It was reported today in this weeks Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that posion ivy will be getting "meaner" as the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere increases over the next forty or fifty years. Why is this? Apparently because when you provide the plant more nutrients (such as CO2) it grows larger. (Of course, this will be caused by global warming. Of course, the "amount" of CO2 added is based on "estimated" increases in CO2 related to man descruction of the environment. Hmmm... Seems like we're doing poison ivy a favor.)
The lead author of the study, one Jacqueline E. Mohan, a post-doctoral scientist at the Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory, at Woods Hole, Mass. said "It makes the forest an even scarier place, but not just forest -- backyards too. Poison ivy is a remarkable plant. It can grow just about anywhere." (Hmmm, just like weeds...)
(Just in case you were interested, the oil (urushiol - from the Japanese word "urushi" for lacquer) produced by the various related poison plants such as poison ivy and sumac is composed of a saturated and unsaturated component. The saturated component causing more irritation than the unsaturated component. Apparently the larger plant produces more of the staturated component than today's varieties.)
I bet the Poison Ivy pictured above would also get larger (and perhaps meaner as well) if her nutrition were significantly increased over the same six year study.
I recall solving problems similar to this in third grade as part of my "politically incorrect" education.
Question: Given more food a plant will (1) grow larger, (2) stay the same, or (3) not grow as large.
I distinctly recall the sarcasim of the nuns when students would not correctly answer questions such as this.
More troubling, however, is that this passes for science in today's world. (And Google found 245 related articles - all which more or less reprint the basic press release.)