UCF Global Perspectives


Higher Concentrations of CO2 Accelerating Plant Growth

Zachary Good, Alexandra Cousteau Environment and Global Climate Change Fellow

April 17, 2017

After analyzing Antarctica ice, researchers have concluded that plants have been growing at a rate much faster than at any other time in the last 54,000 years (NYT). The industrial period shows an increase in atmospheric carbonyl sulfide levels that is unprecedented and is clear evidence of a global industrial source (Nature). The study was conducted by analyzing bubbles of air in Antarctica ice that creates a historical record of the atmosphere (NYT). The research reports that that plants are converting 31 percent more carbon dioxide (CO2) into organic matter than they were before the Industrial Revolution (NYT).

Lead researcher Elliott Campbell stated that “previous studies covered small physical areas or short periods of time,” whereas they “found a long-term record of the whole planet” (SR). The increase in plant growth comes from the anthropogenic CO2 being put into the atmosphere, which leads to an increase in 28 billion tons each year (NYT). Plants serve as a natural barrier to increases in CO2 levels, so this research shows that increases in concentration were too large to handle (SR). Co-author Joe Berry stated that “the increase in photosynthesis has not been large enough to compensate for the burning of fossil fuels” (SR).


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