If you can believe it, the world is actually greener than it was 20 years ago. Recently, data from NASA satellites revealed that the Earth is actually becoming a greener place, thanks to none other than China and India.
Two countries known for its densely populated cities are leading the greening effect. With initiatives like tree planting programmes in China and an upswing in agricultural development across both countries, everyone is seeing green.
"Leaving aside for a moment the deforestation and other land cover changes that continue to accompany an ever-growing human population, the last two decades of the twentieth century were a good time to be a plant on planet Earth. In many parts of the global garden, the climate grew warmer, wetter, and sunnier, and despite a few El Niño-related setbacks, plants flourished for the most part," says NASA.
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A recent study concluded that in 2019 there are more than two million square miles (5 million square km) of extra green leaf area per year, compared to the early 2000s. "China alone accounts for 25% of the global net increase in leaf area with only 6.6% of global vegetated area. The greening in China is from forests (42%) and croplands (32%), but in India is mostly from croplands (82%) with minor contribution from forests (4.4%)."
As a result, food production in China and India has increased by over 35% since 2000. Yet we have to take into account the population growth. Harvest areas have increased because of the greening-effect with the help of cropping facilitated by fertiliser use and surface- and/or groundwater irrigation.
The study pointed out the need for a realistic representation of human land-use practices in Earth system models, particularly as we think about sustainable practices in a world with ever-growing populations and city development.
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