China and India’s Significant Environmental Contributions
China and India, number one and number four respectively on the list of world’s largest polluters, have been making efforts to be more environmentally conscious. In fact, a study published in the journal Nature Sustainability found “a greening pattern that is strikingly prominent in China and India and overlaps with croplands worldwide.”
The greening from China is mainly from forests and croplands. Forest expansion programs are being implemented in order to alleviate pollution, air degradation, and climate change. These changes account for an incredible 25% of the global net increase in leaf area. India’s contribution is mostly due to the expansion of croplands. Both countries have increased their food production by over 35% since 2000 due to increases in harvest area.
On February 11th, NASA released findings indicating that the world is significantly more green than it was 20 years ago. Researchers at Boston University discovered that the Earth has increased its green leaf area by 5 percent, which totals to about 5.5 million square kilometers.
Scientists and NASA researchers, like Rama Nemani, first thought the greening of the earth was “due to a warmer, wetter climate and fertilization from the added carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.” However, thanks to a twenty-year data record from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments on NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites, scientists can now see how humans are contributing to these environmental changes. Nemani believes that recent efforts have shown that humans are capable of fixing their own problems.
Researchers point out that these efforts do not solve all of our climate change issues. Professor Ranga Myneni from Boston University states that “the extra tree growth would not compensate for global warming, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, ocean acidification, the loss of Arctic sea ice, and the prediction of more severe tropical storms.” However, increasing the planet's greenery is a step in the right direction.