Year 2, Month 8, Day 24: The Bad News IS The Good News

The August 6 Wyoming Tribune-Eagle reports that increased CO2 may help some plants resist droughts more effectively:

CHEYENNE — A rising carbon dioxide level may help protect some prairie plants from a decrease in water.

An experiment running at the Agricultural Research Service’s High Plains Grassland Research Station to the northwest of Cheyenne examined the interaction of slightly warmer temperatures, higher carbon dioxide levels and less water.

“The overview is that we’re doing research to evaluate the effects of climate change on grassland ecology,” Jack Morgan, plant physiologist and researcher with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said of the cause of the study.

Of course, without the climate change, there wouldn’t be as many droughts for them to resist. What the right hand giveth, the left hand taketh away. Or something. Sent August 6:

It’s certainly likely that some effects of climate change will have welcome consequences, like an increase in plants’ ability to resist prolonged dry periods. On the other hand, it’s irrefutable that as the greenhouse effect intensifies, the world as a whole is going to experience more droughts — along with more irregular and extreme weather events of every kind. Those plants are going to need every bit of their augmented survival capability to continue thriving in the coming centuries. So, of course, are humans.

We are clever creatures, and we’ll probably figure out how to keep on keeping on as the world’s climate changes. But we’ll need wisdom, forethought and resourcefulness if our species is to avoid what biologists euphemistically call an “evolutionary bottleneck.” Every day spent denying the threat of global warming is a day wasted; we can no longer delay in preparing for a radically transformed future.

Warren Senders

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