An anonymous reader points us to an Ars Technica report: For the most part, we think of rising levels of carbon dioxide as an environmental problem. But atmospheric CO2 can also boost agricultural productivity by helping plants grow. How do these potential issues balance out? In an investigation recently published in Nature Climate Change, scientists have looked into the global implications of carbon dioxide's ability to enhance agricultural productivity. Increased levels of CO2 can enhance photosynthesis and reduce leaf-level transpiration, the process by which some of the water that plants draw from the ground gets released back into the atmosphere. These changes can reduce growing seasons and water loss. The result could be an increase in what's called "crop water productivity," i.e. the amount of food produced for each unit of water expended. If elevated CO2 levels increase crop yield and reduce water consumption at large scales, this could help ensure water and food security despite the climate disruptions. By combining data from a massive network of field experiments and global crop models, the scientists claimed that depending on the crop type, global crop water productivity will increase by 10 to 27 percent by the 2080s. Arid regions exhibited large increases that were based on crop type.
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