FREEDOM ON A GREENING EARTH
There is an epidemic of fear about climate change. There is, however, some good news that has provided relief to millions of people.
What is the single most fundamental measure of global change? What metric can tell us if a changing climate will allow enough food production to liberate the world’s growing population from hunger?
The answer is GLOBAl greening.
Global Greening is a measure of leaves covering the Earth. This metric indicates whether the Earth’s plants can feed 8 billion people and support wildlife.
The single most fundamental measure of “global change” of practical interest to humankind
is change in terrestrial biological productivity.
Biological productivity is the source of all the food, fiber, and fuel that humans survive on, so it defines most fundamentally the habitability of Earth. ~ NASA
Leaf cover indicates the Net Primary Productivity of the Earth. Since 1982, climate scientists have been using satellite data to measure biological productivity from space.
Many people, when they think of Climate Change, think of increasing deserts (desertification), decreasing crop yields, increasing starvation, and climate refugees. In short, they think the earth is becoming browner and thus incapable of feeding growing populations.
But what does the data show?
By astonishingly good luck, the Earth has been getting greener for at least 40 years. Scientists from around the world, using NASA and NOAA satellite images, have shown how Earth is significantly greener today than it was in 1983. Although some areas are getting browner (around 4%, according to Zhu, et al, 2016) most vegetated land is getting greener. A lot greener.
Even more amazing is that this greening trend is expected to continue for the rest of the century. The even better news is that, in many cases, greening leads to cooling.
Global Greening means crop productivity is going up. This means there is more food to feed people. It means more habitat for wildlife and decreased desertification.
How do we know?
If you are like many people, you may not have heard of global greening. You may see land being turned into shopping centers or images of the Amazon rainforest being chopped down or fires wiping out forests. While it is true that parts of the planet are getting browner, 40 years of NASA data show that, overall, the Earth is getting greener. Astonishingly, the hundreds of studies analyzing satellite data all show that, overall, the Earth is getting greener. A recent study shows that over 70% of the vegetated parts of the Earth are greener (Chen, 2019).
The images below are taken from hundreds of studies showing this greening trend (see below for links.). These studies show that climate change is real and that, while climate change offers many challenges, it also benefits humanity and wildlife in many ways.
earth is greening
Images of global greening from various peer-reviewed journal articles (see below).
How do scientists measure the greening of the Earth?
They use satellites to measure leaf cover over land. This Leaf Area Index (𝜹𝑳𝑨𝑰) is a measure of the leaf area (one side of the leaf) measured in square meters of leaf per square meter of land.
The image above shows those areas with more or less leaf coverage in 2018 compared to the year 2000. The areas in green have accumulated more leaves, while those areas marked in brown have fewer leaves. The above image is from a review of over 190 papers by Piao, S., et al. (2019) Characteristics, drivers and feedbacks of global greening. Nature Reviews Earth & Environment,
Leaf Area Increasing
Scientists use many different methods to detect this greening. Results from each of these different methods show that the global annual leaf cover has been increasing since 1982. Since 1982, the amount of added leaf coverage added to the Earth is equivalent in area to an area three times the size of the United States!
BENEFITS OF GLOBAL GREENING
Many are surprised to learn that climate change is, in fact, greening the Earth, (especially in dry areas) and increasing crop yields.
The benefits of Global Greening are many:
- more food grown on less land
- more food and habitat for wildlife
- overall cooling effect
- CO2 sequestration builds soil health
- greening is expected through the rest of this century
A greening earth means more food for more people on less land, more land for wildlife, a cooling effect, and more rainfall. In short, Global Greening suggests global flourishing for many areas of the world. Furthermore, satellite information can help predict trouble spots, enabling solutions to future problems.
The purpose of this page is to liberate you and your friends from climate anxiety by showing the most important aspect of climate change: Global Greening.
Climate change is happening.
Many aspects of climate change cause disruptions to people and property, but these disruptions are not apocalyptic. Furthermore, some aspects of climate change, like Global Greening are great news!!!
Below, you will find links to information about Global Greening that will give you the clarity to effectively and simply counteract the apocalyptic narrative of global climate change. Rather than unreliable models that predict dire warnings of desertification, increased storms, rain-bombs, insurmountable rising oceans, and mass migrations, the data about the greening earth is robust and earth tells a dramatically different story.
