Washington Post - Sorry, “skeptics”: Global warming may not be so great for plant life after all
No surprise, it turns out that pumping all that carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is not only making things hotter, as almost all climate scientists believe, but it actually isn’t the best thing for plant life. Climate change deniers have been debunked once again. Hopefully this will get more people to actually care about what we’re doing to the planet. Chelsea Harvey has more,
A section of the preserved Atlantic Rainforest stands in this photo taken with a tilt-shift lens in Brazil. A new study shows that climate change could dramatically alter plant growth on the planet. (Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg)
Climate change is already a heavily charged issue, fraught with political tension. But complicating the mix are a slew of misconceptions about exactly how it will affect the planet and its inhabitants.
One confusion involves plant growth. Some skeptics have argued that rising carbon dioxide levels could actually benefit agriculture, and in fact, research shows that rising temperatures and more carbon dioxide can be a boon to plants — up to a point. But that’s not the whole story, according to researcher Camilo Mora, a professor of geography at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. And in a new paper, published today in the journal PLOS Biology, he and his colleagues attempt to set the record straight.
The study examines not only the effects of rising temperatures, but also how solar radiation and water availability impact plant productivity — specifically, their effects on the number of “suitable growing days” for plants worldwide. The researchers looked at these variables under several different climate change scenarios: The worst of these is the “business-as-usual” trajectory, which is the amount of warming the planet will experience if humans do nothing to cut down on carbon emissions. The scientists also evaluated scenarios where there was a strong or moderate reduction in emissions.