Carbon dioxide is necessary for life on Earth

Earth’s climate has been changing for at least four billion years in cycles large and small. Few in the climate debate understand those changes and their causes. Many are fixated on carbon dioxide (CO2), a minor constituent of the atmosphere, but one absolutely necessary for life as we know it. (In the process of photosynthesis, terrestrial plants, and phytoplankton, kelp, and algal plankton in the oceans use sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water to produce carbohydrates and oxygen.) Perhaps this fixation derives from ulterior political motives for controlling the global economy. For others, the true believers, perhaps this fixation derives from ignorance.

Greenpeace co-founder Dr. Patrick Moore has written an excellent summary of the history of carbon dioxide on Earth titled, “The Positive Impact of Human CO2 Emissions On the Survival of Life on Earth.” In this 24-page paper, Moore notes that we came dangerously close to losing plant life on Earth about 18,000 years ago, when CO2 levels approached 150 ppm, below which plant life can’t sustain photosynthesis. Currently, atmospheric CO2 stands at about 400 ppm which is about one-third the level for optimum plant growth.

Phanerozoic temp CO2 moore

Here is the executive summary of Moore’s paper:

This study looks at the positive environmental effects of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, a topic which has been well established in the scientific literature but which is far too often ignored in the current discussions about climate change policy. All life is carbon based and the primary source of this carbon is the CO2 in the global atmosphere. As recently as 18,000 years ago, at the height of the most recent major glaciation, CO2 dipped to its lowest level in recorded history at 180 ppm, low enough to stunt plant growth.

This is only 30 ppm above a level that would result in the death of plants due to CO2 starvation. It is calculated that if the decline in CO2 levels were to continue at the same rate as it has over the past 140 million years, life on Earth would begin to die as soon as two million years from now and would slowly perish almost entirely as carbon continued to be lost to the deep ocean sediments. The combustion of fossil fuels for energy to power human civilization has reversed the downward trend in CO2 and promises to bring it back to levels that are likely to foster a considerable increase in the growth rate and biomass of plants, including food crops and trees. Human emissions of CO2 have restored a balance to the global carbon cycle, thereby ensuring the long-term continuation of life on Earth.

Moore presents a concise history of CO2 beginning in the Cambrian Period 540 million years ago when CO2 was about 7,000 ppm. He follows that with a discussion of how carbon is distributed today between the atmosphere, oceans, plant life, and rocks.

In his concluding remarks, Moore briefly discusses the politics of CO2 and notes: ” Lost in all these machinations is the indisputable fact that the most important thing about CO2 is that it is essential for all life on Earth and that before humans began to burn fossil fuels, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 was heading in a very dangerous direction for a very long time.”

There is no physical evidence that our CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels will produce catastrophic climate change. Moore asks, “Given that the optimum CO2 level for plant growth is above 1,000 ppm and that CO2 has been above that level for most of the history of life, what sense does it make to call for a reduction in the level of CO2 in the absence of evidence of catastrophic climate change?”

You can read Moore’s full paper here.

Also of interest is a 40-page paper published by the Canadian Friends of Science Society entitled “A Confluence of Carbonbaggers.” – great title. Here is part of the executive summary:

Given that in most industries, margins of error are required to be small, this paper reviews the substantial failings of the IPCC in everything from the original premise that human activity producing greenhouse gases was the primary cause of recent warming, to vast statistical errors in climate models that are 500 and 600% off trend.

Few average citizens have any knowledge of these goings on – despite the fact that billions of their tax dollars are vanishing every year on causes proclaimed by this august organization and echoed around the world by enthusiastic Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (ENGOs) who find climate catastrophe predictions the easiest way to raise money to ‘save the planet’ – all the while demonizing traditional industries that have provided jobs, energy and resources that have created our modern, industrialized world.

This report is a compilation of errors, false and wildly exaggerated predictions, and the IPCC’s claim that it in fact ‘makes no recommendation of any kind on any topic’ – effectively washing its hands of responsibility for the damage its reports and meetings have done in the Western world. National economies have been ruined, investment markets distorted, industries devastated, thousands have died prematurely due to sharp rise in power prices across the UK and Europe as the poor and middle class have been pushed into ‘heat-or-eat’ poverty – and yet governments still persist in designing faulty climate and economic policies based on flawed documents from the IPCC – cited as ‘the authority on climate change.’

See also:

Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

A Modest Proposal: Triple Your Carbon Footprint


This article is by Dr. Craig D. Idso, chairman of the Center for the Study of Caron Dioxide and Global Change. The article is reprinted from the SPPI Blog, original source is  AccLive.

The reasons for rejecting efforts to regulate and reduce carbon dioxide

Ready for a pop quiz? Name a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is found in the atmosphere in relatively minute quantities and is essential to nearly all life on earth. ___________. Time’s up! The answer is carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide, or CO2, was probably not the first molecule you thought to name. After all, in today’s world CO2 is given a bad rap. Ironically, some people even refer to the emission of this life-giving and life-sustaining gas into the atmosphere as “carbon pollution.” They fear its accumulation in the air because of computer model projections, which forecast a future of dangerous global warming and a host of other climate- and extreme-weather-related catastrophes if atmospheric CO2 concentrations continue to rise. And, therefore, in an effort to alleviate their concerns, these individuals seek government regulation of CO2 emissions as part of their overall objective to reduce the CO2 content of the air.

