Observing that the world is a greener place than it was 20 years ago, a NASA study has revealed that China and India are leading the global greening efforts, which is quite contrary to the general perception worldwide. The effect stems mainly from ambitious tree planting programs in China and intensive agriculture in both countries. According to the study, recent satellite data (2000-2017) has revealed a greening pattern that is strikingly prominent in China and India and overlaps with croplands world-wide. The NASA study was published on Monday in the journal Nature Sustainability.
Here Are 10 Points About The NASA Study On Global Greening
- China and India account for one-third of the global greening, but contain only 9% of the planet’s land area covered in vegetation.
- 42% and 32% of the greening in China is from forests and croplands, respectively. On the other hand, in India it is mostly from croplands (82%) with minor contribution from forests (4.4%).
- China is engineering ambitious programmes to conserve and expand forests in an effort to reduce the effects of soil erosion, air pollution and climate change.
- Over the last two decades, the global greening has increased in leaf area on plants and trees equivalent to the area covered by all the Amazon rainforests. Compared to early 2000s, there is a 5% increase with more than two million square miles of extra green leaf area per year.
- Since 2000, food production in China and India has increased by over 35% to feed their large population. This was achieved through multiple cropping practices, fertiliser use and surface- and/or groundwater irrigation.
- According to a research scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center and a co-author of the study, Rama Nemani, when the greening of the Earth was first observed, NASA thought it was due to a warmer, wetter climate and fertilization from the added carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
- A two-decade-long data record from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites showed that human activities also contribute in the process of global greening.
- In the 1970s and 80s in India and China, the situation around vegetation loss was not good. Nemani further stated that in the 1990s, people realised it, and things have improved today.
- The researchers also pointed out that the gain in greenness around the world does not necessarily offset the loss of natural vegetation in tropical regions such as Brazil and Indonesia.
- There are consequences for sustainability and biodiversity in those ecosystems beyond the simple greenness of the landscape.