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.
“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.
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.”