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The Real Green New Deal

The world is literally a greener place than it was 20 years ago, and data from NASA satellites has revealed a counterintuitive source for much of this new foliage: China and India. A new study shows that the two emerging countries with the world’s biggest populations are leading the increase in greening on land. The effect stems mainly from ambitious tree planting programs in China and intensive agriculture in both countries.

The greening phenomenon was first detected using satellite data in the mid-1990s by Ranga Myneni of Boston University and colleagues, but they did not know whether human activity was one of its chief, direct causes. This new insight was made possible by a nearly 20-year-long data record from a NASA instrument orbiting the Earth on two satellites. It’s called the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS, and its high-resolution data provides very accurate information, helping researchers work out details of what’s happening with Earth’s vegetation, down to the level of 500 meters, or about 1,600 feet, on the ground.

Taken all together, the greening of the planet over the last two decades represents an increase in leaf area on plants and trees equivalent to the area covered by all the Amazon rainforests. There are now more than two million square miles of extra green leaf area per year, compared to the early 2000s – a 5% increase. Human Activity in China and India Dominates the Greening of Earth | NASA

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  • John Venlet February 15, 2019, 11:57 AM

    You can just about bank on the manmade global warming enthusiasts claiming that this carbon dioxide eating, greening up of the earth is a bad thing, because those darn humans are planting trees and crops which impede the warming of the local environments wherein those humans planted plants, or some such craziness.

  • Roy Lofquist February 15, 2019, 1:21 PM

    The article is extremely misleading. It claims that the “greening” is occuring in the area of China and India and also that it is the result of planting trees. NASA says that it is a global phenomenon caused by increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.


  • Jaynie February 16, 2019, 5:15 AM

    Well, good for China to go big for reforestation. I always think it is great to plant trees and thereby help mother nature. I heart trees. Wild trees, domesticated trees, all great. Not a huge fan of weeping willows sometimes nor of russian olive trees, though, but I would accept either one over no tree. Yea, mostly I adore trees.
    I wonder what trees may be beginning to sprout up in that forest fire land.
    In my tiny mind, it was always a mystery why global warming fretters were not involved in desperate massive reforestation. A global warming peace corps of tree planters. Unless it is going on and stories not covered by the media, which could be very possible. But fretting about dangers of global warming would seem to naturally lead to worldwide reforestation pushes to make inroads. Rehabilitation of the rain forest which I have heard referred to as the lungs of the planet, would seem another important area of action. At least, I’d have expected this stuff in parallel to the power and money grabs of alternative energy of theirs and their trying to do away with trucks and suvs. Their not doing so quite undermined the sincerity of their belief.

  • Marica February 16, 2019, 7:22 AM

    1) I heart trees just as much as the next fellow but trees should not be seen as some sort of moral pinnacle toward which all nature– including man– aspires. We have spent several years trying to reclaim pasture land that was being taken over by oaks. Pastures have standing, too.

    But more importantly–

    2) If one follows the link, one will discover another graphic depicting the greening of the entire earth. One will note that there’s a nice swath of dark green running up through Mexico, becoming a bit lighter through the heartland, but darkening again around the Dakotas on up into (looks to me like) Saskatchewan. In terms of relative area, I’d have to see the data, not just a depiction of it to say anything with certainly, but if the total area in North America is smaller than in China, it doesn’t look like it’s by much. Doesn’t look that “dominating” to my eye.

    3) Keep in mind that what’s being shown is A SEVENTEEN YEAR TREND IN TERMS OF % INCREASE.
    If I may:
    Our whole universe was in a hot dense state
    Then nearly fourteen billion years ago expansion started. Wait…
    The Earth began to cool
    The autotrophs began to drool
    Neanderthals developed tools

    So— like you know, 17 years. Whoa! And yet– “This long-term data lets us dig deeper,”

    4) Pet peeve, sorry. DATA is a plural noun.

    5) From the abstract of the actual paper, China’s increase in green area % is from forests (42% of total), and crops (32%) but India’s is from crops (82%)

    6) “Food production in China and India has increased by over 35% since 2000 mostly owing to an increase in harvested area through multiple cropping facilitated by fertilizer use” WAIT! Fertilizer bad, right?

    I must be hangry.

  • ghostsniper February 16, 2019, 11:13 AM

    Don’t eat when you’re hangry, it creates violent gas.

    Is a tree a tree from the moment it is born, or does it start out as something else and then develope into a tree? If the former, our forest has a million trees, if the latter, 100,000. What’s not to like about trees? I think I made a mistake last summer. I thought a certain tree was a maple, but recently I have seen evidence it may be a Poplar. When it warms up a little I’ll find out for sure with Mr. Chainsaw. Bark can be deceiving at time. Usually, but sometimes. This is one of those times. I’ve wondered, do trees ever cross-pollinate by themselves? That would account for the poplar that looks like a maple. Maple on the outside and poplar on the inside. dunno The chain will reveal all. It was a large burl about 30′ up on the side of maplar (get it, maple-poplar) that I first seen about 10 years ago.

    I’m a woodworker, specializing in anything lathe, so it was especially captivating. I wanted to cut that tree down for that burl but I have a real problem taking trees down for simpleton reasons. I’ll wait. Last spring the wind kicked up and overnight dropped a tree onto my workshop roof. Almost. A fleet of sycamores stood in it’s falling path and bowed under it’s gravitational journey but prevented it from making contact with the roof by about 1 foot.

    Pshwew! I put Mr. Chain on that maplar and cut it back to lessen its weight on the sycamores which were making contact with the roof. The land is very steep here, maybe 45 degrees, and very difficult to travel. Fallen trees crisscrossed over each other I had to reverse engineer my eyeballs to figure out how to undo this tangled mess without having all of it come down on me. So I started cutting the maplar at the top of the turf and worked my way down that 45 degree decline cutting about every 18 inches.