Global Greening Slows Warming
In the above paper published in January of 2023, Li et al, show that the observed global greening trend indicates a “global cooling of −0.018 K/decade, which slows down 4.6 ± 3.2% of the global warming.” They conclude: “Such greening could mitigate global warming by triggering negative biochemical feedback to the climate system, which refers to increasing CO2 removal from the atmosphere through the vegetation photosynthesis process.”
What is the cause of this Greening?
Causes of Global Greening
Global greening is due to many factors, including fertilization with CO2 and nitrogen, slight warming, particularly at high latitudes, and better cultivation practices. Of all these, CO2 seems to drive 70% of the greening (Chen, et al 2019.).
Greening Patterns Differ
Greening is Significant Dry Areas
While much of the Earth is becoming greener, some areas green faster than others.
WHY HAVEN’T WE HEARD OF GLOBAL GREENING?
The reason you may not have heard of Global Greening is that the media is in the business of selling news, and good news doesn’t sell. Despite the hundreds of peer-reviewed papers in prestigious journals such as Science and Nature, global greening is good news, so it doesn’t sell.
FROM THE IPCC
Furthermore, as important as Global Greening is, even the most important summary of Climate Change does not mention it. The United Nation’s IPCC Synthesis Summary Report of AR6, released in March, 2023, did not mention it. This 36-page report summarizes climate change, its widespread impacts and risks, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. Most policymakers and purveyors of news are not scientists and need a summary of relevant scientific evidence to help them make sense of climate change so as to make good decisions. The most recent summary for policymakers came out in March of 2023. Below is a page from the IPCC report summarizing the findings.
This report contradicts peer-reviewed papers that show plant productivity is expected to continue increasing (Li et al., 2023 ). While the report’s section (C.5.1-C.5.5) devoted to Equity and Inclusion warns that mitigation will have greater detriments on the economically least advantaged, it fails to acknowledge how current increases in plant productivity will continue to support billions of people most susceptible to environmental and economic impact.
Freedom depends on accurate information
If you have a misleading map, it’s difficult to find the treasure.
For policymakers, the treasure is a climate policy that promotes human flourishing.
For More Information
Following are links to videos, articles, and peer-reviewed studies about Global Greening.
- Ridley, Matt, 2016 Video Global Warming Versus Global Greening, 2016 – Video – “The risk of global climate change has been greatly exaggerated.”
- Patrick Moore, 2020. Global Greening Youtube – Moore explains the benefits of increasing levels of CO2 in the environment. Takeaways: CO2 Fertilization Works best in Dry Climates. Over millions of years, CO2 has dropped from 2000 ppm to today’s level of just over 400 ppm. “We are the salvation of life, not its destroyer.”
- Idso, Craig 2019 – CO2-induced Plant Productivity and Yield Increases – Youtube explaining how rising levels of atmospheric CO2 increase the productivity of plants all across the world.
- Climate change is greening the Earth
- NASA (2020)- Greening of the Earth Mitigates Surface Warming “A new study reports that increased vegetation growth during the recent decades, known as the “Greening Earth”, has a strong cooling effect on the land due to increased efficiency of heat and water vapor transfer to the atmosphere.”
- Hansen, Kathryn 2020, “Global Green Up Slows Warming”. earthobservatory.nasa.gov. 2020-02-18. Retrieved 2020-12-27.
- Ridley, Matt, 2019 Rejoice, the Earth Is Becoming Greener – Satellite data shows that there had been a roughly 14 percent increase in green vegetation over 30 years. This means less land is needed to feed humans and more for wildlife. It also means higher yields for farmers probably added an additional $3 trillion to farm incomes over the last 30 years.
- Ridley, Matt Global greening is happening faster than climate change, and it’s a good thing
- Lomborg, Bjorn 2022 https://twitter.com/BjornLomborg/status/1490347477412757507 – Graph of Leaf Area Index increasing compared to area of 3 United States.
