The Fruits of Civilization (67-5) Plants to the Rescue

 Plants to the Rescue

Plants have been giving us a chance to mend our ways. Global warming and rising CO2 have been met with a wash of greenery all over the world.

While plants appreciate the present climate change, vegetation will not be our salvation. Changing patterns of rainfall mean that lush times are limited, and the hotting up will prove too much for all concerned. Boreal and tropical forests alike will succumb to the swelter. Meanwhile, thawing tundra spells massive methane release, as soil that has locked greenhouse gases away for millions of years yields to the heat.

The verdant window of opportunity is already shut. Plants are less of a global force against warming than they were at the turn of the 21st century. Already, tropical forests contribute more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than they remove, thanks to deforestation and a decline in diversity among the remaining trees.

Atmospheric carbon correlates with moisture. During dry years, natural ecosystems remove 30% less carbon from the air than during a normal year.

To much of life’s detriment, Earth becoming more arid accelerates warming in a positive feedback loop. Vegetative suffering from drought related to atmospheric CO2 has not been factored into climate models, which is another way that extant projections underestimate future global warming.