Poison Ivy on Steroids

Poison Ivy2Still more bad news concerning global warming: a report produced by Reuters Health states that increased carbon dioxide levels will cause poison ivy to become more potent and more widespread.

Scientists have known for some time that plants often increase their growth rate when exposed to more carbon dioxide, a gas used during photosynthesis to produce food sugars and building materials for growth. As you know all animals exhale carbon dioxide and breathe in oxygen, a byproduct of photosynthesis, so it’s a pretty sweet deal for all concerned. Unfortunately billions of tons carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere by automobiles, coal fired electric plants, natural gas combustion, and other fossil fuel combustion sources.

So the science guys started experimenting with exposing plants to increased carbon dioxide levels expected to be seen by the middle of this century due to fossil fuel emissions. Present carbon dioxide levels are around 370 micrograms per liter, and are expected to increase to 570 micrograms per liter by mid-21st century if global warming is not reduced.

When they played around with poison ivy they found that it grew 150% faster, and produced 153% more urushiol, the substance that causes an allergic reaction. More than 80 percent of humans develop an itchy rash if exposed to poison ivy.

Not all plants grow this much faster with increased carbon dioxide exposure, but vining plants in particular have been observed to have increased growth rates worldwide. Unlike trees, vines have to devote relatively little energy to growing wood for support, and can instead pump the extra photosynthesis energy into leaf production.

Unfortunately, even if we stopped producing greenhouse gases today, the levels of carbon dioxide are expected to continue to rise for several decades. It seems unlikely that modern society will stop using fossil fuels in the immediate future, so best stock up on the Calamine Lotion.

 

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