    About 1/2 way down this 80′ maplar I encountered that burl that had captured me so but I dare not cut it out yet. The wind did not break the maplar off clean at the base. It broke it off about 8′ about the ground, but only 1/2 way through and then it fell down with half the trunk still attached to the ground. Did I describe that right? Half the tree trunk was bowed stiffly from the ground all the way up.

    By the time I got to the burl I had removed enough weight that the bow was starting the lift the rest of the tree. Very dangerous. I took Mr Chain to the bowed base and started nibbling on one side. Careful, a bowed tree is unpredictable. I cut about halfway in and the trunk started raising and pinched the bar of the chain. Now what?

    I got my other chain. A 12′ pole saw with 8″ chain. Now I could stand back from the fray to do what needed done. I nibbled from 1 side then the other, back n forth. Finally the number of tree fibers were less than the pressure of the trunk and it snapped upright dropping the balance of the maplar on the ground. And I wasn’t maimed or killed. That’s always a nice feeling isn’t it?

    Starting from the bottom me and Mr Chain started cutting that maplar again, in 18″ lengths. About 15 lengths later I was at that burl. The burl was on the underside so I rolled it over. Wow. It was magnificent. The maplar itself was about 14″ in diameter at that point but the burl had blowed it out til it was 3 times that in diameter. And it ran about 3 feet along the side of the tree. whoa. Quite a burl.

    The bark on the burl was the nastiest I had ever seen. Thousands of razor-sharp points. A thousand years ago it could have been used as a siege weapon of war. I drooled at the thought of what it will look like inside when revealed by Mr Lathe.

    Now how do I get this thing up out of here?

    From where that burl was laying, to where it needed to be on the side of my workshop was only about 80-100 feet but the terrain between here and there is some of the most difficult anywhere. I had to cut a bunch of deadfall out of the way just to be able to hoist the burl up out of the large divot it was in. In the process of cutting that deadfall my foot slipped and after throwing the running chain to the side I went down full force on my knee on that siege machine. What a mess. Razor sharp wooden points were embedded in my hide. I couldn’t pull loose. I had to position my other leg to act as a piston to lift myself free and when I did the blood gushed everywhere. Oh dear. Hate it when that happens.

    Pulled my blue and white bandanna out and mopped it up and surveyed the damage. Did I mention the burn? Jayziss. I pulled a 2nd bandanna out, rat-tailed it, bunched up the saturated one and put it on the wound and used the rat to secure the bunch. Then I turned Mr Chain off and sat down. Where’s my smokes? Dam, didn’t bring my smokes. Oh, that’s right, I don’t smoke. Silly me. But if I did right now would be a good time for one. I’ve heard smoking helps you to focus think. dunno. So I sat there and kept pressure on my knee.

    My juice clots quick so in a little while I got up and continued on. I rolled that bloody burl up on to a place that was a little flatter, pointy side up, and with one gargantuan pressure pack, I hoisted it all the way up onto my right shoulder. I almost staggered a little bit then got my bearings. This was very uncomfortable but I knew no other way to get that maplar burl up out of that jungle. And yes, it was coming up out, no matter what.

    I have bought burl in the past and it ain’t cheap. Go look it up. I paid $60 one time for a piece of hard maple burl that was 6″x6″x6″. Like I said, spensive. My maplar burl is about 3’x2’x2′ or so. Do the math. Plus, my plan is to let this burl spalt for the rest of the year and maybe by winter it will be seasoned enough to put on the lathe. Spalted wood is VERY expensive. Again, look it up. And spalted burl is in the stratos. So you see, I had no choice in this matter. It was preordained. From 10 years ago upon discovery, til now in captivation, this burl was my empire but I had to get it to it’s rightful place. I was just one of the tools in this tragedy.

    I started out and each difficult step was wobbly and my free hand was constantly searching for another tree to grab onto for stability. Much of the short journey there was no tree in grasping range and I was sort of freefalling. My other hand held the very heavy burl on top of my shoulder and each step caused that bulk to shift in every direction. This was one of the most physically demanding things I had ever done. It took maybe 15 mins to land and I plopped it down with a giant thud. My truck was right there so I dragged myself to it, dropped the tailgate and collapsed onto it and just sat there. Staring at my white whale.

    Wow. I couldn’t believe I did that. I’ve been wanting that burl for 10 years, and now it was mine. I was too exhausted to be elated. But I could feel that elation’s current flowing down inside. My wife came out with her head tilted and asked, “What is wrong with you?” and I asked her what she means. She said she seem be with that, that, thing on my shoulder coming up out of the woods and came running. I pointed at that burl and she looked at it. “Looks like a tree log.” I just shook my head and looked down, and I said, “I’m too tired right now to explain it.”

    Later at supper I told her the full story while she cleaned and bandaged my knee. 6 months later that burl is still sitting on the side of the workshop and I see it everyday, Every 2 weeks or so I roll it 90 degrees to let the bottom dry. This summer I will trim it up a little with my various saws and then put it in a big black plastic trash bag, tie to top and sit it in a corner of the workshop to continue seasoning, but now in a slower environ to try to prevent cracking and splitting.

    It’s going to be magnificent.

  • ghostsniper February 16, 2019, 11:21 AM

    That thing is littered with spelling errors.

  • Jeff Brokaw February 17, 2019, 7:37 AM

    It is unclear to me how this is a catastrophe. Which it must be, since everything that happens to our environment is both catastrophic and our fault.