How many times do the Kansans have to go out of their way to prove to the rest of the world that Kansas is a state populated by morons, psychopaths and mental defectives?
Here is the latest, chronicled by Kevin Grandia at De-Smog Blog:
Desperate times, call for desperate arguments.In a last ditch bid to build two new coal plants in Kansas, Larry Powell (R- Garden City) is making the argument that the new coal plants would be in fact good for local crops.It’s worth mentioning that Garden City, Kansas is also home to a new organization called “Kansans for Affordable Energy.”The KAE recently ran outrageous print ads claiming that Hugo Chavez, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Vladamir Putin are smiling because the Kansas state government rejected the new coal plants and would now have to rely on Iran, Russia and Venezuela for natural gas imports.The KAE failed to mention that Kansas does not currently import any natural gas from these countries and in fact receives well over three-quarters of its gas from Canada.
I guess that would mean that the Canadians are smiling…
Anyway, Larry Powell’s argument, as you may well imagine, is simply that CO2 is good for plants, so the more the better. He claimed that “atmospheric CO2 enrichment will boost world agricultural output by about 50 percent”*
Not so much, Senator Powell. It has been shown by actual research, instead of just randomly pooping idiocies out of your mouth, that an increase in CO2 benefits plants a little bit, but then, as you increase the CO2 more, you get no more benefit.
There is a theory that suggests that higher CO2 levels could benefit water stressed plants, because when plants are busy gasping for CO2, they let out some water. But since plants did not evolve in a higher CO2 atmosphere, it is very doubtful that any plants are prepared to use this loophole in any significant way.
Model projections suggest that although increased temperature and decreased soil moisture will act to reduce global crop yields by 2050, the direct fertilization effect of rising carbon dioxide concentration ([CO2]) will offset these losses. The CO2 fertilization factors used in models to project future yields were derived from enclosure studies conducted approximately 20 years ago. Free-air concentration enrichment (FACE) technology has now facilitated large-scale trials of the major grain crops at elevated [CO2] under fully open-air field conditions. In those trials, elevated [CO2] enhanced yield by ~50% less than in enclosure studies. This casts serious doubt on projections that rising [CO2] will fully offset losses due to climate change.(Ainsworth et al 2006)
The Ainsworth study produced these results showing that yields were limited:
Table 1. Percentage increases in yield, biomass, and photosynthesis of crops grown at elevated [CO2] (550 Âµmol mol-1) relative to ambient [CO2] in enclosure studies versus FACE experiments. Data for enclosure studies were summarized by Kimball (18), Cure and Acock (17), and Allen et al. (16) and in Fig. 2. Mean response ratios from these reviews were adjusted to an elevated [CO2] of 550 Âµmol mol-1 by means of the nonrectangular hyperbolic functions for C3 and C4 species from Fig. 2. The values that summarize all chamber studies shown in Fig. 2 are given in the row entitled “enclosure studies.” Percentage increases for FACE studies were generated by meta-analysis [see supporting online material (SOM) and table S2] (37).
The following is an even clearer exposition of the problem:
Fig. 3. Comparison of theoretical and actual changes in C3 crop production parameters at an elevated [CO2] of 550 ppm relative to ambient [CO2]. Theory, theoretical RuBisCO-limited photosynthesis at 550 ppm [(9) and SOM]; A’, measured daily integral of carbon uptake; biomass, final above-ground biomass; yield, harvestable grain yield. Error bars indicate mean Â± 90% confidence intervals. A’, biomass, and yield were measured in C3 crops exposed to elevated [CO2] in FACE experiments
As you can see, there is no hope of the Senator’s wishes coming true, even if he knocks his ruby slippers together and says “There’s no place like home” a hundred times. Nature has spoken. Science translated. The Senator must listen.
LONG, S. P., AINSWORTH, E. A., LEAKEY, A. D. B., NÖSBERGER, J. & ORT, D.R. (2006): Food for thought: lower-than-expected crop yield stimulation with rising CO2 concentrations.. Science, 312, 1918-21.