, but is usually not considered biological, even though it is the universal solvent of life.

        So, my point remains, the amounts and balance of the various components of the Earth’s gas phase atmosphere are entirely caused by the living properties of the global biological ecosystem, and how that ecosystem evolves over long time scales.

        • You still miss the point that beside the hydrogen and helium, most of everything that is here comes from stars in space. All biology and geophysical process do is move the concentrations of elements around they can not change the percentages. All your cycles you think are so important rely on there being those elements here in the first place in an accessible form.

          To that end if you type into a search engine “Origins of Earths Atmosphere” and “Origin of Eaths Water” you will also basically get the same answer. Initially molten Earth had no atmosphere and no water as it cooled volcanoes and gases spewed out from the solidifying rock as they were unable to be held in suspension anymore. So we get an atmosphere and a hydrosphere and no life involved in the process at all, not even relevant.

          All life has ever been doing is polluting that pristine enviroment ever since as it replicates because that is what life does in exploiting an enviroment. So your life cycles may be all very interesting but please do not ever call them the origin of anything here on Earth.

          • Your “point” is rejected as irrelevant, and useless.
            Quantum physics and cosmological big bangs are not essential to understanding life on Earth. I never said that primordial Earth had life, but it did include the ingrediants.
            Your claim that molten Earth had no atmosphere or water is clearly false. There was a primordial atmosphere, and water in the gas phase was certainly a part of that. You don’t really have the first clue in that regard.
            The origin of life on Earth is certainly a good time point to start examining the evolution of life on Earth. And that process of evolution did begin the inevitable transformation of the Earth’s ocean and atmosphere into what exists today. Directly causative.
            Your claim that life is pollution would be a good bumper sticker for you.

  28. Climate Science for Dummies in a Nutshell:
    Lurking behind every negative feedback is an opposite and even-worse-than-we-thought positive feedback.

  29. . . . cause plants to thicken their leaves . . .”
    And plants
    ” . . . would be less efficient in sequestering atmospheric carbon

    We live in a fairly dry environment – ~9 inches of precip per year. Maybe I should read the entire thing, but fallen leaves get crunchy and broken into many tiny fragments. These do not sequester carbon for very long, It is mostly a short cycle. I fail to see the interest therein. Besides, thicker leaves would last longer.
    However, small woody plants and trees do last quite awhile in a dry environment and the sequestering cycle is much longer. Black Cottonwood and Ponderosa Pine get quite large and have long lives. Would their volume (mass) decrease? Would their lives shorten?
    Without knowing all the specifics of this report, I am left a bit confused.

    • Black cottonwood has a taller & a shorter variety. Ponderosa Pine has a more drought resistant & a lesser drought resistant variety.
      I won’t try to describe anywhere along these
      gradients, but their relative relationships show
      up in researched samples not always exhibiting the same data.

      What seems relevant is how the more drought tolerant Ponderosa Pine immediately uses a lot of water when available & most promptly
      closes leaf stomata when water not there. Now
      the original post’s idea is since thicker leaves
      have crowded interior space less CO2 can be in
      the space. Yet some researchers suggest elevated CO2 also instigates more aqua-porins
      (passageway for water through a plant cell
      membrane).

      So, without parsing which type of tree & what
      growth phase I am inclined to think elevated
      CO2 itself is [not] going to shorten every tree’s lifespan. (There is an issue with elevated CO2
      engendering growth using water whereby more surrounding trees in turn take water out
      of play for neighboring trees.)

  30. One thing for sure that it’s not going to do, and that’s make it warmer. As we continue to run about 10 to 15 C degrees below normal for the month of sept. in Alberta.

  31. Oh, the humanity!

    Think of the poor kale eaters, lugging their heavy loads home from the produce aisle in the grocery store, bending their backs in the hot blazing sun…

  32. How did life on planet Earth make it for 3.5 billion years without human climate scientists to nanny it?

  33. I would think that building thicker leaves would require the intake of even more CO2. Thicker leaves should also be more efficient at photosynthesis and the conversion of CO2 and H2O to organic matter. Their models are most likely wrong.

    There is no real evidence that CO2 has any effect on climate and plenty of scientific rationale to support the idea that the climate sensitivity of CO2 is zero. The past models that they are using are all wrong so their conclusions are most likely all wrong as well.

    • “There is no real evidence that CO2 has any effect on climate and plenty of scientific rationale to support the idea that the climate sensitivity of CO2 is zero.”

      Exactly! No evidence in the ancient records. No evidence in the 800k year ice core data. No evidence in the modern instrument record. Peer reviewed papers on Climate Sensitivity yield a 400:1 range, plus at least 30 papers that claim ZERO sensitivity and a few that show CO2 leads to climate cooling. Summary: no one has a clue. Yet look at how much research gets done on the foundation of the claims of high sensitivity. Social Justice Warriors and Climate Warriors would likely hit you with a bike lock if you tried to educate them on the truth.

