Photosynthesis May Hold the Key in Solving Climate Change


According to NASA scientists, more than fifty percent of carbon dioxide generated worldwide is absorbed by tropical rain forests. This figure is much higher compared to previous scientific assessments.

“This is good news, because uptake in boreal forests is already slowing, while tropical forests may continue to take up carbon for many years,” said David Schimel, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and lead author of the study.

Tropical rain forests are responsible for absorbing 56 percent of the planets 2.5 billion tons of absorbed carbon dioxide every year, while indigenous snow or boreal forests of the continental US, found south of Canada and north of Mexico, account for only 38 percent of carbon dioxide absorption.

“All else being equal, the [carbon fertilization] effect is stronger at higher temperatures, meaning it will be higher in the tropics than in the boreal forests,” Schimel said.

Tropical forests are deemed capable of containing carbon dioxide, according to existing conditions. As we humans continue to increase our carbon dioxide production, the tropical forests are also increasing their absorbing capacity. The process is called carbon fertilization. The understanding is that if both the forest and CO2 emissions continue to expand at the same rate at present, the planet’s tree population will be able to neutralize any pollution that may emanate from the use of fossil fuels.

“Until our analysis, no one had successfully completed a global reconciliation of information about carbon dioxide effects from the atmospheric, forestry and modeling communities,” said co-author Joshua Fisher of JPL. “It is incredible that all these different types of independent data sources start to converge on an answer.”

Up to now, what the scientists have done were limited to the microscopic and local level. Their efforts were more concentrated on things such as photosynthesis, the paper confirmed. There were no attempts made to make a global confirmation until NASA stepped in and utilized all its computer resources.

“What we’ve had up till this paper was a theory of carbon dioxide fertilization based on phenomena at the microscopic scale and observations at the global scale that appeared to contradict those phenomena,” said Schimel. “Here, at least, is a hypothesis that provides a consistent explanation that includes both how we know photosynthesis works and what’s happening at the planetary scale.”

It is the belief of scientists that if they can find the process by which carbon dioxide is best absorbed, it could help solve the problem of climate change. “It has big implications for our understanding of whether global terrestrial ecosystems might continue to offset our carbon dioxide emissions or might begin to exacerbate climate change,” said co-author Britton Stephens of the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

According to one research, carbon dioxide is produced by both man and Mother Nature. Nature produces more carbon dioxide than humans. Decomposing objects and ocean respiration release more carbon dioxide than human activities such as fossil fuels, deforestation, and more. While the carbon dioxide produced by nature exists in a natural balance, it’s the ones that humans are producing that is responsible for upsetting the natural order of things.





  1. says

    Curbing deforestation and replanting are vital as are efforts to reduce our emissions. But currently there are too many Congressmen/women that deny climate change is a problem. They refuse to pass legislation to deal with this very real problem despite the overwhelming scientific evidence, despite the risks to our future generations. Make sure your reps in Congress aren’t among the obstructionists. Apathy/inaction effectively advocates for more of the same destructive behaviors. We can and MUST do better.

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