NASA says world is a far greener place today, and India deserves a large share of credit for it

NASA has come up with some good news for the residents of earth. Our beloved planet is a far greener place today than what it used to be some two decades or so ago. And guess what, it is India and China, who are the biggest contributors behind this drastic change. Ironically these two are the very countries, whom Western world never gets tired of blaming for natural resource exploitation.


NASA satellite image

India continues to break world records in tree planting, with 800,000 Indians planting 50 million trees in just 24 hours. The recent finding by NASA and published in the journal Nature Sustainability, compared satellite data from the mid-1990s to today using high-resolution imagery. Initially, the researchers were unsure what caused the significant uptick in greening around the planet.

It was however unclear whether a warming planet, increased carbon dioxide (CO2) or a wetter climate could have caused more plants to grow.

After further investigation of the satellite imagery, the researchers found that greening was disproportionately located in China and India. If the greening was primarily a response from climate change and a warming planet, the increased vegetation shouldn’t be limited to country borders. In addition, higher latitude regions should become greener faster than lower latitudes as permafrost melts and areas like northern Russia become more habitable.

The United States sits at number 7 in the total change in vegetation percent by decade. NASA used Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) to get a detailed picture of Earth’s global vegetation through time. The technique provided up to 500-meter resolution for the past two decades.

Both China and India went through phases of large scale deforestation in the 1970s and 80s, clearing old growth forests for urban development, farming and agriculture. However, it is clear that when presented with a problem, humans are incredibly adept at finding a solution. When the focus shifted in the 90s to reducing air and soil pollution and combating climate change the two countries made tremendous shifts in their overall land use.

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