Is it possible that, prior to hitting a thermal equilibrium in the atmosphere, the increase in CO2 that humanity puts out every year will come to an equilibrium due to the consumption by the world's plants, which may respond by growing, reproducing and feeding more off of the additional CO2 in the atmosphere at a faster rate?

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    $\begingroup$ Wow this is one single long sentence! Do you mind splitting up your question is several sentences in the hope of clarifying it? Note that a forest at its climax does not intake more carbon than it outtakes. Plants intake carbon from the atmosphere as they grow but this carbon is being released when they die. Definitely, not all forests are carbon sinks. $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Jul 30, 2017 at 4:34
  • $\begingroup$ Also consider that even if plants could lock the CO2 produced by mankind's use (which doesn't necessarily work that way as Remi.b notes), there's more deforestation and more urban development worldwide. We have less plants and trees so where will they come from? Plant growth is set at a certain rate by its genetic code even at optimum conditions. More CO2 doesn't speed up growth. $\endgroup$
    – Jude
    Jul 30, 2017 at 6:20
  • $\begingroup$ Well, what you should also consider isn't just the static environment that exists today, but rather how plants evolve, which maybe to intake more CO2. $\endgroup$
    – RayOfHope
    Jul 30, 2017 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ Oceans, rather than forests, are actually the largest carbon sink $\endgroup$
    – Flo
    Jul 31, 2017 at 8:03

1 Answer 1


Yes, with 2 caveats.

More CO2 encourages plant growth up to the local plants' limit. After that limit, the plants are saturated and extra CO2 backlogs into the air. If you intend to prevent atmospheric CO2 buildup, you're better off gradually supplying CO2 rather than deploying it in large surges.

The other caveat is dead trees and other plants that should be harvested or logged to make way for new growth (while providing lumber, fuel, and employment).


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