Humans are increasing the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air through CO2 emissions. This is changing the climate, making life harder for many plants in areas that suffer from heat and drought. However, plants need CO2 to grow, and more CO2 can make them grow better. So will plants overall benefit from increased CO2 level or suffer from it?
We wanted to test if the positive effect would offset the negative ones. To do so, we used scientific models to calculate future crop production and water use of four important crops all over the world under different scenarios of CO2 emissions and climate change.
Our calculations show that although there will be large reductions in crop yield due to climate change over the next century, some crops will still be able to grow well. This is also because crops can grow with less water when CO2 levels are raised.