A new study published in the international journal “Science Advances” has found that plants may be able to absorb more atmospheric CO2 from human activities than previously expected. This is great news, but it should not be used as an excuse for governments to slow down their efforts to reduce carbon emissions quickly.
Dr. Jurgen Knauer led the research team at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at Western Sydney University in Australia. Their study focused on how critical physiological processes affect how plants conduct photosynthesis, such as the efficiency of carbon dioxide movement inside leaves, plant adaptation to temperature changes, and nutrient distribution in plant canopies. These mechanisms are often overlooked in global models.
Photosynthesis is a process that plants use to convert CO2 into sugars, which helps mitigate climate change. It’s unclear how vegetation will respond to changes in CO2 levels, temperature, and precipitation in the future. The study evaluated a high-emissions climate scenario to test how carbon uptake by vegetation would respond to global climate change through the end of the 21st century.
The results showed that more complex models, which took into account critical physiological mechanisms associated with photosynthesis, consistently projected stronger increases in carbon uptake by vegetation globally. These processes reinforced each other and would have even stronger effects in a real-world scenario. This suggests that plants may have a greater capacity to mitigate the effects of climate change than previously thought.
In conclusion, while this research provides hope for mitigating climate change through photosynthesis, it does not justify governments slowing down their efforts to reduce carbon emissions quickly. Governments should continue to prioritize reducing greenhouse gas emissions and implementing policies that support sustainable practices and conservation efforts.