55 Positive Externalities: Hail to Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment

Source:  Master Resource

by Chip Knappenberger

In my last post, I suggested that the externalities from coal-fired electricity generation were probably not as negative as was being touted in a recent report by Paul Epstein and colleagues from the Center for Health and the Global Environment. As further support for my contention, I submit the contents of a new book by copious carbon dioxide researchers Drs. Sherwood and Craig Idso titled ?The Many Benefits of Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment: How humanity and the rest of the biosphere will prosper from this amazing trace gas that so many have wrongfully characterized as a dangerous air pollutant!?

The father-son authors take the reader alphabetically through the many benefits from an atmosphere enriched with carbon dioxide that they have gleaned from the peer-reviewed scientific literature, as well as the results of their own experimentation (also documented in the literature). The Idsos?s 55 subject areas of CO2?s beneficial influence is backed by scientific references. The benefits by and large include only direct influences from higher CO2 levels, and don?t delve into indirect influences through, for example, climate change (with the exception of the inclusion of three or four categories dedicated to describing declines in human mortality and increases in human longevity).

I include below the list of those 55 ways that the Idsos have identified ?in which the modern rise in atmospheric CO2 is benefiting earth?s biosphere.?

Hopefully, Paul Epstein and colleagues will pick up a copy of this book (available here), because I am certain that they did not include many of these considerations in their calculations.

In the list below, I give only the category name, but a synopsis of CO2?s impact in each of the categories is contained in a pamphlet that summarizes the book, and which is available from the Science and Public Policy Institute.

Okay, enough ado, here is the list of 55 ways in which increasing atmospheric CO2 produces direct benefits (and generate positive externalities from fossil fuel use):

1. Air Pollution Stress (Non?Ozone)
2. Air Pollution Stress (Ozone)
3. Avoiding Human Starvation and Plant and Animal Extinctions
4. Bacteria
5. Biodiversity
6. Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds (BVOCs)
7. Biomass
8. C4 Plants
9. CAM Plants
10. Carbon Sequestration
11. Diseases of Plants
12. Early Growth
13. Earthworms
14. Evolution
15. Flowers
16. Fluctuating Asymmetry
17. Glomalin
18. Health-Promoting Substances
19. Herbivory
20. Hormones
21. Human Longevity
22. Human Mortality (All Causes)
23. Human Mortality (Cardiovascular)
24. Human Mortality (Respiratory)
25. Iodocompounds
26. Isoprene
27. Light Stress
28. Lipids
29. Medicinal Plants
30. Monoterpenes
31. Nectar
32. Net Primary Productivity
33. Nitrogen Fixation
34. Nutrient Acquisition
35. Phosphorus Acquisition
36. Photosynthesis
37. Progressive Nitrogen Limitation
38. Reactive Oxygen Species
39. Root Exudation
40. Root Production
41. Salinity Stress
42. Seeds
43. Soil Erosion
44. Soil Toxicity
45. Starch
46. Tannins
47. Temperature Stress
48. Thylakoid Membranes
49. Transpiration
50. UV-B Radiation Stress
51. Vegetative Storage Proteins
52. Water Stress
53. Water-Use Efficiency
54. Weeds
55. Wood Density

As the Idsos put it:

[This book] may not be everything you ?always wanted to know? about the bright side of the issue; but it illuminates a number of significant aspects of earth?s biosphere and its workings, as well as mankind?s reliance on the biosphere for food and numerous other material necessities that are hardly ever mentioned by the mainstream media.