Thanks To Global Warming, Plants Can't Do Their Job As Well

Image by Ron Mellott / Stocksy

It looks like climate change is (finally) reaching the top of our priority list. A recent survey reported that 62 percent of Americans—more than ever before—see humans as primary contributors to global warming and are worried about how it will affect their lives.

The latest news on global warming trends.

This awareness is timely as the U.K.'s Met Office, a national weather service, just predicted that in 2019 atmospheric carbon dioxide levels will increase more than they have in the past 62 years.

"With emissions already at a record high, the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will be larger than last year due to a slower removal by natural carbon sinks," the Met Office said in a release.

Let's break that statement down: While increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide are attributed to fossil fuel emissions and land clearing (AKA, human activities), they are tapered thanks to the help of plants. Yep, plants and forests act as natural carbon sinks and absorb excess CO2 that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. This also means that when plants aren't functioning at their full capacity, we feel the impact of global warming even more.

This year, due to the rise in temperatures in our oceans, we can expect a hotter and drier climate, which will make it difficult for plants to grow and do their jobs. "Each year's CO2 is higher than the last, and this will keep happening until humans stop adding CO2 to the atmosphere," Richard Betts of the Met Office explained in the release.

OK—so what can I do about it?

While it's overwhelming hearing about the vicious cycle of global warming, there's a lot we can do to help. You can start with small lifestyle changes such as carpooling, choosing reusable items instead of single-use plastics, and joining community efforts to shift environmental policy.

While the trend in CO2 emissions is looking daunting, as Betts pointed out—reducing CO2 emissions is the answer, and we could be part of the solution.

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