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Global WarmingScience

Climate Change and Weed Biology

There are so many ramifications of climate change, many of which we’re probably not even aware of yet. Over on one of our sister sites, ecoscraps, Heather Carr recently wrote about one such ramification:

Weed biology and climate change is a hot topic among plant scientists. The potential effects of increasing carbon dioxide on plants is being studied for both its potential benefits and drawbacks.

Dr. Lewis Ziska and Dr. Jeffrey Dukes edited the recently released book, “Weed Biology and Climate Change”, which examines the effects of global warming on noxious weeds.

An interview of Dr. Dukes on these topics was published on the Wiley-Blackwell Life Sciences blog, and in it Dr. Dukes notes that while a weed is just a plant growing in a place you don’t want it to grow, the weeds talked about in the book above could actually cause serious economic and environmental damage.

Note something we want to have to deal with.

Related story: Climate Change Also Making Food Less Safe

Photo Credit: Gwen<3you




4 comments
  1. Alex Cull

    The Ziska/Dukes book looks interesting; however, what I’ve noticed is that where climate change is mentioned as the cause of bad things happening in the future, what is often not emphasised is that in some cases, the bad things are already a serious problem for reasons other than climate change, and the degree to which they might be made worse – or not – by up to a couple of degrees’ rise in global average temperatures is not certain.

    Invasive weeds are a good example – these have become a world-wide environmental problem, and clearly the main reason for this is that people and goods have, in recent times, been able to move freely around the globe in ways that just did not exist even a few decades ago. Here’s an example from an Australian website, which describes the situation in New South Wales:

    http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/journal/invasive-weeds-worse-than-climate-change.htm

    “Exotic plants rank as the second biggest threat to the state’s native species after land clearing, according to the report. Most of the 340 weeds most harmful to the environment were deliberately introduced as garden plants and only 20 per cent of these are banned from sale across all or part of the state.”

    In my opinion, this is another example of where money spent on CO2 mitigation would be better spent on directly addressing existing environmental problems, in cases where we know full well what the problem is and what is causing it (also bearing budget constraints in mind, i.e. governments and corporations cannot do everything they would want to.) If a government had, let’s say for argument’s sake, 100 million dollars that they could either use on CO2 mitigation strategies (CCS, etc.) or put towards controlling or eradicating some of the most destructive weeds (Japanese knotweed, for example, or water hyacinth) I think the latter would do much more good in the world, by far.

  2. Jay B.

    I do agree that there are many things that can actually affect our lives as they have been developed by climate changes and we still do not know about them. The biodiversity can change so unexpectedly we can hardly imagine in these days. Let´s give the support to scientists to discover more about it!

  3. Nicholas

    Your opinion would be better if it was backed up with facts. Weeds are symptoms of climate change, not the cause. Most (if not all) have positive ecological benefits. Look in the mirror, and contrast that with what you see there. Weeds are our friends, the friends of birds and wildlife, moderators of climate, inhalers of CO2 and exhalers of oxygen. The war on weeds is heavily funded by big agriculture (why? they make the herbicides!) Think for yourself, look around, and don’t be afraid to call them on this. In addition, you should look up ‘displacement’ and ‘scapegoat’.

    1. Zachary Shahan

      Nicholas, I’m not sure why you think I called them a ’cause’ of climate change… I’ll double-check to see if there was a typo. The point is that they are a symptom. But not simple weeds like you are defending… have you looked at the interview linked?

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