Well, this is something you don’t read every day! We hear about deforestation, climate change, endangered species… but the Earth getting greener? Now that’s news! So turns out, the percentage of greenery on Earth has been on the rise for the last few decades due to the increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
According to a study published in Nature Climate Change, the carbon dioxide has reached all new highs in the atmosphere due to burning coal, oil, and natural gas. Back in 1800, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was at 280 parts per million (ppm); today, the level has reached 400 ppm. And while this sounds quite shocking, it actually has one up side! Carbon dioxide acts as a fertilizer for plants and greenery; it nurtures them and helps them grow. The study monitored satellite data from 1982 up till 2009 and found that 25 to 50% of the Earth has grown greener, and only 4% has become browner. Scientists attribute this to several factors: 70% due to carbon dioxide fertilization effect, 9% due to the extra nitrogen in the atmosphere, 8% due to warmer and wetter climates, etc.
Furthermore, another study done in 2010 published in New Phytologist showed that the decreased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere following the last ice age affected the growth of plant life by decreasing it up to 50%. The carbon dioxide impoverished atmosphere had around 180 to 200 ppm only. However, the increase in carbon dioxide levels lead to the increase in Earth’s temperature as well as to a boost in plant productivity.
Now surely, this is good news. Still, the good news isn’t all that good. According to Reason blog, the future effect of increased carbon dioxide levels on plant life will decrease and cease all together in time. Soon enough the growth will be limited due to the lack of other necessary nutrients for plant life. Moreover, this surge in greenery does not compensate for all the disastrous news including global warming, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, ocean acidification, loss of Arctic sea ice, and the predicted severe tropical storms.