Millions of people are alive today because the net emissions of carbon dioxide have increased. These extra emissions have provided essential fertilization for crops around the world. Craig Idso has released a new report calculating that the extra value that the rise in CO2 has produced from 1961 – 2011 is equivalent to $3.5 trillion dollars cumulatively. Currently the extra CO2 is worth $160 billion dollars annually. Big-biccies. Projecting forwards, increasing CO2 levels could be worth an extra $11.6 trillion on crop production between now and 2050. Virtually every economic analysis to date does not include the agricultural gains. There are also benefits in health, as warmer winters reduce mortality by more than hotter summers increase deaths. The real economic question then, is “Can we afford to slow CO2 emissions at all?”
While there are negative externalities projected by some climate modelers, their models are unvalidated, proven wrong, and based on unsupported assumptions about clouds and humidity. Compare that to the agricultural gains, which are not just demonstrated in laboratory greenhouses, but confirmed in the field, and with global satellite estimates of increased biomass.
Obviously, the only sensible thing to do at this point is continue our emissions of carbon dioxide. At some point in the future, after climate models start working, and proper calculations of externalities can be estimated, we will probably want to tax projects which sequester CO2 and remove it from the atmosphere.
My only hesitation is that if Murry Salby is right, Big-Oil don’t have a lot to do with it. We can thank Mother Nature instead. Scrap that tax too. ;- )
How much better does it get?
A 300ppm increase in CO2 would increase crop mass by between 4% – 77%. (It doesn’t matter much to your melons, but is marvelous for your carrots and pretty darn good from your grapes too.) Most crops would be 30-40% larger. (I guess the Greens will be excited we won’t need to raze so many forests to convert to cropland, right?)