How does rising atmospheric CO2 affect marine organisms?

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Who the hell do you think you are? Are you joking when you say "atmospheric CO2 enrichment"?  I admit much research needs to be done to prove that CO2 and other gases are really causing climate change.  But the fact that humans are altering the natural levels of atmospheric gases within a very short time period is asking for trouble.

You people may claim to be scientists, but I have far more confidence in what the Union of Concerned Scientists says about climate change than your obviously biased views.  Just because you are good at quoting very questionable articles doesn't make it the truth.

One last question.  Do you people have trouble sleeping at night knowing that you are endorsing the destruction of your children's future?

Feel free to convince me otherwise!

PS: My views are not those of my employer.

Submitted by: Martin Howard, Kemptville, Ontario, Canada


Taking your questions in order, we (Craig D. Idso and Keith E. Idso) are merely two people who are concerned about the ongoing debate over the rising concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide.  To learn more about us, simply read our biographies that are located in the About the Center section of our web site under the sub-directory Center Staff.

"Atmospheric CO2 enrichment" is definitely not a joke.  This term describes a common experimental protocol, used by literally hundreds of scientists worldwide, in which plants are grown in environments supplied with additional atmospheric CO2 to study its effects on plant growth and development.  Approximately half of the peer-reviewed scientific papers we discuss in our Journal Reviews section deal with this topic.

Your concern about the rapidity with which humans are altering the natural levels of atmospheric gases is understandable.  It should always be remembered, however, that a change in anything can be good, bad, or neutral.  Most people have been more heavily exposed to the idea that rising levels of atmospheric CO2 are bad, because of predictions based upon general circulation models of the atmosphere that suggest that the earth will warm substantially if the air's CO2 content continues to rise.  As you rightly note, however, "much research needs to be done to prove that CO2 and other gases are really causing climate change."  In addition, it has generally been implied that warmer is worse than cooler.  But this claim, too, is open to debate [see Climate History (Overview - The Last 1,000 Years and The Last 10,000 Years) in our Subject Index].  Finally, nearly all of the voluminous work on the effects of "atmospheric CO2 enrichment" on plants suggests that more CO2 in the air will enable earth's vegetation to grow better.  And if the climate continues to warm in response to some other forcing factor, higher levels of atmospheric CO2 will actually help plants cope with this situation [see Growth Response to CO2 with Other variables (Temperature)].  Thus, the increase in the CO2 content of the air over the past few centuries should not be looked upon as "asking for trouble," as it may very well be preventing trouble by ameliorating numerous environmental stresses and resource limitations that negatively influence plant growth world-wide.

You indicate your confidence in the Union of Concerned Scientists.  In this regard it would be wise to remember your own advice that "quoting very questionable articles doesn't make it the truth."  Do you know, for example, what they quote, or the number and quality of the scientific articles upon which their views are based?  Nearly everything we quote is published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.  Our foundation does not rest upon a few "questionable articles," but upon literally hundreds of articles that meticulously document the positive effects of elevated CO2 on plants, and its non-effects on temperature.  Indeed, there are experts on every side of this issue, all crying for you to believe them.  However, you must examine the available evidence yourself and decide on which side of the aisle truth lies (see our Editorial Commentary: Show Us the Science).

Finally, we do sleep well at night.  We have examined the scientific evidence on this issue, and the materials we present on our web site accurately portray the truth as well as it can be represented given the current state of scientific knowledge.  In addition, we rest easy knowing that the rising CO2 content of the air will increase agricultural food, fiber, and timber production worldwide, helping to feed, clothe, and house the increasing human population, which will include that of our own progeny for generations to come.

These answers may not convince you that we are more credible than the Union of Concerned Scientists; but they are our honest assessments of how we view these matters.  We welcome you to review our web site materials, along with those of any other web site or organization, and objectively decide for yourself if our positions are supported by the ever-expanding database of peer-reviewed scientific literature in this field.  We believe that they are; and trust that if you take the time to review the available documentation, you will too.