BEACON TRANSCRIPT – While we all know about the threat of rising carbon dioxide emissions, a new study has found that CO2 also makes our planet greener. This added greening process might cover twice the size of the United States.
Climate skeptics were quick to argue that the findings are meant to encourage the use of carbon emission by exposing some benefits. The scientists who conducted the study were quick to reply that even these greening effects of carbon dioxide diminish in time, and the negative consequences are still greater than the positive ones.
The team of researchers was comprised of 33 scientists coming from eight different countries. Together, they analyzed data from satellites covering the last 33 years. In this way, they were able to demonstrate that one-fourth of the land of our planet has experienced significant greening, as in both tree and plant leaves. This effect has the potential of slowing down climate change, as more plants can draw more carbon dioxide from the air.
According to lead author of the study and researcher at the Peking University Zaichun Zhu,
“The greening … is equivalent to adding a green continent about two-times the size of mainland USA (18 million square kilometers), and has the ability to fundamentally change the cycling of water and carbon in the climate system.”
The team made use of computer modeling in order to recreate the growth of plants as seen on the satellite data. Their research did not link greening with the carbon capacity storage of plants, but other studies have found a connection of “a greening Earth” with the growing carbon sink. The researchers concluded that plants have the capability of adapting to the carbon dioxide emissions, and thus the fertilization effect diminishes in time.
Other factors to take into consideration are land management, climate change, and nitrogen fertilization, which all contribute to the greening of our planet. Lead author and professor at the Boston University Ranga Myneni believes that added tree growth cannot compensate for global warming, ocean acidification, glacial melting and rising sea levels.
The warming of our planet releases carbon dioxide through soil drying, permafrost thawing, the rising organic matter decomposition in soil and the decreased photosynthesis. All of these have serious consequences on tropical vegetation. While the findings published in the Nature Climate Change journal prove once again the adaptability of nature, they also urge humans to limit the warming below the 2C levels and thus respect the objectives of the Paris agreement.
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