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Green acres are getting greener

06 Nov 2019 | Science Notes

It's been known for years that adding CO2 to the air improves plant growth, which is not surprising since CO2 is plant food. The greening of the Earth is so strong it can be measured by satellites, and the data show it's mostly due to all the extra CO2 we've added. This is good news, right? Yes, although a few naysayers argue that the leaf area index measured by satellites doesn't necessarily mean agriculture has benefited, since extra greenery might not automatically mean higher plant yields in agricultural zones. But new satellite records show the farmers are benefiting as much as the forests, perhaps even twice as much.

The authors of the new study took the satellite measurements and divided them pixel-by-pixel into natural vegetation areas and agricultural zones. Then they compared the greening trends. The first line of their summary says it all: "Global cropland is greening and trends are twice that of natural vegetation."

Plants seem to like carbon dioxide, and farmers are (not surprisingly) good at taking advantage of the improved growing conditions. And as if that wasn't enough good news for one day, they also found "Agricultural greening trends in less developed regions are greater than in developed regions."

One thing that is generally overlooked in climate doom-and-gloom scenarios is just how much life has improved on the Earth in the last, warming century including the reduction in absolute poverty despite the growth in absolute population. There are many reasons including technological change. But one very often overlooked one is that harvests have become inherently more bountiful thanks to “carbon pollution”, especially where they were worst due to altitude, heat or lack of moisture.

So the Earth is greening, food-producing lands are greening twice as fast as the rest, and food-producing lands in developing countries are greening even faster. And this, we're told, is a crisis. The only crisis is the political correctness that prevents people from realizing that this is good news for humanity.

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