Atmosphere, Closer Look, FAQ

A Closer Look: CO2 Fertilization

Won’t increased levels of CO2 just lead to a “greener” planet?

Yes, but there’s a catch. Plants utilize CO2 for growth, so, the theory goes, the more CO2 there is, the more plant growth we should see. This is called “CO2 fertilization”. Some species of plant life respond well to it; others don’t. Responsiveness depends on many different factors including plant type, root structure, geographical location, and surrounding plant species. And its viability as an increased carbon sink is tempered by environmental factors such as the availability of nutrients in the soil. It also has its negative impacts including decreased levels of respiration and lower levels of nutrients within the plant. It does not make for a sufficient carbon sink to offset anthropogenic emissions of CO2.


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