  34. Reading this article, I’m terrified that I’ll end up wearing down my teeth when gnawing on my baby mesclun salad. If evolution really works, climate change will make us all look like beavers…

  35. Yummier lettuce?

    Sorry, this comment may appear assinine but it is at the level of the “oh golly-gosh who would have thought it” discovery. Let’s see: CO2 makes plants grow? Hmmm. And this is a bad thing?

    Rather like the Canadian Federal government’s desire to make Canada colder. by reducing CO2. MCCA! Hardly has the right ring, does it? But a colder Canada certainly would be a bad thing.

    • It’s a ‘bad thing’ because plant leaves will stop growing in size at some point, so eventually they must become less efficient per CO2 concentration. This is not really news at all. They just went in extremis and built a fairy model paper of it.

  36. My skepticism arose quickly as I read the article. My first question (which I haven’t yet seen in the comments above) is this: What happened in past ages when CO2 was higher than now? Are there fossils of thick-leaved plants in these times? What happened to growth speeds, atmospheric temperature, and other factors? My impression is that these authors did not study for these factors nor try to answer my questions.

  37. Are there not animals that would love to eat thicker juicier leaves? Say the Koala Bear. Think of all the Koalas that are now starving over wimpy light weight leaves that would enjoy a good thick beefy Eucalyptus leaf.

  38. “In the model, vegetation responds to climate by changing carbon assimilation, stomatal conductance, biomass, and leaf area. ”

    https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2018GB005883

    You actually have to read these studies to find out how fraudulent they really are. Reading just the abstract isnt enough.

    The above quote from the 4th page of the study spills the beans. BTW the study is about C3 plants. This study is the classical case of circular reasoning. Their reasoning went like this 1) CO2 levels are rising 2) Global warming is caused by increased CO2
    3) Increased CO2 also causes increased leaf mass in C3 plants.
    4) Increased leaf mass in C3 plants causes less carbon to be used by the plants in photosynthesis. Why ? Because the climate model says so.
    5) Therefore because less carbon is sequestered by C3 plants, the more net CO2 in atmosphere.
    6) The more CO2 in atmosphere and we are back to step number 1.

    If hard scientists presented a paper like this in the hard sciences, they would be laughed out of their faculty.

    FRAUDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • ‘Dude’, it’s not a fraud when establishment scientist publishes it. It may be bollocks, but it is bollocks above my paygrade. /sarc

      Papers which go after a 900 ppm scenario without explaining how feasible that is, are not quite realistic and may suffer from creepage of alarmism. To put it mildly.

    • “4) Increased leaf mass in C3 plants causes less carbon to be used by the plants in photosynthesis. Why ? Because the climate model says so.”

      No – the the model does not “say so”.
      Their model was running the global effects within vegetation of increased CO2 to KNOWN leaf traits.

  39. Yet another stupid study by a bunch of stupid people leading to a stupid conclusion to feed to more stupid people. Stupid!

  40. Leave it to activist warmist “scientists” (used very loosely) to frame a net benefit of higher CO2 (enhanced biosphere) as somehow a negative.

  41. No, they are not stupid. For some 40 odd years many such “Stupid”people have been enjoying a comfortable life style at the taxpayers expense .

    MJE

  42. This article is focused on terrestrial plants According to a California Department of Education resource book for high-school science teachers, published in 1967, marine and fresh water plants accounted for about 90% of worldwide photosynthesis, with terrestrial plants the remaining 10%. I did some cursory searching just now but didn’t find anything more current–or anything discussing that particular comparison.

      • I would imagine pretty much the same as in 1967 with perhaps a slight increase in concentrations. It’s an interesting ratio though, land plants vs marine plants. If the idea is to keep people perpetually worried about CO2 then threats to land plants are just the ticket.

        If it was known that marine plants perform the bulk of worldwide photosynthesis then the panic factor would lessen. “Well, good. I’ll still have oxygen to breathe and green salads to eat.”

    • Some current biogeochemical carbon cycle references estimate about the same amount of photosynthesis and biological mass on dry land and in the oceans. About 50/50.
      Other estimates show more land photosynthesis than ocean. Quite a large amount of the pelagic oceans are biological deserts. Fishing boats stay near the continental shelves. Whales know where to find the krill.
      There is a lot of land biomass in the tropics. The OCO2 mission shows that.

      • True, the ocean is lots of miles of very little, except where it isn’t like where they chased whales in the
        middle of the Pacific. Moby Dick?

  43. So only approx. 4% mankind’s (taking assumption that we’re not natural 🤣) additional CO2 will cause this, what about nature’s 96%; doesn’t it get any blame?

  44. If I am reading the article correctly, they assume that plant mass will remain constant, so thicker leaves means less leaf area. Obviously the assumption is wrong, so all this proves is stupid assumptions give daft results.

