Posts tagged global warming

Plants Fight Global Warming

Those of us who love plants have always known they are vital to the planet. I mean, who could think they were useless? They have always absorbed carbon dioxide, created a home and food for animals and birds, as well as just making our environment more enjoyable and beautiful. Who hasn’t been grateful for the graceful tree when looking for shade on a hot, summers day?

But, according to scientists, plants have never been as important to the environment as right now because they are vital to reduce the impact of global warming. This has been recently reported by the BBC in an article about Professor Stephen Hopper, who is the director of Royal Botanic Gardens in London, England.

Professor Hopper was quoted as saying, “We believe that at no other point in history have plants been so important to people,” adding that plants “have importance as carbon sinks in a time of climate change.” As we all have always known, plants are vital to the air quality and environment and haven’t we always been told to grow houseplants to improve indoor air? According to Mr. Hopper, they are vital to reducing the impact of climate change and “vast numbers of humans” need them for medicine and food. In other words, we need to take care of plants!

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Climate Change Moves Weeds Around

As all of you probably already know, most of our neighborhoods have been inhabited and sometimes taken over completely by invasive foreign plants and weeds. In some cases these were plants that local authorities would be nice to add to the landscape and now they have taken over the landscape and no one can eradicate them. In other cases, immigrants brought plants and seeds from their homeland and planted them in their gardens, only to have them become invasive and disastrous to native landscapes. Here in Florida some prime examples include Kudzo, Brazilian Pepper Trees and Vines, Chokeweed, Spanish Bayonet, Spanish Needles, Hedge Bindweed and Air Yams. These foreign cultivars are aggressive and destructive and, in some areas, they carpet the landscape and crowd all other plants out.

But what does all of this have to do with global warming and climate change? Well, according to a new study it is now believed that climate change will likely shuffle some of the most troublesome weeds from their native local to far away farms and ranches, reeking havoc with cultivated crops. This study shows that a warming climate will provide prime conditions for invasive plants to get a foothold, spread quickly and crowd out native species. This study was performed by Princeton University Researchers and was recently published in the latest edition of the scientific journal Global Change Biology.

In some cases the outcome could be good, such as forcing invasives out of the west and allow the re-establishment of native species, but this opportunity will be short lived and the window for action will be limited. According to Bethany Bradley, a biogeographer at Princeton University and lead author on the study, “We’re going to have to be in the right place at the right time before something else gains a foothold.” This basically means that if we want to turn a bad situation into a good thing, we have to be poised for action and swift to move.

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Poll Shows Ignorance Over Rainforest Role

Most people are ignorant of the crucial role the rainforests play in keeping the global climate stable, a survey has revealed.

More than 60 per cent of people questioned thought air travel and domestic heating produced more greenhouse gases than the destruction of the forests.

Deforestation releases huge volumes of CO2. In fact deforestation releases more CO2 into the atmosphere each year than all of the world’s planes, trains and automobiles put together.

The survey commissioned by the Rainforest Foundation UK (RFUK) revealed that 62% thought more CO2 is produced by the UK’s housing stock each year than by deforestation. The truth is that cutting down the rainforests for agriculture and grazing produces more carbon emissions than all the UK domestic energy use.

ICM questioned more than 1000 British adults for the poll which found that 53% wrongly blamed aviation for more carbon emissions than deforestation. In fact rainforest destruction produces more CO2 emissions than all international air travel combined.

The survey was carried out to mark the launch of RFUK’s Hot & Bothered campaign which aims to make people more aware of the role that the protection of rainforests can play in tackling climate change while at the same time helping indigenous communities who rely on the rainforests for their survival.

Each hectare of rainforest – roughly the size of two football pitches – holds an average of 160 tonnes of carbon and an area almost the size of England and Wales is cut down every year releasing billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. The destruction results in millions of people worldwide being made homeless while driving animals and plants to extinction.

RFUK Director Simon Counsell said: “At the current rate of destruction, deforestation contributes about as much to global greenhouse gas emissions annually as the entire United States, mostly from the loss of tropical forests.

We need to put an end to it, but at the same time we need to make sure that the rainforest is protected in a responsible and sustainable way. Our experience shows that the best way to protect rainforests is to secure the rights of the communities that have always lived in and depended on them.

By launching the Hot & Bothered campaign, we’re calling on the public to recognise the role that these areas can play in reducing carbon emissions, while demanding that even bigger steps be taken here at home. By helping us to protect the rainforest, people can make a real contribution to tackling climate change.”

RFUK has unveiled a ‘Virtual Rainforest’ which allows people to protect and personalise their own online acre for a £25 donation. Each online acre will help RFUK to place real acres of forest into the hands of the people that live there.

More information can be found at The Rainforest Foundation.

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