Submitted: 26 November 2012 Accepted: 17 December 2012 Published: 30 January 2013
Working in Japan with four cultivars of rice (Oryza sativa) at Shizukuishi in 2007 and 2008, and with eight cultivars at Tsukuba in 2010, Hasegawa et al. employed free-air CO2 enrichment or FACE technology to assess the effects of atmospheric CO2 enrichment to approximately 200 ppm above ambient - applied each day of the growing season from sunrise to sunset - on rice panicle density, spikelets per panicle, spikelet density, percent of ripened spikelets and single-grain mass, all under the real-world weather conditions that prevailed at these times and places.
The eighteen researchers report that the range of final CO2-induced yield enhancements of the several rice cultivars ranged from 3 to 36%; and they say that "all of the tested yield components contributed to this enhancement."
The fruits of Hasegawa et al.'s labors clearly indicate the extreme importance of concentrating rice breeding efforts on cultivars that have strong positive responses to rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations, because without the help of this highly effective aerial fertilizer, we have little hope of being able to meet the 70% increase in crop yields that will be needed to feed the people of the world a mere 37 years from now. And for the same reason, breeders of all of the other major food crops of humanity should be pursuing the same course of action as well. In addition, it should be clear to all that we really need the extra CO2 that is being pumped into the air by our burning of coal, gas and oil. (bold added)