Plant life, the poor, neglected second cousin of living things, may not be as limitless as was once thought.
While we agonize over the number of animals becoming extinct, we tend to take plants for granted. If we need more, we just plant more, right?
The journal Science reported on Thursday that there may in fact be an upper boundary to potential plant life our planet will support, and that we may have reached it. Researchers at the University of Montana, led by Dr. Steven Running, studied satellite images dating back to 1982, and found that the total plant growth had changed little since then.
The implications are huge. This means there could be a limit to how much food we can grow, and to how many trees we can plant to sequester carbon.
“There may be planetary limits, and we may be approaching them,” Dr. Running said. “We better start paying attention if that’s true.”