A study published in Science Advances suggests that the world’s plants may absorb more atmospheric carbon dioxide from human activities than previously predicted. This is good news for the environment, but it does not mean that governments should take their foot off their obligations to reduce carbon emissions as quickly as possible. The study highlights the importance of conserving vegetation and planting more trees to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Plants absorb a considerable amount of carbon dioxide each year, curbing the harmful effects of climate change. However, it is unclear to what extent they will continue to absorb this gas in the future. Jürgen Knauer, leader of the research team, explains that a well-established climate model used to feed global climate predictions predicts stronger and more sustained carbon uptake until the end of the 21st century when considering critical factors that have been commonly ignored in most global models.
The study presents the results of modeling aimed at evaluating a high-emissions climate scenario, testing how vegetation carbon uptake would respond to global climate change until the end of the 21st century. Photosynthesis is the scientific term for the process in which plants convert carbon dioxide into sugars they use for growth and metabolism, serving as a natural mitigator of climate change by reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. This greater absorption of carbon dioxide is the main driver of the growing sink of this terrestrial element recorded in recent decades.
However, it is unclear how vegetation will respond to changes in gas, temperature, and precipitation, and this study aims to evaluate this in the context of climate change scenarios. Simply planting more trees and protecting existing vegetation is not a silver bullet, but research underscores their many benefits in mitigating climate change. It’s important for governments and individuals alike to take action now to reduce carbon emissions and protect our planet’s natural resources for future generations.