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New study finds that CO2 is increasing the rate by which the globe is greening, even under drought

The study found that increased plant growth, called "greening," accelerated in 55.15% of the globe, while browning, which is where plants are decreasing in greening, occurred in only 7.28%.

Published: February 12, 2024 11:00pm

A new study finds that human-caused carbon dioxide emissions are driving increased plant growth that’s greening the Earth, even in areas experiencing drought.

The peer-reviewed study, which was published in the scientific journal Global Ecology and Conservation, finds that the phenomenon known as “global greening” is an indisputable fact. The rate of global greening has increased slightly, and drought has only slowed, but not stopped, the process.

The study, which was done by Chinese and Australian researchers, attributes the greening to carbon dioxide fertilization as well as land management, such as irrigation. The opposite of greening is referred to as browning. The study found that greening acceleration occurred in 55.15% of the globe, while browning occurred in only 7.28%.

“Combined with meteorological variables, we found that CO2 change dominated the LAI [greening] trend,” the authors wrote.

The fact carbon dioxide emissions are stimulating plant growth is not a new finding. In 2016, a study in Nature Climate Change using NASA satellite data found that 25% to 50% of the Earth’s vegetated lands showed significant greening over the previous 35 years from when the study was done.

Gregory Wrightstone, executive director of the CO2 Coalition, told Just The News that global greening is among benefits of global warming that are ignored and dismissed because it doesn’t fit a narrative that climate change is causing a crisis.

“There’s a lot of people who make a lot of money on the backs of the false notion of a pending climate crisis,” Wrightstone said.

The CO2 Coalition, whose membership includes scientists with a variety of academic backgrounds — including Dr. John Clauser who won the Nobel Prize in 2022 — argues that climate change is not a crisis and can produce net positive benefits.

The group’s views of climate change have not been welcomed in mainstream circles. In March 2022, the group had purchased a booth at the National Science Teaching Association’s annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Though the booth had been approved, the group was ejected after attendees complained about their literature.

In 2018, a New York Times article argued that global greening, in the long run, is “terrible.” The reporter interviewed scientists who said that plants that take in more carbon dioxide may also release more of the gas at night in a process known as respiration. Plants stimulated with carbon dioxide, which some growers deliberately pump into their greenhouses to increase plant growth, may also be less nutritious.

The Times article speculates this could lead to widespread diseases from nutrient deficiencies. Since 1970, however, undernourishment in developing countries has steadily declined.

Jeff Reynolds, senior investigative researcher with Restoration of America, recently published a two-part investigative report on the entire climate debate, He told Just The News that benefits of increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and global warming are often denied.

“I understand the benefit of carbon dioxide, because I took eighth grade science,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said that the benefits of anything can come with costs and tradeoffs, but on balance, greening of the Earth is a positive outcome of carbon dioxide emissions.