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Plants More Carbon-Hungry Than Thought, Ecotron Study Suggests

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Scientists have always worried that if we produce too much carbon dioxide then plants, also known as the planet’s lungs, won’t be able to cope with that and will eventually fail sinking it into the ground or inside their own body matter.

Now, a collaborative research of the Imperial College London and the University of York have established that terrestrial ecosystems can actually bear much more than it had been thought.

So far, catastrophic scenarios explained how it will all happen in a never-ending circle when greenhouse gases will be disturbing Earth’s own regulation system. They said that as temperature will increase, greenhouse gases like methane or carbon dioxide will get released from ice and the bottom of the oceans, the trees’ ability to capture those gases will self-limit due to the heat, and the world will end up being a desert.

However, recent experiments performed in sealed cabinets at the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Ecotron facility that mimicked natural ecosystems in high details, proved that plants grown in such conditions, with an increasing dosage of carbon dioxide, absorbed even more of it. For the measurement to have relevance, they actually imitated the conditions that had been theoretically established for the year 2100, when the total population would have risen to 9 billion people, before declining in 2050.

Now, I think the truth is somewhere in between. I think the Earth is more complicated than a lab simulation, but far more complex than a computer-generated scenario. I think we should expect plants to cope with the carbon dioxide concentration up to a limit, but we also have to continually worry about how we’re treating the atmosphere.

[via Imperial College London]

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