22 thoughts on “Atmospheric Plant Food”

  1. Totally unpredictable…….

    as is the notion that more C02 brings on more plants which extracts more carbon from the atmosphere and pumps in more O2.

    Absolutely unheard of.

    1. This was considered some time back by AGW skeptics and there were some issues. While plants will take up more co2 as they continue to grow faster and larger, there’s a limitation with respect to the nitrogen in the soil such that it tops out pretty quickly before it becomes a major source of co2 mitigation.

  2. Retort #1: Yeah, they are happy eating a lot now, but they’ll soon be complaining about how they need to go on a diet.

    Retort #2: I’m going to start selling bags of air as “atmospheric people food”.

      1. I’m just being silly – I thought it was funny that you called a gas “food”. When I think of “plant food”, I think of a product like “Miracle-Gro”.

        1. Well, that gas is what the plant uses as the raw material to manufacture its food, and without it, they would starve (which is why trying to reduce atmospheric CO2, or calling it a “pollutant” is crazy/stupid on stilts). What we call “plant food” isn’t food, but trace constituents needed to help the food-production process.

          1. Now I’m stopping to wonder why we breath oxygen. Seems like something I used to know, but have forgotten due to disuse. Looking it up on the internet, I see descriptions of electron flow, but, if I’m reading this correctly, the oxygen we breath is used to make H2O(*). So, if you want to CO2 “atmospheric plant food”, I guess you could call oxygen “atmospheric people beverage”. 🙂

            (*) https://physiology.knoji.com/why-do-we-breathe-oxygen/

          2. We breathe oxygen in order to be able to burn food, which is only fuel, and requires an oxidizer. It’s how we generate the energy needed to both metabolize and move around.

            Sorry, but you’re just not going to be able to make this analogy work. Plants are not animals.

          3. I still don’t see why CO2 would be called plant food, rather than what a plant breathes in to make food. But this was fun!

          4. There is not question, no uncertainty at all that the terrestrial plants are thriving and greening the Earth.

            Whereas most if not all of the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is attributed to fossil-fuel combustion, cement making, and land clearing, only about half of this CO2 is being seen in the atmosphere, with the remainder entering into “sinks”, primarily CO2 being dissolved as “carbonate” chemicals in the oceans and being incorporated into plants through photosynthesis.

            The amount being dissolved into ocean water is known through more recent and very accurate measurements of the total atmospheric oxygen, and that amounts to less than half of the “missing” CO2 not appearing in the atmosphere. The remaining portion has to be taken up by plants as there is no other place for it to go.

            The real question is whether this “greening” is in excess of the “missing fraction” of human-caused CO2 emissions. There is an absorption of CO2 by plants of an order-of-magnitude more than what humans are responsible for that is in turn balanced by decay of dead plants and carbon in soils, a coming and going of CO2 that is assumed to be in homeostatic equilibrium were it not for human activity.

            What if the emission of CO2 by organic decay (bacterial and other organism respiration) was sensitive to changes in atmospheric temperature? What if the increase in soil emissions in response to the 20th-century warming trend is roughly the same amount as the increase in human-caused emissions? This is claimed by Bond-Lamberty and Thomson in Nature http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v464/n7288/full/nature08930.html.

            Other evidence supporting a large natural increase in CO2 emissions (the natural CO2 emissions through plant decay are indeed large compared to human-caused emissions but are they steady or can they vary) is the strong correlation between atmospheric temperature and the rate at which CO2 is added to the atmosphere (see http://woodfortrees.org/plot/ and follow instructions for the “interactive graph”).

            This suggests that humans are only responsible for about half the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere and that plants absorb CO2 in proportion to its atmospheric concentration more aggressively than considered.

          5. Bob-1: Photosynthesis is the process by which plants convert CO2 and H2O into sugars using light. The sugars are the food for the plant. Ergo, CO2 is, indeed, plant food.

            Paul: it’s very nearly 100% natural. That’s the simplest explanation for this, and Occam’s Razor points directly to it.

            I believe the THC is integral, pun intended, to the process. You’ve basically got a pipeline conveying CO2 dissolved in seawater down to the depths and back up again over a timeline approaching a full millennium. But, the “T” in THC stands for “thermal”, and temperatures modulate the flow.

