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Here's to Your Health! ... Courtesy of Carbon Dioxide
Volume 15, Number 18: 2 May 2012

At the turn of the last millennium, when our father was still an actively-working researcher, he and five colleagues grew common spider lily (Hymenocallis littoralis) plants out-of-doors at the U.S. Water Conservation Laboratory in Phoenix, Arizona. This they did for two consecutive two-year cycles, within clear-plastic-wall open-top chambers that had their atmospheric CO2 concentrations continuously maintained at either the normal concentration, which at their urban site was about 400 ppm, or at an enriched level of 700 ppm. Then, at the ends of each of the two-year periods, they harvested the bulbs produced by the plants and measured their biomass, along with the concentrations of several substances they contained that had previously been proven to be effective in fighting various human maladies.

In doing so, they found that the 75% increase in the air's CO2 concentration resulted in a 48% increase in aboveground plant biomass and a 56% increase in belowground bulb biomass. In addition, the extra CO2 also increased the concentrations of five bulb constituents that possessed anti-cancer and anti-viral properties. These substances are listed in table below, along with the percentage increases they each exhibited, which when considered in their totality yield a mean increase of 12%. And combined with the 56% increase in bulb biomass, the net result was a mean active-ingredient increase of 75% due to the 75% increase in the air's CO2 concentration.

Table 1. Percentage increases in the concentrations of cancer-fighting substances found in the bulbs of common spider lilies in response to a 75% increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration.

Substance Percent Increase
One to one mixture of 7-deoxynarciclasine and 7-deoxy-trans-dihydronarciclasine 6%
Pancratistatin 8%
Trans-dihydronarciclasine 8%
Narciclasine 28%

What is especially exciting about these findings is that the substances the six scientists studied have been demonstrated to be effective in fighting a number of debilitating human diseases, including leukemia, ovary sarcoma, melanoma, brain cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, renal cancer, Japanese encephalitis, yellow fever, dengue fever, Punta Tora fever and Rift Valley fever, as reported (with pertinent supporting citations) in their paper. Furthermore, there is reason to believe that many other such substances in other medicinal plants may also be benefited by atmospheric CO2 enrichment. See, for example, Health Effects (CO2 - Health-Promoting Substances: Medicinal Plants in our Subject Index. This larger body of work also points to the tantalizing possibility that there may be a number of still other health-promoting substances in the tissues of the foods we regularly eat that may additionally have their concentrations enhanced by the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 concentration. And indeed there are, as may readily be seen by perusing the items archived under Health Effects (CO2 - Health-Promoting Substances: Common Food Plants in our Subject Index. And these findings lead to our speculation that the ever-lengthening life-span of people all around the world may well be due, at least in part, to the historical - and still ongoing - rise in the air's CO2 content.

So here's to our health ... and the health of our children's children ... courtesy (in part) of the atmosphere's steadily rising carbon dioxide concentration; for if the world's climate alarmists can attribute nearly everything bad that happens nowadays, to the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content, surely we can point out a possible benefit or two. And the potential benefit we describe here is a huge one.

Craig and Keith Idso

Idso, S.B., Kimball, B.A., Pettit III, G.R., Garner, L.C., Pettit, G.R. and Backhaus, R.A. 2000. Effects of atmospheric CO2 enrichment on the growth and development of Hymenocallis littoralis (Amaryllidaceae) and the concentrations of several antineoplastic and antiviral constituents of its bulbs. American Journal of Botany 87: 769-773.