It’s prompted researchers to call for immediate action to tackle climate change, saying they found the results were confronting.
The study by Waikato University and Northern Arizona University, published in major journal Science Advances, finds combating climate change will become harder unless a significant change occurs.
The study found photosynthesis — in which plants pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere — peaked at 18C for a majority of plant ecosystems and declined at temperatures above that. But respiration — which sees a plant release about half of the carbon dioxide they capture through photosynthesis — continues beyond the 18C mark.
This could tip the balance of ecosystems to turn into carbon sources, instead of acting as carbon sinks that take in more carbon than they release.
University of Waikato professor Louis Schipper said the fact that the planet’s ecosystems were taking up some of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was “buying us some time”.
“The data that we’ve got from this paper suggests that the amount that ecosystems are going to do that service for us is going to decrease. So that buying of time is going to go away, and quite quickly.”
The study used two decades’ worth of data from measurement towers, including one from Paeroa, into every major type of ecosystem on the planet.
Schipper said he remembered the moments the study concluded and the results had been analysed.
“I just stared at the graph for, I don’t know, 10 minutes, and just expletives run through your head,” Schipper said.
“You hope that you’re right because you want to get your science right.
“But, in some ways, you hope that you’re wrong.”
He said people were over-relying on ecosystems to offset emissions.
“We should stop relying on that. We have to do at least two things: we have to plant trees to fix carbon, and we have to fundamentally change how we behave to reduce our emissions.”
His colleague, professor Vic Arcus, also from the University of Waikato, said he found the results confronting.
“When we saw this, I thought, ‘I can’t drive a car anymore.’ So I sold my car and bought an electric bike. That was my response to this data.”
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Hemp is a Carbon Sink
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Carbon Footprint. Does Hemp absorb carbon?
Hemp is the most efficient annual plant for carbon sequestering. Regardless of the end use of biomass its roots binds few tons of carbon in the soil. It´s an ideal carbon sink.
One hectare of industrial hemp can absorb 22 tonnes of CO2 per hectare. It is possible to grow to 2 crops per year so absorption is doubled. Hemp’s rapid growth (grows to 4 metres in 100 days) makes it one of the fastest CO2-to-biomass conversion tools available, more efficient than agro-forestry.
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Hemp seed oil is omega rich and has been used for its health benefits for thousands of years. Nutritional scientists have started to rediscover hemp’s many beneficial properties.
Not only can hemp help preserve our planet and improve our manufacturing, it can help fuel us forward and decrease our dependence on fossil fuels. Hemp is a natural carbon sink.
The purpose of this report is to explore the commercial, regional, and environmental opportunity for investors in the Industrial Hemp sector in New Zealand. Author: Dr Nick Marsh
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