The first number is the number of billions of dollars ($140B) in benefit that carbon dioxide added to global crop production in 2011.
The second is how many trillions of dollars ($3.2T) in benefits that CO2 added to global crop production between 1961 and 2011.
The third number is how many trillions of dollars ($9.8T) in benefits that carbon dioxide is projected to add to global crop production over the next 50 years.
In other words, as atmospheric CO2 has increased in recent decades, it has supported economic prosperity and the well-being of families and individuals by bolstering agricultural production around the world.
These figures come from a study of the impact on global agricultural production caused by the additional carbon dioxide that has been emitted into the atmosphere over the last five decades. As the researcher notes, these estimates are based on “literally thousands of laboratory and field studies” (emphasis his) that have “conclusively shown” that increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide “stimulate plant productivity and growth, as well as … foster certain water-conserving and stress-alleviating benefits.” Importantly, the researcher notes that these benefits of CO2 are not included in “state-of-the-art” economic estimates of the “social cost of carbon.”
Just as actual observations of temperature have drawn into question the theoretical models that predict disastrous levels of warming from man-made climate change, so this study draws into question the basic usefulness of economic studies that predict dramatic costs from catastrophic warming. Few “progressives” like to recognize this inconvenient truth, but in reality CO2 is not only essential for life to exist, but improves human lives through its effects on agriculture and plant life. Reasonable dialogue on environmental policy ought to recognize this fact as it seeks to find the best approach to environmental stewardship for the human beings that public policy is meant to serve.