The said increase of Earth’s temperature is

           

The
planet’s ecosystem work in a complex balance. Global Warming, and its
associated temperature change affects this complex balance. The said increase
of Earth’s temperature is with the coherence of Greenhouse gases. CO2
concentrations influence how plants photosynthesize resulting in enhanced
photosynthetic capacity and increased in growth. “The effects of CO2
and Nitrogen increase on photosynthetic functions may contribute changes in
plant productivity, distribution, and diversity.” (Wang, 2013). Over the 20th
century, the atmospheric concentrations of key greenhouse gases increased due
to human activities. “The increased volumes of carbon dioxide and other
greenhouse gases released by the burning of fossil fuels, land clearing,
agriculture, and other human activities, are believed to be the primary sources
of the global warming that has occurred over the past 50 years.” (Goldenberg,
2014). As a result, the evidence has already cut into the global food supply
which UN considers as a distant threat. There are several solutions on how to
transform the uprising temperature to be beneficial for plants.

            A scientific discovery that can make
Global Warming as an aid for vegetative growth was made by Salk institute. They
launched a new initiative to improve on the ability of plants to suck carbon
dioxide out of the atmosphere and store it deep in the soil. They call it
“Harnessing Plants.” During the growing season, vegetative plants pull more
than 100 gigatons of carbon out of the atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis. Majority of the carbon
is eventually released back into the air as CO2 because consumption
of plants and burning it would make it a cycle, or they return to the soil
where bacteria and fungi cause them to decompose. One of the Salk team’s goals
is to find a way to help plants do a better job of taking the carbon they
absorb from the atmosphere and keeping it in the soil. The Salk team has
identified one particular plant made molecule, called suberin, that is highly
resistant to this degradation and can thereby remain in the soil. Suberin,
better known to wine aficionados as cork, is a waxy, water-repellant and
carbon-rich-substance, and is at the heart of the Salk team’s strategy to
address the problem of meeting human needs while reducing carbon in the
atmosphere. At the end of the season, the plants die and rot, releasing much of
that carbon back into the atmosphere. Carbon stored in suberin could
potentially stay in the soil for hundreds or even thousands of years. There are
two possible benefits: store more carbon and store it for a long time. A plant
biologist at Salk said that the initiative of their team is to enhance the
process of photosynthesis of the super plants up to 20 times.

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             Another
biotechnology research breakthrough was recently done by American scientists,
they completed a research which leads to the discovery of the ribulose 1,5-
bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (RuBisCO). “It is an unexpected solution for
global warming” (Tarko, 2016). RuBisCO is a more efficient variant of the key
enzyme involved in CO2 sequestration by plants during photosynthesis.
Scientific studies also were made by mutating specific amino acids within the
RuBisCO and then examining the if the change affected the CO2
conversion. “Such large changes in RuBisCO efficiency could potentially lead to
a faster plant growth, quicker sequestration of the CO2 from the air and more
efficient plant removal of greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere.” (Parikh,
2016). While RuBisCO is the most abundant enzyme in the world, it is also one
of the least efficient. RuBisCO is so slow that it can “capture” only
a few carbon dioxide molecules each second and it is the main limitation of the
rate by which plants produce energy. As Dr. Matsumura says, “All life
pretty much depends on the function on this enzyme. It actually has had
billions of years to improve, but remains about a thousand times slower than
most other enzymes. Plants have to make tons of it just to stay alive.”  Instead of creating a new photosynthetic
process entirely, you could take a shortcut by making plants’ existing energy
processes more efficient, says Krishna Niyogi, a UC Berkeley biologist also
affiliated with the Howard Hughes Medical Center and the Lawrence Livermore
National Laboratory.

            Green leaves use energy from
sunlight through photosynthesis to chemically combine carbon dioxide drawn in
from the air with water and nutrients tapped from the ground to produce sugars,
which are the main source of food, fiber and fuel for life on Earth. Studies
have shown that increased concentrations of carbon dioxide increase
photosynthesis, spurring plant growth. While rising carbon dioxide
concentrations in the air can be beneficial for plants, it is also the chief
culprit of climate change.

            To conclude all of these studies,
the effect of greenhouse gases merely benefited us. The positive impacts
mentioned could not level out the degree of negative impacts that will more
likely show out in the future. In the long term, multiple experts told
SciCheck, an online article news, the positive effect of increased CO2
on crops will diminish and the negative impacts of climate change, such as
higher temperatures and extreme rainfall, will grow. Hatfield from NASA stated
that plants would reach CO2 saturation at around 550 to 600 ppm, at
which point the more gas “won’t be as beneficial.” Surely it is good for
biotech engineered plants to gain large amounts of carbon dioxide, but experts
around the world indicated it is a temporary solution for a long-term problem.

            Overall, every expert SciCheck spoke
with said the net impact of CO2 and climate change will leave crop production
and quality worse off in the future, not better. Only the future generations
can tell whether all the solutions we brought out today would be effective. It
is still in argument whether global warming could be prevented just by
engineered plants or devices. I take the side of today’s research initiative in
which engineered plants can make benefit out of a present problem. CO2
and greenhouse gases’ growth are inevitable. All we can do is to lessen the
possible impact of it, for the better good of future generations. We may not
know it, but someone may or has already found a solution for this problem.

References:

·        
US EPA. 2011.
Agriculture and Food Supply: Climate change, health and environmental
effects.  April 14, 2011. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/effects/agriculture.html

·        
Brookes, G and P
Barfoot. 2012. Global economic and environmental benefits of GM crops continue
to rise. http://www.pgeconomics.co.uk/page/33/global-impact-2012

·        
Sanghera, GS, S H Wani,
W Hussain, and N B Singh. 2011. Engineering cold stress tolerance in crop
plants. Curr Genomics 12 (1): 30-43. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3129041/?tool=pubmed

·        
Fridman, E. and Zamir,
D. (2012) Next-generation education in crop genetics. Curr. Opin. Plant Biol.
15, 218–223.

·        
IPCC. Summary for
policymakers. In: Field CB, Barros VR, Dokken DJ, et al., eds. Climate Change
2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral
Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, United Kingdom and New
York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press; 2014.

·        
Gornall J, Betts R,
Burke E, et al. Implications of climate change for agricultural productivity in
the early twenty-first century. Philos Trans R Soc B Biol Sci.
2010;365(1554):2973-2989.

 

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