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07/05/2006

A Holiday Mini-Column

On Monday, I received a call from StocksandNews Editor Brian
Trumbore suggesting I take the week off in view of the 4th of
July holiday. I welcomed the suggestion, not only because of the
respite from column writing but also because I am perplexed and
need some time to resolve an issue.

Last week I wrote about poison ivy and an experiment that
showed poison ivy grows faster in cordoned off forest areas in
North Carolina. In these particular areas, carbon dioxide was
piped in at a concentration predicted to be present in our
atmosphere by the middle of this century. Two days after
posting the column, I saw a headline in the June 30 Star-Ledger:
“Global warming won’t aid crop yields, study finds”. The
article, by Madeline Keleher of the Chicago Tribune, cites a
University of Illinois study published last week in Science. (I
haven’t received my copy of that issue yet.)

The Ledger article says that the researchers have found that
yields of corn grown under CO2 concentrations expected in 2050
were no larger than the yields for corn grown under today’s
conditions. If poison ivy grows so much more profusely under
extra CO2, why doesn’t corn behave the same way? I hope to
have an explanation next week.

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoyed the fireworks and/or other
holiday activities. Let’s all celebrate the fact that asteroid 2004
XP14 missed us on July 3– we would have had some really
spectacular fireworks! The asteroid, discovered in 2004, is
estimated to be about a half mile wide and sailed by only about
269,000 miles away, just a tad farther away than our Moon.
Astronomers predict that 2004 XP14 will pass us 10 more times
this century without any danger of hitting us – let’s hope they’re
right!

Allen F. Bortrum



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Dr. Bortrum

07/05/2006

A Holiday Mini-Column

On Monday, I received a call from StocksandNews Editor Brian
Trumbore suggesting I take the week off in view of the 4th of
July holiday. I welcomed the suggestion, not only because of the
respite from column writing but also because I am perplexed and
need some time to resolve an issue.

Last week I wrote about poison ivy and an experiment that
showed poison ivy grows faster in cordoned off forest areas in
North Carolina. In these particular areas, carbon dioxide was
piped in at a concentration predicted to be present in our
atmosphere by the middle of this century. Two days after
posting the column, I saw a headline in the June 30 Star-Ledger:
“Global warming won’t aid crop yields, study finds”. The
article, by Madeline Keleher of the Chicago Tribune, cites a
University of Illinois study published last week in Science. (I
haven’t received my copy of that issue yet.)

The Ledger article says that the researchers have found that
yields of corn grown under CO2 concentrations expected in 2050
were no larger than the yields for corn grown under today’s
conditions. If poison ivy grows so much more profusely under
extra CO2, why doesn’t corn behave the same way? I hope to
have an explanation next week.

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoyed the fireworks and/or other
holiday activities. Let’s all celebrate the fact that asteroid 2004
XP14 missed us on July 3– we would have had some really
spectacular fireworks! The asteroid, discovered in 2004, is
estimated to be about a half mile wide and sailed by only about
269,000 miles away, just a tad farther away than our Moon.
Astronomers predict that 2004 XP14 will pass us 10 more times
this century without any danger of hitting us – let’s hope they’re
right!

Allen F. Bortrum