- IPCC – SYNTHESIS REPORT OF THE IPCC SIXTH ASSESSMENT REPORT (AR6) Summary for Policymakers – United Nations’ 36-page summary of climate change, its widespread impacts and risks, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. Takeaway: No mentions of changes in: Global Greening, Leaf Area Index, Net Primary Productivity, forestation, increased habitat for wildlife, decrease in human deaths due to exposure, or temperature mitigating effects of greening. While the report mentions a slight increase in crop productivity, it also contradicts peer-reviewed papers indicating that plant productivity is expected to continue increasing (Li et al., 2023 ). While the report’s section (C.5.1-C.5.5) devoted to Equity and Inclusion warns that mitigation will have greater detriments on the economically least advantaged, it fails to acknowledge how current increases in plant productivity support billions of people most susceptible to environmental and economic impact.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles
- Chen, C., Park, T., Wang, X., Piao, S., Xu, B., – – – Chaturvedi, R. K., et al. (2019a). China and India lead in greening of the world through land-use management. Nature Sustainability, 2(2), 122–129. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-019-0220-7 md Takeaways: A third of the global vegetated lands are currently greening—that is, becoming more productive—in a pattern that is reflective of intensive human use of land for crops and forests across all continents, but most prominently in the two populous countries China and India. According to MODIS data, one-third of the global vegetated area is greening and 5% is browning. China alone accounts for 25% of the global net increase in leaf area with only 6.6% of global vegetated area. The greening in China is from forests (42%) and croplands (32%), but in India is mostly from croplands (82%) with minor contributions from forests (4.4%). “
- Chen, J. M., Ju, W., Ciais, P., Viovy, N., Liu, R., Liu, Y., & Lu, X. (2019b). Vegetation structural change since 1981 significantly enhanced the terrestrial carbon sink. Nature Communications, 10(1), 4259. Takeaway: Greening analyses suggest “about 74.2% of the land surface shows an increasing trend” in LAI since 1981.
- Cortés, J., Mahecha, M. D., Reichstein, M., Myneni, R. B., Chen, C., & Brenning, A. (2021). Where are global vegetation greening and browning trends significant? Geophysical Research Letters, 48, e2020GL091496. https://doi. org/10.1029/2020GL091496 – Key takeaway: By all measures of all datasets, global greening is significant.
- Dardel, C., Kergoat, L., Hiernaux, P., Mougin, E., Grippa, M., & Tucker, C. J. (2014). Re-greening Sahel: 30 years of remote sensing data and field observations (Mali, Niger). Remote Sensing of Environment, 140, 350–364. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2013.09.011 – Key Takeaway: Greening “Trends are found positive and statistically significant almost everywhere in Sahel over the 1981–2011 period.”
- Donohue, R., Michael L. Roderick, Tim R. McVicar, Graham D. Farquhar 2013 Impact of CO2 fertilization on maximum foliage cover across the globe’s warm, arid environments Takeaway: “Our results confirm that the anticipated CO2 fertilization effect is occurring alongside ongoing anthropogenic perturbations to the carbon cycle and that the fertilization effect is now a significant land surface process.”
- Forzieri, G., Alkama, R., Miralles, D. G., & Cescatti, A. (2017). Satellites reveal contrasting responses of regional climate to the widespread greening of Earth. Science, 356(6343), 1180–1184. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aal1727. Takeaways: “Terrestrial plant biomass is growing in response to increasing atmospheric CO2″“An increase in LAI has helped to warm boreal zones through a reduction of surface albedo and to cool arid regions of the southern hemisphere by increasing surface evaporation. Furthermore, more densely vegetated areas displayed a greater capacity to mitigate the impact of rapid climate fluctuations on the surface energy budget.“
- Li et al., 2023 Li, Y., Li, ZL., Wu, H. et al. Biophysical impacts of earth greening can substantially mitigate regional land surface temperature warming. Nat Commun 14**, 121 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-35799-4 Takeaways: “Such greening could mitigate global warming by triggering negative biochemical feedback to the climate system, which refers to increasing CO2 removal from the atmosphere through the vegetation photosynthesis process 3,4,5.”
- Munier, S., Carrer, D., Planque, C., Camacho, F., Albergel, C., & Calvet, J.-C. (2018). Satellite leaf area index: Global-scale analysis of the tendencies per vegetation type over the last 17 years. Remote Sensing, 10(3), 424. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10030424
- Myneni, R. B., Keeling, C. D., Tucker, C. J., Asrar, G., & Nemani, R. R. (1997). Increased plant growth in the northern high latitudes from 1981 to 1991. Nature, 386(6626), 698–702. https://doi.org/10.1038/386698a0
- Notaro, M., Liu, Z., Gallimore, R., Vavrus, S. J., Kutzbach, J. E., Prentice, I. C., & Jacob, R. L. (2005). Simulated and observed preindustrial to modern vegetation and climate changes*. Journal of Climate, 18(17), 3650–3671. https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI3501.
