03 Jul 2014:
Human Activity Has Boosted
Plant Growth Globally, NASA Data Show
Agriculture has increased global vegetative cover.
On a global scale, the presence of people corresponds to more plant growth, according to an analysis
of three decades of global vegetation greenness data from satellites. More than 20 percent of global vegetation change can be attributed to human activities, such as agriculture, nitrogen fertilization, and irrigation, rather than climate change, researchers report in the journal Remote Sensing
. The findings suggest that global climate change models, which typically don't consider human land use, should take into account the relatively large impact human settlements can have on vegetative cover, the researchers say. From 1981 to 2010, for example, areas with a human footprint saw plant greenness and plant productivity increase by up to 6 percent, while areas with a minimal human footprint, such as rangelands and wildlands, saw almost no change. The finding doesn't imply that relatively small areas with massive populations like New York City, with a high population density, are necessarily flourishing in increasingly abundant greenery, the scientists say. Rather, most of the increases in growth and greenness were seen near villages and rural areas, where agriculture is more intense.
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Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.
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An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S. View the photos.
The 2015 Yale e360 Video Contest winner documents a Northeastern town's bitter battle over a wind farm. Watch the video.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
video goes onto the front lines with Colorado firefighters confronting deadly blazes fueled by a hotter, drier climate. Watch the video.
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.