When you see rolling hills of lush, green grass and trees, you probably think to yourself, “right on!” Well, don’t celebrate just yet because apparently, a greener Earth is actually a bad thing.
All this confusing research comes from a new study that was printed in the journal Nature Climate Change. The big conclusion of the study was, yes, the Earth has become significantly greener over the past 33 years, but that greening is because of all the carbon dioxide humans have been pumping into the air.
Scientists came to their conclusion by using “satellites to examine vegetation growth over time, assuming that the extra green is coming from leaves on plants and trees,” Grist reports.
“Using a computer model to estimate leaf growth, they find the extra greening is equivalent to adding about 18 million square kilometers of vegetated land to the globe, more than twice the area of the mainland U.S.”
So, this growth is happening because of the extra CO2 in the air. “Plants use sunlight for energy and convert CO2 (plus water) into sugar, which is stored for food,” Grist adds. “In a naive sense, more CO2 means more food for plants (this is called carbon dioxide fertilization), so there’s more growth.”
Now, technically, Earth greening isn’t so bad—plants love soaking up carbon. But the problem is, there’s no way all of Earth’s plants can soak up all the carbon we’re releasing. “All that extra plant growth can’t keep up with the 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide humans dump into the atmosphere every year,” Grist explains. Also, another problem: A lot of the world’s greening is happening in the arctic. Yeah, that’s not good.
So, let’s hope humans will actually find a way we all can agree on that will help us cut carbon emissions extensively so the planet can green naturally–and, you know, not die.
Related on EcoSalon
Image of green forest via Shutterstock