Although living organisms emit carbon dioxide (CO2), in this context it is considered as a pollutant. For this specific context, CO2 is defined also as the modes of transportation, the use of power plants, factories and so on. And as industries are expanding, more of the gaseous CO2 is being released resulting in an increased overall atmospheric temperature in addition to affecting the growth of agriculture.
Furthermore, plants need CO2 to survive. One way in which this process is completed is by taking advantage of photosynthesis. In a study completed by researcher, Elliot Campbell, data found that over the past decade, humans have contributed to the identified increase in photosynthesis. This increase of photosynthesis has been at a rate of 30%. At first, the results overall suggested that with increased amounts of carbon dioxide present, there will be an increase in crop abundance, which therefore benefits the farmers.
But, the results are not as simple as they may sound. Increased amounts of photosynthesis does not translate to a direct increase in produce. Other influential factors of agricultural growth are due to the advancements of seed variants, irrigation systems and fertilizers. Surprisingly, research has found that more CO2 can make plants less nutritious. With an increased presence of CO2 it has been found that plants contain lower concentrations of important nutrients such as potassium, nitrogen and copper. Higher rates of carbon dioxide also result in a faster rate in which microbes take up nutrients. This acceleration in microbe action prevents the plants from taking up valuable nutrients through their roots. The lack of nutrients further can make humans more vulnerable for diseases including pneumonia and malaria. Furthermore, increased carbon dioxide levels have also influence the concentrations of iron. Iron is a crucial in helping pump oxygen throughout the body. This research suggests that the “rate of iron deficiency” will increase from 21% to 27% in the next 10 years.
There needs to be an increase in awareness and communication about how to decrease an individuals’ carbon footprint. Our own use of fossil fuels decreases the nutrient value in our produce and weakens our immune system.
To comment on your observation that plants need CO2 to thrive, you may be interested in what New Zealand is doing to use our CO2 emissions to help plants grow. On the New Zealand miniterm, I learned that greenhouses (in New Zealand they’re called glasshouses) buy the CO2 emissions from power plants and major industrial companies to use this CO2 to pump into the greenhouses and help the plants thrive for agricultural purposes. In an environment where crops are increasingly threatened, this could be a good solution for our abundant CO2 emissions.
Last spring, I took a Geology class on Global Warming which really helped me to understand the depth of the issue where I had not before. The professor who taught the class would often provide a denial argument and then conduct the class in an attempt to prove that argument wrong. One of the very first arguments we disproved as a class was that increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere would actually be beneficial to humanity as it would increase crop production and thus reduce hunger worldwide. I enjoyed reading your post because it followed the same general theory as did my class: CO2 doesn’t mean better, more abundant crops.
The detailing of the specific context, CO2 is great because you defined the other modes of editing CO2 like transportation, power plants, factories. The concern for the future is also a great point because there have to be solutions to help improve our planet before its to late. As you detailed in the blog plants tend to have less nutrient when the air is more polluted not allowing them to have its full potency. Is there any possible solutions that you can envision?