The Ecological Benefits Of Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Levels
Full Briefing available in PDF format.
2325 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVESWASHINGTON, DC
I am an educator. I enjoy the process of education. I enjoy learning. I enjoy teaching. And so today, here, think of this as a teaching opportunity. Think of it as a learning opportunity for yourselves. I’d like to share with you some important information concerning the global warming issue that you may or may not have been exposed to yet.
I could talk up here and debate all day long whether or not temperature is increasing, whether or not carbon dioxide is responsible for that. But we’d get nowhere, because that debate is far from finished. There’s evidence on both sides you can banter around endlessly. Instead, I’d like to tell you about something that is often ignored in the media, that is ignored by our Administration -- and that is the direct biological benefits of more carbon dioxide in the air.
Now, I’m going to start with the basics. When you talk about how plants will respond to more CO2 in the air, you have to go all the way back and look at what exactly is in the air. What is the composition of the air we breathe? Basically, nitrogen is the bulk of the air. About 79 percent of the air we breathe is nitrogen. Oxygen is the next dominant gas around us, comprising nearly 21% of the atmosphere. And trace gasses are those gasses that remain.
So think about it. Helium, argon, hydrogen gas, and even carbon dioxide – these gases are all just minor components of the air around us. Carbon dioxide is a trace gas. Its concentration in the atmosphere is less than one percent. It is extremely small. In fact, it’s so small it’s only 0.036 percent of the atmosphere. It’s less than half a percent. In fact, it’s so small, in the field of science we talk about the amount of CO2 in the air in parts per million. So that equilibrates to 360 parts per million. And that definitely is a trace amount.
What’s going to happen in the next century? This trace gas will double to 720 parts per million. It’s still a trace gas. It can triple, quadruple. If all the fossil fuels held in the crust of the earth were combusted tomorrow, the amount of CO2 in the air would increase only about ten-fold. Even then, it would still only be a trace gas. CO2 is and always will remain but a minor component of the air we breath. It will always be a trace gas.