- REVIEW: Piao, S., Wang, X., Park, T., Chen, C., Lian, X., He, Y., et al. (2019). Characteristics, drivers and feedbacks of global greening. Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, 1(1), 14–27. https://doi.org/10.1038/s43017-019-0001-x . Takeaway: The paper’s authors reviewed more than 250 published articles that have used satellite data, modeling, and field observations, to understand the causes and consequences of global greening. Among the key results, the authors noted that on a global scale, greening can be attributed to the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Rising levels of carbon dioxide increase the rate of photosynthesis and growth in plants.
- Wenzel, S., Cox, P. M., Eyring, V. & Friedlingstein, P. Projected land photosynthesis constrained by changes in the seasonal cycle of atmospheric CO2. Nature 538, 499–501 (2016). “Overall, we estimate a GPP increase of 37 ± 9 percent for high-latitude ecosystems and 32 ± 9 percent for extratropical ecosystems under a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentrations on the basis of the Point Barrow and Cape Kumukahi records, respectively.”
- Winkler, A.J. Myneni, R., Alexandrov, G.A. and Brovkin, V., 2019. Earth system models underestimate carbon fixation by plants in the high latitudes. Nature Communications Takeaway: satellite observations suggested 52% of the Earth’s land surface has been greening and 12% browning, which is about a 4-to-1 ratio.“This suggests that most models largely underestimate photosynthetic carbon fixation and therefore likely overestimate future atmospheric CO2 abundance and ensuing climate change, though not proportionately.”
- Wu, J, Wang, D. Laurent Z.X. Li c, Zhenzhong Zeng (2022). Hydrological feedback from projected Earth greening in the 21st century Takeaway: “Nearly all Earth System Models (ESMs) participating in Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) for Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) project a continuous greening of the planet during the 21st century.” “Our numerical experiments clearly show that rising CO2 alone does not cause a hydrological response of “dry gets drier, wet gets wetter” paradigm, but increasing LAI does. “
- Xiao, J., & Moody, A. (2005). Geographical distribution of global greening trends and their climatic correlates: 1982–1998. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 26(11), 2371–2390. https://doi.org/10.1080/01431160500033682
- Yu, Zhen, et al, (2022), Forest expansion dominates China’s land carbon sink since 1980 , Nature Communications – From 1980 to 2019, rapid forest expansion in China contributed to nearly 44% of the national terrestrial carbon sink. In contrast, climate changes (22.3%), increasing nitrogen deposition (12.9%), and rising carbon dioxide (8.1%) are less important contributors.
- Zeng, H., Jia, G., & Epstein, H. (2011). Recent changes in phenology over the northern high latitudes detected from multi-satellite data. Environmental Research Letters, 6(4), 045508. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/6/4/045508
- Zeng, Z., Piao, S., Li, L. Z. X., Zhou, L., Ciais, P., Wang, T., et al. (2017). Climate mitigation from vegetation biophysical feedbacks during the past three decades. Nature Climate Change, 7(6), 432–436. https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate3299
- Zhang, Y., Song, C., Band, L. E., & Sun, G. (2019). No proportional increase of terrestrial gross carbon sequestration from the greening Earth. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 124(8), 2540–2553. https://doi.org/10.1029/2018JG004917
- Zhao, L., Dai, A., & Dong, B. (2018). Changes in global vegetation activity and its driving factors during 1982–2013. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 249, 198–209. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agrformet.2017.11.013
- Zhu, Z., Bi, J., Pan, Y., Ganguly, S., Anav, A., Xu, L., et al. (2013). Global data sets of vegetation leaf area index (LAI)3g and fraction of photosynthetically active radiation (FPAR)3g derived from global inventory modeling and mapping studies (GIMMS) normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI3g) for the period 1981 to 2011. Remote Sensing, 5(2), 927–948. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs5020927
- Zhu, Z., Piao, S., Myneni, R. B., Huang, M., Zeng, Z., Canadell, J. G., et al. (2016). Greening of the Earth and its drivers. Nature Climate Change, 6(8), 791–795. https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate3004 – Summary: “We show a persistent and widespread increase of growing season integrated LAI (greening) over 25% to 50% of the global vegetated area, whereas less than 4% of the globe shows decreasing LAI (browning).”
- Ziska, L., Knowlton, K., Rogers, C., Dalan, D., Tierney, N., Elder, M. A., et al. (2011). Recent warming by latitude is associated with increased length of ragweed pollen season in central North America. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(10), 4248–4251. https:// doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1014107108
- Gosselin, Pierre L. CO2 Greens The Earth – Discussion of important peer-reviewed journal articles about global greening: NoTricksZone – Climate and energy news from Germany in English