Footprint Blog

What to think?

Posted in 1,Comment,Foodservice Footprint news,International by foodservicefootprint on April 23, 2009



Our job at Foodservice Footprint is to provide a foodservice specific view but we also like to keep a view on the bigger picture!

Below is a piece that was published in The Telegraph today.

“The new research found that plants have been taking in more carbon dioxide over the last 40 years because pollution makes it easier for plants to convert sunlight to energy.

However as the world produces more electricity from renewables and transport is made cleaner, the skies will be clearer – slowing the ability of plants to absorb the greenhouse gas and therefore contributing to global warming.

The study, published in Nature, warned that the reduced ability of plants to absorb carbon dioxide as the air becomes cleaner makes it even more important to cut emissions in the future.

Scientists have long known that the increase in pollution as a result of human activity reduced the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth’s surface from the 1950s to 1980s in a process known as “global dimming”.

Now researchers from across the UK and Europe have found that the phenomenon also increased the ability of plants to absorb carbon dioxide. This is because the diffusion of sunlight caused by global dimming means the land receives light from different directions rather than just directly from the sun. As a result, plants are able to convert more of the sunlight energy into growth, trapping carbon dioxide as they do so, because more leaves are in the sun.

Dr Lina Mercado from the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology said: “Surprisingly, the effects of atmospheric pollution seem to have enhanced global plant productivity by as much as a quarter from 1960 to 1999.

“This resulted in a net 10 per cent increase in the amount of carbon stored by the land once other effects were taken into account.”

The increase in the amount of carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas, may have helped to slow global warming. However as the world cuts pollution it will speed up again.

Co-author Professor Peter Cox, of the University of Exeter, said: “As we continue to clean up the air in the lower atmosphere, which we must do for the sake of human health, the challenge of avoiding dangerous climate change through reductions in CO2 emissions will be even harder.

“Different climate changing pollutants have very different direct effects on plants, and these need to be taken into account if we are to make good decisions about how to deal with climate change.”


Please also see the obituary of Sir John Maddox, the former Editor of ‘Nature’, some enlightened views may come to light. Sadly, Sir John died on April 12th 2009.

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