Another interesting article relating to global warming. This is from a 7 June 08 article, by Lawrence Solomon, executive director of Energy Probe. [Note: GPP measures the amount of new plant matter on land, while NPP is an annual tally of the globe’s production.]
According to a study that used (daily) satellite data from the last couple of decades, the Earth’s GPP are NPP are way up, and the planet is the greenest it’s been in decades, perhaps in centuries. In fact, according to two scientists from NASA and the University of Montana involved in analyzing the data, the Earth has become more bountiful by a whopping 6.2% over the last two decades; about 25% of the Earth’s vegetated landmass has enjoyed significant increases and only 7% had showed significant declines. A different picture from what we usually hear about, it would seem.
The GPP and NPP increases are owed to the warming of the planet and the presence of CO2, which enables plants to grow faster and larger and to live in drier climates. Further, Plants provide food for animals, which are thereby also enhanced. The extent and diversity of plant and animal life have both increased substantially during the past half-century. Increased temperature has also mildly stimulated plant growth.
The benefits of CO2 for the greening of the planet were also summarized in a report last month, released along with a petition signed by 32,000 U.S. scientists (including over 9,000 with PhDs) who vouched for the benefits of CO2.
From a sustainable “food production” perspective, it would seem that a little more CO2 in the atmosphere may actually be a good thing overall if we are concerned about production shortages. It is also interesting to note that this is very similar to the Earth having a feedback mechanism in place to deal with CO2 (i.e., the more CO2 in the atmosphere, the more green the planet becomes and the more CO2 is captured by that “greenery” – the oceans also capture much more CO2, but that’s another story there).