[Illustrations, footnotes and references available in PDF version]
As the air's CO2 content rises, most plants exhibit increased rates of photosynthesis and biomass production (see our Plant Growth Database), which should enhance the amount of food, fiber and timber production that can be utilized to feed, clothe and shelter earth's expanding human population. However, some individuals have suggested that the growth-promoting effects of atmospheric CO2 enrichment may be largely negated by the global warming that is predicted to occur in the near future by a number of state-of-the-art climate models, which outcome could compromise our ability to sustain a greater human population without increasing arable land acreage. Thus, we turn to the scientific literature to see if plants will - or will not - continue to exhibit CO2-induced growth increases under conditions of predicted future warming, which we do here by reviewing what has been learned about the photosynthetic and growth responses of CO2-enriched agricultural crops grown at both current and projected future growing-season temperatures.
As the air's CO2 content continues to rise, agricultural crops will likely exhibit enhanced rates of photosynthesis and biomass production that will not be diminished by any global warming that might occur concurrently.
In fact, if the ambient air temperature rises, the growth promoting effects of atmospheric CO2 enrichment will likely rise right along with it, becoming more and more robust.