Global Greening

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The amounts of carbon dioxide in our air supply has been steadily increasing over the past one hundred years or so. We have also been experiencing the negative effects that it has caused- melting polar ice caps, decreases in food supply, higher temperatures than we have ever experienced before, etc. This is just a short list of all the terrible things that are happening to our world because of the high levels of this gas in our atmosphere, and there is no denying that our climate is definitely changing. But a new study shows that there is one tiny positive effect about this high level of carbon dioxide, and it is known as global greening.

Recently a study was published in the Nature Climate Change that talks about global greening. It shows that we have experienced a huge increase in the amount of plants and trees that have been growing in our world, and goes on to share that the reason behind this increase is the larger amounts of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. An international team consisting of 32 researchers from 24 institutions used data from NOAA-AVHRR and NASA-MODIS satellite sensors and discovered that over a period of 33 years, Earth has experienced an increase of 25 to 50 percent of its land becoming significantly greener. The study went on to share that if we laid out all the green leaves on Earth, it would cover around 32 percent of the whole planet, and that the drastic increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere went from 220 parts per million at the beginning of the industrial revolution increased to 403 parts per million. To get a visual image, that increase has added the amount of leaves needed to cover the United States twice.

But the large amounts of carbon dioxide is not the only reason behind this global greening. Researchers used computer models and found that the carbon is responsible for 70 percent of the growth, nitrogen is responsible for 9 percent, the climate change is responsible for 8 percent and changes in the way we use our land is responsible for about 4 percent of it. Those who do not believe in global warming have taken ahold of this new study to back up their beliefs. They feel that the increase in carbon dioxide is actually having a positive effect on our environment, hence the global greening. But this will diminish over time, researchers shared that although plants may adapt to the increases of carbon levels, they will still become limited due to lack of nutrients and water.

The co-author of the study from the Laboratory of Climate and Environmental Sciences in France, Dr. Philippe Cias shared, “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.” 

Although global greening sounds like a good thing, the increase in carbon dioxide and the continuing of global warming is not. The permafrost of the northern hemisphere is now starting to thaw out which is causing large amounts of methane to be released in the atmosphere, and there is nothing beneficial about that for plants or for us. 

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