"CO2 is Good for Plants"

Brief Responses to Climate Change Denialism Statements

CPSG 200 Science & Global Change Sophomore Colloquium

"CO2 is Good for Plants"

Plants do depend on carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to produce plant food, but at a certain point enough is enough. Just as us humans, or any species, do not thrive from a rising caloric intake resulting in over-consumption, the increase in CO2 emissions has gotten to a point where it no longer benefits plant growth. Plants do not live on CO2 alone, so only boosting one part of their diet will likely not influence plant growth. They also require nitrogen, water, and other nutrients which would all need to be boosted along with CO2 in order to have any potential benefit. Plants would especially need more water because of the rising temperature increase due to CO2 emissions. This warmer climate not only increases evaporation rates, but also reduces the areas in which crops grow, replacing many landscapes with deserts. Another effect of increasing CO2 levels is more abundance of intense storms. Although one would think this should be beneficial to agriculture, when rain falls in short, intense bursts it does not have time to soak into the ground; rather, it quickly floods into nearby bodies of water, carrying away large amounts of soil and fertilizer. Not only does an over-abundance of CO2 drastically decrease plant yield, but plants also become more vulnerable to insects, such as Japanese beetles, and resulting changes in the soil chemistry make plants more susceptible to disease. By continuing to add to the atmospheric concentrations of CO2, we are only proving the statement that "too much of a good thing" is actually a very bad thing.

For More Information:
1. Bostrom, Doug. "Plants cannot live on CO2 alone." Skeptical Science, 2017. Accessed 16 October 2017.
2. Darling, Seth B. & Douglas S. Sisterson. How to Change Minds about our Changing Climate. The Experiment, 2014.

Contributed by: Claire Mytelka, Victoria Ludwig, Rose Caruso

Last modified: 23 October 2017