The Earth Is Greener Today Than 20 Years Ago, According To NASA

We know humans are helping.

India and China are helping make the world a much greener place.

Yes, despite their reputations as mass polluters and exploiters of natural resources, both India and China have helped contribute to a major greening of planet Earth. A NASA study says the planet is greener now than it was 20 years ago, and points to both China and India as being the driving reason why.


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"A new study shows that the two emerging countries with the world's biggest populations are leading the increase in greening on land," NASA says on its website. "The effect stems mainly from ambitious tree planting programs in China and intensive agriculture in both countries."

India, in particular, has broken world records by planting 50 million trees over the course of 24 hours. It took 800,000 people to accomplish the feat, but it's paying off. 

Over the last two decades, the Earth has seen an increase in foliage around the planet, measured in average leaf area per year on plants and trees. Data from NASA satellites shows that China and India 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. NASA Earth Observatory

NASA came to its conclusions after a "20-year-long data record" was collected on two satellites orbiting the planet. There has been an increase in leaf area on both plants and trees that is equivalent to the area covered by all the Amazon rainforests, according to NASA. 

"China and India account for one-third of the greening, but contain only 9% of the planet's land area covered in vegetation – a surprising finding, considering the general notion of land degradation in populous countries from overexploitation," Chi Chen, a lead author on the study, said. 

One of the most important conclusions from the data is that the increase in green areas on the planet is due almost entirely to human action. Tree-planting pushes and production of grains, vegetables and fruits have helped. While the greening in China and India won't offset the damage being done to the Amazon rainforest, it does show that people in China and India have recognized a problem and are addressing it. 

"Now that we know direct human influence is a key driver of the greening Earth, we need to factor this into our climate models," Rama Nemani, a research scientist at NASA, said. "This will help scientists make better predictions about the behavior of different Earth systems, which will help countries make better decisions about how and when to take action."

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