How does rising atmospheric CO2 affect marine organisms?

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McKemy Junior High School:
Pothos plants in six 10-gallon aquariums

By Meg Davis with Sherwood B. Idso


Experiment Description



For much of the past two years, I have been employing the Poor Man's Biosphere technique of atmospheric CO2 enrichment and depletion in several of my eighth-grade science classes in a cooperative "technology transfer" program developed by Dr. S. B. Idso of the USDA's U.S. Water Conservation Laboratory.  Specifically, we have conducted several experiments with the common Devil's Ivy or Golden Pothos (Scindapsus aureus) plant that enables aspiring science students to get first-hand experience in doing research on a pressing societal problem related to the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 concentration.

I begin each of these experiments by devoting a class period to discussing the broad issue of global environmental change, starting with the subject of potential CO2-induced climate change and ending with the topic of the direct effects of atmospheric CO2 enrichment on plant growth and development.  Then I tell the class about the fact that Dr. Idso's work has made it possible for us to do an actual experiment of our own that may shed some light on the biological consequences of this important issue.  And then we begin.

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