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What’s the effect of climate change on plants?

DALLAS (SMU) – Plants need CO2 to live. But we are emitting way too much for plants to absorb.

Bonnie Jacobs

Bonnie Jacobs, a professor of earth sciences at SMU (Southern Methodist University), made this point and others in a recent interview with “Healthy Living Healthy Planet Radio.” Jacobs, who is a noted expert in paleobotany, was asked to weigh in on what climate change might mean for plants in the near future.

By studying fossil plants, paleobotanists can not only better understand past climates, but they can also get a sense of what future climate change could look like.

Jacobs said the climate change we are seeing – precipitated by higher levels of greenhouse gases, especially CO2, emitted into our atmosphere from cars, power plants that burn fuels – will “definitely have a detrimental effect for some plants.”

In some parts of the world, that will be because drought will become more common as the temperature increases, making it harder for native plants to survive. In other parts of the world, it could be because rains become too heavy for plants to grow.

“Life finds ways to adapt.  And if a species cannot adapt, it will go extinct. This is kind of the natural way of the living world,” Jacobs notes. “The really big problem is that we have over 7.5 billion people on this planet right now, and we are living through a very drastic change because the change is happening so quickly with regard to climate.”

You can hear the interview here.


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