Good News About Carbon Dioxide
Human generated carbon dioxide is being absorbed by trees in tropical climates at faster rates than previously thought, according to a new study released by NASA. This is unexpected good news for us and our planet.
From NASA’s statement:
“A new NASA-led study shows that tropical forests may be absorbing far more carbon dioxide than many scientists thought, in response to rising atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas. The study estimates that tropical forests absorb 1.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide out of a total global absorption of 2.5 billion — more than is absorbed by forests in Canada, Siberia and other northern regions, called boreal forests.”
The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America (PNAS). As emissions add more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, forests worldwide are using CO2 to grow faster. This was understood to be the case regarding the younger trees in the forests of the world, as they need more of the greenhouse gas to fuel their growth. But this study revealed that the rate of absorption by mature trees is higher than previous estimates. Specifically, forests in warmer climates are absorbing more CO2 than previously understood in a process called “carbon fertilization.”
With the study comes a strong warning. Changes in water supply to forests due to changing climate and deforestation could alter the amount of carbon dioxide tropical forests are absorbing. So if the tropical rain forests of the planet are helping to mitigate some of the effects of human forcing of the climate, the world should take a much greater interest and investment in protecting, preserving, and re-establishing as much of the tropical forests as possible.