Efforts to regulate CO2 and reduce its concentration in the atmosphere, however, are way off the mark. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant; and its increase in the air will have little, if any, impact on future climate. Literally thousands of scientific studies have demonstrated such. The recent work of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), for example, highlights many of the problems, inconsistencies and outright contradictions that exist between climate model projections and real-world observations. In a 1,000-page report released this past September, the NIPCC concluded there is nothing unusual, unnatural or unprecedented about Earth’s current climate and that the impact of rising CO2 on future climate will be small, if not negligible, which conclusion is a far cry from climate catastrophe.

Another damning indictment of the rising-CO2-will-cause-dangerous-global-warming narrative is seen in the failure of the climate models to predict the current plateau in global temperature. Despite an eight percent increase in atmospheric CO2, over the past 17 years, the earth experienced no net increase in temperature, yet all of the computer models upon which the vision of dangerous global warming is based projected it should have warmed.

Aside from having a rather benign – or possibly even nil – effect on climate, there are other reasons for rejecting efforts to regulate and reduce carbon dioxide.

Atmospheric CO2 is the building block of life. It is the primary raw material or “food” that plants utilize during the process of photosynthesis to construct their tissues and grow. And, as conclusively demonstrated in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, the modern rise in CO2 is benefiting the biosphere in multiple ways.

In general, atmospheric CO2 enrichment endows plants with three main benefits. The first and most recognized is enhanced plant productivity. Typically, a 300-parts-per- million (ppm) increase in the air’s CO2 content (which is expected to occur by the end of this century) will raise the productivity of most herbaceous plants by about one-third and most woody plants by about one-half. Such stimulation is generally manifested by an increase in the number of branches and tillers, more and thicker leaves, more extensive root systems and more flowers and fruit, and it portends great benefits for the biosphere. One obvious consequence is greater crop productivity; and many researchers acknowledge the yield-enhancing benefits of the historical and still-ongoing rise in the air’s CO2 content on past, present and future crop yields. According to one recent study, rising CO2 concentrations boosted the value of global crop production over the past 50 years by a staggering $3.2 trillion. An additional $9.8 trillion in monetary gains are estimated to accrue in the future in response to the projected rise in atmospheric CO2 between now and 2050.


The second major benefit is increased water use efficiency. Plants exposed to elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 generally do not open their leaf stomatal pores as wide as they do at lower CO2 concentrations. The result is a reduction in most plants’ rates of water loss by transpiration. The amount of carbon (biomass) they gain per unit of water lost – or water-use efficiency – therefore typically rises for a doubling of CO2 on the order of 70 to 100 percent. And as a result, at higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations numerous studies show plants need less water to produce the same or an even greater amount of biomass than they do at lower CO2 concentrations. One implication of this benefit is that plants will be able to grow and reproduce in locations where it was previously too dry for them to even exist; and they may therefore win back lands previously lost to desertification.


The third major benefit of atmospheric CO2 enrichment is an amelioration of environmental stresses and resource limitations. Higher levels of CO2 tend to help reduce detrimental growth effects of high soil salinity, high air temperature, low light intensity and low levels of soil fertility. They also reduce the severity of low temperature stress, oxidative stress and the stress of herbivory. What is more, the relative percentage growth enhancement produced by an increase in the air’s CO2 content is often greater when comparing plants growing under stressful and resource-limited conditions than when growing conditions are ideal.

Altogether, with the plant productivity gains that result from the aerial fertilization effect of the ongoing rise in atmospheric CO2, plus its transpiration-reducing effect that boosts plant water use efficiency along with its stress-alleviating effect that lessens the negative growth impacts of resource limitations and environmental constraints, the world’s vegetation possesses an ideal mix of abilities to reap a tremendous benefit in the years and decades to come. And based on a multitude of observations, the future is now. As evidence from around the globe indicates, the terrestrial biosphere is presently experiencing a great planetary surge in growth, likely due in large measure to the approximate 40 percent increase in atmospheric CO2 that has occurred since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

Real-world evidence of such is apparent in the long-term observation of forests. Tree growth at locations all around the globe over the past two centuries, for example, reveals trends that are not consistent with the usual climatic variables attributable to growth stimulation, such as temperature or precipitation. In these instances, researchers acknowledge the steady influence of rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations on growth trends, which trends are often manifested as increases in both the density and aerial coverage of woody species.

Other evidence of a CO2-induced stimulation of vegetation in recent years is seen in grassland and desert ecosystems, as well as for the world as a whole. With respect to all land plants, for example, satellite-based studies reveal net terrestrial primary productivity has increased by six to 13 percent since the 1980s. Other research shows the annual global carbon uptake has doubled from 2.4 ± 0.8 billion tons in 1960 to 5.0 ± 0.9 billion tons in 2010. What makes these observations appear even more astonishing, however, is the fact that they occurred in spite of the many recorded assaults of both man and nature on planetary vegetation over this time period, including fires, disease, pest outbreaks, deforestation and climatic changes in temperature and precipitation. That the biosphere experienced any productivity improvement, let alone a doubling, is truly amazing; and it demonstrates, in part, the powerful impact atmospheric CO2 enrichment is exerting on global vegetation.

As a society, it is high time for us to recognize and embrace the truth. Contrary to misguided assertions, political correctness and government edicts, carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It’s a colorless, odorless, tasteless atmospheric gas that is essential to nearly all life on earth. Please remember that, especially the next time you are quizzed about its virtues.