BIANCA BHENINA S.J. BERNABE
to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (2011), exactly
stated climate change as “a change in the state of the climate that can be
identified (e.g. using statistical tests) by changes in the mean and/or the
variability of its properties, and that persists for an extended period,
typically decades or longer. It refers to any change in climate over time,
whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity”. Various
studies and research are being carried out in regard to the issue of climate
change in the modern world due to the fact that it has become a major area of
concern and a significant addition to the spectrum of environmental health
hazards encountered by humankind (Woodward, et al., 2003). Climate change has
altered the planet’s natural course of life. It has brought a lot of changes
that affect both human activities and wildlife. Due to shifting weather
patterns caused by climate change, it likely affects food security at the
global, regional, and local level. Therefore, food availability, food access,
and food quality are disrupted (United States Environmental Protection Agency,
this problem of climate change regarding agriculture, it all comes back down to
the autotrophic producers of the ecosystem, plants. One of the foremost lessons
taught in biology class is that plants exhale oxygen that animals inhale and
that animals exhale carbon dioxide that plants inhale. “Photosynthesis” is a
process wherein plants use light energy to convert carbon dioxide and water to
sugar and oxygen. Based on various researches I have encountered during the
production of this paper, since plants thrive on carbon dioxide, and that the
gas is directly connected to global warming. Based on an article entitled ‘Global
atmospheric CO2 levels hit record high’ by Watts (2017), contains information
about rises in carbon dioxide levels, in that article, the United Nations warns
that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere greatly increased
and surpassed a level not seen for more than three million years. The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin,
the UN weather agency’s annual flagship report, exactly
states that “Globally averaged concentrations of CO2 reached 403.3 parts per
million (ppm) in 2016, up from 400.00 ppm in 2015 because
of a combination of human activities and a strong El Niño event,”. Increasing
levels of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere have various impacts on
the planet’s temperature (Arrhenius, 1895). Since this study, scientists and
researchers in the field have refined their understanding regarding the
greenhouse effect and the connection of rising levels of carbon dioxide. Global
warming is caused by the emission of greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide is 72%
most of the totally emitted greenhouse gases, therefore carbon dioxide
emissions is the most important cause of global warming. Is the real issue here is that does global warming affect
plant life, rather than climate change? Therefore, this essay will be based on the
argument of enhanced plant activity due to global warming.
to a research published in the “Geophysical Research Letters” about the “CO2
Fertilization Effect”, states that an increase of carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere increases the rate of photosynthesis in plants. The research is
headed by Randall Donohue of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial
Organization in Canberra, Australia plus his team of researchers, specifically
focused their research in various dry regions of the planet (Middle East, parts
of Africa, Australia’s Outback, and North America’s southwest). After averaging
the appearance of flourishing vegetation or “greenness” over three year
periods, combining the data from the different locations of research according
to known records of rainfall, and the data of different variations in the
foliage over a 20 year period, have come to a conclusion that carbon dioxide
fertilization effect accounts for the 11% increase in global foliage since
1982. Their drawn conclusion is what’s known as a negative feedback in biology,
considering the additional plant growth due to the increasing levels of carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere. With their research implies good news for
biodiversity and good news for food availability, since plants are the
autotrophs of the ecosystem or the primary producers that feed all animals. Dr.
Donohue exactly states that “Even if nothing else in the climate changes as global
carbon dioxide levels rise, we will see significant environmental changes
because of the carbon dioxide fertilization effect.”.
article published in “ScienceDaily” entitled “Global Warming Increasing The
Dispersal Of Flora In Northern Forests” by the researchers of the University of
Helsinki, addresses the impact of global warming on seed and pollen dispersal,
specifically in Northern Forests. It states that an increase in temperature
holds the possibility of increasing dispersion of seeds, pollen and increased
plant population in forests. In addition to the dispersion of seeds and pollen,
the researchers also found out that if there’s a decrease of temperature,
specifically three degrees Celsius warmer, increases the dispersal of seeds.
Therefore, this research comes to a conclusion that global warming therefore
increases the dispersal of plant seeds and pollen, meaning increased plant
population in forests.
2007, Stephen Montzka, a NOAA scientist, wrote a pivotal research paper identifying
a trace gas called “carbonyl sulphide” as a key in estimating the amount of
carbon dioxide, plants inhale as they grow. Recently, Montzka was part of a
team of researches headed by Elliot Campbell from the University of California,
Merced, that inspected the 54,000 year-old data of carbonyl sulphide in the
atmosphere from measurements of air trapped in the snowpack at the South Pole.
After inspecting the data, the researchers discovered a significant, altered
signal from the biosphere. In photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide in
order to photosynthesize, but also releases it when during respiration and when
they decay or get burned. This then implies that the exhalation rate of carbon
dioxide by plants is not connected directly estimated on global scales from
measurements of carbon dioxide alone. Aside from plants needing carbon dioxide,
it needs sulphur too. Unlike when plants release carbon dioxide, plants don’t
give back sulfur to the atmosphere. Carbonyl sulphate, a molecule consisting of
a carbon atom, a sulphur atom, and an oxygen atom~ is found in miniscule
amounts in the atmosphere. With preceding sampling and analysis of air trapped
in ice cores of the Antarctic, has equipped researchers and scientists to
estimate various changes in plant inhalation of carbonyl sulphate during the
past century and then reckon the amount of carbon dioxide plants are absorbing.
After all the researches and studies done of the impact of elevated carbon
dioxide to plant growth, this research then supplies information regarding the
estimated amount of carbon dioxide plants absorb into their systems. This
research therefore estimates the amount of carbon dioxide that plants “fix”
into their tissues like leaves in reaction to the increasing levels of carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere. The NOAA scientist then states that tracing carbonyl
sulphate will aid scientists in monitoring the amount of carbon land plants are
drawing out from the atmosphere as carbon dioxide levels increase. “These
results will help us better predict the biosphere’s response to continued
fossil fuel emissions and ultimately improve our predictions on climate change”
said by Montzka.
to these researches and various researches approved by various scientific
journals and publications, imply that an increase in carbon dioxide or also
known as global warming, boosts and enhances plant activity. These studies already
bear enough proof on the positive effects of global warming in plant growth.
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