The Dichotomy of Excess CO2

Upon reading a study conducted by Phillip Hunter of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, it became more clear that excess Carbon Dioxide represents an interesting paradox that will have to be dealt with by humanity eventually. On one hand, CO2 represents an integral process that is paramount for the future development of trees and most non-marine plants. On the other, it can be attributed too the extreme degradation of Coral life, as well as, the stemming and expulsion of grass. Correlating excess Carbon Dioxide to the loss of Coral life is possible because of CO2’s effect at changing, ” the pH of their environment, which will challenge their biochemistry—particularly organisms such as corals, coccolithophores (single-celled algae), crustaceans and molluscs, all of which use calcium carbonate (CaCO3) to produce external skeletons or shell coverings.” This is important to understand because these creatures have evolved to accommodate minimal light and nutrients on the sea floor. Combining the presence of large amounts of CO2 can irreparably change their fragile environment. And while their is an estimated 406.99 PPM (according to, an estimated 75% of the Carbon Dioxide is sucked into the ocean. As humanity increases it’s CO2 output, the destruction of habitats for these creatures has the potential to become imminent.

While understanding CO2’s harmful effects on aquatic life, it can be considered a miracle grow for relatively all plants found on land. Accounting for approximately 96% of the mass of a plant during photosynthesis, the organic molecule of CO2 is the primary conductor that spreads the growth of plants. So much so that, “across a range of FACE experiments, with a variety of plant species, growth of plants at elevated CO2 concentrations of 475–600 ppm increases leaf photosynthetic rates by an average of 40% (Ainsworth & Rogers 2007). Carbon dioxide concentrations are also important in regulating the openness of stomata, pores through which plants exchange gasses.” How can this been seen as useful for humans? In gauging third world countries such as those find in Africa or Asia, the increased levels of CO2 in their atmosphere could act as the best possible fertilizer for most agriculture being grown. In addition, this increased output of plants represents an integral part of the many African and Asian towns and villages all over the world. This could be seen as a way out of poverty, with the increased promise of wealth coming from the stronger agricultural yield. So while, CO2 can be seen as having detrimental effects on one aspect of life, it can be viewed as an extremely prosperous and lucrative measure for many countries and people around the world.


4 thoughts on “The Dichotomy of Excess CO2

  1. You did a great job showing two sides of the argument. I’ve never thought about the benefits of CO2 increase for third world countries being in the form of food, however, I think the harmful effects outweigh the benefits by far. Yes, the increase in CO2 could possibly act as a fertilizer but that’s just one unlikely and unnecessary benefit. In America the 90 million acres of corn being produced could be used to feed many of the third world populations around the world so instead of relying CO2 levels increasing and praising that, we should be thinking of ways to distribute our surplus crops.

  2. Wow. I had never thought about the long-lasting benefits of CO2 to third world countries and all agriculture alike. Bringing in the idea of CO2 benefitting the earth is actually a crucial part of this environmental argument. At the same time, it’s disheartening to know that these devastating effects are caused by humanities own doing. Seeing the numbers right in front of me really hit me in the face. We always focus on how CO2 will affect us and our land, when in reality that only accounts for 25% of all 406.99ppm. Perhaps if we lived in the ocean rather than land, we would feel the detrimental impacts and take action sooner.

  3. It’s nice to read something that does not demonize a gas that is not only naturally occurring, but essential for the atmosphere to stay balanced which he highlighted really well in your blog post. Even though there are positive effects to Carbon Dioxide, because when it’s the right quantity it is essential to the environment, it is really the “excess” of carbon dioxide that is harmful to our Anthropocene of an ecosystem, and this important diction distinction is worth noting in the classes further critique and study of carbon dioxide.

  4. This post relates to the article I read for my post in terms of the benefits CO2 has on trees and terranean plants. While CO2 is beneficial for photosynthesis and growth, the article I read focused on the finding that excess CO2 does nothing for growth and after a certain level, it just passes through trees, into the soil, and then is absorbed back into the environment. CO2 is good for plant growth and the environment to a certain extent, but as CO2 emissions increase, it is doing nothing but harm.

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