Earth more resistant to climate change than assumed

by William Yeatman on May 11, 2004

New research from Australias Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Accounting suggests that the Earths self regulating properties in the face of global warming are greater than previously believed. The research implies that rainfall patterns, evaporation rates, and plant growth have been profoundly modified to reduce greenhouse gases within the Earths atmosphere.

According to the Centres scientists, “As the world warms, on average, it is getting wetter rainfall, on average, is increasing.” They also added, “Contrary to widespread expectations, potential evaporation from the soil and land-based water bodies like lakes is decreasing in most places. This is because the world is cloudier than it used to be.”

The scientists explained that the increased cloudiness not only contributes to a reduction of evaporation, but also more effective plant photosynthesis. In turn, the Earth will grow more plant life, thereby reducing the amount of carbon dioxide within the atmosphere. These carbon sinks, particularly “long-lived, woody plants like trees”, change habitats, ecosystems, biodiversity, and the flows of greenhouse gases, the scientists claimed.

They concluded, “Forests, farms, and grasslandshave the potential to absorb more (greenhouse gases), ameliorating climate change. Properly managed, they could buy time for the worlds people to make major reductions in greenhouse emissions.” They admitted that despite the findings, “There is much we still must discover” (The Australian, May 11)

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