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Study: World’s forests are expanding

If Americans are to believe The New York Times and others in the mainstream media, this year’s forest fires around the world are the harbingers of an apocalypse. Surely those in Alaska might easily believe such a warning a  during a summer of smoke and fire.

“If enough [Amazon] rain forest is lost and can’t be restored, the area will become savanna, which doesn’t store as much carbon, meaning a reduction in the planet’s ‘lung capacity,’” the Times reported.

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“While the Brazilian fires have grown into a full-blown international crisis, they represent only one of many significant areas where wildfires are currently burning around the world. Their increase in severity and spread to places where fires were rarely previously seen is raising fears that climate change is exacerbating the danger, the Times reported.

“In Alaska, fires have consumed more than 2.5 million acres of tundra and snow forest, leading researchers to suggest that the combination of climate change and wildfires could permanently alter the region’s forests,” according to the Times.

And yet, researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and two major universities report that new tree growth is outpacing losses. They published their findings in the journal Nature.

“We show that—contrary to the prevailing view that forest area has declined globally—tree cover has increased by 2.24 million km2 (+7.1% relative to the 1982 level). This overall net gain is the result of a net loss in the tropics being outweighed by a net gain in the extratropics. Global bare ground cover has decreased by 1.16 million km2 (−3.1%), most notably in agricultural regions in Asia. Of all land changes, 60% are associated with direct human activities and 40% with indirect drivers such as climate change,” according to the study’s abstract.

[Read more about this study at Nature.]

Surprisingly, China and India are contributing to the greening of the planet, according to the journal Nature Sustainability.

That study concludes the increase in trees and other vegetation “comes mostly from ambitious tree-planting programs in China and intensive agriculture in both countries.”

[Read that study in the journal Nature.]

Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.


  1. And so the liberal bias of the media is exposed by the scientific sleuthing of MRA, forests are not shrinking, and by inference, global warming is not a problem either because it’s a hoax or if not that because it will be saved by expanding forests. How convenient.

    If the aforementioned scientific studies are given credit as they are in the article, then why doesn’t the climate change denier crowd also give credit to the vast majority of scientific studies which conclude that climate change will become a global catastrophe, and that is is caused by mankind’s activities?

    It never ceases to amaze me how conservative Trump followers and MRA readers cling to the party line that global warming is either not confirmed, confirmed but not caused by human activity, or whatever the current logical contortion is that’s required to deny the facts supported by the scientific community.

    The real fact is that most Conservatives really believe that it is happening, and that Man does cause it. But, admitting to that would result in their excommunication from the church of Trump, and shunning by their GOP peer group. So they cravenly swallow their ethics and remain silent. Shameful, really. And their grandchildren will wish that they had faced up to the scientific reality and taken action instead of cowering before the GOP and their entrenched special interest groups.

    • Seems to me, young Whidbey, that you are the one doing the inferring. Most conservatives believe that the climate is changing, and many of them believe that humans are contributing in some way. They are just a little less sure of all the scientific conclusions that are thrown around. This is a NASA report, as I see it, that has relevance to our times. Not sure why you are so bitter about a little NASA report that shows some good news, or are you just a problem troll.

    • This is sad, why it is you can’t accept any information that dares challenge the faulty knowledge that you’ve been brainwashed with shows just how insidious the disease is. Having growing forests, more now than in previous decades is somehow a bad thing to the cult that believes in anthropogenic global warming. Sad, that good news and factual data should be ignored or demonized for their beliefs. Science doesn’t back your fanatical beliefs, no matter how much you want it to.

    • Here doggie doggie…
      I’m a conservative that believes in climate change. Climate change is the only logical reason I can find for the disappearance of the 3,000 foot thick slap of ice that once covered my neighborhood. But I can’t see where my sexy Ford Flex, or BBQ had anything to do with it. Now, does that mean I love Trump?

  2. Having read to the bottom of this piece I see that China and India are credited for the majority of this so-called greening due to their “ambitious tree planting programs”.

    These are essentially tree farms – not the same thing as a forest, – as any real hunter will inform you. But at least they absorb carbon.

    Which brings into question the wisdom of clear cutting SE Alaska’s forests and shipping trees in the round to Asian markets.

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