Findings from NASA's MODIS project indicate that India's and China's green cover has increased in the past two decades, inadvertently contributing to a global increase, too.
For several years now, we have been consistently reminded to worry about the environment and play our parts to make sure the world as we know it does not cease to exist. Melting ice caps, dying species, polluted oceans and landfills are slowly becoming the visual cues we are learning to associate with the term environment. Amidst all the doom and gloom, NASA comes bearing a piece of good news reports Forbes. For several decades, they have been observing the Earth's shifting vegetation patterns using an invention called MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer). The detailed images they obtained from MODIS paints an encouraging picture of the earth slowly turning greener. Their findings reveal an unmistakable increase in green cover over the past two decades. On closer observation, they found that two of the most populous countries in the world helped make this happen. India and China have been busy planting trees it would appear, and the results can be seen all the way from outer space.
The two countries have often stumbled into the line of fire for being among the top polluters of the world. A possible consequence of harboring a bustling and brimming population within its borders. Waste management is hard enough without having the numbers stacked against you. Infrastructural challenges have only compounded the problem. Despite all this, both India and China have unwittingly impacted the environment positively simply by planting trees. However, as encouraging as the news is, we have a long way to go before we can truly celebrate.
As a race, we have pillaged our resources far too recklessly for the afforestation efforts of India and China alone to make a significant dent in reviving the environment. What we can do is draw encouragement from their efforts and join them in introducing tree planting programs in our communities too. Hopefully, the rest of the world will soon follow suit. Apart from devoting time to plant more trees, the two countries have also revamped the technology and mode of implementation around agriculture. Currently, India is at the forefront and has broken several world records. In one of their more impressive feats, 50 million trees were planted in just 24 hours with the help of 800,000 willing Indians.
NASA's recent findings were published in the Nature Sustainability journal. This analysis of the earth's green cover was made possible by high-resolution imagery which helped capture and compare data from the mid-1990s to the present day. Following preliminary inspections, researchers suspected changing climatic conditions were behind the increase in green cover. They attributed the elevated levels of carbon dioxide, wetter climate or other repercussions of a warming climate to have caused more vegetation to bloom. However, they soon discovered that the green cover appeared to be concentrated in Indian and China.
This disproportionate distribution prompted them to take a closer look to help determine the 'why' and 'how' behind it. During the 1970s and 80s, both India and China went through an unsavory phase of rampant deforestation. Forests were uprooted so cities could flourish. Much harm was exacted on nature in the hopes of building a better future for their citizens. Their ill-informed steps slowly led them back to the drawing board where they appeared to have realized the error of their ways. In the 90s, reducing the effects of air and soil pollution in addition to countering the effects of climate change became the priority.
A #NASA study shows that 25% of expansion in earth's green cover is coming from #India & China. Heartening to see India taking a lead in making earth greener for our future generations with agriculture intensive practices & plantation drives! https://t.co/hLgELjUsPe— Arun Thukral (@arun_thukral) February 17, 2019
Necessary adjustments were made to help check growing environmental concerns and a significant shift in their overall land use can be observed. In these uncertain times, quick thinking and follow through are essential skills to possess. The research was led by Boston University's Chi Chen. Chen revealed to Daily Mail that India and China "account for one-third of the greening, but contain only 9 percent of the planet's land area covered in vegetation". It was found that China has just 6.6 percent of the world's foliage and, yet, it has contributed to a quarter of the global increase in green leaf area.
At 42 percent, a majority of it comes from forests, while farmlands constitute 32 percent. Meanwhile, it was found that India contributed to a 6.8 percent increase in green leaf area. These findings are crucial when considering future climate change prediction models according to scientists. Rama Nemani a co-author of the work and research scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center, shared, "This long-term data lets us dig deeper," whilst adding, "when the greening of the Earth was first observed, we thought it was due to a warmer, wetter climate and fertilization from the added carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, leading to more leaf growth in northern forests, for instance. Now, with the MODIS data that lets us understand the phenomenon at really small scales, we see that humans are also contributing."