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"Plants Remove a Quarter of the Carbon Dioxide We Put in the Atmosphere"



(p. D5) "Global greening" sounds lovely, doesn't it?

Plants need carbon dioxide to grow, and we are now emitting 40 billion tons of it into the atmosphere each year. A number of small studies have suggested that humans actually are contributing to an increase in photosynthesis across the globe.

Elliott Campbell, an environmental scientist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his colleagues last year published a study that put a number to it. Their conclusion: plants are now converting 31 percent more carbon dioxide into organic matter than they were before the Industrial Revolution.


. . .


It's not just strawberries and other crops that are taking in extra carbon dioxide. So are the forests, grasslands and other wild ecosystems of the world.

When scientists take into account both extra photosynthesis and respiration, they estimate that plants remove a quarter of the carbon dioxide we put in the atmosphere.

"That's on par with what China emits," said Dr. Campbell. "And China is the biggest global polluter."

Even more remarkably, the plants have been scrubbing the same fraction of carbon dioxide out of the air even as our emissions explode.

"Every year we build more power plants, and every year the plants take out more CO2," Dr. Campbell said.



For the full story, see:

Zimmer, Carl. "MATTER; Why Global Greening Isn't as Great as It Sounds." The New York Times (Tuesday, July 31, 2018): D5.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date July 30, 2018, and has the title "MATTER; 'Global Greening' Sounds Good. In the Long Run, It's Terrible.")






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