  45. What.
    1. A petagram is a billion tonnes – why create more confusion with American ‘short’ tons?

    2. They say that A Carbon Sink is sucking up ~6 billion tonnes of carbon annually = (roughly) 15 gigatonnes CO2
    This don’t stack up. I thought us naughty humans wre pumping/spewing/belching over 30 gigatonnes

    3. No matter #2, where *is* this carbon sink. I work it to be what 3 billion acres of Douglas Fir would soak up = about one-third of all the land area on this Earth that is NOT either desert of ice.
    Show me pictures or it didn’t happen

    4. If you want to say #3 is done via ‘CO2 fertilashion’ – explain *this* picture first:
    https://oco.jpl.nasa.gov/images/ocov2/1stmap.jpeg

    5. Not least, since when did ‘scientists’ become astrologers, sooth sayers and fortune tellers. If anyone wants to venture into Wild Speculation, let them go do it, BUT, a true & honest teacher will not go there.
    In my book, scientists are teachers. They do not invent things. They discover things and explain them to the rest of us.

    To suggest these folks have overstepped their mark is …… is what?
    Its an understatement to say its an understatement

    6. At least they did admit, more than once, that plants have ‘something to do with climate’

    If only, IF ONLY, they’d indulge some Blue-Sky-Brainstorming that did *not* involve CO2 as a climate moderator/controller.
    sigh
    What is all that CO2 doing hanging over the very place that *should* be soaking it up?

  46. we believe that global climate models should take other aspects of plant physiology and plant behavior into account when trying to forecast what the climate will look like later this century

    The members of the cAGW bandwagon admit flaws in global climate models? Good start. Looks like step 3 in Kübler-Ross model.

    However, “climate scientists” have already been given chances to model the climate and, more importantly, to correct their projections. Yet, their models still cannot handle the past, be verified, be corrected and project the future. Their climate models are FUBAR.

    They messed it up themselves and have only themselves to blame for it. Too bad. I wish them quick journey to step 5 of Kübler-Ross model.

  47. From I remember from school à long time ago leaves have a variety of cells, viens and an outer layer. I can’t see any mention of which bit gets thicker.

  48. “Somehow, I just can’t let this disastrous news worry me, and did they consider that leaves that are 33% thicker store more carbon in the leaf?”

    Suddenly Anthony’s a plant physiologist! A man of many talents.

    • Leaves are made of carbon, if they are thicker there is more carbon. Anyone who breathes should be able to deduce that, no credentials needed.

    • As always, Kristi ridicules rather than addresses.

      Of course Anthony’s point makes perfect sense. Which is why Kristi had to result to ridicule, since even she knew she couldn’t refute it.

      And to think, she keeps telling us how educated she is.

  49. “Fossil Fuels”. Can someone please explain why prehistoric plant life is called fossil fuel? BTW- oil comes dripping up from the ocean floor. How did it get *there*?

    • Because it is fuel from (micro)fossils. The organisms that the oil comes from died and sank to the ocean floor and were buried. Usually anything edible in the ocean gets eaten pretty fast, so oil is mostly produced by organics-rich shales that were deposited at times when the deep ocean was dysoxic and nothing could live there.

      Shales are “source rocks” but mostly oil can only be extracted when the oil has moved to more porous “reservoi rocks” which only happans rather rarely. This is the secret behind “hydraulic fraccing”. It is now possible to extract a (rather small) proportion of the vastly larger oil/gas reserves that remain in the source rocks.

      And as you say, most oil will ultimately leak up to the surface and be oxidized back to CO2 and H2O.

      Coal on the other hand does come from plant remains, more or less similar to modern peat, that was buried and compacted. Coal is vastly more stable than oil and tends to last more or less for ever in the ground.

  50. Ok, I am far from a biological expert. So forgive any mistakes. It seems to me that if plant leaves get thicker, there are two options to explain it, the cells get bigger or the cells increase their numbers.

    For cells to grow in size, energy is needed. Where does the energy come from? As I understand it, the energy comes from photosynthesis which uses CO2.

    For cells to increase their numbers, new cells must be created and energy is needed. Where does the energy come from? As I understand it, the energy comes from photosynthesis which uses CO2.

    So for leaves to thicken, more CO2 is required than today, not less. Am I wrong in my analysis?

  51. A wild guess about why leaves become thicker (and mostly in C3 plants) with higher CO2.

    Plants take up CO2 through stomata, mostly on the underside of leaves, which then diffuses throughout the leaf and is used by the leaf cells to photosyntesize. With more CO2 it can probably diffuse further before it becomes too scarce for photosynthesis, so leaves can be made thicker, thereby absorbing more sunlight and photosynthesizing more. C3 plants are most sensitive to CO2 shortage, so any increase would be expected to be greater for them than for C4 plants.

  52. CO2 rise makes fishes and whales go extinct.
    Researchers found that many fishes and almost all whales will be extinct within a short period of time. Rising CO2 levels will cause a severe increase in the size of phytoplankton which leads to fish obesity and whale obstipation.
    From Cod Grayling‘s Journal of Modern Fishmongering.

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