How can there currently be too much CO2?

Perhaps I'm missing something, but the more CO2 in the atmosphere, the faster plants grow.

Satellite imagery has revealed that the earth is becoming greener with more abundant plant growth that correlates with the rise in CO2 levels. So how can there be too much CO2?

It's been hit and miss in the answers. But I think that I'm satisfied with this. I also found more information on the NASA site.


Most Helpful Girl

  • That isn’t necessarily the case. Because plant growth require optimal distribution of other factors such as sunlight, water and mineral ions to grow. When any of these are not present in sufficient amounts in the atmosphere, they act as a limiting factor and prevent plants from utilising more CO2 to yield products, and thus prevents the plants from building and repairing cells.

    A specific example - recall in high school biology that chlorophyll is composed of a central magnesium ion, along with other elements such as carbon, hydrogen oxygen and to a lesser extend, nitrogen. Well, CO2 only offers two of these many elements and thus, if other elements are not present in optimal amounts, this wouldn’t lead to plant growth.

    Source: bio major

    Although this is simply one angle to look at it.

    I'm still skeptical a causative relationship between an increasingly greener earth and the current rise in CO2 levels (assuming its even true in the first place).

    • First off... awesome name. I love Skyrim. Nearly 2000 hours. XD

      I agree with ya. It's like starting a fire. Ya can't just have fuel and heat, you also need oxygen.

      I can't convince ya of the satellite data, that's with whoever ran the gathering of it.
      But unless the plant growth slows, (which it is currently increasing rapidly), I just don't see a problem with it keeping up.

      As with a fire, more fuel, heat or oxygen with create more fire.

    • will create more*

    • THANK YOU!! Skyrim is awesome!! xD

      I'm not very familiar with the topic at hand, but do you have a source linking to the conclusion that overall plant growth is increasing?
      It's also important to keep in mind that the CO2 levels being pumped into the atmosphere has to increase in proportion to the overall plant growth on earth because excess CO2 can still be a problem.

Most Helpful Guy

  • Because plants can only consume so much CO2. The rate of production of CO2 > rate of consumption...

    The red line cycles with dips in northern summers when plants consume CO2 to grow, but peaks in northern winters because the northern hemisphere has much more land and thus more plants; in the south, not so many plants...

    • Show All
    • One of the weaknesses of human thinking is taking linear trends and extrapolating linearly when underlying phenomena are nonlinear and constrained. This is what you are doing. Earth has only finite area so these growth rates of life begin to run into downward pressures. As an example, the Permian Extinction occured at the same time of Pangea; most marine life is not in the open ocean but near the continents. This lack of marine real estate due to Pangea caused the Permian Extinction.

      Good science is done by collecting objectively collecting and analyzing data and taking it from there. The amount of CO2 in Earth's atmosphere is measured at Mauna Loa and elsewhere and that curve that I showed is everywhere. Furthermore the increase in carbon dioxide is secular and began 200 years ago after being flat for a very long period of time.

    • More importantly, the data show that, no matter what are our hypotheses, the biosphere is incapable of accommodating the levels of CO2 being produced and so atmospheric CO2 levels are going up. It's just that simple.

Have an opinion?

What Girls Said 1

  • There is a study about how too much carbon dioxide caused the worst mass extinction in Earth’s history. Plus even if the plants can try to absorb all of that C02 that's still going to harm marine life due to how it will make the ocean water more acidic. After finding out that C02 is what affects the temperature on earth, if there is too little earth could become a frozen waste land. Though if there is too much then earth could look like Venus and like what hell would look like if it existed. How there can be too much is basically when you have more C02 than you have with all the other chemicals that contribute to balancing it out.


What Guys Said 4

  • The Earth itself is a HUGE, LIVING ORGANISM!! Have you ever heard of James Lovelock, and his 'Gaia Hypothesis'?
    He suggests that the Earth is a HUGE, LIVING Organism, and we are just part of HER (yes her, as female!! LOVE THAT!!) Gaia is dynamic, and responds to regulate the climate, the atmosphere, everything, within certain limits!!
    I don't think he went so far as to postulate the Human Race as a virus, an infection, but he focuses on how this LIVING BEING, makes changes to account for things like more carbon dioxide, pollution and plastics!
    I think there is a limit to what She can ameliorate, and repair, but I do believe that the Earth, Itself, is a living entity, a BEING, in itself.
    We should be concerned, and stop being so wasteful, and taking so much for granted, but I think, ultimately, the Earth, Gaia, will survive, even if we perish due to our follies!

    • I'm not a believer in the Gaia theory.

      I agree that waste should be minimized, but this doesn't really connect with the CO2 topic, least not in my mind.

    • The 'Dynamic' thing didn't give it away? The Earth compensates for all the sht we do to it, within reason. I would expect more plant growth, and if seeding the oceans with iron, HUGE increases in plankton, that fix carbon, as well.

  • It also produced carbon monoxide, which apparently isn't that big of a deal but plants no likey.

    "So won’t planting trees cause carbon-dioxide to be taken out of the air? Yes. But what’s conveniently forgotten is that trees don’t only photosynthesize. Like all living organisms they respire too. And die. Two processes that produce carbon-dioxide. No carbon gets “locked-up” in the same way that fossil fuels sequester the element, only temporarily held in the structure of the tree. Even if planted trees are sustained for perpetuity, the amount of carbon coming out of the inert part of the cycle through the burning of fossil fuels dwarfs this small sink. And that gap is only going to get bigger."

    Apparently the O2 comes from H2O as well. Either way, fossil fuels are massive quantities of dead vegetation/animal life (Carbon). When burned, all of that is obviously released back into the cycle. Trees use CO2 convert it into a sugar, then when it dies, most of that winds up back in the atmosphere.

    • This block of text isn't really replying to me as much as just talking at me.

      Point by point or I'm not really that interested.

    • Not sure if this entire question is you trolling, or genuinely lacking intelligence.

  • Maybe because it isn't distributed equally all over the surface?

  • Too much because we burn constant oil, gases, coal

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