            Thus, over lengthy intervals of time, temperature variations cause CO2 to either accumulate or dissipate in the upper oceans at a temperature dependent rate. Concentration is then the integral of its rate, and thus, affinely related to the integral of temperature anomaly.

            The atmosphere equalizes to the level in the oceans with which it interfaces at the surface – it is the proverbial flea on the elephant’s back. Our inputs are akin to pissing in a river, and get carried away without much fanfare.

          6. Bart:

            Can you clue me in to the temperature-driven ocean circulation conveyor you speak of?

          7. –Bob-1
            April 26, 2016 at 9:57 AM

            I still don’t see why CO2 would be called plant food, rather than what a plant breathes in to make food. But this was fun!–

            Both plants and animals need oxygen. Breathing is taking in air with oxygen in it- and without this oxygen you die very quickly. Animals need food and because they digest and convert the food into sugars, fats or proteins, one could take long time to starve [it’s similar to the lack of oxygen].
            Animals don’t make food, rather convert food- ie, dead animals or plants. Plants make food which they consume, but they eat the CO2 of the air. So plants eat CO2 and convert it into sugars, fats or proteins which they store and use to create energy by combining with oxygen. Plants also make oxygen for CO2. Oxygen is a plant waste product and it is needed substance to convert it’s sugars into energy.
            So if plant has no sunlight- thereby can’t make oxygen, it needs the oxygen in the environment to “breathe”. Or at night plants function like animal, burning their sugars into order to have energy to remain living- or they would die without oxygen like an animal would die without oxygen [quickly]. But since plant store sugars, it could take a long time to starve from the lack of CO2- in similar manner if you skip lunch one doesn’t die from the lack of eating.
            And of course both animals and plants can die without water- plants wilt, animals dehydrate. And they need other stuff in addition to sugars for energy.
            So animals have to take in food- plants/animal material and breakdown this material. Plant have to take in CO2 and break it down. Loosely, we call this eating. And the lack of being able to digest this exterior source of food- starving.

  3. I think the dumbest arguments along these lines are the “you won’t like it” arguments. For example, apparently some researchers just noticed that global warming would be beneficial for most of the US so they had to change that.

    Using previous research on how weather affects local population growth to develop an index of people’s weather preferences, we find that 80% of Americans live in counties that are experiencing more pleasant weather than they did four decades ago. Virtually all Americans are now experiencing the much milder winters that they typically prefer, and these mild winters have not been offset by markedly more uncomfortable summers or other negative changes. Climate change models predict that this trend is temporary, however, because US summers will eventually warm more than winters. Under a scenario in which greenhouse gas emissions proceed at an unabated rate (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5), we estimate that 88% of the US public will experience weather at the end of the century that is less preferable than weather in the recent past.

    So I have no doubt that we will soon learn why plants don’t really like having more food.

    1. That 88% explains why Floridians typically spend the winter in Detroit and Montreal.

      Oh wait…

      The absurdity of these nuts often astounds me. If we pumped CO2 levels to 3,000 ppm and re-engineered ocean circulations to match conditions 50 million years ago, we’d return to the normal greenhouse Earth instead of our icehouse Earth. The tropics would stay about the same (they’re water cooled with strong positive feedback) but the temperate regions (farmland) would expand to include all of Canada and Siberia. Food production would skyrocket.

      In contrast, we currently are in an integlacial, not far from the conditions of a glacial episode what would see all of Canada and northern Europe buried under miles of ice.

      But the changes the alarmist are talking about are actually tiny. On a map of absolute world temperatures you’d have to pull out a magnifying glass to see the small shift in the positions of the color bands.

      normal temperature map

      map increased by 2 C

      The second map is a straight increase without negative tropical feedbacks, so it’s not quite accurate in that regard. But still, you have to stare at them until you’re cross-eyed to notice any change.

      The huge difference in current regional climates dwarfs any change they’re hollering about, where one day a century from now Dayton Ohio might be as hot as Cincinnati is today.

  4. What will happen is there will be some scientists that will declare the kinds of plants that are benefitting now are the “wrong kinds of plants” and that the “good plants” are being choked out by the “explosive pernicious overgrowth” of the bad plants.

    I’ll put money on it.

  5. 15% of the mass of any given plant, on average, is carbon. All of it comes from the atmosphere, in the form of CO2. I’d say that is enough to qualify CO2 as plant food.

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