Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Science lessons from plants

Tonight I went out into my garden, just as Rick Santorum suggested, to talk to my plants. (By the way, congratulations Rick on Mississippi and Alabama!) I told the plants that carbon dioxide was dangerous, just as Rick Santorum said I should tell them. To my surprise, the plants backed up Santorum 100%. "Dangerous?" asked my plants. "Are you kidding? We love carbon dioxide. The more we get, the faster we grow. We eat the stuff up like candy."

After I got over the shock of hearing my plants respond to my assertion, I will admit I was kind of discouraged, since I am one of the people who has been taken in by the world-wide conspiracy of climate scientists who say that man-made carbon emissions are contributing to global warming. Were my plants really telling me not to worry about that?

Just as I was starting to turn back to the house, one of my plants reminded me there might still be cause for concern. "Don't forget," said the plant, "we're just plants. We don't find carbon dioxide dangerous. But you might."

I slapped my forehead. "Of course," I said to the plant. "You're . . . a plant. I'm a human being. Just because you say that carbon dioxide is good for you doesn't mean it's good for me. Maybe it's like those studies done on mice that don't necessarily extrapolate to humans."

"It's worse than that," explained the plant. "Weren't you paying attention in biology class? Mice and humans both take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide, while plants do the opposite. Carbon dioxide is actually poisonous to humans, though not in the minute quantities found in the air."

"Oh yeah, I do vaguely remember something about that."

"One more thing," the plant told me. "Even if breathing carbon dioxide were perfectly safe, that has nothing to do with whether increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are contributing to global warming. We plants love all the carbon dioxide, but we are going to wilt pretty fast if the heat turns everything to a desert around here. So turn down the carbon dioxide a bit, will you?"

"Wow," I responded. "You're pretty smart, for a plant. It's amazing to find a plant more knowledgeable than a presidential candidate."

"In this case," said the plant, "that's not saying much."

(still from Little Shop of Horrors)


  1. I have been talking to my plants since I was a leftie smokin' lettuce at university. Our voices and nuturing make then grow faster and maintain better health. Still, I have never had one speak back to me. I'm jealous.

    1. You were smoking lettuce back at university, and it never spoke back to you? Maybe you didn't inhale sufficiently.

    2. Ha! It wasn't for a lack of trying. I had those macrame plant holders with hanging charlies all of the place. It was like a jungle.