The pumping of excessive carbon dioxide into the atmosphere has widely been presented as setting our planet on a path towards disaster.
But a new study has revealed rising levels of the greenhouse gas due to humanity’s actions is actually having a surprising side-effect – it is making the Earth greener.
Satellite data gathered over 33 years has shown there has been a ‘persistent and widespread increase’ in the growing season of plants.
Scientists say up to half of the world’s vegetated areas are now showing signs of increased leaf cover, with the majority caused by extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
They added that the extra greening that has occurred in the past 33 years is equivalent to adding a green continent twice the size of mainland USA – around 6.95 million square miles.
Professor Ranga Myneni, an earth scientist at Boston University who led the study, told MailOnline, however, this effect is unlikely to continue for ever.
He said while the additional plant growth was helping to soak up some of extra carbon being emitted into the atmosphere by human activity, it may start slowing down.
He said: ‘Currently, about a quarter of the 10 billion tons of carbon that we emit in to the air each year, are being stored in the body of trees and in the soils.
‘We do not know how long this will continue. This storage we do know is temporary.
‘Experiments have shown that the CO2 fertilisation effect is temporary.
‘The plants ultimately adjust to the higher levels of CO2 in the air.’
The researchers used data from the Nasa-Modis and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration AVHRR satellite sensors from the past 33 years.
They used this to construct computer models to mimic the plant growth observed in the satellite data.
Around 85 per cent of the ice-free land on the Earth’s surface is covered by vegetation. The area of all greenery on the Earth is equal to around 32 per cent of the entire surface of the Earth.
Dr Zaichun Zhu, a researcher at Peking University who also took part in the study, said: ‘The greening over the past 33 years reported in this study is equivalent to adding a green continent about two-times the size of mainland USA and has the ability to fundamentally change the cycling of water and carbon in the climate system.’
Humans are thought to be emitting around 10 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year.
Plants use carbon dioxide as part of the photosynthesis process to produce sugars by combining the gas with water using energy from sunlight.
These sugars form much of the structures in plants and ultimately provide a valuable food source to animals.
The researchers, whose work is published in the journal Nature Climate Change, say their findings are consistent with other studies that show how elevated carbon dioxide can increase plant growth.
They found that carbon dioxide fertilisation, as the effect is known, is responsible for 70 per cent of the observed greening trend.
They said nine per cent of the increased greening was due to extra nitrogen in the soil and eight per cent was due to climate change.
Four per cent of the greening was due to land cover change.
The impacts of increased carbon dioxide was most prevalent over the tropics, where many of the large expanse of rainforest can be found.
Climate change was responsible for additional greening mainly in higher latitudes where ice is melting and on the Tibetan Plateau.
However, they found the relationship between rising carbon dioxide levels and the increase in greening is complex rather than a simple correlation.
The results are likely to be seized upon by climate change sceptics who claim increasing carbon dioxide levels will not cause the levels of global warming predicted by many scientists.
However, the researchers behind the new study said the impact of plants in reducing global warming in recent years by moping up carbon dioxide may now start to decrease.
Dr Philippe Ciais, another co-author of the study and associate director of the Laboratory of Climate and Environmantl Sciences at Gif-suv-Yvette in France, said: ‘The fallacy of the contrarian argument is two-fold.
‘First, the many negative aspects of climate change, namely global warming, rising sea levels, melting glaciers and sea ice, more severe tropical storms, etc are not acknowledged.
‘Second, studies have shown that plants acclimatize, or adjust, to rising CO2 concentration and the fertilization effect diminishes over time.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3557905/Rising-carbon-dioxide-making-Earth-GREENER-Extra-plant-growth-greenhouse-gas-cover-USA-twice.html#ixzz46vr4nJkp
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7 thoughts on “Rising carbon dioxide is making the Earth greener”
A surprising effect? WTF? Am I the only person alive who was taught that plants use co2 to make oxygen in like kindergarten?
While I do agree that there are plenty of chemicals that don’t need to be put into the air, the focus on co2 has been comical to me.
I really hate people sometimes
ditto that……….look at commercial greenhouses….what do they pump into them to get those beautiful lush green plants…ta da….CO2!!! of course the depop agenda has to demonize the pro life compounds….. I LOVE CO2!!!
Only us conspiracy nuts & dissenters think facts & logic are the true reality.
This only makes sense, but a clever used-car salesman (Al Gore) convinced millions of idiots that carbon changes climate.
But of course, the lying Zionist rag has to cling to the “global warming” BS with any convenient lie:
“However, the researchers behind the new study said the impact of plants in reducing global warming in recent years by moping up carbon dioxide may now start to decrease.”
I personally do not believe,after all the contradictory statements,tomorrow or a year from now,it would be something else!! Ugh!
“Satellite data gathered over 33 years has shown there has been a ‘persistent and widespread increase’ in the growing season of plants.”
How much credence can anything with that number have?